By Luke Bernstein
A Schuylkill County small businessman proved the power individuals can have when they get involved in their government.
In late August, state Rep. Tim Twardzik, R-123, Butler Twp., held a public hearing in Pottsville to discuss issues facing small businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dave Crouse, owner of 3Cs Family Restaurant in Orwigsburg, attended and reported a significant increase in his unemployment compensation tax rating. Schuylkill County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Robert S. Carl Jr. heard this and notified the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
After researching the issue and talking with the state Department of Labor & Industry, the PA Chamber Government Affairs team discovered that pandemic shutdowns were unintentionally triggering imminent UC tax rate increases on nearly 3,000 businesses across the commonwealth.
Working with Twardzik, state Sen. Dave Argall, R-29, Rush Twp., and other elected officials, as well as the Wolf administration, we developed legislation so these employers who were forced to shut down during the pandemic could maintain their lower UC tax rate.
Once the bill was introduced, chambers of commerce throughout the commonwealth rallied to support the effort and help employers in their own communities. More than 60 local chambers signed a letter to the General Assembly urging support for the bill, and many followed up with direct outreach to their local legislators.
Their advocacy paid off. Within nine legislative voting days, right before the session concluded for the year, that legislation reached Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk and was signed into law as Act 156 of 2022.
This effort underscores the effectiveness of local businesses and chambers working with the PA Chamber to advance pro-business public policy and benefit our economy. Small businesses that have already faced so many financial headwinds during the pandemic and are battling inflation should not have been burdened with an unfair tax hike.
I encourage you to get involved and stay active in your local chamber. Your voice matters!
The PA Chamber looks forward to working with our local chamber partners in communities statewide as we move forward with the shared mission of creating the strong, safe and economically vibrant communities we all deserve.
Luke Bernstein is president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
This op-ed appeared in the Republican Herald on November 20, 2022.