Legislative Update

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

  • Week Ending June 8, 2018

    by PICPA Government Relations | Jun 08, 2018


    The Week Ahead in the General Assembly 

    At the beginning of the June 11 work week in Harrisburg, there is little news on a budget agreement. House and Senate committees, though, will be busy. Also, PICPA members from across the state will convene in the state capital this week for the 17th annual Day on the Hill advocacy program.

    The House Finance Committee will meet June 12 to consider House Bill 2303, sponsored by Rep. Michael Corr, CPA (inactive)(R-Montgomery). The bill, which is an initiative sponsored by the PICPA, would permit the executor or administrator of a decedent’s estate to elect to file a combined annual income tax return for an estate and revocable trust during the period the estate is open.

    The Senate Republican Policy Committee convenes on June 12 for a briefing on welfare reform efforts. The House State Government Committee will meet to consider House Bill 2209, sponsored by PICPA member Rep. Frank Ryan, CPA (R-Lebanon), which would require all state agencies to be subject to an initial performance audit conducted by an experienced auditor.

    On June 13, the House Commerce Committee will consider Rep. Marguerite Quinn’s (R-Bucks) legislation, House Bill 1360, which amends the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act to establish requirements for third-party solicitors, new disclosure methods, background disclosures, and an increase of fines and fees.

     

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    Corr Won’t Seek Reelection; House Welcomes New Members

    State Rep. Michael Corr (R-Montgomery), took to social media to announce that he and his wife are expecting their fourth child in the fall, and that he will not be seeking reelection in November as a result.

    “It is, and has been, a great honor to serve the people of the 150th Legislative District and to be a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly,” Corr said. “I think the age-old adage is true: ‘family first,’ and that’s what’s driving me in these circumstances.”

    Corr, a CPA (inactive) and attorney, is the 26th state legislator to announce he or she will not be seeking reelection this year. Corr was unopposed in the May primary. His replacement on the ballot will be selected by the Montgomery County Republican Committee.

    While Corr announced his retirement, the state House welcomed three new lawmakers this week. State Rep. Tim O’Neal (R-Washington), Rep. Helen Tai (D-Bucks), and Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga) were sworn-in. All three won special elections last month. The House is now at its full complement of 203 members—121 Republicans and 82 Democrats.

     

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    IFO Monthly Trends Report

    The Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) issued its May edition of the Monthly Trends Report. The report compares fiscal year 2017-2018 revenues to the IFO’s official estimate originally released in June 2017 and updated in December to reflect the impact of tax law changes that were enacted with the state budget. Through May, collections are meeting the IFO projections.

    The report also compares collections to the prior year. The May 2018 General Fund revenues of $2.46 billion reflect a decrease of $125 million (-4.9 percent) compared with the same month in the prior year. Other revenue highlights:

    • Tax revenue increased by 8.3 percent for the month.
    • Corporate net income tax increased by 31.9 percent for the month. Taxpayer response to a recent change in the due date for final returns may contribute to this result.
    • Nonmotor sales tax increased by 7.0 percent for the month, bringing the three-month average growth rate (after adjustments for various transfers) to 5.9 percent, and the 12-month average growth rate to 4.9 percent.
    • Motor vehicle sales tax increased by 4.8 percent for the month, bringing the three-month average growth rate to 4.3 percent and the 12-month average growth rate to 1.3 percent.
    • Personal income tax withholding increased by 2.3 percent for the month. Adjusted for due dates, the three- and 12-month average growth rates were 4.9 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.
    • Realty transfer tax increased by 10.9 percent for the month, bringing the three-month average growth rate to 17.2 percent and the 12-month average growth rate to 9.8 percent.
    • Cigarette tax decreased by 4.5 percent for the month.
    • Nontax revenue decreased by 96.2 percent for the month.

     

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    Conventional Oil and Gas Industry Oversight Earns House Approval

    The state House passed legislation to ensure oversight of the conventional oil and gas industry. The bill is the latest step in a long fight to stop the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from applying regulations intended to address unconventional, deep-well drilling in the Marcellus Shale to shallow-well drilling.

    House Bill 2154, sponsored by Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron, Mckean, Potter), would enact an updated Oil and Gas Act, like the one that governed the conventional oil and gas industry prior to the passage of Act 13 of 2012 and remains in effect today. The bill includes several regulatory updates, and would serve as the framework for future changes to rules affecting the conventional industry. It would not change any of the regulations currently in place for unconventional drilling.

    Other key elements of the bill would boost the plugging of orphan wells and grant DEP the authority to issue permits to allow municipalities to use brine for dust control, road stabilization, anti-icing, and deicing.

    The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

     

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    Small Business Development Focus of Legislative Package

    New legislation designed to aid small businesses through specific financial incentives such as tax-deferred savings accounts and exemptions from certain business fees was unveiled by Sens. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) and John Blake (D-Lackawanna).

    Senate Bill 1195 would exempt business start-up fees for women-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, minority-owned, disadvantaged small businesses or microenterprise. Fees for other businesses that do not receive the full exemption will have a 50 percent reduction in the cost of those fees. The exempted fees must be used for opening a business.

    Senate Bill 1196 would create tax-deferred savings accounts for small businesses. The proposal, patterned after legislation in New York state, allows any small business to deposit profits into tax deferred accounts. The funding can then be used tax free if targeted for job creation.

    The bills are pending in committee for study.

     

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    Committee Approves Bill on Continuing Education Carryover

    Legislation allowing continuing education carryover for each of the 29 state licensing boards under the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs was reported by the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee. The bill passed the House unanimously on April 11, 2018.

    House Bill 1343, sponsored by Rep. Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny), grants the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affair's licensing boards and commissions the ability to allow their licensees with excess continuing education credits to carry them over to the next biennial renewal. The carryover is only valid for one biennial renewal term.

    The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

     

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    Hearing Examines Neighborhood Assistance Program

    The state Senate Finance Committee held a public hearing on a bill to bolster support for a program that helps distressed neighborhoods. Senate Bill 512, introduced by Sens. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny), would increase the allocation for the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program (NAP).

    Senators heard testimony from a panel of business leaders in support of the measure. Created in 1967, NAP is intended to help distressed neighborhoods through the creation of partnerships between community-based organizations and the business and corporate community. To be eligible for NAP, an applicant must qualify under one or more of the following categories: community service, education, job training, crime prevention, or neighborhood assistance. 

     

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    School Security Bills Move through General Assembly

    State lawmakers are moving aggressively to address safety in schools following recent mass shootings in high schools in Florida and Texas. Both chambers are putting bipartisan legislation in place that could come up for final votes later this month.

    The House Education Committee this week approved House Bill 2215, sponsored by Rep. Sid Kavulich (D-Lackawanna), and House Bill 2327, sponsored by Rep. Mindy Fee (R-Lancaster). HB 2215 would require each school building to conduct two additional security drills in place of two fire drills. HB 2327 allows school boards to discuss school safety issues in executive session.

    The state Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1142, sponsored by PICPA member Sen. Pat Browne, CPA (R-Lehigh). The legislation establishes a Safe2Say Program for anonymous reporting of potential threats in schools. It would also require the state attorney general to administer the system and ensure the information can be sent to the appropriate law enforcement agencies and school officials for further investigation.

     

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    Wolf Acts on Equal Pay for Women

    Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order ending the practice of state agencies requiring a job applicant to provide their salary history during the hiring process, and he called on the General Assembly to pass similar protections for all working women in Pennsylvania.

    Executive Order 2018-18-03, Equal Pay for Employees of the Commonwealth, directs state agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction to follow these rules:

    • No longer ask job applicants their salary history during the hiring process
    • Base salaries on job responsibilities, position pay range, and the applicant’s job knowledge and skills
    • Clearly explain the pay range on job postings

    The executive order, which applies to management-level positions, takes effect in 90 days.

     

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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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