PA Chamber to Hold Webinar on Federal Tax Reform

Since last year’s election and the new executive administration and legislators took their offices in January, one issue that has been discussed but hasn’t necessarily been at the forefront of the daily news is federal tax reform. That issue will likely be front and center soon, as congressional leaders have said they will be taking up the issue soon, and it is also one that when resolved, will likely have an impact on all businesses large and small. 

With that in mind, the PA Chamber of Business & Industry will hold a webinar about what businesses should do in preparation for the expected changes to the federal tax code in the next year. The webinar will be held on Friday, Oct. 20, from 11 am – noon. Visit the PA Chamber page for more information or to register. Also, below is the full description of the event (via the PA Chamber).

The Potential Impact of Federal Tax Reform Proposals on Businesses— between the broad outline of the Trump administration tax reform plan and the House Republicans’ “Blueprint” business tax plan, sweeping changes are being discussed for federal tax reform that could have a significant impact on companies, as well as individuals.  Indications are that some federal tax reform will become law in late 2017 or early 2018. 

While the final outcome is uncertain, businesses should consider taking immediate measures to best position themselves for anticipated changes to the tax code.  It’s important not to wait for the legislative process because many opportunities must be implemented, or require significant planning, before tax reform becomes effective.  Business decisions made now have a long-term economic impact that could change under tax reform. 

The objective of this webinar is to help companies understand the federal tax reform initiatives by providing strategies on what they should be doing now to plan for these reforms.  The presentation will be delivered by leading tax professionals from the Stevens & Lee/Griffin platform, including Scott Balestrier, former senior income tax partner at E&Y, KMPG, and Anderson; Jay Wagner, a noted estate tax lawyer; and Joe Harenza, Chairman of Stevens & Lee/ Griffin and CEO of Griffin Financial Group, one of the largest investment banks in the Northeast headquartered outside of NYC. They will discuss:

  • A Brief Overview of the Policy Considerations Driving Federal Tax Reform and related timing
    • Budget Deficits, Federal Debt, Sluggish GDP Growth
    • Less than Competitive Tax System
    • Stated Goals of Tax Reform
    • Challenges
    • Tax Reform: “If” and “When”
  • Outline and Analysis of Important Provisions
    • Individual Taxes: Income and Estate
    • Corporate Taxes, Taxation of Pass-through Entities
    • Capital Investment and Interest Expense
    • International Issues
  • Potential Impact of Tax Reform on M&A, Real Estate and Manufacturing and Industries
    • M&A for For-Profit Companies
    • Manufacturing
    • Other Industries

Also available to provide commentary on the international aspects of tax reform will be Wilfred Muskens, President of Stevens & Lee/Griffin International (SLGI) and Samuel A. McCullough, former Secretary of DCED and Chairman of SLGI.

PA Department of Health Seeks Input on Regulations for Medical Marijuana Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is seeking input from patients and their caregivers on what should be included in the proposed regulations for the state’s new medical marijuana program. The deadline to submit public comments is next Monday, Oct. 2. The draft regulations can be viewed on the PA Dept. of Health’s website. The draft regulations were posted just last Friday, so the public comment period is set for just 10 days. Anyone interested in making comments should go the department’s online form to submit. 

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana was signed into law last year and is expected to be fully implemented in early 2018. The program allows residents of PA that have one or more of 17 medical conditions to access medical marijuana with a prescription. Locally, Green Thumb Industries (GTI) is in the process of setting up a medical marijuana cultivation center in downtown Danville, where it will grow (but not distribute) medical marijuana that will be distributed in other parts of the state. GTI expects its Danville operation to be up and running by the end of the year, and plans to add up to 100 jobs in Danville within the next three years. Earlier this month, it held a job fair and town hall at the Danville Borough building, both of which attracted hundreds of attendees. 

Revenue Deal Moves Closer to Conference Committee as State Credit Rating Gets Downgraded

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The state Senate returned to Harrisburg last week, days after the House passed its version of a non-tax revenue package to pay for the $32 billion General Fund budget that became law on July 10. Senate leaders quickly made it clear that they didn’t support the House’s plan to fill a $2.2 billion revenue gap through one-time transfers, securitization of the Tobacco Settlement Funds and liquor and gaming expansion; and voted 43-7 on Wednesday to non-concur in the legislation.

This makes it all the more likely that the revenue deal will ultimately be decided through a conference committee in the coming weeks. This little-utilized procedural move will form a committee comprised of lawmakers from both chambers to reach consensus on a revenue plan that will then be voted up or down in the House and Senate. The need for them to act has hastened quite a bit, as the Commonwealth was met with the unwelcome news last week that credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the state to an A+ rating; which is only better than two other states well known known for their financial problems – Illinois and New Jersey. According to S&P, among the reasons for Pennsylvania’s downgrade were a “misalignment” of revenues and expenses in the 2016-17 fiscal year that triggered the current deficit; failure to finalize the revenue package for the $32 billion budget that became law in July; and state Treasurer Joe Torsella’s decision to stop extending a line of credit to pay the state’s bills, which has resulted in missed payments due to cash flow problems.

Following the Senate’s non-concurrence vote last Wednesday, the chamber recessed to the call of the President Pro Tempore (a six-hour call) meaning that they will be ready to return to the Capitol should a revenue resolution be reached.

Atlantic Sunrise Breaks Ground

From Williams

Thanks to the tireless efforts of its supporters during the regulatory process, Williams is pleased to announce that on Sept. 15 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice to Proceed for Atlantic Sunrise mainline pipeline construction. Atlantic Sunrise is a nearly $3 billion investment that will boost Pennsylvania’s economy and expand access to abundant, affordable natural gas.

Williams has worked closely with permitting agencies, including FERC, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to minimize environmental and community impacts, including making modifications to more than half of the originally proposed pipeline route. Project developers have also partnered with environmental organizations to generate approximately $2.5 million for conservation projects located within the project area.

Atlantic Sunrise is estimated to support 8,000 jobs and inject a $1.6 billion economic impact in the project area during construction, including an estimated $85.5 million in Columbia County and surrounding areas.  Local businesses have the opportunity to directly benefit from this economic activity with the exciting, new WILLShop Local App, designed to connect our workforce with local businesses and services. Members can sign up for free to be listed on this app, which is designed to help workers from out of town find the services they need while in town working on the project.

After the approximately one-year construction phase, Atlantic Sunrise will provide enough natural gas to support the daily energy needs of seven million homes. To learn more, read this press release about the construction plans and timeline.

The Atlantic Sunrise outreach team and everyone at Williams thanks all of those that supported the project.

Danville Council Hopefuls Share Thoughts on Business, Taxes and Traffic

Seven of the eight candidates for Danville Borough Council participated in a public forum on Tuesday, Sept. 19 to share their thoughts on a variety of issues. Topics addressed included job growth, taxes, and traffic concerns. The candidate forum, held at Danville Ballroom, was sponsored by the Joint Governmental Affairs Committee of the Chamber and Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau.

The registered candidates who participated in the Forum were:

1st Ward: Steven Finn and John S. Rodman

3rd Ward: Betty Ann Moyer and Byard Woodruff

4th Ward: Edward A’Zary, Kevin J. Herritt, and Joseph Stigerwalt, Jr.

The only registered running for the 2nd Ward seat is Jeremiah Walter, who could not participate due to a work commitment.

Audio from the forum is available here. Candidate responses begin with the following order: Herritt, Stigerwalt, Finn, Rodman, Moyer, Woodruff, A’Zary. Responses to the second question begin with Stigerwalt and following the same order.