PA Department of Labor & Industry to Hold Free Safety Webinars in August

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Health & Safety Division of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry will conduct a series of free safety webinars in August. Titled PATHS (PA Training for Health and Safety), the series will covers a wide array of topics including but not limited to worker fatigue, cyberbullying, hazardous waste management, whistleblowing, ADA compliance, noise control and much more. Each webinar lasts approximately one hour depending on course material and viewer participation. 

For a complete list or to register, visit the PATHS Training Calendar

Revenue Deal Still Eludes Lawmakers

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

History repeated itself last week when Gov. Tom Wolf let H.B. 218, the nearly $32 billion General Appropriations bill for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year, become law without his signature. The bill was sent to him on the Constitutional budget deadline of June 30, albeit without the corresponding legislation that raises additional necessary revenue and specifically appropriates the spending. Last year, the governor let the budget become law without signing it; however, lawmakers were able to reach consensus over the following two days on how revenues would be generated to pay for the plan. This year, the House and Senate worked in vain throughout the weekend and into the early part of last week, only to return to their districts on Tuesday afternoon when it became clear that a final revenue agreement remained elusive. On Sunday, in fact, the governor reportedly rejected a $2.2 billion new revenue plan that legislative leaders sent to him on the grounds that it didn’t contain enough recurring revenue.

Rank-and-file members were told they could be called back to vote on bills within six hours’ notice. While the House remains on that schedule, the Senate will reconvene today at 1 p.m. Lawmakers are shying away from using the word “stalemate” to describe the current situation, but continued disagreements between the General Assembly and administration on how to cover a $1.5 billion shortfall from the Fiscal Year that just ended and $700 million in new revenue for the current year make it seem that a resolution could still be weeks away.

Borrowing from the state’s share of the nationwide Tobacco Settlement Fund still appears to be a part of the equation, along with a gaming expansion bill (that likely won’t include video gaming terminals, but could still be far-reaching) and potentially expanding the sale of wine and spirits to include beer distributors. While personal income tax and sales tax increases seem to remain off the table, there is now a resurgent call among some lawmakers to implement a severance tax on the natural gas industry. Gov. Wolf proposed a 6.5 percent severance tax in his February budget proposal. A story in Pennlive highlighted a letter to House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, from a group of 12 Republican lawmakers and three Democrats who have authored shale tax legislation and are in favor of a “fair, reasonable and responsible” proposal. The PA Chamber continues to lead a multi-industry coalition in the fight against another tax on the natural gas industry, due to the negative impact it would have in terms of job growth and economic potential for one of Pennsylvania’s most critical industries.

Did You Know? – Chamber Low Interest Loan Program

The Chamber recognizes that starting and successfully running a small business can be a challenge, particularly during that initial start-up phase. Some ambitious business owners may not have the ability to get a loan from a bank, or at least a loan that fits their needs. Therefore, the Chamber’s Board of Directors has designated a set amount of funds for a low interest loan program for members. 

The minimum loan amount in this program is $5,000 and the maximum is $20,000. Qualified borrowers have the option of a variable interest rate at the Prime Rate or a fixed rate of Prime plus 50 basis points. The rates are established at the time of application. The term of the loan will not exceed five years based off the useful life of collateral bring pledged. 

Any members that have a need and are interested in applying for a loan through the Chamber’s low interest loan program are invited to submit an application. The low interest loan committee, made up of members of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, evaluates and makes a decision on all applications. 

Additional guidelines and an application can be downloaded here

“Did You Know” is dedicated to reviewing a specific benefit of Chamber membership as a means of reminding our members of the ways the Chamber can help you increase revenue or decrease costs in your business or organization.

Member Spotlight: McBride Memorial Library

“The biggest benefit that the library has seen from our membership in the Chamber is our ability to network and promote through Chamber events. For example, I am able to publish this spotlight and talk about the library through a medium that many individuals who may not visit the library will read about.  It also puts me in contact with many individuals who may not be aware of how the library can support their information needs.”

– Nadine Kramarz, Director of Library Services, McBride Memorial Library

McBride Memorial Library was started as the Berwick Public Library on July 16, 1916 by the 20th Century Club and the Delphians. These groups later combined and still exist today as the 20th Century Delphians and continue to support the library.

Like other public libraries, McBride supports lifelong learning and promotes five literacies: basic literacy, information literacy, civic & social literacy, health literacy and financial literacy. It promotes basic literacy and kindergarten readiness for children under age 5, provides after-school programs and STEM opportunities for school-aged children and a safe third space where teens learn how to be an adult. It also provides information, research and relaxation for adults. McBride also supports small businesses and entrepreneurs by offering free space, computers and internet, online databases and opportunities to network with other businesses, including through entrepreneurial breakfasts, the next of which is scheduled for Sept. 15 at 8 a.m. Furthermore, public libraries provide information and support democracy by providing unfettered access to information in both print and electronic form, and are also strong community builders – which includes businesses.

McBride was selected for a competitive Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant to implement a special needs toy library to build pre-literacy skills. This toy library is available throughout Columbia and Montour counties. Additionally, Nadine Kramarz, director of library services, was selected as a 2017 iLEAD participant and is now working with other PA librarians on a community engagement project. McBride has also been awarded several materials through grants offered by the Commonwealth, including 8,000 lego educator bricks for its Lego Club and Lakeshore Building Blocks for Block Parties.

Volunteers are crucial to the success of McBride, which is now accepting volunteers to support its mission by shelf reading, maintaining collections, gardening/landscaping, working at events, baking goods for programs such as Books on Wheels or for events such as the Ice Cream Social. For more information on volunteer opportunities, visit here and for more information on the library, visit its website or call 570-752-2241.

 

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 July 19 at the Columbia County Traveling Library, located at 702 Sawmill Rd., Bloomsburg. 

PASSHE Board Presented With Findings of Strategic Review

On July 12, the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) were presented with a much-awaited set of recommendations by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS), a consultant group that the PASSHE board hired earlier this year to conduct a strategic review of the state-owned university system. PASSHE, which Chamber member Bloomsburg University is a member of along with 13 other institutions, has a combined enrollment of just over 100,000 students, including over 9,500 at Bloomsburg during the recently completed 2016-17 academic year. According to a 2015 study commissioned by PASSHE, the 14 institutions have a combined $6.7 billion total economic impact, including nearly $393 million at Bloomsburg, utilizing data from the 2013-14 academic year. The strategic review was necessary due to falling enrollment and budget challenges at a majority of the PASSHE schools. 

A summary of the presentation to the PASSHE board is detailed in this article in Inside Higher Ed, and the complete NCHEMS presentation can also be viewed on its website.