Federal Tax Reform Moves One Step Ahead in Close U.S. House Budget Vote

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Last week in a tight 216-212 vote, the U.S. House passed the Senate’s budget – a move that gets them one step closer to achieving sweeping and long overdue federal tax reforms. With this action, U.S. House Republicans unlocked procedural powers that allow the Senate to pass a tax bill with just 51 votes and sidestep Democratic attempts to stymie the bill’s progress.

While opponents of the legislation have raised concerns about potential changes to 401(k)’s in the tax plan (President Trump has promised there will be none) and state and local tax deductions contained within the legislation, the text of the bill has yet to be unveiled, with plans to introduce it on Nov. 1.

Though passage of tax reform legislation remains several actions away, the House’s approval of the Senate budget was a critical step in the process. Last month, the PA Chamber signed on to a U.S. Chamber-led, national coalition letter urging Congress to take the necessary steps so that the nation’s tax laws can be amended for the first time in 31 years and attract new investment into the country. PA Chamber President Gene Barr has also authored recent opinion editorials making the case for tax reform to be enacted by the end of this year. Further details on the U.S. Chamber’s nationwide push for federal tax reform can be found at TaxReformforAmerica.com.

Welcome Mountainside Coffee and Tulpehocken Mountain Spring Water

More than 400 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and our region. Increased membership allows us to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. The Chamber welcomes its newest members, Mountainside Coffee and Tulpehocken Mountain Spring Water, to help us fulfill our mission.

Started as a subsidiary of Tulpehocken Mountain Spring Water in 2008, the Mountainside Coffee division provides commercial delivery of coffee and related supplies as well as brewing equipment to 34 counties in Pennsylvania and areas in Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia, as well as online shopping and shipping of coffee to residential addresses. It offers proprietary blends roasted with the finest Arabican and Columbian beans along with the finest premium teas from around the world. For more information on Mountainside’s products and services for commercial accounts, contact local sales representative Debra Rozyckie at 570-898-9463, email, or visit its website. Chamber members will be able to taste samples of Mountainside Coffee’s products at the upcoming Holiday Open House, as Mountainside will be an Angel Sponsor of the event. 

Founded in 1924, Tulpehocken Mountain Spring Water provides “nature’s finest drink delivered to your door.™ ” It provides delivery of spring water, sourced from pristine Pennsylvania springs located deep in the mountains near Sugar Loaf Township and Gratz, to both homes and businesses. Water can be delivered in bottles, 1, 3 and 5-gallon jugs and with both hot and/or cold water coolers. It also offers private labeling and all water is bottled locally at its Northumberland headquarters, located at 750 Point Township Dr. (Rt. 11). For more information, visit its website or email

Formula For Success: How Benefits Brokers Put People First

From ChamberChoice and Smart Business Pittsburgh

What gets you up every morning? OK, besides the dreaded buzz of the alarm clock or smell of fresh brewed coffee. Is it simply to “wake up and repeat,” like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day? Or, perhaps you want to check one more thing off your to-do list?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of complacency and routine when it comes to our daily tasks, says Jessica Galardini, president and COO at JRG Advisors. We go through the motions day-to-day and forget about the real purpose behind what we do.

“For benefits brokers, that purpose, drive and passion should be simple — helping people,” Galardini says. “By putting the focus on people and relationships instead of the sale, a benefits broker can make meaningful connections that result in loyal clients, and of course, referrals. Insurance professionals in today’s world of health care benefits need to develop a unique perspective to be successful.”

Smart Business spoke with Galardini about the traits that employers should look for in the most successful benefits brokers.

How has employee benefits changed?
Almost any benefits broker would agree that operating in the health care benefits industry over the past 10 years has been difficult. Building a successful business and client base while responding to the numerous, ever-changing outcomes of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has created many challenges for reducing uncertainties and the painful impact to employers and employees.

While it’s human nature to resist change, a benefits broker should think outside of the box and look for unique, innovative ways to do his or her job, which is to solve problems. It’s an opportunity to minimize the angst people feel with the ACA — to explain the changes, minimize the concern and worry, and sort through polarizing politics.

People want good health care, provider access and convenience at a better price. This is a challenging, but not impossible, task and should be what motivates any benefits broker. Health care, now more than ever, is an important area for brokers to help their clients and showcase their expertise.

How do successful benefits brokers approach this uncertain environment?
The uncertainty around the law seems to build every day, with the ACA’s future wavering on Senate votes. Even with the uncertainty, benefits brokers can’t forget the people caught in the crossfire of the ACA and politics. With rising costs, many employers are feeling stuck with what they have, or that the only cost containment strategy is to push more cost toward their workforce. A good approach starts with C-level dialogue to identify, consider and understand requirements within coverage, network, workforce and budget.

There are products and services to achieve objectives, once they’re clearly identified and considered on a scale of importance to overall strategy. Some solutions include specific data analytics to identify emerging health risk factors so a care strategy can be developed, confidentially and individually within the workforce. Technology options also can provide a deeper-dive population comparison, even for employers without historical claims data. Online transparency tools give employees real-time information by zip code, service type and facility so they can make smart choices for services like blood work and MRIs, which can range from affordable to astronomical in cost with no difference in quality outcomes.

These solutions empower employers through dialogue, information and motivating employees with the ‘carrot’ rather than the ‘stick’ — moving the needle toward knowledge-based decision-making,
defined affordability and people satisfaction.

What else would you like to share?
There is a lot of information out there when it comes to health insurance. Benefits brokers should look for unique ways to continuously educate their clients and connect with them on a more interactive level, such as through educational webinars and seminars. This can be a proactive approach to solving the clients’ problems before they arise and addressing real issues.

Strong benefits brokers consider the people they’re helping in order to bring fresh and creative problem-solving ideas to the table. By keeping people in mind and maintaining a unique perspective, they’re inspired and employers are happy — a winning formula for success.

Member Spotlight: Peters Consultants, Inc.

“Our membership with the Columbia Montour Chamber has allowed us to enhance our networking audience. Attending the many chamber functions throughout the years has offered us the opportunity to secure projects and engage with leaders of our community.”

– Amy Shortlidge, Marketing Manager, Peters Consultants, Inc. 

Peters Consultants, Inc
. is a small business enterprise (SBE) incorporated in 1981, evolving out of a sole proprietorship starting in 1976 by the President, Mr. Dennis Peters. It provides professional consulting, engineering, architectural, design and surveying services. Peters Consultants, Inc. offers  a variety of services to compliment its engineering disciplines to municipal, commercial, industrial and private clients, providing them with a comprehensive approach to their goals and fulfilling its commitment to TQE (Total Quality Engineering).

Peters Consultants, Inc. has over 41 years of service in the Columbia-Montour region, which supports its reputation of putting clients first by achieving a successful project on-time and within budget. It collaborates with area municipalities and other local governing entities to ensure knowledge well-beyond the request of its clients.

Dennis Peters is a Trustee of the Berwick Area YMCA, a member of the Eagle Scout Review Board and a member of the First Time Juvenile Offenders Board. He is also currently a board member of Beyond Violence Inc., and he encourages his staff to be engaged in the community by supporting their volunteer time with many local charities and sponsoring employees with their fundraising goals. He feels it’s very important to support a community that supports his business and its employees. 

For more information on Peters Consultants, Inc., please visit its website.

 

Member spotlights are chosen via a random drawing from members that submit their business  cards at a Business After Hours event. The next Business After Hours is scheduled for Nov. 15 at Berwick Floral, 201 West 2nd St., Berwick. 

How Essential Oils Can Help During Cold & Flu Season

From Just a Drop Essential Oil

On Guard is one of dōTERRA’s most popular oil blends used to support the immune system and help kill off harmful bacteria and viruses. This “protective/immune boosting” blend contains a mixture of five essential oils including:

  • Wild Orange Peel
  • Clove Bud
  • Cinnamon Bark
  • Eucalyptus Leaf
  • Rosemary Leaf/Flower

Clove Bud oil alone has over one million in antioxidant capacity on the Oxygen Radical Absorbancy Capacity (ORAC) scale, far exceeding common foods known for their antioxidant capacities such as blueberries (2,400). 

What makes On Guard unique and effective? Not only is On Guard a proprietary mix of powerful essential oils, but the essential oils used in dōTERRA On Guard are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade®(CPTG). This means that the oils that make up dōTERRA On Guard have been put through the CPTG® protocol. dōTERRA puts each batch of essential oils through this protocol to be thoroughly tested and to determine the purity of each essential oil. If the essential oil batch is found pure, then the oils are then sold as single oils or blends, like dōTERRA On Guard, so that individuals around the world can experience their benefits.

On Guard can be used a number of ways, including:

– Place one drop of dōTERRA On Guard in four ounces of fluid and drink. You can also add On Guard to a veggie capsule and ingest that way.

– On Guard emits a warm, spicy, and woody aroma. Diffusing On Guard will fill the air with its sweet scent and provide an energizing and uplifting fragrance. When diffused, On Guard purifies the air, which is especially important during the fall and winter months! Diffusing is a great way for the whole family to receive the benefits of this protective blend. According to dōTERRA Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Hill, you only need to diffuse On Guard for 15 minutes a day to receive the immune boosting benefits.

– Kick off the day with a scrumptious pair of immune boosting pancakes. Yes, you can cook with On Guard too. Try adding 1-2 drops to pancake batter or French toast for a twist on traditional favorites.

– On Guard contains cleansing and purifying benefits that can be used to clean household surfaces. For a natural and nontoxic cleaner, add a couple drops of On Guard to a spray bottle filled with water and use it as an effective all-purpose cleaner.

– Apply 1-2 drops of On Guard to the bottoms of the feet once or twice a day during the fall and winter months. Rub On Guard on the bottom of a child’s feet during the school season.

On Guard is one of dōTERRA’s most popular essential oil blends due to its versatility. Learn more about the On Guard line or for more information about it and other essential oils that can be used for common cold and flu season discomforts, contact Diana Leighow, dōTERRA Wellness Advocate at 570-849-0019 or email, or visit Just a Drop’s Facebook page