Chambers Continue to Support Gas Pipeline Project

With information from the PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Last Wednesday, PA Chamber Director of Government Affairs Kevin Sunday spoke before a DEP permit hearing in Lycoming County in support of an air quality permit for an expanded compressor station on Williams’ Transcontinental pipeline system. The expanded station would allow for increased capacity on the system in advance of the build-out of the Atlantic Sunrise project, which received key clearance from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this past winter and is awaiting several water and wetlands permits from DEP and the Army Corps before construction can begin in earnest later this spring. At the hearing, Sunday noted that infrastructure projects, such as Atlantic Sunrise, represent the potential for thousands of jobs in the state, billions of dollars in new investment, and continued opportunity for the state’s manufacturing base.

The PA Chamber will continue to advocate on this issue, given that infrastructure is critical to supporting and sustaining economic growth. Likewise, The Columbia Montour Chamber is submitting a letter to DEP this week in support of the project.  The Chamber continues to support the expansion of Pennsylvania’s natural gas transportation and distribution pipeline infrastructure.

Annual Block Party This Weekend in Bloomsburg

The annual spring event known as “Block Party” is scheduled for this weekend in Bloomsburg. The Town/Gown Relations committee is implementing two new initiatives to increase security this year by discouraging visitors. The new initiatives include:
 
• Parking Restrictions – Bloomsburg University will temporarily close the Lightstreet Road Parking Lot and the ATM Parking Lot to all vehicles and temporarily restrict access to the First Street (Green) Parking Lot to permit-holders only from 12:00 p.m. Friday, April 21, 2017, through 12:00 p.m. Sunday, April 23, 2017.
 
• Residence Hall Visitation Restrictions – Bloomsburg University will temporarily restrict overnight guests in the residence halls to one visitor per student for the evenings of Friday, April 21, Saturday, April 22, and Sunday, April 23, 2017. A professional security company firm will assist in managing guest registrations and enhance front door security.
 
The Town/Gown Relations Committee is reminding participants that neither the Town of Bloomsburg nor Bloomsburg University endorse the Block Party Event, and a large police contingency of both uniformed and plain clothes officers will be present.

Report Shows $12 Billion Needed to Start So-Called Property Tax Relief Bill

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The state’s Independent Fiscal Office unveiled a new report this week showing the amount of additional state dollars that would be necessary to implement and sustain a so-called property tax reform bill. The analysis concluded that nearly $12 billion would be needed up front, which is $2 billion less than the previous estimate; but also showed that this amount would need to grow by hundreds of millions more than previously estimated – between $800 million to $900 million each year. As it did in the earlier report, the IFO again assumed an estimated $530 million from gaming revenue will be dedicated to the property tax relief effort.

The PA Chamber remains opposed to this tax shift measure that relies on fluctuating revenue streams (sales and personal income taxes) to replace the steady, reliable funding that property taxes have provided for generations. The property tax legislation that a small but vocal group of advocates are promoting would have an especially negative impact on renters, small businesses and young families who would see a new sales tax placed on many everyday essentials like diapers and daycare.
 
The Joint Governmental Affairs Committee of the Columbia Montour Chamber and the Visitors Bureau will be evaluating the legislation once it is introduced.

Barletta Recognizes Area Technology

Congressman Lou Barletta recognized business investments in technology during a visit to the Bloomsburg area on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Barletta toured the new SUEZ water treatment facility on Irondale Road before visiting with businesses at the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center.

The new, $32 million water treatment plant includes pressurized membrane filtration and ultraviolet light technology to provide high water quality. The facility took two years to build and is located above the floodplain on higher ground across from the old plant. A new intake includes submersible pumps to provide continuous operation during times of future flooding. The company also recently placed a new, 1.8 million gallon water storage reservoir into service that replaces an old reservoir. Congressman Barletta recognized the company’s investments and efforts to protect the system against cyber attacks.

The Chamber advocated for and supported the new facility to improve reliability. Chamber President Fred Gaffney also recognized SUEZ for their investments. “Thanks to the time and resources SUEZ has spent working on these improvements, our water supply is something the rest of us don’t have to think much about,” he said.

At the Tech Center, Barletta and representatives of the U.S. Small Business Administration met with another Chamber member, OPTiMO Information Technology. OPTiMO specializes in application development, system integration and digital design. Their client base includes the private and public sectors.

The Joint Governmental Affairs Committee will be hosting the annual breakfast with Congressman Barletta this summer for an update on activities in Washington.

Chamber Supports Legislation to Prevent Local Leave Mandates

In the last two years, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have passed mandates for private employers to provide paid and unpaid leave to employees in addition to provisions of the Family & Medical Leave Act. PA Senate Bill 128, co-sponsored by Senator John Gordner, would require that any such mandates be implemented at the state level.

The Chamber Board recently approved a letter to Senator Gordner supporting the legislation with the understanding the Chamber is not advocating for such a mandate to be passed. The Board feels that local mandates of this type would create a confusing patchwork for employers across the state. Further, additional requirements at the state level would be burdensome for employers.