As we closed out the 2021-22 session, the power of partnerships was on display as the PA Chamber worked with elected officials, one of our local chamber partners and a small business owner to secure a tangible victory for thousands of Pennsylvania businesses.
Pandemic-related business closures were unfortunately going to significantly, and unfairly, increase unemployment compensation tax rates for one Schuylkill County small business owner, as he reported at a public hearing hosted by state Rep. Tim Twardzik (R-Schuylkill) in Pottsville in late August. When the PA Chamber’s Government Affairs team was alerted to this fact by Schuylkill County President Bob Carl and discovered that the increase was going to affect nearly 3,000 businesses statewide, we leapt into action, working with Rep. Twardzik and state Sen. Dave Argall (R-Carbon/Luzerne/Schuylkill), other lawmakers and the Wolf administration to craft, pass and enact a legislative fix that would exempt businesses who were forced to shut down during the pandemic from having to pay the much higher UC tax rate. Part of this advocacy included working with a coalition of more than 60 local chambers urging the General Assembly to support the bill, and many of those chambers followed up with direct outreach to their local legislators. Only nine legislative days passed from the time we learned of this issue to the time we successfully implemented a legislative fix. Act 156 of 2022 was a crowning achievement in a year of monumental victories for Pennsylvania’s business community!
PA Chamber President and CEO Luke Bernstein has been sharing this story as he’s visited more than 35 local chambers of commerce across Pennsylvania. Why? It’s a perfect example of how engagement from the local level to the state chamber helps us to advance public policy benefitting all businesses. Had the small business owner never expressed his concerns to his local chamber president, and had the local chamber president not passed those concerns to the PA Chamber, 3,000 businesses would now be paying an astronomically high UC tax rate.
But that employer’s voice carries enormous value, not only to his local chamber but to the PA Chamber and every elected official who voted “yes” to get the UC tax rate exemption to the finish line. Your voice matters, no matter the size of your business or where you’re located – and it always will.
As we look toward 2023 and new opportunities for partnership with incoming lawmakers and Gov.-Elect Shapiro, the PA Chamber is spreading the message to local chambers and employers – get in the game! Now is the time to get engaged and stay engaged in your chamber. We have more influence to get things done and build a stronger economy when we speak with one voice. We assure you – policymakers are listening.