The PA Chamber works every day to improve the Commonwealth’s business climate and make the state a more hospitable place for job creators to thrive. That includes pushing for pro-growth policies that will reduce burdens businesses in the Commonwealth currently face; as well as fighting back against proposals that will increase the cost of doing business. In 2017, thanks to our members’ support, the PA Chamber was successful in advocating for pro-business measures and defeating several proposals that would have created additional hurdles for employers, stifled economic growth and hurt the state’s competitive edge.
Act 5 of 2017 enrolls new state and public school employees into a hybrid pension plan with a 401(k)-style component — a long overdue first step to addressing the Commonwealth’s pension crisis.
The PA Supreme Court recently held that the $5 million net operating loss cap violates the state constitution. With the negotiations of the 17-18 budget, we secured changes that would increase the percentage cap to a more competitive 40 percent.
During the 2017-18 legislative session, the PA Chamber successfully defeated various attempts by lawmakers to impose new tax burdens on industry: including another severance tax on natural gas companies; a warehouse tax; a hotel tax; increased utility taxes; a technology tax; an insurance tax and more. All told, the PA Chamber saved employers $2 billion in costs by defeating these taxes and instituting other reform measures.
The state Department of Revenue issued a tax bulletin in Dec. 2017 that prohibited corporations from depreciating purchases until an asset was disposed or sold. This put Pennsylvania at an immediate competitive disadvantage, as it was the only state in the nation that implemented this type of policy. For the six months that followed, the PA Chamber worked to reverse the department’s misguided ruling. Now, Pennsylvania provides for allowable methods of depreciation which have provided a much-needed improvement to the Commonwealth’s tax structure and its overall competitiveness.
This new law streamlines local tax collection procedures, bringing more clarity and simplicity to the process of reporting the local Earned Income Tax. Additionally, Act 18 of 2018 bans the use of contingency fee collectors in the collection of the tax.
Prior to the enactment of Act 52, the definition for telecommunications in the Pennsylvania Tax Code had remained unchanged for approximately 15 years. During that time period, telecommunication technology drastically changed. This law updates the definition, creating uniformity within the state’s Tax Code.
Signed into law in the waning days of the 2017-18 legislative session, Act 131 of 2018 ensures the equal treatment of air freight companies under Pennsylvania tax law.
In December 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law the most sweeping national tax reforms in more than 30 years. The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act made a number of welcome and long overdue changes, most notably a dramatic reduction in the nation’s corporate tax rate from a highly uncompetitive 35 percent rate to 21 percent, along with other long overdue reforms to help businesses of all sizes and stimulate economic growth.
Act 107 of 2018 directs the state Department of Community and Economic Development to create a one-stop-shop online permitting portal for businesses, in order to help streamline and bring efficiency to existing permitting processes. Such efforts have already been employed with success within the Department of Environmental Protection, which has moved to e-permitting in a number of its programs.
The Delaware River Basin Commission has in place a de facto moratorium that bans energy development in 16 Pennsylvania counties which is financially devastating to the state’s economic growth and competitiveness. This PA Chamber-backed resolution – which was adopted in the fall of 2017 – urges the DRBC to suspend further consideration of a moratorium and confine its regulatory activities to its historical focus on water withdrawals within the basin. The Commission’s authority to issue the de facto moratorium is currently being challenged in court.
This important pro-growth measure eliminated the designation of steel slag as waste if it is sold commercially. Act 7 of 2018 benefits the growth of one of Pennsylvania’s most important and historic industries – steel manufacturing – and encourages the practice of reuse and recycling of industrial materials.
In 2017, the PA Supreme Court ruled in the Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board case to remove Impairment Rating Evaluations from the law, which for decades had brought structure and fairness to the process of determining if claimants could transition back to work and when benefits should be paid for the rest of an individual’s life. This decision led the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau to take the unprecedented action of filing for a mid-year loss cost increase, which industry experts conservatively estimated was costing employers $300 million annually in higher insurance costs.
Enacting a legislative fix was a PA Chamber priority ever since the Court’s ruling. Act 111 addresses the Court’s concern by updating the law with the most recent edition of the American Medical Association’s impairment guides. The end result is a law that will save the business community hundreds of millions of dollars each year and restore predictability to the law.
Act 132 of 2018 gives the Dept. of Labor and Industry tools to help address the solvency of the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund, including tools to prevent illegitimate claimants from accessing benefits; pursue and penalize negligent employers whose failure to purchase workers’ compensation coverage increases costs on other employers; and establish a list of designated health care providers in each county for medical treatment.
Act 158 of 2018 provides students alternative pathways to fulfill graduation requirements besides the Keystone Exams, including a career and technical education path. The PA Chamber understands that Pennsylvania students are a diverse group and that graduation requirements can and should, to a certain extent, reflect that diversity. This law was enacted shortly after the PA Chamber unveiled its 28th Annual Economic Survey which showed that employers cited finding qualified and skilled job candidates to fill open positions as their No. 1 issue – which our organization is addressing through our comprehensive workforce development initiative, “Start the Conversation Here.”
This law removes a barrier to work by providing a mechanism for those with low-level, nonviolent criminal records to have their record sealed from public view. More than one-third of Pennsylvania’s working-age citizens are estimated to have criminal records. Act 56 helps to address the Commonwealth’s workforce needs by making it easier for those individuals who have learned from past mistakes to enter the workforce.