Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Act Update | HB 609
Rep. Joe Emrick (R-Northampton) has reintroduced HB 2101 from last session. The bill, now HB 609, as introduced, is identical to how it passed the House unanimously last session, and nearly cleared the Senate, before the session ended. Now the process starts over. We are looking for consideration again early in 2021, after some discussions ensue with policymakers and interested parties to resolve some issues raised by the GIS community.
- HB 609 RE: Registration Law (by Rep. Joe Emrick, et al) | Amends the Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law, further providing for definitions, for procedure for licensing as professional engineer, for continuing professional competency requirements and for exemption from licensure. Introduced and referred to House Professional Licensure Committee, 2/24/2021 | Cosponsor memos filed
House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Opposes DEP Reg on Dam Safety
The committee met February 24 to consider a letter to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC), stating the Committee’s (at least the Majority members) opposition to a proposed EQB regulation regarding Dam Safety and Waterway Management. The letter to IRRC was adopted with all committee Republicans and Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Greene) voting in the affirmative.
- Chairman Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) said the letter being considered is with regard to more regulations IRRC is promulgating during the pandemic “when people aren’t actually physically working in their offices.” He said the letter is addressing Environmental Quality Board Regulation No. 7-556. Republican Research Analyst Griffin Caruso said the letter disapproves the regulation because the broadness and subjective nature of the defined and undefined terms would further “muddy the waters” of Pennsylvania’s existing dam safety and water management regulations.
- Minority Chairman Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) urged opposition to the letter. He said the regulations are related to the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, and were approved by the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) nearly unanimously with only Chairman Metcalfe being the negative vote. He said regulations have been commented upon, the EQB is considering the comments submitted, and the regulation will be published in final-form once comments are addressed. He said the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) believes the regulations increase the flexibility and predictability of the regulatory community, streamlines permit application procedures, facilitates implementation of environmentally-beneficial projects, and ensures robust protections of the commonwealth’s aquatic resources. Chairman Vitali said he disagrees with the contentions made in the letter and would be voting against it.
House Appropriations Committee Looks at Fiscal, Economic Impacts of Joining RGGI, Permitting
The House began its department-by-department review of the Governor’s 2021-22 budget proposal, which he delivered on February 3. On February 22, the House Appropriations Committee held a tense hearing with the Department of Environmental Resources, and in particular, Sec. Patrick McDonnell. Two major themes were the primary foci of the Majority members – the timeliness of permit approvals, and the administration’s proposal to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as RGGI (https://www.dep.pa.gov/Citizens/climate/Pages/RGGI.aspx).
Republicans blasted McDonnell on what they portrayed as the Department’s dismal record of turning around project approvals, while the Secretary and Democrats noted the decline in personnel over the past decade or more, and the pandemic making contacting permittees difficult. The majority members weren’t hearing it, saying if the rest of the businesses in PA have had to make accommodations and figure out how to manage remotely, DEP should be able to as well.
The GOP members also continued their assault on the plan to join RGGI, led by House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Chair Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), who described the process being used as an unconstitutional act, as in his estimation it goes around the appropriate legislative channels, and ignores the stated will of the General Assembly and by extension the people of Pennsylvania. McDonnell noted that public comment had been solicited, and the Environmental Quality Board will consider those comments, as well as the input of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the General Assembly before proceeding.
Emergency Declarations Questions to Appear on the Primary Ballot
Pennsylvanians will have a say in the duration of disaster emergencies declared by the governor under legislation approved in the House and Senate, in the May primary.
Senate Bill 2, proposes to amend the state Constitution by limiting emergency declarations by a governor to a maximum of 21 days. To extend a declaration beyond that time, the Legislature would need to grant approval. The is a response to the state being under two long-term disaster emergency declarations: one regarding the opioid crisis, which has been in place for more than three years, and the other regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been going on for nearly a year.
The measure also proposes additional constitutional amendments:
|•||Prohibiting the denial or abridgement of equality of rights on the basis of race and ethnicity by adding it to the Declaration of Rights section of the Pennsylvania Constitution.|
|•||Clarifying that a resolution terminating or extending a disaster emergency declaration need not be presented to the governor for signature.|
With final approval by the House and Senate in the second consecutive legislative session, these constitutional amendment proposals will go before the voters in a referendum on the May 18 primary election ballot. Voters not affiliated with a political party will be able to vote on the referendum questions come primary election day.
Bidding / Contracting
- HB 410 RE: New Home Construction Consumer Protection Act (by Rep. John Galloway, et al)
Provides safeguards for consumers and contractors during the construction process and requires home builders to register with the attorney general’s office and use standardized home construction contracts. The act defines contract fraud in relation to home building. The legislation creates the Home Builder Guaranty Fund which compensates homeowners for losses resulting from contract violations. Introduced and referred to House Consumer Affairs Committee, 2/4/2021
- HB 424 RE: Indemnification Agreements (by Rep. Todd Stephens/Mike Driscoll, et al)
Amends “An act relating to indemnification agreements between architects, engineers or surveyors and owners, contractors, subcontractors or suppliers” to void any indemnification clauses in construction agreements where one party must accept liability for another party’s negligence. Introduced and referred to House Commerce Committee, 2/8/2021
- HB 495 RE: Adjoining Properties Act (by Rep. Mike Driscoll, et al)
Establishes bonding requirements for contractors performing work on adjoining properties, along with penalties for violations. A contractor performing a home improvement project or a new home construction project on an adjoining property shall purchase a surety bond of $500,000 for each adjoining property on which the improvement project or a new construction project is being performed. The bond shall only be used to cover damages to a property caused by a home improvement project or a new home construction project on an adjoining property. Proof of bonding must be submitted to the municipality in which the home improvement project or a new home construction project is being performed. Provides a civil penalty of $10,000 for the first offense and a civil penalty of $20,000 for each subsequent offense. Introduced and referred to House Commerce Committee, 2/10/2021
Budget Related Bills
- SB 90 RE: RACP Funding Limits (by Sen. Jake Corman, et al)
Amends the Capital Facilities Debt Enabling Act, in capital facilities, further providing for appropriation for and limitation on redevelopment assistance capital projects. Provides that the maximum amount of redevelopment assistance capital projects undertaken by the commonwealth for which obligations are outstanding shall not exceed, in aggregate, $3.35 billion. Further provides for the sum of outstanding obligations to be decreased by $50 million beginning July 1, 2018, and each July 1 thereafter until the sum equals $3.15 billion, and to be decreased by $100 million beginning July 1, 2024, and each July 1 thereafter until the sum equals $2.65 billion. Introduced and referred to Senate Appropriations Committee, 2/10/2021
- SB 255 RE: General Appropriations Act of 2021 (by Sen. Patrick Browne, et al)
Provides from the General Fund for the expenses of the executive, legislative and judicial departments of the commonwealth, the public debt and the public schools for the fiscal year July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021; provides appropriations from special funds and accounts to the executive and judicial departments for the fiscal year July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, and for the payment of bills remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021; and provides for the appropriation of federal funds to the executive and judicial departments for the fiscal year July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, and for the payment of bills remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021. Effective July 1, 2021, or immediately, whichever is later. Introduced and referred to Senate Appropriations Committee, 2/22/2021 | Cosponsor memo filed
- HCO1289 (Quinn) – Growing Greener III Program (Former HB139) Provides $315 million in annual investments for environmental conservation, recreation, and preservation projects across the commonwealth. Filed, 2/12/2021
COVID-19 Related Legislation
- HB 385 RE: PPP Grant Tax Exemption (by Rep. George Dunbar, et al)
Amends the Tax Reform Code adding language providing an exemption for forgiveness of indebtedness granted under the Paycheck Protection Program from the state personal income tax.
- Introduced and referred to House Finance Committee, 2/3/2021
- Reported as committed from House Finance Committee, read first time, and laid on the table, 2/4/2021 H
- Removed from the table, 2/5/2021
- HB 596 RE: Unemployment Compensation (by Rep. Josh Kail, et al)
Amends Unemployment Compensation Law, in emergency provisions related to COVID-19, providing for grounds for refusal of suitable work or voluntarily quitting work.
- Filed, 2/19/2021
- SB 2 RE: Constitutional Amendments Regarding Discrimination/Disaster Emergency Declarations (by Sen. Kim Ward, et al)
A Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution, in declaration of rights, for prohibition against denial or abridgment of equality of rights because of race and ethnicity and establishing that equality of rights shall not be denied because of an individual’s race or ethnicity; in legislation, providing that every order, resolution or vote, to which the concurrence of both houses may be necessary, except on the questions of adjournment or termination or extension of a disaster emergency as declared by executive order, shall be presented to the governor and before it shall take effect shall be repassed by two-thirds of both houses. Provides a disaster emergency declaration shall be in effect for no more than 21 days, unless otherwise extended in whole or in part by concurrent resolution of the General Assembly. Further provides that when the governor issues a disaster emergency declaration, upon the expiration of the declaration, the governor may not issue a new disaster emergency declaration based upon the same or substantially similar facts and circumstances without the passage of a concurrent resolution of the General Assembly expressly approving the new disaster emergency declaration. Constitutional amendments require approval in two consecutive legislative sessions and then approval by the voters through a referendum.
- Read second time and rereferred to House Appropriations Committee, 2/4/2021
- Reported as committed from House Appropriations Committee, read third time, and passed House, 2/5/2021 (116-86)
- Signed in the House and in the Senate, 2/5/2021
- Filed in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth and Assigned Joint Resolution #JR1 of 2021, 2/5/2021
Environmental Building Standards
- HB 572 RE: Community Water Systems (by Rep. David Zimmerman, et al)
Amends the PA Safe Drinking Water Act, further providing for definitions and for variances and exemptions. Introduced and referred to House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, 2/22/2021
- HB 573 RE: Erosion and Sediment Control Permit Act (by Rep. David Zimmerman, et al)
Provides that, except projects subject to National Pollution Discharge Elimination System requirements, a person proposing an earth disturbance activity regulated by erosion and sediment control shall obtain an erosion and sediment control permit from the department. Further provides that the department or a conservation district which has a delegation agreement executed with the department to administer and enforce all or a portion of the requirements shall issue a permit within 45 days of submission of a permit application. Introduced and referred to House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, 2/22/2021
- HB 591 RE: NPDES Permit Program (by Rep. David Zimmerman, et al)
Amends the Clean Streams Law, in other pollutions and potential pollution, further providing for potential pollution. Introduced and referred to House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, 2/24/2021 | Cosponsor Memos filed
- HCO1290 (Quinn) – Clean Streams Laws Provides for a riparian buffer waiver process. Filed, 2/21/2021
- HB 396 RE: Code Administrators (by Rep. Clint Owlett, et al)
Amends the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, in adoption and enforcement by municipalities, providing for a newly hired code administrator to be subject to decisions previously rendered on projects by the board of appeals. Introduced and referred to House Labor and Industry Committee, 2/4/2021
- HB 403 RE: Land on Boundary Lines (by Rep. John Galloway, et al)
Amends Title 53 (Municipalities Generally), in consolidated county assessment, providing for the land on boundary lines to reassign to the municipality or county of the owner’s choice and to be binding on all future owners unless subdivided. Introduced and referred to House Local Government Committee, 2/4/2021
- HB 428 RE: PA Construction Code Act (by Rep. Doyle Heffley, et al)
Amends the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, in adoption and enforcement by municipalities, further providing for municipalities that opt to enforce the Uniform Construction Code by utilizing third-party agencies have at least two or more under contract for administration by January 1, 2022. The act provides for contract and permit considerations, public disclosure and complaint process. The legislation further provides for first class cities to designate an existing departmental board to act as board of appeals to grant, modify or reject appeals. Introduced and referred to House Labor and Industry Committee, 2/8/2021
- HB 496 RE: Water Bottle Filling Stations (by Rep. Perry Warren, et al)
Amends the Administrative Code, in powers and duties of the Department of General Services and its departmental administrative and advisory boards and commissions, requiring water bottle filling stations for each building or structure within this commonwealth that undergoes a major improvement involving plumbing or pipe fitting infrastructure. Introduced and referred to House State Government Committee, 2/10/2021
- SB 191 RE: Historical Agricultural Buildings (by Sen. Judy Ward, et al)
Amends the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, in preliminary provisions, exempting historical agricultural building from the Uniform Construction Code, provided that the owner of the building annually files an affidavit with the municipality stating that the following conditions are satisfied or, if the owner fails to do so, the municipality inspects the building at the owner’s expense and determines that the conditions are satisfied. Introduced and referred to Senate Labor and Industry Committee, 2/10/2021 | Reported as committed from Senate Labor and Industry Committee, 2/23/2021
- SB 208 RE: Municipal Bonding Requirements for Property Improvements (by Sen. John DiSanto, et al)
Amends the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, in subdivision and land development, providing for completion of improvements or guarantee thereof prerequisite to final plat approval, establishing that the financial security equals but does not exceed 110 percent, and providing that the engineer of the project may retain 10 percent of the estimated cost of the remaining improvements. Introduced and referred to Senate Local Government Committee, 2/10/2021
- HB 411 RE: Changing Stations (by Rep. Dan Miller, et al)
Amends the Construction Code Act, in uniform construction code, providing for at least one changing station to be installed within two years of the legislation’s effective date in public accommodations and to be accessible to both males and females. The act requires that at least one changing table is designed for use by a disabled or elderly individual. The act provides that alterations or additions that require a permit or would cost more than $10,000 to install are exempt. Introduced and referred to House Labor and Industry Committee, 2/4/2021
- HB 574 RE: Tracking of Permits (by Rep. David Zimmerman, et al)
Act imposing a duty on the Department of Environmental Protection to maintain a system for applicants to track the status of certain permit applications; and providing for permit notifications. Introduced and referred to House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, 2/22/2021 | Cosponsor memos filed
- HCO1327 (Fritz) – Transparent Framework for DEP Permit Decisions, Predictability (by Rep. Jonathan Fritz, et al)
Establishes a permitting framework at the Department of Environmental Protection to ensure decisions on permits are rendered reliably and in a timely manner. Filed, 2/17/2021
- SCO 676 (Bartolotta) – Improving the Permit Appeals Process Amends the Environmental Hearing Board Act of 1988. Filed, 2/5/2021
- HB 609 RE: Registration Law (by Rep. Joe Emrick, et al)
Amends the Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law, further providing for definitions, for procedure for licensing as professional engineer, for continuing professional competency requirements and for exemption from licensure. Introduced and referred to House Professional Licensure Committee, 2/24/2021 | Cosponsor memos filed
- HCO1303 (Owlett) – Professional License Applications—Paper Applications Requires the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) to provide individuals seeking to become licensed in Pennsylvania the option of applying by paper application under certain circumstances. Filed, 2/16/2021
- HB 569 RE: Public Hearings (by Rep. Anthony DeLuca, et al)
Amends the Public School Code, in grounds and buildings, further providing for referendum or public hearing required prior to construction or lease. Introduced and referred to House Education Committee, 2/22/2021
- HB 571 RE: Approval of Plans (by Rep. Anthony DeLuca, et al)
Amends the Public School Code, in grounds and buildings, further providing for approval by department of plans, etc., of buildings and exceptions. Introduced and referred to House Education Committee, 2/22/2021 | Copies of all bills of interest can be accessed via the Internet at: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/session.cfm
Upcoming Meetings of Interest
2021 Senate Session Schedule | Senate Committee meetings and session can be streamed at: http://www.pasenategop.com/
- March 15, 16, 17, 22 (canceled), 23, 24
- April 12 (canceled), 13 (canceled), 14 (canceled), 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28
- May 10, 11, 12, 24, 25, 26
- June 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
2021 House Session Schedule | Some House Committee meetings and session can be viewed online at: http://www.pahousegop.com/
- March 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24
- April 5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28
- May 3, 4, 5, 24, 25, 26
- June 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30
- September 13, 14, 15, 27, 28, 29
- October 4, 5, 6, 25, 26, 27
- November 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17
- December 13, 14, 15
EQB Meetings | The next regular meeting of the board is tentatively slated to occur virtually at 9 a.m., Tuesday, February 16, 2021. Information on how to join the meeting, as well as agenda and meeting materials, will be available on the Board’s webpage. Individuals are encouraged to visit the Board’s webpage to confirm meeting date, time and location prior to each meeting. Questions concerning the February 16, 2021, meeting can be directed to Laura Griffin at email@example.com or (717) 783-8727.
20201 State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists Meeting Schedule | All Board meetings are held via Webex until further notice. Click here to access the meeting. | Meetings are open to the public.
- March 23
- May 17
- July 14
- September 29
- November 5
State Geospatial Coordinating Board Meetings
- March 15
- June 14
- August 23
- November 15
- Location | 1 Technology Park, Commonwealth Technology Center (CTC), Harrisburg, PA 17110
- Time | 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM
- Additional Information | https://www.oa.pa.gov/Programs/Information%20Technology/Pages/geoboard.aspx
Governor Delivers Proposed Budget for 2021-22
Governor Tom Wolf released his budget and other legislative priorities on February 3rd. During a taped speech, the Governor made clear he was speaking more to the citizens of Pennsylvania than the State Legislature to support his proposal for a $37.8 billion budget, which is an increase of 11% from last year. The proposal not only has increases to education, but further directs funds to pandemic relief and workforce development.
The Governor addressed the struggles of the economy during the pandemic, stating, “Let us move quickly to help struggling businesses weather the storm. We can immediately allocate 145 million dollars to help them make it through the last months of the pandemic.”
Indeed, the Legislature responded by sending an economic relief package to the Governor later that week. Senate Bill 109 mirrors the Governor’s plan with a $145 million new economic development program through DCED to provide each county a block grant in an amount equal to the population proportion amount. DCED shall distribute funding to counties on or before February 28, 2021. No later than March 1, 2021. While this was part of the Governor’s budget address, these funds will not by tied to the upcoming budget negotiations.
Governor Wolf is once again proposing to reduce the Corporate Net Income Tax from 9.99 to 9.49 percent on January 1, 2022, then continue to reduce the tax incrementally to 6.49 percent by 2026. The governor is also proposing to close the Delaware Loophole and shift to combined reporting to tax corporations as a single entity.
The Governor would also like to legalize adult-use cannabis and use that revenue to support historically disadvantaged small businesses through grant funding.
Part of the Governor’s proposal is again for an oil and gas severance tax to fund a workforce development system to provide rapid re-employment assistance to workers impacted by the pandemic that will focus on job training, career coaching and childcare.
The Governor is also proposing an increase to the state’s personal income tax (PIT) to 4.49% up from 3.07% to further fund his budget. While asking for an increase to the PIT, the Governor is also requesting that the special tax forgiveness credit be expanded for working class families. The proposal increases the allowances for tax forgiveness to $15,000 for single filers, $30,000 for married filers, and $10,000 allowance for each dependent. Filers with incomes at or below these thresholds will receive 100 percent tax forgiveness. The percentage of tax forgiveness declines by 1 percentage point for each $500 above the threshold for 100 percent forgiveness. For example, this means that families with two children making less than $84,000 will receive a tax cut while a family of four making $50,000 will have their taxes eliminated.
In addition to tax changes for working class families, the Governor is next proposing to increase the state minimum wage to $12 per hour effective July 1, 2021, with annual increases of $0.50 until the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour on July 1, 2027.
Governor Wolf is once again calling for a change to State Police funding with a fair service fee that would charge localities who use PSP resources based on factors like population, income, coverage area, station costs and other factors, rather than a flat fee or a population-alone based fee.
The Governor’s proposed budget also includes several education initiative, such as; all schools to receive state funding for education through the fair funding formula since only 11 percent of state funding for schools is distributed through the fair funding formula; an increase of funding to schools by $1.35 billion with $1.15 billion of that to be used for basic education funding; new funding for early childhood education, special education, and higher education – including funding for our GI Bill and a new community college in Erie; creates a tuition assistance program to help more Pennsylvanians attend PASSHE schools, opening up new opportunities for people to get degrees and other important workforce credentials; lowers administrative costs in the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program so we can fund 36 million dollars more in scholarships; and a $45,000 dollar minimum annual salary for teachers.
The rest of the Spring legislative session will likely be dominated by debate on these proposals by the Governor. However, any budget negotiations will be overshadowed by the pandemic crisis and up to $2 billion dollar as outlined in a recent report released by the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO). At a briefing highlighting the report, Matthew Knittel, director, IFO, noted that job recovery, similar to the rest of the nation, is slowing in the state and that there is some permanent job loss, particularly in the retail and food services sectors. He continued that revenues for the first six months of the FY “have been very solid” and that it is likely due to the federal stimulus increasing cash income for residents. Additionally, he said, Pennsylvania should see “significant growth” in expenditures due to one-time measures that have been used in the current FY.