Summary of Legislation
Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a bill that would have barred municipalities from banning the use of natural gas in new construction. "The legislation takes away local decision-making," Wolf said in his veto message for Senate Bill 275. "The legislation would limit the tools available to local governments to address the global threat of climate change in future years and stands in the way of clean energy initiatives and incentives." The prime sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming, had touted the bill as an "energy choice" proposal. "This will preserve access to reliable electricity, no matter where residents live, and prevent a chaotic patchwork of regulations that ultimately undermine statewide environmental and energy policies," he said.
As the budget and Spring Legislative Session were being finalized, the Common Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on the same day issued a preliminary injunction that blocks PA from entering the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) until the full court case have been adjudicated. This news comes hours after the United States Supreme Court voted, 6-3, that the United States Department of Environmental Protection does not have the authority to regulate carbon emissions at the federal level under Obama-era “Clean Power Plan” rules. The basis of the ruling is that only congress, not the EPA or any other bureaucratic agency, has the authority to institute cap-and-trade programs; a theme that will be argued in Pennsylvania’s courts in the months to come on the issue of RGGI. The Wolf Administration finalized the regulation to allow Pennsylvania to participate in RGGI with DEP’s CO2 Budget Trading Program regulation published on April 23, 2022, issue of the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The Pennsylvania Code and Bulletin, said the rule will be published even if another court order is issued. That’s because of the physical requirements to publish the bulletin.
This ruling essentially pauses the Department of Environmental Protection plans rolled out just this month for over 2 dozen qualifying power plants with a capacity of 25 megawatts or more to start tracking their emissions. If the courts do decide in favor of the Administration’s rule to enter RGGI, those plants will have to buy a credit for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit to acquire CO2 allowances equal to the amount of CO2 they emit. As stated by DEP - Power plants must start accounting for their CO2 emissions starting on July 1, 2022. Facilities have until March 1, 2023, to account for 50 percent of their 2022 emissions and until March 1, 2024, to account for 100 percent of their 2022 emissions. Power plants will be required to have 50 percent of their 2022 required allowances by March 1, 2023, and 100 percent of required allowances by March 1, 2024. The most recent modeling from the Department of Environmental Protection expected RGGI to raise about $200 million in 2022, had the state joined at the beginning of the year. The state can use the money raised to boost clean energy and efficiency measures.
The Property-Assessed Clean Energy program (“C-PACE”) was enacted in 2018 and since that time it has enabled property owners in Pennsylvania to take advantage of private capital to implement building energy efficiency and clean energy projects. Currently, Act 30 of 2018 facilitates long-term financing for energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy projects for agricultural, commercial, and industrial properties. Senate Bill 635 expands the program to include multifamily commercial buildings, indoor air improvements (e.g. COVID-19 mitigation), and resiliency improvements. The expansion of the C-PACE program will help property owners make upgrades to ventilation systems to improve indoor air quality and reduce COVID-19 transmission. Additionally, projects that increase resilience or improve the durability of real property—such as flood mitigation, wind resistance, energy storage, microgrids, and backup power generation, or others as defined by a local government, will be made eligible for C-PACE financing as well. C-PACE is a funding mechanism that relies entirely on private capital and is not a tax. It will help promote energy efficiency while saving Pennsylvanians money that can be put back into the economy.
Senate Bill 635 has passed both the Pennsylvania House and Senate and was signed by Governor Wolf on July 7. It is now Act 43.
The PA General Assembly finalized the annual state budget on July 8th a little over a week past the June 30th deadline. Senate Bill 1100 (Pat Browne, R-Lehigh), is a $45.2 billion budget plan$43 billion in state funding and just under $2.5 billion in federal dollars and includes a phased reduction in the corporate net income tax from 9.99 percent to 4.99 percent over the next nine years
Other items of interest include:
- $25million for a utility assistance program
- $12.6 million also allows “pass-through” entities to deduct the value of manufacturing equipment from the state personal income tax.
- The cap for the Research and Development Tax Credit increases from $55 million to $60 million and the cap for the Waterfront Development Tax Credit increases from $1.5 million to $5 million under the bill.
- New Airport Land Development Zone offering state tax credits for businesses locating there and creating jobs. Businesses in a zone would receive a tax credit of $2,100 for each new job created each year for a decade.
- A state childcare tax credit equal to 30 percent of the federal credit
- $350 million repaid to the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund
- $42 million to pay off outstanding debt in the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund
- $125 million to boost the Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs
The budget package also rescinds the Wolf Administration’s controversial bridge tolling plan, which follows a recent ruling by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania that blocked the Administration from moving forward with its plan to toll nine interstate bridges across the state, including the Interstate 83 South Bridge in Harrisburg.
The budget package includes the traditional Tax Fiscal, School and Human Services Code bills. The Human Services Code bill was vetoed by Governor Wolf due to a difference with the Legislature regarding Home and Community Based Services. Though the General Assembly subsequently passed a second HS Code bill, which did not include the offending reference, and that bill was signed. The Governor also vetoed Senate Bill 573 which would change rules for poll watched and another bill which require athletic participation by biological sex.
Legislation (SB1284) that funded state related universities avoided a veto after language was removed that would have barred the University of Pittsburgh from conducting fetal tissue research obtained from an elective abortion.
The abortion debate was further illustrated with the General Assembly approving a constitutional amendment package that could allow voters to decide to ban tax dollars for abortions and “not guarantee that a woman has a right to an abortion”. Constitutional amendment legislation cannot be vetoed by the Governor and the bill that passed the House 107/92 and the Senate 26/22 (roll call below) also includes language to:
- Implement Voter ID standards.
- Reforming the process of electing the Lieutenant Governor
- Providing for the disapproval of regulations.
- Requiring audits of the administration of elections and election results.
State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists July 13 Meeting Notes
The State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists met on July 13, via hybrid meeting format, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following are the highlights.
∙ Board President Jim Szalankiewicz, PE, PLS, presided, and welcomed the members and sunshine attendees. He commended the staff on how they have held up under trying circumstances.
∙ Board member Frank Stanton reported that they attended the recent NCEES meeting. He is serving on the committee reviewing the PE exams. He is also actively recruiting new PE members for the Registration Board.
∙ Board counsel Bill Fritz reported on the status of cases, and noted that the Act 41 regulations were completed, and the Board is following the law. He noted, again, that the Seals regulation is “really close”, still waiting for final edits by the LA Board to their companion reg, then they will be sent as a package, along with the Architects reg. Counsel also noted that BPOA is aware that licensees are being contacted by individuals saying they are from the Department, and asking for personal information. This is a SCAM, and should be reported to the Board.
∙ Acting Commissioner Arion Claggett had no new information to report.
∙ Board Administrator Jeannie Bronshtein had nothing to report.
∙ Board Prosecution Liaison Ray Michalowski, Esq., had one case to report, which the Board discussed in Executive Session and was approved. The Board also held a hearing on a case.
The next meeting is September 23, @10:30 AM, with both in-person and virtual options for attendees. Future 2022 Board meeting dates: November 8.
The 2023 dates have not yet been announced.
This Month in PA Bulletin
DOH: ADOPTION OF THE 2022 EDITIONS OF THE GUIDELINES FOR DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF HOSPITALS AND GUIDELINES FOR DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF OUTPATIENT FACILITIES
The Department of Health adopted the 2022 edition of Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospitals and Guidelines for Design and Construction of Outpatient Facilities, effective February 1, 2023. As of February 1, 2023, the department will apply the 2022 guidelines to all plans for new construction, alterations or renovations of hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities. Questions regarding this notice should be directed to Charles A. Schlegel, director, Division of Safety Inspection at (717) 787-1911. Additional information is available on the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Executive Order 1996-1 requires all agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor to submit for publication semi-annually an agenda of regulations under development or consideration. The agendas are compiled to provide members of the regulated community advanced notice of regulatory activity. It is the intention of the Administration that these agendas will serve to increase public participation in the regulatory process. Agency contacts should be contacted for more information regarding the regulation and the procedure for submitting comments.
This Agenda represents the Administration's present intentions regarding future regulations. The information provided is current as of August, 2022. The nature and complexity of an individual regulation obviously will determine whether and when any particular regulation listed (as well as any considered subsequent to publication of this Agenda) is published.
|Regulation Being Considered||Proposed Date of Promulgation||Need and Legal Basis for Action||Agency Contact|
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
|Administration of Sewage Facilities Program
25 Pa. Code Chapters 71—73 (# 7-570)
|Quarter 2, 2023, EQB Consideration, as Proposed||This rulemaking proposes to update 25 Pa. Code Chapters 71, 72 and 73 to implement recent amendments to the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act made by Act 26 of 2017 and Act 34 of 2020, and to address a number of other issues in these regulations, which were last revised significantly in 1997. The regulatory revisions in this proposed rulemaking will include site suitability criteria for sites with shallow soils, which will provide additional opportunities for new land development in a manner that provides safe, effective long-term sewage disposal. This proposed rulemaking will also include other regulatory revisions and updates to ensure that the planning, permitting, operation and maintenance of sewage facilities sufficiently protect public health and safety, the waters of the Commonwealth and property values. (Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act)||Jay Patel
(717) 783-2283 firstname.lastname@example.org
|National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program and Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO)
25 Pa. Code Chapter 92a
|Quarter 4, 2022, EQB Consideration, as Final||This rulemaking proposes to amend 25 Pa. Code § 92a.51(a) to provide an exception for combined sewer overflows (CSO) dischargers with approved long-term control plans (LTCPs) to comply with water quality standards in accordance with the schedule contained in the approved LTCPs allowing renewals of NPDES permits for CSOs to move forward. (Federal Clean Water Act, Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law)||Sean Furjanic
(717) 787-2137 email@example.com
|State Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors & Geologists|
|Digital Signature and Seal
49 Pa. Code Chapter 37
|The regulations would update existing regulations on seals and set forth standard requirements for electronic seals and electronic signing of design documents. The goal of this proposal is to be consistent with regulations of the State Architects Licensure Board and the State Board of Landscape Architects to provide all design professionals with standards that are as consistent as possible with respect to both traditional seals and electronic seals to benefit both the design professionals and their clients.
The proposed rulemaking was delivered to IRRC on August 11, 2020 and subsequently published in Pennsylvania Bulletin on August 25, 2020; the Board has reviewed all comments received and is drafting the final-form regulation. Preparation of final-form regulatory package completed; regulatory package presented to Governor's Office for review pursuant to E.O. 1996-1, Sec. 4.—Delivery of same expected in the 3rd Quarter of 2022.
The following bills and co-sponsorship memos for bills to be introduced of interest to PSPE were acted on by the General Assembly this past month.
HB 2767 RE: Tiny Houses (by Rep. Lori Mizgorski, et al)
Amends the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, in Uniform Construction Code, providing within 180 days, the department shall promulgate regulations adopting "Tiny Houses" of the International Residential Code, and the regulations shall only apply to a municipality that elects, by ordinance, to adopt the regulations.
Introduced and referred to House Labor and Industry Committee, 8/11/2022
SB 1312 RE: Bridge Inspection and Maintenance (by Sen. Jim Brewster, et al)
Amends Title 74 (Transportation) providing for bridge inspection and maintenance. Provides definitions for department and metropolitan planning organization. The Department of Transportation (PennDOT) shall develop and maintain a public database for all bridges in Pennsylvania maintained with federal, state, county or municipal expenses. The database shall be searchable by county, municipality and PennDOT's engineering district. Each county and municipality shall develop its own public database of bridges maintained within the county or municipality's specific jurisdiction through public expense. Counties and municipalities shall transmit this information to PennDOT on a quarterly basis. PennDOT shall adopt and publish standards used for bridge inspections and the standards shall require a certified bridge inspector. On a quadrennial basis, the auditor general shall inspect the records relating to each bridge in the state and determine and issue a report to the General Assembly regarding the completion of and compliance towards bridge inspections.
Introduced and referred to Senate Transportation Committee, 8/24/2022