Member News – February 14, 2018

Member News

  • Thrivent Financial is collecting items for the Ronald McDonald House of Danville this month from Feb. 1-21. Thrivent will have a collection box at its office located at 417 W. Main St., Bloomsburg, and is collecting small snack items and beverages such as K-cups, juice boxes, and individually-wrapped snack items like granola bars, crackers and cookies. Anyone interested in making a donation can drop it off at Thrivent’s office Mondays-Fridays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. On Thursday, Feb. 22, the public is invited to join Thrivent at the Ronald McDonald House between 5-8 p.m. where these donations will be presented to RMHD, and attendees can hear about the mission and focus of RMHD, take guided tours of the house and enjoy some hors d’oeuvres and a dessert buffet. 


  • Friedman Electric will host an art exhibit featuring local artist Claude Harrington at its Bloomsburg store, located at 1100 Old Berwick Rd., next Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 3-5 p.m. There is no cost to attend and light refreshments will be served. Attendees can meet the arist, enjoy the arts and grab a snack while also having an opportunity to look around Friedman Electric’s Lighting Design Center, which features a wide range of products to keep homes and businesses a place of beauty, comfort and energy efficiency. This would make a perfect and convenient stop on the way to next Wednesday’s Business After Hours, which will be just down the street from Friedman Electric at Art of Floating and begins at 4:30 p.m.


  • The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation will hold its Annual Meeting next Friday, Feb. 23, from 12-1:30 p.m. at the Pine Barn Inn. A lunch will be served and attendees will be able to hear four speakers. CSCF president and CEO Holly Morrison will talk about “Spreading the Message of Philanthropy” while board member John Kurelja will speak about the regional impact of the CSCF’s philanthropic activities. Two speakers from Wilmington Trust will also talk about the CSCF’s funds’ performances. For more information, see this invitation, and to RSVP, email or call Karri Harter at 570-752-3930, ex. 6, by this Friday, Feb. 16


  • For the seventh straight year, Thrivent Financial was named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere® Institure, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. Thrivent was one of only five such honorees in the financial services industry, and was one of 135 honorees overall, spanning 23 countries and 57 industries. Locally, Thrivent is represented by Chamber members and Thrivent representatives Richard Keller, Dave Saul and Kerry Maurer


  • The Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit’s technology group will conduct a pair of computer fairs for middle and high school students in March, and is seeking professionals in business and the community to serve as judges in specific categories. The middle school fair will be held on Monday, March 5 while the high school fair will be on Monday, March 26. Both will be held at CSIU 16’s building located at 90 Lawton Lane, Milton, and will run from 9-11 a.m. Categories that need judges are animation, computer fair logo, digital movies, graphic design, programming and web page design. For more information, or if interested in serving as a judge, contact Bill Herald as CSIU via email no later than next Friday, Feb. 23.

Regulatory Reform Bills Advance in House and Senate

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Last week, regulatory reform legislation supported by the PA Chamber was considered in both the House and Senate. 

The Senate adopted S.R. 226, which aims to help ensure the state is progressing toward a well-functioning and predictable regulatory and permitting program. The resolution requires an independent review of the programs under the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Chapters 102 and 105 programs, which are some of the most commonly utilized permitting programs, to evaluate their efficiency, identify where improvements might be needed and make recommendations to close any gaps. Prior to the Senate vote on the legislation, the PA Chamber sent a memo to that chamber urging support for the measure. The resolution was adopted unanimously after having been reported out of committee late last month in a bipartisan, unanimous vote.

In the House, the PA Chamber sent another memo to House State Government Committee members in support of two other regulatory reforms. House Bill 209 – which would ensure periodic reviews of existing regulations and make recommendations as to efficiencies and potential repeals – was amended and held in the committee for further consideration. House Bill 1792, which was scheduled for a vote and passed over in a House State Government Committee meeting, would allow the General Assembly to initiate a repeal of any regulation currently in effect through a concurrent resolution.

Thank You Annual Meeting Attendees, Award Nominees and Rolling Pines Staff

This is the second of two posts recognizing and thanking all of the valuable contributors that helped make the 2018 Chamber Annual Meeting a successful event once again. It is the continued support and achievements of these businesses, organizations and individuals that helps the Chamber fulfill its mission of offering programs, benefits and events to its members, giving them a stronger voice in advocacy and being involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. 

First, thanks to all of the 18 award nominees in each of the four award categories. While only one organization/person could win each award, there was once again a strong slate of candidates, and this speaks to the outstanding work that has been and continues to be done by our members and individuals that work for our member organizations. Their contributions to our community help make it stronger and a better place to live, work and play. Several of the nominees that did not win this year will be eligible for consideration of next year’s awards, and members as well as the public are encouraged to submit nominations for the 2019 awards when they are opened in late fall. 

Second, thanks to all of the more than 200 individuals that attended the Annual Meeting. Your support of the Chamber and its work, as well as the individuals and organizations that were up for the four awards is much appreciated and the Chamber looks forward to continuing its work with you and your respective organizations to help them grow and bring additional value to them. The success of both the Chamber and this annual event depends on the continued support and attendance of our members and guests, so we again thank you for your support. 

Third, a big thank you goes out to the staff at Rolling Pines Golf Course & Banquet Facility and at Lucy’s Kitchen & Catering. The event once again went forward without any issues, and the staff was quite helpful to all attendees. The food from Lucy’s again tasted great and the menu was once again a great recommendation with each item complimenting the next. Also, special thanks to Lucy’s, for once again donating an appetizer selection as a hospitality sponsor. 

Finally, thanks to the Chamber and Chamber Foundation staff — Matt Beltz, Phyllis Jones, Deb Sokol and Jeff Emanuel — for their efforts on the day of the event and in the planning. 

Review of Employee Benefit Files Should Include Tax Cuts and Job Act Provisions

From ChamberChoice

At this time of year it is less hectic in the Human Resource and Employee Benefit departments with the end of the year reports filed and open enrollment out of the way. It’s the perfect time of year for employers to pull out benefit records for review, confirmation and updating. Here are several tasks that employee benefit professionals should consider to help with their review.

Many employers use benefit confirmation statements once employees have completed their open enrollment elections. Although these statements are generally utilized for electronic enrollments, some employers provide them for paper elections also. During this “winter lull”, an employer should compare any confirmation statements to what the employer has on record for an employee’s benefit choices and dependents enrolled. Furthermore, an employer should ensure that payroll records reflect any premium changes because of the employee’s elections. This is especially important when an employee’s premium insurance elections are done on a pre-tax basis through an employer’s Section 125 plan. Section 125 rules provide that an election is irrevocable for the 12-month plan year unless there is an IRS permissible reason for a mid-year election change. There are some events not in the 125 rules that could allow an individual to make a mid-year election change, such as a mistake by the employer or employee, or needing to change elections to pass nondiscrimination tests. To make a change due to a mistake, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the mistake has been made. For instance, an individual might accidentally sign up for family coverage when they are single with no children.

Two popular benefits that employers provide their employees are group term life insurance and disability (both short and long term). Life insurance premiums are usually based on the age of the employee, while disability premiums are based on an employee’s wages. An employer should take advantage of “spring cleaning” to ensure that its records (payroll and invoices) reflect the age changes of employees as well as any pay increases that may have occurred at the beginning of the new year. Also, the employer should double-check these benefits for issues such as the removal of terminated employees, employee classification change which affects the amount of a benefit, and proper taxation. Depending on the employer’s policies, an employee may be able to have the premiums for disability insurance paid on a post-tax basis (instead of pre-tax) which enables an employee to avoid taxation upon receipt of a disability benefit.

Now is also a good time for employers to have employees review, and update if necessary, their beneficiary forms. Beneficiary designations are frequently used in retirement and life insurance plans to determine entitlement to benefits payable upon death of the participant. In the case of certain benefits subject to spousal protections, federal law imposes requirements on both the form and timing of beneficiary designations. Other types of beneficiary designations are a matter of plan design. A beneficiary designation which does not accurately reflect an employee’s intent can result in disputes following the death of a participant. There are a multitude of life situations that if a proper beneficiary designation is not on file, could be costly to an employer (think divorce, simultaneous death of the participant and beneficiary, or lost forms as examples). An employer may be required to defend a lawsuit, correct improper payments or find the proper beneficiary.

The passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in December 2017 includes several significant changes relevant to employers for payroll and employee benefits purposes. The new tax act was effective as of Jan. 1, 2018. In IRS Notice 1036 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published the income-tax withholding tables for 2018 reflecting changes made by the new tax law. The updated tables, which are to be used no later than Feb. 15, 2018, reflect the new rates for employers.

Additionally in the Notice, the IRS noted it is working on revising the Form W-4 to reflect the changes in the new law. The new Form W-4 can be used by employees who wish to update their withholding in response to the new law or changes in their personal circumstances in 2018, and by workers starting a new job. Until a new Form W-4 is issued, employees and employers should continue to use the 2017 Form W-4. Employers should visit the IRS website as to the release of 2018 W-4s.

During this review time, and due to the TCJA, besides employee benefit records, employers should take the time to review any of its policies which may be affected. Previously, employers were able to offer qualified transportation fringe benefits, including qualified parking, on a tax-favored basis (meaning not included in an employee’s gross taxable income). In 2017, the maximum monthly exclusion was $255. This benefit was seen as a “perk” to employees and employers could generally deduct these expenses. However, the TCJA repealed the employer deduction for qualified transportation fringe benefits. This repeal in no way affects a Qualified Transportation Plan an employer may have established under IRC Section 132. This type of plan allows for an employee to have contributions deducted on a pre-tax basis for qualified parking and transit passes.

In conclusion, during mid-winter there usually is some time for HR and Employee Benefit professionals to do a review of employee files. An employer should ensure that employee benefit elections are properly reflected in payroll deductions. Any premium increases due to wage increases or age increases of employees should be considered. Finally, the new tax act makes some changes that affect employer benefit policies and taxes.

Thank You to the Annual Meeting’s Sponsors

This is the first of two posts recognizing and thanking all of the valuable contributors that helped make the 2018 Chamber Annual Meeting a successful event once again. It is the continued support of these businesses, organizations and individuals that helps the Chamber fulfill its mission of offering programs, benefits and events to its members, giving them a stronger voice and advocacy and being involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. 

Thanks to all of the sponsors of this year’s Annual Meeting.

Event Sponsor
PPL Electric Utilities




Small Business of the Year Award Sponsor
First Columbia Bank & Trust



Large Business of the Year Award Sponsor
The Columbia Alliance For Economic Growth


Community Progress Award Sponsor
Commonwealth Health-Berwick Hospital Center



Outstanding Citizen Award Sponsor
Berwick Industrial Development Association



Hospitality Sponsors
Century 21 Covered Bridges Realty




Lucy’s Kitchen & Catering






MetroCast Business Services







Corporate Table Sponsors

Columbia County Traveling Library
Commonwealth Health-Berwick Hospital Center
First Columbia Bank & Trust
First Keystone Community Bank (2)
Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital
Geisinger Health Plan
Ken Pollock Ford-Lincoln
Key Partners Realty
M&T Bank
MetroCast Communications
PPL Electric Utilities
Scott’s Floral, Gift & Greenhouse
Service 1st Federal Credit Union