Together, we are building the foundation for a stronger, more vibrant Pennsylvania. Thanks to your membership support, the Pennsylvania Chamber carried your message to state lawmakers and achieved significant pro-business victories that will enhance the state's business climate, strengthen employers' bottom lines, maximize job growth and revitalize the state's economy. Here are the recent accomplishments we achieved on your behalf:
Investing in a 21st Century transportation infrastructure
Investing more than $2 billion annually in the state's roads, bridges and mass transit systems, Act 89 of 2013 is a comprehensive transportation plan that will enhance public safety, strengthen an infrastructure system that supports the flow of billions of dollars in goods each year, and create and retain more than 62,000 jobs.
Revamping the tax appeals process
For years, Pennsylvania's tax appeals system was one of the worst in the nation; but thanks to Act 52 of 2013, the system is now among the most favorable. By making comprehensive changes to the tax appeals system and restructuring the Board of Finance and Revenue, the Council on State Taxation improved the state's grading on tax appeals from a D to an A-minus. This change represented a significant victory for Pennsylvania employers, saving them both time and money.
Closing out the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax
One of the most burdensome taxes in the state, the CSFT will be off the books by January 2016. Despite calls by some to reverse or halt the phase out, the 2016 elimination will mark the end of a two decades battle to eliminate this uncompetitive tax on business assets that is imposed regardless of whether or not a company makes a profit.
Supporting employers through comprehensive tax reform
Thanks to important tax reforms in Act 52 of 2013, Pennsylvania is now a more affordable state in which to do business. This new law eliminates the inheritance tax, or "Death Tax," on small, family businesses; provides for $5,000 in additional tax deductions for new, start-up businesses; and increases the cap on Net Operating Loss deductions. Each of these changes will help create a more competitive business tax climate in Pennsylvania.
Fighting off $1 billion in new business taxes
An array of new tax increases was proposed this session that would have impacted Pennsylvania businesses—the most notable being the imposition of a natural gas severance tax. All told, the business community was up against more than $1 billion in proposed tax hikes—none of which gained the traction to move through the General Assembly.
Eliminating double taxation on Pennsylvania businesses
Recent court decisions had allowed local governments to assess the Business Privilege Tax, even if a business lacked a permanent base of operation within its borders. This made it possible for multiple taxing authorities to tax the same stream of income, exposing businesses to double taxation. Act 42 of 2014 clarifies the assessment, restoring predictability and fairness by imposing the tax when a business has a base of operation in the jurisdiction or when a business operates in a jurisdiction for more than 15 calendar days.
Fostering doctor/patient relationships and controlling healthcare costs
"Apology Legislation" enables medical professionals to acknowledge, express empathy, and take responsibility for an unforeseen outcome, without the risk of litigation based solely on the apology. This change will reduce the number of medical malpractice lawsuits, which could ultimately lead to lower healthcare costs and help to keep good doctors in the Commonwealth.
Ending Unemployment Compensation 'triple dipping'
Retired state employees who were temporarily re-hired had been taking advantage of the UC system by simultaneously collecting wages, pension benefits and unemployment benefits. This new law helps control costs within the state's unemployment compensation system by saving about $1 million annually.
Protecting Unemployment Compensation reforms
The PA Chamber successfully opposed attempts that would have exempted higher-wage seasonal workers from the new UC eligibility requirements established under Act 60 of 2012. If passed, this would have reversed about $26 million in cost-saving reforms, setting a troubling precedent for the future.
Controlling Workers' Compensation costs
Act 184 of 2014 closes a loophole in the law which allowed some physicians to dramatically mark up the price of drugs prescribed to workers' compensation patients. This new law caps the amount in which the workers' compensation system can be charged for prescription drugs, saving about $17 million annually by following the same pricing guidelines that pharmacies and other drug dispensers must adhere to and limiting the period in which physicians can dispense.
Fighting federal EPA mandates
Act 175 of 2014 provides the Pennsylvania General Assembly with additional oversight in approving the state's plan to comply with the federal Environmental Protection Agency's overreaching greenhouse gas emissions limits. This new level of oversight offers another layer of protection for job creators.
Defeating mandated wage hikes
Working to show that mandated wage hikes lead to job loss and stalled hiring, the PA Chamber aggressively fought an ongoing push by some lawmakers to implement an increase in the state's minimum wage—some proposals as high as $12 an hour. None of the plans were called up for a vote.
Protecting small businesses from major tax increases
Despite a well-intentioned effort by some lawmakers to "eliminate" school property taxes by increasing the state's personal income tax and increasing and expanding the state's sales tax, the PA Chamber showed why this plan would cut into employers' bottom lines.
Eliminating excessive environmental mandates
Act 162 of 2014 cuts through the red tape that unnecessarily costs employers time and money by eliminating the mandate that required riparian buffers to be used in areas around waterways.
These accomplishments continue the progress of building a better business climate in Pennsylvania, but much unfinished work remains.
The PA Chamber is focused on working with lawmakers to enact comprehensive pension reform; make responsible changes to our state's system for selling alcohol; further combat lawsuit abuse; and continue progress on vital tax reforms. We are geared up for a new legislative session, and look forward to tackling these and other key issues on behalf of our members.