York County Economic Summit

Last Thursday, PA Chamber Vice President of Government Affairs Alex Halper participated in a bipartisan economic summit organized by members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s York County delegation. Organized as a series of panel discussions, the event hosted officials from several leading industry groups to review state and local economic trends and offer their insights.

Lawmakers present included State Representatives Seth Grove, Joe D’Orsie, Kate Klunk, Dawn Keefer, Wendy Fink, Mike Jones, and Carol Hill-Evans. Staff representatives from the offices of Senators Kristen Phillips-Hill and Mike Regan were also in attendance.

Halper’s panel focused on the legislative and regulatory changes that can be implemented at the state level to positively impact job creation and economic development in Pennsylvania. Other panelists included Tom Palisin, Executive Director of the Manufacturer’s Association and Greg Moreland, State Director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Halper shared the PA Chamber’s comprehensive set of state-level tax and regulatory reforms aimed at fueling economic growth while making Pennsylvania more competitive for business. He mentioned the nearly 40,000 workers who left the Commonwealth for more business-friendly states last year, arguing these reforms will help reverse this trend and attract new investment.

Following the historic bipartisan passage of Act 53 last session, Pennsylvania’s corporate net income tax rate has been reduced from 9.99 percent (the second-highest in the nation) to 8.99 percent at the start of the year, and will continue to drop by 0.5 annually until it reaches 4.99 percent in the year 2031.

Halper identified legislation to accelerate the phasedown of the corporate net income tax rate, as well as a separate proposal to improve the treatment of net operating losses, as key policy priorities that employers want to see lawmakers act on this fall.

He also reaffirmed the PA Chamber’s support for legislation to modernize and streamline the process of applying for and receiving state permits, as well as a suite of proposals to bolster Pennsylvania’s workforce development efforts and address barriers to employment.

“We have a real opportunity with this upcoming fall session to continue making progress on pro-business policies that are going to move our state forward,” Halper told lawmakers. “Pennsylvania needs to become more competitive, and the way we accomplish that is by making it easier and more affordable for companies to do business in the Commonwealth.”

For more information on the PA Chamber’s economic development priorities, please click here

UPS Opens New Harrisburg Regional Hub

PA Chamber President and CEO Luke Bernstein attended the Grand Opening of UPS’ new, state-of-the-art 24/7 East Zone Regional Hub in Harrisburg last Wednesday and presented the company with honors recognizing its substantial investment into Pennsylvania’s economy.

Strategically located within a day’s drive of nearly two-thirds of the major population centers in the United States, UPS’ Harrisburg hub is the fourth-largest hub in the company’s network.

The new 775,000 square-foot facility, now fully operational, employs 1,700 people and is equipped with advanced automation and other innovations that enable it to process more than one million packages per day.

As reported by PennLive:

“Inside the massive facility with high ceilings sits conveyors processing packages, which go through camera tunnels that will scan the packages. That in turn communicates with the system to tell that package where to go, ultimately heading to an individual trailer that will take it to its final destination.”

Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Rick Siger also attended and spoke during the event. “The economic impact of this project is massive,” he said. “When this project was first announced a few years ago, it was part of a statewide investment by UPS of about $1.4 billion into their operation.”

Following the event, Bernstein spoke to the board of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber, where he emphasized the important partnerships that bolster pro-business advocacy across the state.

Bernstein recognized Harrisburg Regional Chamber CEO Ryan Unger and his team for their tireless work promoting economic growth in the region and fighting for policies that will strengthen business development in central Pennsylvania.

Bernstein also outlined the PA Chamber’s key legislative priorities for the fall session: tax reform, permitting reform, and workforce development. Together, these initiatives constitute a comprehensive framework for making Pennsylvania a more competitive state for business, which he says is critical to attracting additional investment and jobs into the Commonwealth.

Chamber Chats: Fall Session Priorities

Lawmakers return to Harrisburg later this month, and the PA Chamber is excited to continue promoting bipartisan, pro-business solutions we are championing to make Pennsylvania a more competitive state for business.

For the latest edition of Chamber Chats, the PA Chamber’s Lindsay Andrews caught up with our Vice President of Government Affairs, Alex Halper, to discuss the organization’s top policy priorities as his team gears up for start of the fall session. A minimally revised transcript of their conversation is below.

(Click to view video)


We have had a good start to 2023 and some of the things that got done in the budget. Can you talk to us a little bit about what was achieved on behalf of business and what we would like to see coming up in the fall?

AH: Yeah, we have made some real progress on getting some of the top Chamber priorities as part of the legislative agenda – the priorities that lawmakers, that the governor are talking about.

Things like improving Pennsylvania’s tax code. We had tremendous progress last session to make Pennsylvania more competitive as it relates to business taxes, but a lot more work to do and we have a real opportunity this year, this session, and this fall to make more progress.

What can you tell us about the specifics of that progress? What would you like to see get done?

AH: Last year, for the first time in decades, Pennsylvania reduced its corporate net income tax rate. And we needed to because we had the second-highest rate in the country.

The problem is, while we did that, other states are making pro-business, pro-growth tax reform as well, and Pennsylvania is just not keeping up. Governor Shapiro, when he was running for office, talked about reducing those tax rates more quickly, and expediting those reductions.

We thought that was a great idea; we supported the governor’s call for expediting the reduction of the corporate tax rate. There is legislation in both the House and Senate to do that, and we are going to keep pushing to get that done.

What about the treatment of net operating losses? What can you tell us about that? I know that has been a long-term goal for the business community.

AH: Pennsylvania unfortunately puts itself at a great disadvantage as it relates to net operating losses. That basically means that for businesses that experience losses – they lose money in a year – they are often able to use those losses to offset profits in a future year. Of course, our goal for all businesses is to make a profit but a lot of times, you might have a startup company where they are investing in capital, into people, and they are losing a lot of money.

The tax code, both at the federal and the state level, allows companies to offset those losses and reinvest in their company. Pennsylvania, though, does not treat those losses nearly as favorably as practically every other state in the country.

We basically impose a tax on startup companies, which is the last thing we want to be doing if our goal is to make Pennsylvania the most competitive state in the country and attract new, innovative businesses.

There is legislation, again, in both the Senate and the House, that would make Pennsylvania at least on par with other states for how it treats these losses. This bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Finance Committee earlier this session, and we are working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle – with the House and Senate and the Governor’s Office – to keep that legislation advancing and hopefully get it done.

Moving on to workforce development because I know that is huge for us. A good, strong, bipartisan issue and I know that we took the lead in the first-of-its-kind Clean Slate legislation, what is next for that? What is next for workforce development in the fall?

AH: It is a challenging issue. Employers continue to struggle finding people to fill open positions. There are many, many reasons why the labor market is so tight, and that means we need to have many, many solutions to address this challenge.

You mentioned Clean Slate, which is about helping to encourage Pennsylvanians who have a criminal record or are recently incarcerated, trying to encourage them back into the workforce. That needs to continue to be a priority. We are supporting legislation that would build on Clean Slate, which provides for  automatic expungement of certain lower-level, non-violent offenses.

Similar to Clean Slate, there are efforts to reform Pennsylvania’s probation systems, and we have advocated for some employment-specific reforms to probation.

Things like that—there are no silver bullets to solving Pennsylvania’s and the nation’s workforce crisis. But these are some specific solutions that we think will help a lot of Pennsylvanians but also a lot of Pennsylvania employers.

I also know that permitting reform is critical and an important issue for employers wanting to come to the state. What can you tell us about what is being done to streamline our permitting process and attract business and jobs to Pennsylvania?

AH: It simply takes too long, it is too complicated, and there is not enough transparency in the system of applying for and receiving state permits for projects—if you are looking to expand your facility, for example.

Legislation passed the state Senate earlier this year with bipartisan support to improve those systems, create more efficiency and more transparency. Employers want to know how long it is going to take and how and when to make key investments. This is not about cutting corners as it relates to environmental regulations, this is about understanding and having uniformity with the process and transparency.

This legislation is now pending in the state House, we think it would go a long way toward improving permitting in Pennsylvania and again something we are hoping will continue to advance this fall session.

This is something that has the support of business and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as well as the Shapiro administration.

AH: That is true. One of the first actions that Gov. Shapiro took upon taking office was issuing an executive order to improve permitting in Pennsylvania. Part of this legislation would codify Gov. Shapiro’s executive order so that it exists in Pennsylvania law long after his tenure as governor is completed. We think there are some very good ideas in there and we look forward to continuing to work with a broad coalition to make this happen.


For more information on these issues, please visit the On the Hill section of our website.

Pa. House panel examines consumer data privacy bill

Legislation to protect consumer data privacy drew mixed views from businesses and business groups Wednesday during an information-gathering meeting before a House committee.

The Commerce Committee looked at House Bill 1201 aimed at protecting consumers’ digital privacy, allowing them to access their personal information that’s been collected, giving them legal rights to decline or opt out of the sale of their personal information and banning the sale of all private information for consumers under age 16.

HB1201 sponsored by Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Philadelphia, would give the state attorney general authority to enforce a digital privacy law.

The committee heard from four business-oriented groups and received written testimony.

The opening testifier, Jay Summerson, a Microsoft executive, said his firm supports HB1201 because it provides strong consumer rights, lets consumers opt out of intrusive data collection, places obligations on companies to be better stewards of consumer data and puts sole authority for law enforcement in the hands of the attorney general.

Committee Majority Chairman John Galloway, D-Bucks, asked how far can state lawmakers go in regulating this matter. He said the committee plans to form a working group on the issue.

“In an ideal world, this would be a federal solution,” said Mr. Summerson, adding he’s not aware of any challenges to a state’s authority to deal with this issue.

Tim Knapp, counsel for Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, said the federation supports the bill concept, but added the insurance industry wants an exemption from it because they are already regulated by federal and state laws regarding sharing any consumer information.

“We are a very heavily regulated industry,” said Mr. Knapp.

This issue affects the personalization of the shopping experience, said John Holub, executive director for the Pennsylvania Retailers Association. He said the association generally supports the legislation because it protects retailer’s ability to provide discounts offered through consumer loyalty programs.

“We strongly support enforcement by the attorney general,” said Mr. Holub.

Mr. Holub said the bill’s exemption for small businesses that process less than 50,000 transactions annually is a low threshold and should be higher.

In written testimony, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry said it would prefer a federal law addressing this topic, but acknowledged that Congress has yet to act.

Chamber executive Alex Halper said any state law on consumer data privacy should recognize that employers may struggle to interpret the law and provide an opportunity for missteps to be corrected, draw a distinction between consumer data and standard personal data that employers collect from employees and recognize that some personal data is important to societal goals from public safety to improving medicine and health among other objectives.

Sens. Maria Collett, D-Montgomery and Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, have sponsored a companion bill in the Senate.

PA Chamber Testifies Before U.S. Senate Panel on Environmental Regulations

HARRISBURG – Today, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry Director of Government Affairs Kevin Sunday testified before the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight. The hearing, entitled “The Impacts of Plastics Production and Disposal on Environmental Justice Communities,” explored the balance between commerce and conservation.


In his testimony, Sunday highlighted the importance of enacting public policy that expands opportunities for all citizens and advances sustainability while supporting economic growth. He emphasized the regressive nature of high energy prices on vulnerable communities and the paramount need for domestic energy development as a means to combat energy poverty.

Sunday outlined Pennsylvania’s significant contributions as a leading producer of energy, electricity, gas, construction materials, food, medicine, and life-sustaining products. He also noted the ongoing efforts in the Commonwealth to establish a circular economy that minimizes water and plastics waste.

“The abundant natural resources of our state have led this country through every major energy transition that has occurred in the past 165 years,” Sunday said.

Sunday stressed the importance of a robust and reliable supply of energy and life-sustaining products, as underscored by the pandemic and recent supply chain shocks. He urged policymakers to consider the economic and environmental benefits of Pennsylvania’s energy and plastics industries, which support over $24 billion in annual economic output and 55,000 jobs, and cautioned against pursuing measures that would constrain this vital sector.

“Limiting domestic output of this industry will produce negative economic and environmental costs and impacts, from raising the cost of goods and services for working families and sending more jobs overseas, to increasing global emissions and an increase in the amount of waste sent to landfills,” Sunday said.

Sunday emphasized the desire for job creation in environmental justice communities and the negative public health consequences of high unemployment. “One of the key criteria in defining an environmental justice community is the percentage of households or individuals in poverty,” Sunday said. “These communities want jobs.”

Sunday also underscored the importance of the state’s plastics and petrochemical industries in manufacturing goods including medical devices, products, vaccines, ammonia, and fertilizer. He highlighted progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the significant energy savings achieved through manufacturing goods from recycled materials. Sunday stressed that plastics remain essential in taking advantage of renewable technologies and reducing emissions.

“Plastics play a key role in renewable technologies and batteries – from light-weighting automobiles to composite components of wind turbines and solar panels, so it is all the more important that we develop strategies for their responsible use and recycling,” Sunday said.

Pennsylvania’s approach to environmental justice, according to Sunday, ensures public participation from impacted communities and produces durable permitting decisions. He urged policymakers to define clear standards that promote fairness and allow communities to thrive.

“As state and federal regulators and legislators define policy goals with respect to environmental justice, the implementation of these goals must come through clearly articulated, objective regulatory standards, established by statute and through a rulemaking process, that are applied fairly and without excessive conditioning of permits and processes.”

The PA Chamber of Business and Industry strongly supports legislative efforts to drive meaningful permitting reform and increase investment in the industry. Sunday acknowledged the bipartisan leadership of Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and their commitment to enacting permitting reforms.

Sunday maintained that Pennsylvania’s chemicals, manufacturing, and recycling sectors play a crucial role in fostering inclusive and sustainable growth. He cited examples of ongoing projects, such as the International Recycling Group’s zero landfill plastics recycling facility in Erie, Monroe Energy’s refinery in Delaware County, and Shell’s polymers manufacturing facility in southwestern Pennsylvania. These projects not only support economic development but also empower local communities through responsible environmental practices.

“We encourage a balanced discussion that recognizes the important economic benefit of our state’s energy, manufacturing, and chemical sectors as well as any environmental impacts that need to be addressed,” Sunday said.

In closing, Sunday emphasized that strength in these economic sectors is necessary for growth, food security, and energy independence. He highlighted the importance of Pennsylvanian and American-made products in meeting the challenges of climate change and supporting a growing global economy.