Department of Community & Economic Development Requests Participation in Community Needs Survey

The Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) is requesting citizens take a short community needs survey to assist in its work. This community needs survey will provide another avenue for the citizens of Pennsylvania to contribute their opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of their community. DCED will use the survey results to help identify funding priorities for six federal Housing & Urban Development programs: CDBG, HOME, ESG, NSP, HOPWA, and HTF. It will also assist in the future development of programs at the state level. This survey will also assist DCED in targeting and leveraging resources to address the needs for stronger and vibrant communities. Participation is anonymous, and DCED will place a copy of the aggregated results on its website

This survey will close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Any questions on the survey or how to complete it may be sent via email or by contacting Megan Snyder, Center for Compliance, Monitoring, and Training at 717-720-7404.

State Website Can Help Employers With Workplace Safety

Workers’ compensation costs associated with incidents in the workplace are a considerable portion of an employer’s business costs. Learn how to reduce your workers’ compensation costs through effective, proactive health and safety training programs that will benefit your employees and your bottom line.

Pennsylvania Training for Health and Safety, or PATHS, is a resource for employers and workers throughout the state.

PATHS is a no-fee, statewide service established by the Department of Labor & Industry, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s Health and Safety Division to provide employers and employees with easy access to cost-effective health and safety resources. Services provided by PATHS will enable participants in the workers’ compensation system achieve greater efficiencies in their workers’ compensation cost-containment efforts by creating safer, accident-free workplaces.

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act was amended in 1993 to address health and safety requirements in the workplace. The addition of sections 1001 and 1002 in the act conveys the importance of having a health and safety program in the workplace, and established a 5 percent discount for qualified proactive health and safety programs.

PATHS provides employers with a single, comprehensive website to view all health and safety related training sessions available through reputable sources. The website allows employers to maximize training schedules for workers. This training will enable employers to reduce workplace safety- and health-related incidents, resulting in workers’ compensation policy premium reductions.

At the PATHS website you can:

View . . . health and safety training PowerPoint briefings.

Review . . . course descriptions, objectives and schedules.

Participate . . . Employers can register online to participate in webinars and training sessions. The Health & Safety Division will host training sessions and conferences on a broad range of health and safety-related topics, including safety culture workshops. Most sessions are free and are open to everyone.

Learn… about health and safety in the workplace, including accident & illness prevention programs/program elements and the cost benefits associated with a proactive program and forming a certified safety committee to qualify for the 5-percent workers’ compensation premium discount.

Medical Assistance Work Requirements Bill Passes State House

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Legislation to enact reasonable reforms regarding medical assistance eligibility and help encourage employment passed the state House last week in a 115-80 vote, after considerable debate.

The bill would generally require able-bodied adults receiving Medicaid to work, seek employment or participate in job training, with numerous exemptions. This effort is consistent with the PA Chamber’s workforce development efforts to facilitate employment and help employers find qualified job applicants among a pool of potential talent.

“In 2011, Pennsylvania became the last state in the country to require individuals receiving unemployment compensation benefits to demonstrate they are looking for a job,” PA Chamber Government Affars Director Alex Halper said in a memo to House lawmakers prior to the vote. “While some initially opposed this requirement and there continues to be room for improvement in its administration, we believe it has generally achieved its objectives of encouraging work and connecting employers with potential applicants. We believe H.B. 2138 will help achieve similar objectives and we urge you to support it.”

The bill now awaits further consideration by the state Senate.

House Passes Several Tax Reform Bills to Help Small Businesses

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The state House passed three PA Chamber-backed measures last week that would bring clarity to the state’s tax structure, improve competition and help level the playing field for small businesses.

House Bill 331, which passed by a nearly unanimous vote, aims to allow for “like-kind” exchange of tax deferrals when a property is exchanged with a similar property. This would put the Commonwealth in line with every other state, removing a disadvantage that Pennsylvania’s small businesses face when competing with businesses across state lines.

The House also passed H.B. 333, which would increase deductible amounts for qualifying small business equipment purchases. This move would bring Pennsylvania in line with the federal Internal Revenue Code, and with 33 other states that currently allow businesses to deduct the full purchase price of $1 million per year. To put that in context, under current law, businesses in Pennsylvania may only claim $25,000 for these purposes.  “Pennsylvania is unique in being the only state that allows for full Section 179 expensing for  larger businesses while not allowing small businesses to do the same,” PA Chamber Government Affairs Vice President Sam Denisco said in a memo to House lawmakers prior to the vote. “As we have all seen subsequent to the enactment of federal tax reform, employers are investing back into their companies, rewarding their employees, and hiring more workers. By coming into line with federal law, small businesses will have more resources and flexibility to grow and the PA Chamber asks for your support.”

Another important tax reform bill that House lawmakers passed unanimously last week was H.B. 994, which aims to bring clarity to the Gross Receipts Tax statute regarding wireless services.  Under current law, wireless services are subject to both of the Sales and Use Tax and GRT at 6 and 5 percent, respectively. However, while Pennsylvania follows clear and updated language under the federal Mobile Telecommunications Sourcing Act regarding the SUT on telecommunications, GRT definitions haven’t been modernized. This has created confusion as to whether wireless series are included in that tax base, which H.B. 994 would remedy by inserting the clear definitions from the SUT statute into the GRT statute. “This would bring consistency between the application of the sales and use tax and gross receipts taxes,” Denisco said in a memo to House members. “It would also eliminate confusion and uncertainty over which services were subject to taxation both now and in the future.”

Representatives Kurt Masser and David Millard voted in favor of all three of these bills.

All three bills now await further consideration in the state Senate.

House Passes Workers’ Comp Drug Formulary Bill

On Monday, April 16, the PA House passed legislation that will direct the Department of Labor and Industry to adopt a drug formulary for workers’ compensation. The intent of Senate Bill 936 is to reduce the overprescribing of opioids in dealing with the nationwide crisis. The Chamber joined with the PA Chamber of Business and Industry and dozens of chambers from across the state in supporting this legislation.

The bill passed in the Senate last October with the support of Senator John Gordner. Representatives Kurt Masser and David Millard voted in favor of the bill on Monday. The legislation now moves to the Governor’s office where it is expected to be signed.