Legislative Update

Get the latest news on Pennsylvania government and the issues affecting the CPA profession through Legislative Update.

  • Week Ending March 24, 2017

    by PICPA Government Relations | Mar 24, 2017

    PICPA Members Nominated to Accountancy Board        

    Gov. Tom Wolf nominated PICPA members Sheri L. Risler, CPA, and David W. Stonesifer, CPA, to serve on the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy. Their nominations require state Senate confirmation.

    Risler is director of Temple University’s Fox School of Business master of accountancy program, where she is responsible for overseeing curriculum development to ensure the program is current with the requirements of the CPA and accounting profession and monitoring the annual assurance of learning process. She worked in public accounting from 1984 to 2005. Risler will succeed Martin Levin, CPA, who served two four-year terms on the board, including two as its chair.

    Stonesifer is a partner with Herbein + Company Inc. in Reading, Pa., where he is in charge of its accounting and auditing department. He also serves as a member of the firm’s audit quality review team. He is a graduate of Albright College, and he has been a licensed CPA in Pennsylvania since 1998.

    The next meeting of the state board is April 20. 


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    REAL ID Compliance Measure Moves in Senate      

    The Senate this week amended Senate Bill 133, legislation that would repeal the state’s REAL ID Nonparticipation Act, and referred it to the Appropriations Committee for a fiscal review.

    The amendment, offered by bill sponsor Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), added language that offers an option to anyone getting a driver’s license or renewing a license to get either a REAL ID-compliant license or a noncompliant license. The bill was also changed to include a requirement that the Department of Transportation provide state lawmakers with a report of the details and all estimated costs associated with Pennsylvania becoming REAL ID compliant.

    Pennsylvania is one of only six states that are noncompliant with the federal REAL ID. The federal government has given the state until June 5 to bring Pennsylvania into compliance.

    The PICPA supports the measure.


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    State Senate Republicans Ready Another Run at Pension Reform      

    Led by Sen. Pat Browne, CPA (R-Lehigh), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a PICPA member, Senate Republican leaders will introduce legislation that will reform pensions for future public school and state employees. The measure will contain the same provisions as the October 2016 Conference Committee Report for Senate Bill 1071.

    Last year’s legislation proposed different retirement benefit options for most new state and public school employees (except for law enforcement officers) that included side-by-side hybrid options and a straight 401(k) plan. The new legislation will include one change. The 2017 bill will include an option for current members of the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) and the State Employee Retirement System (SERS) to opt-in to the new plan.

    The cost to fund the existing defined benefit plans continues to skyrocket. For example, in his proposed 2017-2018 budget, Gov. Tom Wolf requested $2.3 billion, a $240 million (12 percent) increase, over the current year budget allocation to PSERS. The governor’s 2017-2018 SERS appropriations, which is scattered across multiple line-items, is roughly $669 million in state General Funds for offices under the governor’s jurisdiction. This represents an estimated increase of $64 million, or 11 percent, from 2016-2017.

    The PICPA urges state lawmakers to adopt meaningful pension reform legislation that captures the policy options outlined in our 2015 Fiscal Responsibility Task Force Report.


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    A Look at the Week of March 27 in Harrisburg     

    The halls of the state capitol will be a little quieter next week as only the Senate is scheduled to be in session.

    Though the state House is not in session next week, the House Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public hearing Monday, March 27, in Pittsburgh to discuss fee schedules for municipalities that do not have local police forces and currently receive free coverage from the Pennsylvania State Police.

    On Wednesday, March 29, members of the PICPA State Taxation Committee will take part in the Department of Revenue’s Electronic Communication Focus Group. The department is exploring ways to enhance customer service and to reduce costs through greater use of electronic communications to taxpayers for certain business taxes.

    Also on the 29th, the Senate Labor and Industry Committee will hold a public hearing on the State Workers Insurance Fund and the impact of the Cancer Presumption Act. This hearing will be held jointly with the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. A joint Senate hearing will be held to examine the impact on the Commonwealth on the Governor’s proposed consolidation of the departments of Health, Human Services, Aging and Drug and Alcohol Programs.


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    Pa. Senators Outline Fair Share Tax Plan    

    State Sens. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia) and Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia, Montgomery) announced a plan to generate additional revenue to address the commonwealth’s deficit.

    The Fair Share Tax plan would divide the state’s personal income tax into two parts: a tax on wages and interest, which would be reduced from 3.07 percent to 2.8 percent; and a tax on income from wealth, which would increase from 3.07 percent to 6.5 percent.

    Income from wealth would include dividends or net income from a business, profession, or farm; capital gains; net income from rents, royalties, patents, and copyrights; gambling and lottery winnings; and income from estates or trusts.

    Pennsylvania currently faces a $3 billion structural deficit. As budget negotiations continue, the senators said this new revenue would provide a stable source of funding without burdening average Pennsylvania families. 


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    Audit of General Assembly’s 2016 Finances Released    

    The Legislative Audit Advisory Commission, chaired by Rep. Mark Keller (R-Perry), voted to accept the audit report of the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s finances for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

    The annual audit of the various legislative departments and legislative service agencies revealed a reserve of $118,442,957 as of June 30, 2016. The largest reserves are held by the state House ($57 million) and Senate ($23.3 million). Keller pointed out that the current reserve is about $90 million less than it was 10 years ago, when it totaled more than $210 million.

    The audit was performed by Boyer and Ritter LLC in Camp Hill, Pa.


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    DEP Launches New E-submissions Process   

    The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has launched the e-submissions public review tool to make documents submitted electronically by unconventional oil and gas operators more quickly available to the public.

    DEP’s Chapter 78A oil and gas regulations, implemented in October 2016, require unconventional operators to file electronically many documents they previously submitted in paper form.

    To date, 26 operators have electronically filed almost 900 documents.

    The oil and gas operator e-submissions public review tool is part of a major campaign to modernize technology at DEP that began in January 2016.


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    House Special Election Results Still Undecided   

    On Tuesday, March 21, voters in Philadelphia’s 197th state House district went to the polls to select the successor to former Rep. Leslie Acosta, who resigned in January after she pleaded guilty to a federal embezzlement charge. In the heavily Democratic seat, there was no Democratic candidate on the ballot, just Republican Lucinda Little.

    As of this writing, Little received 198 (7.4 percent) out of the 2,681 total votes cast. Several write-in candidates garnered the remaining 2,483 votes. According to various media outlets, a formal count of the ballots was to have begun March 24. The official winner will not be declared until after the ballots are counted.

    Several Democrats were removed from the ballot by the courts. Freddie Ramirez, the Democrats’ first choice, was removed for failing to meet the residency requirement. Emilio Vazquez was later denied a position on the ballot because his nomination papers were submitted after the filing deadline.

    The outcome of this election will have no impact on the balance of the House in Harrisburg, as the Republicans currently control the chamber by a 121-82 majority (with the Acosta vacancy).


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