Legislative Update

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

  • Week Ending Feb. 17, 2017

    by PICPA Government Relations | Feb 17, 2017


    PICPA Fiscal Responsibility Task Force to Meet on March 8     

    The PICPA Fiscal Responsibility Task Force will meet on March 8 in Harrisburg to identify issues to highlight in its fourth report. The task force will discuss Pennsylvania’s fiscal challenges and identify strategies to set the state on a road of long-term growth and stability. J. Andrew Weidman, CPA and a partner in RKL’s tax services group, is the current chair of the task force.

    The Fiscal Responsibility Task Force, which was established in 2011, is charged by PICPA Council to provide objective, nonpartisan recommendations to the governor, state lawmakers, and the public to control costs, streamline state government operations, and enhance revenues while improving the fairness and competitiveness of Pennsylvania’s tax system for both individual and business taxpayers consistent with PICPA’s Guiding Principles of Good Tax Policy. The task force previously issued reports in 20152013, and 2011.

    Members interested in participating on the task force should contact Peter Calcara, PICPA vice president of government relations, at pcalcara@picpa.org.

    The task force plans to release a report by early June.

     

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    A Look at the Week of Feb. 20 in Harrisburg    

    Following the Presidents’ Day holiday, the Pennsylvania House and Senate appropriations committees will spend the next few weeks examining the details of Gov. Tom Wolf’s $32.3 billion fiscal year 2017-2018 budget, which he released on Feb. 7. Hearings will feature the heads of departments, educational institutions, and row offices who will weigh in on the proposed spending plan.

    The House Appropriations Committee will kick things off on Tuesday, Feb. 21, with the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) providing an economic and revenue outlook in the morning, followed by the departments of Revenue and State in the afternoon. In the Senate, the Treasury Department will be first, followed by IFO in the afternoon.

    On Feb. 22, the House Appropriations Committee will meet with Pennsylvania’s two public pension systems – the Public School Employees Retirement System and the State Employees Retirement System – and the Labor and Industry as well as Transportation departments. In the Senate, the Department of State, Auditor General, and Attorney General will discuss their proposed spending plans with members of the Appropriations Committee.

    House Appropriations budget hearings on Feb. 23 include the Treasury Department, Auditor General, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and the Attorney General. Senators will get an opportunity to question representatives from the State System of Higher Education, the State Police, and Homeland Security.

     

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    Ryan Introduces Bill to Enforce Audit Responses   

    State Rep. Frank Ryan, CPA (R-Lebanon), introduced legislation that will compel state agencies to respond to audit findings and recommendations by the office of state Auditor General.

    “In my examination of the Auditor General’s audit reports, I have been stunned to find the amount of times that audit recommendations are ignored and/or not responded to,” noted Ryan, who is also a member of the PICPA. “The lack of response, which exposes the commonwealth to millions and potentially billions in wasted funds annually, occurs because the law does not provide for any penalties for failing to correct these deficiencies.”

    House Bill 453 amends The Fiscal Code by implementing legislation language that will require any agency receiving funds to respond within 120 days of an audit or funding will be suspended by appropriations.

    The bill is pending in the House State Government Committee.

     

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    Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Expand Growing Greener Program  

    Rep. Alex Charlton (R-Delaware) introduced legislation to provide a much-needed boost in funding for conservation, preservation, and recreation projects across Pennsylvania.

    House Bill 503, also known as Growing Greener III, would provide an additional $315 million annually to invest in conserving and restoring land and water resources; preserving open space; and investing in parks, recreation areas, greenways, and trails.

    Growing Greener was created in 1999 and enhanced with the passage of Growing Greener II in 2005. Since its inception, the nationally recognized program has funded hundreds of local parks and trail projects; conserved more than 50,000 acres of threatened open space; and protected more than 78,000 acres of farmland.

    The bill has been referred to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

     

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    IFO Reports on Gaming Trends in State  

    The Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) issued a report of gaming trends in Pennsylvania.

    The research brief contains current and historical trends for casino gaming, pari-mutuel gaming, and the lottery. The brief also presents casino gaming revenues, tax rates, and effective tax rates for adjacent states, which likely influence trends for Pennsylvania. The final section displays how revenues from the three types of gaming were used in the state budget for the most recent year of actual data, fiscal year 2015-2016.

    The report notes that following three consecutive years of decline, gaming revenues in the state grew 3.9 percent in fiscal year 2015-2016. Revenue gains were realized across all gaming types: slots (2.2 percent), table games (6.7 percent), pari-mutuel (1.8 percent), and the lottery (5.7 percent).

    However, revenues through the first seven months of fiscal year 2016-2017 suggest a reversal of those trends.

     

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    PlanCon Committee Holds Public Hearing in York  

    On Feb. 13, the Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction Advisory Committee held a public hearing to continue discussion and receive testimony related to the state’s reimbursement program for school districts for costs associated with construction, reconstruction, and lease of public school buildings (commonly known as PlanCon). Sen. Pat Browne, CPA (R-Lehigh) and PICPA member, and Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York) co-chaired the meeting.

    Those who testified included the Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners, the Keystone Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the Global Leadership Academy Charter School in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools Board of Trustees, the Montessori Regional Charter School in Erie, First Capital Engineering, and the Red Lion Area School District.

    The committee was established pursuant to Act 25 of 2016 to review and make recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly.

     

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    Bill Proposes CPA Pilot Program with Volunteer Firefighters  

    Rep. Rosemary Brown (R-Monroe/Pike) reintroduced legislation to create a program for CPAs to assist volunteer firefighter organizations. It would establish a four-year continuing professional education (CPE) pilot program for CPAs who volunteer their time to assist volunteer fire companies with their financial records.

    Under the pilot program, licensees can earn up to 40 hours of CPE and a waiver of the biennial license fee. The CPA may only review financial records and may not perform an audit. Oversight of the CPA would be conducted by the CPE program sponsor, and CPAs would be assigned by the CPE program sponsor. The CPAs can offer recommendations and suggestions about how to better organize and structure a fire company’s finances.

    The bill is pending in the House Professional Licensure Committee. The PICPA, which was not consulted prior to the introduction of the legislation, has concerns with this proposal. We are reviewing the bill and developing a list of objections that we intend to share with the committee.

     

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    Hearing on Bill to Reduce Opioid Abuse in Workers’ Comp Program   

    The House Labor and Industry Committee, led by Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), held a public hearing Feb. 15 on legislation that focuses on a drug formulary for the Workers’ Compensation Program to help reduce instances of opioid abuse. The bill, House Bill 18, is sponsored by Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh/Berks).

    Testifiers will include the Pennsylvania Insurance Federation, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, the Department of Labor and Industry, and the Work Loss Data Institute.

     

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