Coalition Memo Urges Support for Legislation to Address Workers’ Compensation Case

The PA Chamber organized a multi-industry coalition letter last week urging House lawmakers to sign on as cosponsors and lend support to soon-to-be-introduced legislation that would accommodate a recent state Supreme Court decision related to workers’ compensation.

In August, the court ruled in the Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board case to throw out Impairment Rating Evaluations that have been integral over the last two decades in bringing structure, fairness and stability to the workers’ compensation system. Conducted by physicians using guidelines from the American Medical Association, IREs have been part of the system since 1996 to assess an injured employee’s level of impairment and determine if they should receive lifetime wage benefits. When the court made its ruling, the PA Chamber issued a press release that warned business leaders about the significant cost hikes they could see in the near future and called for a legislative remedy.

The coalition letter stresses that the court’s decision to declare IREs unconstitutional was only made because AMA guidelines are updated periodically (twice since the law was first enacted) and therefore, since the current version differs from the version used in 1996, the Court said their use is an unconstitutional delegation of authority. Both House and Senate Labor and Industry Committee Chairs Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, and Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, respectively, have indicated their intention to introduce legislation that aims to fix this issue by updating the law with the most recent edition of the AMA guidelines and applying it to current and future claims. Chairman Kauffman hosted an informational committee meeting on the topic last Wednesday.

“IREs also helped stabilize the overall workers’ compensation system which had experienced massive cost increases in the late 1980s and early 1990s,” the coalition wrote. “We urge you to cosponsor this legislation.”

Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau Issues Call to Action to Oppose House Proposal That Would Increase Hotel Tax in Pennsylvania

Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau - We've been expecting you!As part of the ongoing budget negotiations in Harrisburg, a new proposal is in the works that would increase the statewide hotel tax in Pennsylvania by 5%. Hotels already pay a 6% statewide hotel tax. A statewide tax rate of 11 percent would have a negative impact on the tourism industry.

The Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau is urging businesses to call or email their state legislators immediately to voice opposition. Find your legislators here. Voting on this proposal will start today. Confirm your call to action by emailing Mary Yoder.



– Hotels already pay a 6% statewide hotel tax in addition to local taxes that no other entity pays.

– This increase would make Pennsylvania hotel rooms the highest-taxed in the entire country.

– This tax will place our state’s tourism industry at an even steeper disadvantage and give tourists another reason not to come to Pennsylvania.

– Fewer tourists hurts businesses and brings fewer dollars into the state.

Member News – October 4, 2017

Member News

  • State Rep. David Millard will host a Senior Caregiver Support Forum tomorrow, Oct. 5, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, 725 West Front St., Berwick. Intended for people that help care for aging loved ones, this forum will provide attendees with an opportunity to learn about important resources available to them. It will feature some brief informative sessions, along with a chance to get questions answered. Organizations scheduled to be on hand include the Columbia Montour Aging Office, Commonwealth Home Health and Hospice of Berwick, which is affiliated with Berwick Hospital Center, and an elder law attorney from the Law Office of Lutz & Petty. RSVP to Rep. Millard’s office at 570-759-8734 or on


  • Geisinger Health will hold its inaugural Dream Big Hot Air Balloon Festival this Saturday, Oct. 7, from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Spyglass Ridge Winery, 400 Plum Creek Rd., Sunbury. Proceeds from this event will benefit Geisinger’s Comprehensive Breast care Program. Activities include balloon rides (weather-permitting), live bands and food trucks, children’s activities and family fun, professional and amateur photo competitions, performances by local dance groups, a fresh food farmers market and family photo sessions in front of the balloons. Admission is free. For more information, read this flyer.Event organizers are also seeking donations of small items (approx. $10-20 in value) from area businesses and individuals for an auction. If interested in making a donation, please contact Linda Vaji at 570-214-2581 or email


  • Also occurring this weekend are two traditional events in Columbia County – Bloomsburg University’s Homecoming and the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau’s annual Covered Bridge Festival held at Knoebels Amusement Resort. Bloomsburg’s Homecoming will feature the dedication of David L. Soltz Hall on Friday, Oct. 6 at 11 a.m., with the ribbon cutting at approximately 11:10 a.m. The schedule of events also features fireworks on Friday night, several athletic and alumni events on Saturday, and much more. The 36th annual Covered Bridge Festival gets underway on Thursday, Oct. 5 and run through the weekend. It features several vendors, music and entertainment, covered bridge bus tours, and much more. 


  • Co., a social and professional networking group that is run by the United Way of Columbia and Montour County, will hold a pair of events during October. It will host a networking event on Tuesday, Oct. 10, from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Capitol Bar & Grille, 45 East Main St., Bloomsburg. It will also hold a fun evening at Can You XCape followed by a mixer at the Wagon Shed on Thursday, Oct. 26, beginning at 6 p.m. Co. was founded to give area residents the opportunity to take advantage of all the great things this area has to offer. This group is for everyone, which means any age, ability, or area of residence. It holds multiple events each month. For more information about Co., including future events, visit its Facebook page


  • The Danville Borough fall newsletter is now available. It includes a general update from the Borough Council president, information on upcoming events, including the annual Halloween Parade on Thursday, Oct. 27 beginning at 7 p.m., the borough being designed a River Town, the restoration of the World War I monument in Memorial Park, the borough being awarded a PennDOT grant, and much more. 


  • SEKUSUI SPI recently introduced a new addition to its high-impact product line for the aviation industry – KYDEX® 6523HI. SEKISUI SPI’s high-impact products, KYDEX® 6523HI and KYDEX® 6565HI, are designed to absorb more impact energy prior to failure. For more information on this new product, visit its product page


  • The United Way of Columbia and Montour County, AGAPE Love from Above to our Community and the Coalition for Social Equity will hold a three-part series the will explore the barriers our fellow community residents who live in poverty face every day. Join them to learn more and be part of the solution. The first event, a poverty simulation, will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 6:30 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, 130 West 3rd St., Bloomsburg. This guided experienced will expose participants to the realities of poverty, including navigating the complex world of government services and other essential service providers. Registration is required for this part of the series. The other two events will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 17 and Tuesday, Oct 24. Registration is not required for either of those events. Oct. 17 will be a poverty panel that will feature participants sharing their stories of living in poverty, and Oct. 24 will be a community conversation. Both of those events will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 345 Market St., Bloomsburg. 


  • As part of its 30th anniversary season, the Weis Center for the Performing Arts will celebrate the legacy, tradition and craftsmanship of Martin Guitars with a full day of events on Saturday, Oct. 14.

    A Martin Guitar

    All of the day’s programming is free except for the 7:30 p.m. performance of the Del McCoury Band. The day includes facilitated workshops including blues slide guitar basics, guitar repair consultations, guitar theory, and a roots music recording session, as well as Martin Guitar displays and merchandise, a community guitar jam, a film screening and panel discussion, and evening performances. Visit here for a complete schedule and description of all events on this day. 


  • The Greenwood Friends School will host a fall festival at its school located at 1509 State Route 254, Millville on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. There is no admission charge, all are welcome and the event will be held rain or shine. It will feature fun games and face painting for children and teens, a food and bake sale, live music, unlimited inflatable rides for children (with a wristband purchase), and a large flea market with crafts and vendors. Vendors interested in participating should call 570-458-5532 to reserve a spot. 


  • PPL Electric Utilities and its supply chain division is hosting a Diversity Meet and Greet event on Friday, Nov. 17, from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the PPL Conference Center at Walbert, 1639 Church Rd., Allentown. This event is designed for business owners who are veterans, women, minorities, LGBT and disabled, to have an opportunity to find out more about PPL and its opportunities for suppliers. Attendees will have a chance to meet and speak to PPL leaders and the staff that works with suppliers. There is no cost to attend, but those interested in attending should register online by Friday, Oct. 27. For more information, see this flyer


  • PA CareerLink of Columbia/Montour Counties, along with the Innovative Manufacturers Center (IMC), will host a collaborative robot workshop on Monday, Oct. 30, from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Pine Barn Inn, Danville. There is no cost to attend and a light breakfast will be served. Around the world, thousands of robots work collaboratively alongside humans with no safety guards and no problems. Come and learn about universal robots, robot programming, end effector solutions, stands and protective covering, and participate in hands-on activities. Visit online to register or learn more about this event. 


  • Innotek Computer Consulting will host its annual Technology and Security Expo on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at Sand Springs Country Club, 10 Clubhouse Dr., Drums. This annual event, billed as “Northeast Pennsylvania’s biggest technology and security expo,” brings together IT managers, executives and business owners to discuss the impact of technology and security on business. There is no cost to attend. For more information or to register, visit the event page on Innotek’s website, or the Facebook event page.


  • Along with the Bloomsburg University Regional STEM Education Center, the Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber will co-sponsor the Future Careers Expo on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Kehr Union Ballroom on the BU campus. The annual event allows attendees to explore career in science, technology, engineering and math and it open to all students in grades 7-12, as well as their parents. Participants can receive a BU application fee waiver just for attends, and there will also be door prizes for those that sign up. For more information and to register, visit here. For businesses that are interested in participating as vendors, please fill out this form and return it to the email address on the form by Oct. 20. For questions from businesses, please call the Chamber Foundation at 570-784-2522 or email

There’s Still Time for Food, Catering and Beverage Vendors to Sign Up for the Third Annual Taste of the Valley

As originally communicated over the summer, the third annual Taste of the Valley will be held this year at Ponduce Farms, 270 White Church Rd., Elysburg, on Sunday, Oct. 15, from 12-3 p.m. Interested vendors in the food, catering and beverage categories are still welcome to sign up. Vendors will be accepted up through the day of the event, and there is no cost for vendors to participate.

After being held in Lewisburg and Sunbury in its first two years, Taste of the Valley will be held in Columbia County this year as it attempts to highlight businesses in Columbia and Montour Counties. This annual event provides patrons with samples of local food and beverages from the areas top farms, wineries, breweries and restaurants. This annual fall event, which began in 2015, is primarily a fundraiser to benefit the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, but it also offers an opportunity for businesses in the food and beverage industry to have their products featured in front of a large audience ― all for a good cause. 

For more information or to register as a vendor, download a vendor information form, visit Taste of the Valley’s Facebook page, or call Sharon at AgChoice Farm Credit at 570-524-2204 or email

With Revenue Deal Apparently Close, PA Senate and House Both Return to Session This Week

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The Senate wasn’t scheduled to return to session until Monday, Oct. 16, unless any real progress had been made on negotiations to finalize the $32 billion 2017-18 state budget with a revenue plan that will pay for it. It now appears that is the case, as the Senate has announced its return to session today to join the House in hopefully closing out a deal on the months-late spending plan.

While details remain limited, it appears that the plan will include fund transfers, video gaming terminals at truck stops and borrowing against the state’s Tobacco Settlement Fund. It is also said to include a commercial storage tax that will impact companies that lease commercial space. The governor has emphasized that he is only interested in signing a budget with recurring revenue. Last week, it was rumored that completion of the deal was hinging in part on whether it would include another tax on the natural gas industry – a proposal that the PA Chamber continues to lead a coalition against due to the hardships it would place on one of the state’s most promising industries. Early last week, House Democrats were planning to bring up a discharge resolution to force a natural gas severance tax proposal (H.B. 113) to the House floor – a plan that ended up falling through due to lack of support to get 102 votes in favor of the resolution. Before the decision was made to shelve the proposal, the PA Chamber sent a memo urging House lawmakers to vote “no” on the discharge resolution to H.B. 113, along with any other proposal that would result in higher energy taxes on our state’s businesses, consumers and industries.  

If the new revenue plan earns enough support in the House and Senate, it could be voted on as early as this week – a situation that we are closely monitoring as we continue to advocate for a budget that doesn’t put undue burdens on the state’s business community.