Legislative Update

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

  • Week Ending March 30, 2018

    by PICPA Government Relations | Mar 30, 2018


    Business Depreciation Measure Stalls 

    Efforts to get a PICPA-supported House bill that restores depreciation deductions for Pennsylvania businesses onto Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk before the end of March have stalled. The earliest the bill could be brought up for consideration is April.

    The Pennsylvania Senate Finance Committee, which last week approved House Bill 2017, postponed a meeting Tuesday to consider Senate Bill 1056, legislation sponsored by Sen. Michele Brooks (R-Crawford, Erie, Mercer, Warren). SB 1056, which PICPA also supports, would reverse Department of Revenue (DOR) Corporate Tax Bulletin 2017-02 and restore full depreciation.

    House Bill 2017, sponsored by PICPA member Rep. Frank Ryan, CPA (R-Lebanon), was approved by the state House earlier this month and is on the Senate calendar for consideration.

    Both bills reverse the DOR’s bulletin and give businesses the ability to depreciate business expenses. Brooks’ bill, however, mirrors federal law by allowing full depreciation, which has significant cost implications to Pennsylvania’s General Fund.

    For more information on bonus depreciation, please read PICPA’s issue brief.

    The House returns to session the week of April 9, and the Senate is back April 16.

     

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    April to Be Designated Financial Literacy Month in Pennsylvania

    April is Financial Literacy Month in Pennsylvania thanks to a resolution that will be offered by PICPA member state Rep. John Maher, CPA. The resolution was filed and will be formally introduced when the House returns to session the week of April 9.

    House Resolution 777 notes that financial literacy is critically needed to achieve the personal financial goals that allow all Pennsylvanians to attain the highest quality of life available. The resolution also states that increasing the financial literacy of all economic and ethnic groups has proven successful in improving attitudes, leading to improved decision making, and providing a more secure future.

    Maher’s resolution calls on state legislators, employers, schools, service groups, community organizations, libraries, financial institutions, and the media to provide opportunities for financial literacy education for all Pennsylvanians through a variety of means, including collaboration with members of the PICPA.

     

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    That’s a Wrap

    Hearings on the 2018-2019 fiscal year $33 billion state budget wrapped up this week as the Senate Appropriations Committee held its final hearing on Tuesday.  

    Representatives of the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services offered updates on the proposed consolidation of the two agencies, on the effect of procurement contract disputes on consolidation, on the reauthorization of hospital assessments and how it will affect the General Fund, and on the rate structure for direct care workers.

    Senators also had several questions regarding Gov. Wolf’s veto of work requirements for Medicaid recipients, the evaluation and oversight of Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program, success of other states in implementing work requirements for able-bodied SNAP recipients, proposed funding cuts for programs and services for individuals with disabilities, ensuring schools have resources to evaluate mental health concerns, and prevalence of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania compared to neighboring states.

    The governor is proposing expenditures of $12.6 billion from the General Fund in 2018-2019 for the new Department of Health and Human Services, which is a net increase of $221 million above the agency’s revised 2017-2018 expenditures. 

     

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    Voter Registration Resources Available Online

    As voter registration drives gear up before the May 15 primary election, the Department of State reminds Pennsylvanians they can find information about their registration status and voter eligibility requirements on the department’s voter website, votesPA.com.

    Any Pennsylvanian who believes they are already registered to vote can check their registration status online.

    Individuals wishing to register to vote in the May 15 primary must be a citizen of the United States for at least one month before the primary; a resident of Pennsylvania and the election district in which the individual desires to register and vote for at least 30 days before the primary; and at least 18 years of age on or before the date of the primary.

    Monday, April 16, is the deadline to register to vote before the May primary. For complete information about voting in Pennsylvania, visit votesPA.com or call (877) 868-3772.

     

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    First-Time Home Buyer Savings Accounts

    Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) introduced Senate Bill 1066, which seeks to create First-Time Homebuyers Savings Accounts in Pennsylvania. Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie) introduced the House companion, House Bill 1981.

    The bills seek to allow first-time homebuyers to deposit money, which can be deducted from their state income tax, into a savings account for the exclusive purpose of purchasing a first home. Since the 2009 financial crisis, the number of first-time homebuyers has decreased significantly. According to the National Association of Realtors, the share of first-time homebuyers in the national home sale market has fallen from 45 percent to 32 percent.

    The bills have been referred to the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee and the House Urban Affairs Committee, respectively.

     

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    Pennsylvania Natural Gas Royalties Report

    The Independent Fiscal Office, in response to a legislative request, published an analysis that estimates the amount of statewide natural gas royalties paid and discusses the impact of a proposed severance tax on future landowner royalties.

    The analysis estimates natural gas royalty payments in Pennsylvania for calendar years 2012 through 2016 using available tax return data from the top natural-gas-producing counties and a group of non-producing (or control) counties.

    The IFO report discusses the potential impact on landowner royalty payments by the severance tax proposed in Gov. Wolf’s 2018-2019 Executive Budget.

     

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    Wolf Proposes Voting Reform Plan for Pennsylvania

    Gov. Wolf introduced his 21st century voting reform plan, which includes same day and automatic voter registration, modernized absentee voting, redistricting reform, and campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of special interests in Harrisburg.

    “These reforms have been championed by House and Senate Democrats to modernize our voting laws and put the people of Pennsylvania back in control of our elections. It’s time to remove barriers to voting, end gerrymandering, and curb special interests,” Wolf said.

    On Tuesday, the Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on redistricting reform. Senators discussed legislation that would change the way state and congressional seats are redistricted after the 2020 census. There are four Senate bills that have been introduced regarding redistricting: Senate Bills 22, 243, 464, and 767. Each bill would rely on the use of a commission to oversee congressional redistricting.

     

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    Bipartisan Legislation to Redesign the IRS

    Members of the U.S. House Oversight Subcommittee this week unveiled bipartisan legislation that proposes ways to redesign the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the first time since 1998. Chair Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and ranking member John Lewis (D-Ga.) released a discussion draft titled “The Taxpayer First Act.”

    “As a CPA, I know from experience the IRS can be very frustrating to deal with.” Jenkins said. “I am proud of the work this subcommittee has done to advance this initiative in a bipartisan fashion. The IRS reform bill we are releasing today will be a giant step forward in improving the taxpayer experience.”

    Lewis said, “The Oversight Subcommittee took our time and conducted thoughtful, bipartisan work to improve taxpayer administration. We held eight public hearings and hosted five roundtable discussions on many of the legislative proposals included in this draft bill.”

    After tax season, the PICPA Committee on Federal Taxation will look closely at this legislation. The PICPA looks forward to working with our Congressional delegation on this important measure to ensure that practitioners’ thoughts and concerns are addressed through the process.

     

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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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