Legislative Update

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

  • Week Ending Sept. 14, 2018

    by PICPA Government Relations | Sep 14, 2018


    Scarnati Introduces Open Primary Legislation 

    Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) introduced legislation to allow for open primaries in Pennsylvania.

    “In our most recent primary election, only 18 percent of Pennsylvania’s registered voters went to the ballot box to cast a vote,” Scarnati said. “The low turnout can in part be attributed to voters feeling disenfranchised by both major parties, who have taken control of our primary process. Allowing more people the opportunity to have a voice in their representation is an important step toward ensuring democracy.”

    Senate Bill 1234 has been referred to the Senate State Government Committee.

     

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    Tax Practitioners – Take this Quick Poll

    The passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created challenges and planning opportunities for taxpayers and CPA tax practitioners. A recent study by the Government Accountability Office indicates that millions more American taxpayers may owe money to the IRS when they file their 2018 returns. The PICPA is asking you to complete this 5-minute survey about your experiences with your clients on the new tax withholding tables so we may, in turn, persuade our media contacts to write about this issue before it’s too late for the public to make payroll adjustments if needed. The poll closes Oct. 1, 2018.

     

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    Unfunded Pension Liability Solvency Reserve Fund

    PICPA member state Rep. Frank Ryan, CPA (R-Lebanon), introduced legislation to help Pennsylvania address its unfunded pension liability, which has now passed the $70 billion mark.

    House Bill 2608 will create the Unfunded Liability Solvency Reserve Fund. If the Secretary of the Budget certifies that there is a surplus in the General Fund for a specific fiscal year, any of the surplus that is not deposited in the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund will be deposited into this new fund.

    Additionally, the General Assembly may appropriate an additional amount to be deposited into the fund. The fund will be used exclusively to make an additional contribution to the State Employees Retirement System and Public School Employees Retirement System Funds in excess of the actuarially required contribution for the fiscal year.

    The bill has been referred to the House Finance Committee. 

     

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    State Anti-Trust Regulations Proposed

    The Office of Attorney General (OAG) published an extensive set of regulations under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act designed to provide the office with anti-trust enforcement authority.

    Published Aug. 11, 2018, in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, the proposed rulemaking is designed to update the OAG’s regulations on unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The OAG has determined that it is necessary for the enforcement and the administration of the act to amend the existing automotive industry trade practices regulations to provide adequate protections to consumers regarding the inspection of motor vehicles and the written disclosure of certain attributes of a motor vehicle’s roadworthiness. The OAG has also determined that it is necessary for the enforcement and the administration of the act to add regulations concerning unfair market trade practices.

    Interested persons are invited to submit written comments to antitrust@attorneygeneral.gov or to the Antitrust Section, Office of Attorney General, Strawberry Square, 14th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17120 within 30 days after publication of the proposed rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

    The Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform, of which the PICPA is a member, is advising businesses to carefully review the proposed regulations. It is important that the attorney general and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission hear from concerned businesses and residents about this proposal.

     

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    New Tax Credit Proposed for Depressed Areas

    A state lawmaker is introducing legislation she hopes will incentivize businesses to invest in depressed areas of the state.

    State Rep. Pam Snyder’s (D-Fayette, Greene) legislation, House Bill 2626, would create the Depressed Area Tax Credit program to provide businesses a tax credit for contributing to educational programs occurring outside the school setting and in areas the Department of Community of Economic Development certify as economically disadvantaged. The credit granted for approved programs shall not exceed $5 million in any fiscal year.

    Snyder notes, “This is the perfect blend between the Educational Improvement Tax Credit and the Neighborhood Assistance Program Tax Credit, as it would help encourage needed funding and support for educational opportunities but provide them in areas where they’re most underserved.”

    HB 2626 has been referred to the House Finance Committee.

     

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    Oral Argument Scheduled in Budget Lawsuit

    Commonwealth Court heard oral arguments Sept. 13 in the lawsuit seeking to hold Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania General Assembly accountable for violating the state constitution’s balanced budget requirement.

    The lawsuit -- filed in September 2017 by Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of Commonwealth Partners, state Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver), and Harrisburg-area small businessman Ben Lewis -- asks the court to enforce the state constitution’s mandate that spending not exceed revenues.

    In December, Commonwealth Court rejected attempts to have the case dismissed. In her decision, Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer wrote, “[T]here are sufficient legal and factual issues that remain in dispute, such that this Court cannot find petitioners’ constitutional claims moot.”

     

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    Website Allows Vets and Families to Search for Lost War Medals, Ribbons

    Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella announced a new phase in his initiative to reunite veterans and their families with the military decorations they have earned. Treasury has launched a new website solely dedicated to reuniting military decorations that have been reported as unclaimed property with their rightful owners.

    The new search function allows users to search their names, or the name of a loved one, to see if Treasury is holding a military decoration as unclaimed property. In addition, users can look through a photo gallery featuring some of the decorations that are in the unclaimed property vault, as well as medals that have been returned to their rightful owners. Military decorations are often reported to Treasury as contents held in a safe deposit box that has gone unclaimed or abandoned.

    To search for unclaimed military decorations, click here. To search for other unclaimed property, including uncashed checks, forgotten stocks, and more, click here.

     

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    U.S. House Committee Approves Tax Reform 2.0

    The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee approved “Tax Reform 2.0,” a package of bills that would make permanent already-passed tax changes for individuals and small businesses and make it easier for families to save for retirement.

    Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) said, “By advancing Tax Reform 2.0, we are making sure America’s middle-class families and our small businesses keep more of what they earn, helping families and workers save more for their future, and spurring more new business start-ups here in America.”

    The following bills are part of the package:

    • H.R. 6760, the Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018, makes permanent cuts to individual tax rates that took effect this year and locks in other changes that are set to expire at the end of 2025.
    • H.R. 6757, the Family Savings Act of 2018, removes the age limit on individual retirement account contributions, and would exempt people with less than $50,000 in their retirement accounts from taking required minimum distributions.
    • H.R. 6756, the American Innovation Act of 2018, would let new businesses deduct up to $20,000 in start-up expenses in the year they are incurred as long as they meet certain qualifications.

    For more on Tax Reform 2.0, read PICPA member Robert Duquette’s recent CPA Now blog.  

     

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Contact Government Relations

governmentrelations@picpa.org
Peter Calcara | 717-232-1821
Alexandra Fabian | 717-232-1821
Annette Knapp | 717-232-1821

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