The state House and Senate are in session this week. There are a number of items of interest to the business community scheduled to be considered in committee or before the full House or Senate.
The Senate Finance Committee will meet today to vote on several tax reform proposals that will help to improve Pennsylvania’s competitive edge. The proposals include reducing the state’s Corporate Net Income Tax (one of the highest rates in the nation), exempting data centers from state sales tax and providing for “like-kind” exchange of tax deferrals.
The House Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee will also meet today to consider H.B. 1577, legislation that would amend the Price Gouging Act to impose reasonable limits on pricing restrictions, to protect businesses from enforcement action for raising prices during emergencies and simplify compliance, among other reforms.
The House Labor & Industry Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday to vote on H.B. 262, so-called “Right to Refuse” legislation that would prohibit employers from enforcing vaccine or medical testing requirement policies with respect to employees or job applicants. The bill establishes a private right of action and provides plaintiffs a three-year window to seek unlimited damages. The PA Chamber testified against this bill at a hearing in February.
The House and Senate are expected to take up companion pieces of legislation – S.B. 319 and H.B. 922 – that would clarify language in the Workers’ Compensation Act as it relates to subrogation rights. A long-standing principle of workers’ compensation has been the right of employers to be reimbursed for certain expenses if a third party is found liable for the injury. Courts have upheld so-called subrogation rights in order to hold negligent third-parties accountable, mitigate the impact on non-negligent employers and prevent double recovery by claimants. Subrogation has included allowing employers to offset future wage-loss and medical costs if the third-party recovery exceeds the compensation paid by the employer. However, in the 2018 Whitmoyer decision, the PA Supreme Court found that the ability to offset future costs only applied to wage-loss benefits, not medical expenses. This legislation makes a technical change to address the Court’s concern.
The House is also scheduled to take up H.B. 508, which would phaseout the federal unemployment compensation enhancements, including the extra $300 per week, in lieu of a return-to-work bonus. This legislation aims to help address workforce shortages employers are reporting as they struggle to fill open positions during the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The full list of committee meetings, which is subject to change, is available on the General Assembly website.