Governor Allows GA Bill to Become Law Without Signature, Revenue Package Signed
As we reported in the previous report, at the end of June the House and Senate passed a spending plan, but not the mechanisms to pay for it. After giving the General Assembly 10 more days to come up with a way to fully fund the spending plan they passed “on time,” only to see that plan not also be sent to him, Gov. Tom Wolf set yet another precedent in PA budget politics, by allowing the 2016-17 General Appropriations (GA) bill, SB1073 , to become law without his signature. The Governor also let last year’s budget be enacted without his signature, but the legislature had passed the connected legislation outlining how that money would be spent. This year those vehicles had not passed with regard to the newly commenced Fiscal Year, causing concern among many observers, including in the General Assembly, as to the constitutionality of his action, given a requirement that he only approve a budget that is certifiably balanced. Estimates are that the spending plan passed by the General Assembly will be more than $1 Billion more than available revenues would support, but passage of SB 1073, at least allowed for money to flow to the various agencies and programs, up until it runs out, later in the fiscal year. Faced with essentially a Hobson’s choice, legislative leaders and the Governor, crafted a package of revenue “enhancements”, such as tobacco taxes, and other new revenue, along with shifts of non-general Fund monies to cover the remaining portion of the spending, and amended the package into several bills that were in position for quick passage. Governor Wolf, and many legislators and interest groups, had campaigned against one-time, non-sustainable revenue shifts, but in the end, the votes for more sustainable, broad-based taxes were not there, particularly in the House. The package, along with other issues of importance to various legislators, were spread over other bills, amending the Tax Code (HB 1198 ), the Fiscal Code (HB 1605), and the Public School Code (HB 1606 ). A Public Welfare Code bill had also been passed the previous month along with the spending plan. The leaders were able to cobble together the votes to pass these bills, and adjourned for the summer. A very limited number of session days are scheduled for the fall, and little of major import is expected to be done before the election in November, though the budget does call for additional revenue from internet casino gaming, to the tune of $100 million, so the leadership must find those votes before they return in the latter part of September.
CFA Finally Meets, Approves $158 Million in Applications
The long-awaited meeting of the Commonwealth Financing Authority finally occurred on July 1, resulting in the approval of approximately $158 million in pending investments. DCED Secretary Dennis Davin thanked the members and the audience for their patience and understanding over the delays. He committed to holding meetings every other month going forward, to keep these projects moving. Deputy Secretary Scott Dunkelberger noted the Plan Con program will result in $850 million in bonds, via a resolution, at a taxable rate of less than 5.99%. He announced small water/sewer plan funding of $24 million, and $12 million for pipeline infrastructure. He then read through the list of application approved by category, referring to handouts that were distributed to the public at the end of the meeting.
Governor’s Office Publishes Regulatory Agenda
Executive Order 1996-1 requires all agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor to submit for publication an agenda of regulations under development or consideration. These agendas represent the agencies’ current intentions regarding future regulations. The agendas are generally published on the first Saturdays in February and July. The agendas are compiled to provide members of the regulated community advanced notice of regulatory activity. The following agency agendas were published in the July 9, 2016, issue of the Pennsylvania Bulletin. When they actually are published we will report on that publication, with instructions on how and when to comment.
|Regulation Being Considered||Proposed Date of Promulgation||Need and Legal Basis for Action||Agency Contact|
Department of State (DOS)
|State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists|
|Electronic Seals and Signatures
49 Pa. Code Chapter 37
|Fall 2016, as Proposed||In addition to updating their current regulations on seals, the three boards that regulate design professionals in this Commonwealth (including the State Architects Licensure Board, the State Registration Board for Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists, and the State Board of Landscape Architects) are proposing new regulations setting forth standard requirements for electronic seals and electronic signing of design documents. The goal of these proposals is to provide all design professionals with regulations that are as consistent as possible with respect to both traditional seals and electronic seals to benefit both the design professionals and their clients.||Robin Shearer
49 Pa. Code § 37.17
|Fall 2016, as Final||Under section 9(a) of the Professional Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law (63 P.S. § 156(a)) (act), the Board is required by law to support its operations from the revenue it generates from fees, fines and civil penalties. In addition, the act provides that the Board shall increase fees if the revenue raised by fees, fines and civil penalties is not sufficient to meet expenditures over a 2-year period. The current fee structure is inadequate to support the operations of the Board. This proposed rulemaking seeks to increase the biennial renewal fee for licensees from $50 to $100 so that revenues are sufficient to cover projected expenditures as required by the act.||Robin Shearer
State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists July 13 Meeting Highlights
The State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists met on July 13 in Harrisburg. Here are the highlights.
Board Chair Michael Brinkash, PLS, presented Hiram Ribblett, PE with a recognition for 12 years of service to the Board.
Lisa Catania, PE, reported she was preparing to attend the upcoming meeting of NCEES with Theodore Tesler, PG.
BPOA Deputy Commissioner Kathryn Waters, had no report.
- Board Counsel Juan Ruiz reported on cases and applications that are before the Board, which were to be discussed in Executive session. Ruiz also gave an update on the DRG opinion. Approval has been granted from the Office of General Counsel to appeal the ruling, and appeal filed. It is now awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court whether it will hear the case. If the court will entertain it, then briefs will be filed. Brinkash thanked Commissioner Harlow, and Attys. Blackburn and Ruiz for filing the appeal. Both PSPE and PSLS are monitoring the case. John Wanner noted that both groups are also looking at making relevant changes to the Registration law, to avoid a similar situation in the future.
- Regulatory Counsel Tom Blackburn was not present, but sent a written report. Ruiz reported that there was nothing new on the Fees reg package, and the Seals regs are being coordinated with similar packages by the LA and Architects Boards.
- Staff reported that PSPE staff had requested a Board member or staff to attend the PSPE conference and give a presentation on filing a complaint. Lisa Catania noted she would be attending the conference anyway, and could do the session.
Under correspondence, the Board discussed the process of fee increases. The Board will look into the need for incremental increases when appropriate, rather than larger ones less frequently.
Next meeting is September 14, in Harrisburg. Remaining 2016 dates: November 9.
DEP Announces Pennsylvania Small Business Advantage Grant Availability
The Department of Environmental Protection announced the availability of up to $1 million of grant funding in the Small Business Advantage Grant Program. The program is first come first serve for small businesses that promote pollution prevention or energy efficiency projects. For a copy of the application and requirements package, contact the Department’s Grants Center at (717) 705-5400 or on Department’s web site at www.dep.pa.gov by searching ”Small Business Advantage Grants,” then click ”Small Business Ombudsman’s Office.” For technical project questions write to firstname.lastname@example.org before submitting an application. Applications may be submitted starting July 25. More information can be found here.
The General Assembly acted on the following bills of interest to PSPE in the past month.
BIDDING / CONTRACTING
HB 1202 RE: Highway Construction (by Rep. John Taylor, et al)
Act repealing the act of May 28, 1943 (P.L.796, No.333), entitled “An act establishing as state highways, certain county highways and requiring their construction, repair and maintenance as such.”
Laid on the table (Pursuant to Senate Rule 9), 7/12/2016
HB 1653 RE: Diverse and Disadvantaged Businesses (by Rep. Donna Oberlander, et al)
Amends Title 62 (Procurement) adding a chapter providing for diverse and disadvantaged businesses. “Diverse and disadvantaged businesses” is defined as a minority-owned business, a woman-owned business, or a veteran-owned business. The department shall establish a process to verify a diverse or disadvantaged business as Pennsylvania home state-certified for the purpose of other state of national disadvantaged business programs. The department shall also verify a business that has been certified as a diverse or disadvantaged business by a third party organization. Requires the department to compile, maintain and make available source lists of businesses verified by the department as a diverse or disadvantaged business for the purpose of encouraging procurement from those businesses.
Laid on the table, 7/13/2016
SB 930 RE: Diverse or Disadvantaged Businesses (by Sen. Patrick Stefano, et al)
Amends Title 62 (Procurement) providing for certification of woman-owned business, minority-owned business or veteran-owned business. Includes relevant definitions and requires the department to establish a process to verify a diverse or disadvantaged business as Pennsylvania home state-certified for the purpose of other state or national disadvantaged business programs, and to verify that a business that has been certified as a diverse or disadvantaged business by a third-party organization recognized by the department. Provides for notice and list requirements. The department may promulgate regulations governing the certification.
Laid on the table, 7/13/2016
BUDGET RELATED BILLS
HB 1198 RE: 2016-17 Revenue Package (by Sponsor withdrew)
Amends the Tax Reform Code, in sales and use tax: further providing for definitions, for exclusions, for discount and for crimes. In personal income tax: further providing for definitions, for classes of income and for tax withheld; providing for contributions for tuition account programs; and further providing for requirement of withholding tax, for information statement, for time for filing employers’ returns, for payment of taxes withheld, for employer’s liability for withheld taxes, for employer’s failure to withhold, for declarations of estimated tax and for citation authority. In corporate net income tax: further providing for reports and payment of tax; providing for amended reports; and further providing for enforcement, rules and regulations and inquisitorial powers of the department. In bank and trust company shares tax: further providing for imposition, for ascertainment of taxable amount and exclusion of United States obligations, for apportionment and for definitions. In gross receipts tax: further providing for imposition. In realty transfer tax: further providing for definitions, for exempt parties and for excluded transactions. In cigarette tax: further providing for incidence and rate, for floor tax, for stamp as evidence, for commissions on sales and for disposition of certain funds. Imposing a tobacco products tax. In research and development tax credit: further providing for time limitations. In film production tax credit: making editorial changes; further providing for definitions and for limitations; providing for reissuance of film production tax credits, for concert rehearsal and tour; and providing for video game production. Establishing the coal refuse energy and reclamation tax credit. Establishing the waterfront development tax credit. In tax credit for new jobs: further providing for definitions and for tax credits. In city revitalization and improvement zones: further providing for definitions and for establishment of contracting authority; providing for contracting authority duties; further providing for approval, for functions of contracting authorities, for qualified businesses, for funds, for reports, for calculation of baseline, for certification, for transfers, for restrictions, for transfer of property, for Commonwealth pledges and for guidelines; and providing for review. Establishing the Manufacturing and Investment Tax Credit. In neighborhood assistance tax credit: further providing for definitions, for tax credit and for grant of tax credit. In neighborhood improvement zones: further providing for definitions and for funds; and providing for taxes, for property assessment and for exceptions. In Keystone Special Development Zone Program: further providing for tax credit. Providing for keystone opportunity zones, keystone opportunity expansion zones and keystone opportunity improvement zones. Providing for mixed-use development tax credit, the Mixed-use Development Program and Mixed-use Development Program Fund. Providing for Keystone Innovation Zones. In malt beverage tax: further providing for limited tax credits. In inheritance tax: further providing for definitions, for transfers not subject to tax and for deductions not allowed. In procedure and administration: further providing for petition procedure. Providing for table game taxes. Establishing the computer data center equipment incentive program. Providing for a tax amnesty program. Making related repeals. Further providing for preemption of local government tax. Directing the Office of Attorney General to attempt to obtain the consent of participating manufacturers under the Master Settlement Agreement for amendments.
Senate insisted on its amendments non-concurred in the House, and Senate appointed conference committee: Corman, Brown & Hughes, 7/13/2016
House insists on its nonconcurrence in the amendments of the Senate, and House appointed conference committee: Reed, Adolph, Dermod. 7/13/2016
Conference report presented in the House, and House adopted conference committee report, 7/13/2016 (116-75)
Conference report presented in the Senate, and Senate adopted conference report, 7/13/2016 (28-22)
Signed in the House and Senate, 7/13/2016
Approved by the Governor, 7/13/2016. Act No. 84 of 2016
HB 1605 RE: Fiscal Code (by Rep. Lee James, et al)
Amends the Fiscal Code to provide for the fiscal year 2016-17 budget implementation and for restrictions on appropriations for funds and accounts and for other changes. Increases the cost to the retailers cigarette minimum pricing provision from 6 to 7 percent; extends the sunset date for the Pennsylvania Cancer Control, Prevention and Research Act to June 30, 2016; adds a new section allowing the State Treasurer to obtain possession of unredeemed and unclaimed US Savings Bonds on behalf of Pennsylvania residents; extends certain Redevelopment Assistance Capital budget programs; requires the Commonwealth Finance Agency to transfer $50 million from the First Industries Program to the Business in Our Sites Program and to transfer $25 million from the Building Pennsylvania program to the Business in Our Sites Program; reduces the statutory annual transfer from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to the Marcellus Legacy Fund for transfer to the Environmental Stewardship Fund; adds a new section providing the Oil and Gas Conservation Law shall not apply to or affect any well or wells that don not penetrate the Onodaga horizon; updates provisions relating to the Heritage Age Program and requires the Department of Conservation and Natural Resource (DCNR) to adopt goals, guidelines and policies for the program; and establishes a certificate of public convenience to be issued by the Public Utility Commission for transportation network companies. Provides no amount of the surplus in the General Fund for fiscal year 2015-16 may be transferred to the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund. Allows the State Worker’s Insurance Board to invest in financial institutions that are designated as a minority depository institution or community development financial institution. Provides for the distribution of Tobacco Settlement Fund payments for fiscal year 2016-27. Establishes a formula to provide equal weekly transfers to be deposited in the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Restricted Receipt Account. Transfers $2.5 million from the sale of liquor and alcohol to the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs; establishes the Natural Gas Infrastructure Development Fund in the Commonwealth Finance Authority; and transfers $12 million from the Alternative Energy Investment Act High Performance Buildings Program to the new fund. Provides implementing language for specific line items in the General Appropriation Act of 2016. Adds language requiring the fee for any slot machine or table games license issued in fiscal year 2016-17 to be paid in full no later than June 30, 2017. Raises the DCNR per acre payment in lieu of taxes from $3.60 to $6.00; institutes a series of caps on the amount of funding the Pennsylvania State Police can draw from the Motor License Fund and extends the Wine and Spirits Wholesale and Retail Privatization Commission until June 30, 2017. The provisions relating to the State Treasurer shall take effect in 60 days and the remainder shall take effect immediately.
Reported as amended from Senate Appropriations Committee, read third time, and passed Senate, 7/13/2016 (45-5)
Received as amended in House and to rereferred House Rules Committee, Re-reported as committed from House Rules Committee, and House concurred in Senate amendments, 7/13/2016 (124-66)
Signed in the House and in the Senate, and Approved by the Governor, 7/13/2016. Act. No. 85 of 2016
SB 1073 RE: General Appropriation Act of 2016 (By Sen. Pat Browne, et al)
Provides from the General Fund for the expenses of the Executive and Judicial Departments, the State Government Support Agencies and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth, the public debt and the public schools for the fiscal year July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, for certain institutions and organizations and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016; to provide appropriations from the State Lottery Fund, the Tobacco Settlement Fund, the Aviation Restricted Account, the Hazardous Material Response Fund, The State Stores Fund, the Milk Marketing Fund, the Home Investment Trust Fund, the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund, the Tuition Account Guaranteed Savings Program Fund, the Banking Fund, the Firearm Records Check Fund, the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority Fund, the Home Improvement Account, the Cigarette Fire Safety and Firefighter Protection Act Enforcement Fund, the Insurance Regulation and Oversight Fund, the Pennsylvania Racehorse Development Restricted Receipt Account, the Justice Reinvestment Fund, the Multimodal Transportation Fund, the State Racing Fund and the ABLE Savings Program Fund to the Executive Department; to provide appropriations from the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account to the Judicial Department for the fiscal year July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017; to provide appropriations from the Motor License Fund for the fiscal year July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, for the proper operation of several departments of the Commonwealth and the Pennsylvania State Police authorized to spend Motor License Fund money; to provide for the appropriation of Federal funds to the Executive and Judicial Departments of the Commonwealth and for the payment of bills remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016; and to provide for the additional appropriation of Federal and State funds from the General Fund, the State Lottery Fund and the Tobacco Settlement Fund for the Executive and Legislative Departments of the Commonwealth for the fiscal year July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. Effective July 1, 2016, or immediately, whichever is later.
Became law without Governor’s signature 7/12/2016 (Act: 16A)
ENVIRONMENTAL BUILDING STANDARDS
HB 1394 RE: Storm Water Facilities (by Rep. Mark Mustio, et al)
Amends Title 8 (Boroughs & Incorporated Towns) authorizing a borough to assess reasonable and uniform fees for storm water management activities and facilities without the need to establish a municipal authority. Also authorizes the enactment and enforcement of ordinances to govern and regulate the planning, management, implementation, construction and maintenance of storm water facilities. regulate the planning, management, implementation, construction and maintenance of storm water facilities. Provides for any of the assessment to be collected by the treasurer and requires the municipalities to specify in the ordinance the frequency of the payments. A borough shall consider providing exemptions and credits for properties that have already installed and are maintaining storm water facilities. Restricts storm water fees assessed by a borough to the amount necessary to meet the necessary requirements of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and requires boroughs to consider and provide appropriate exemptions or credits for properties which have installed and are maintaining storm water facilities that meet best management practices and are approved or inspected by the borough.
Laid on the table, 7/13/2016
HB 568 RE: RAC Reviews (by Rep. Eli Evankovich, et al)
Amends the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act revising the procedures for review of the International Construction Code by the Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council (RAC). Clarifies the RAC process shall be put in place for review of updated sections of the International Construction Code every three years. Adds two members to the RAC, increases the members’ terms from two to three years, and provides for the reimbursement of RAC members for expenses. Further provides for the creation of technical advisory committees and creates an accelerated process for re-review of 2015 terms. Also provides for delay in future code adoption processes following any new additions to the International Construction Code and for an expedited process for unopposed sections. In addition, changes are made to building permit fees. The amendment of section 902 (c) relating to uncertified buildings over which the department does not have jurisdiction is effective in 60 days and the remainder is effective immediately.
Read third time and passed Senate, 7/11/2016 (45-3)
Received as amended in House and rereferred House Rules Committee, 7/11/2016