A bill that updates the Professional Engineers Registration Act has unanimously passed the Senate committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. Senate Bill 403 has nearly passed in the last few legislative sessions, but adjournment occurred before final passage in the Senate. This session the bill is starting in the Senate. The House has passed similar legislation previously. Here is a link to the bill's text:
On November 1,Governor Josh Shapiro, the Commonwealth Office of Digital Experience (CODE PA), and the Office of Transformation and Opportunity (OTO) launched PAyback.pa.gov, a new online money-back guarantee system that allows residents, businesses, charities, and schools to check their eligibility for a refund of their permit, license, or certification application fee and request a refund if they believe they are eligible. Using PAyback, Pennsylvania workers and businesses can also see the standard processing time for each application, increasing certainty for Pennsylvanians doing business with the Commonwealth, and request a refund if their application is not processed within that timeframe.
The Shapiro Administration says it has already made significant progress by improving or eliminating the long wait times to receive hundreds of permits, licenses, and certifications. In his first month in office, Governor Shapiro signed Executive Order 2023-07 directing all state agencies to standardize timeframes for how they issue permits, licenses, and certifications, and directed his Administration to create this money-back guarantee tool to request refunds when the Commonwealth does not meet those timeframes.
In coordination with the OTO, the CODE PA team designed and created PAyback to modernize the Commonwealth’s application platforms and services to better serve Pennsylvanians and to publish the recommended application processing times.
Pennsylvania workers and businesses will now be able to use the PAyback application to select the specific permit, license, or certification to determine if their application is eligible for a refund. Once a resident or business completes their refund application on PAyback, the application will go directly to the Commonwealth agency issuing the permit, license, or certification. If an application is approved, Pennsylvanians will be notified within three business days and receive their refund via check within 45 days.
Approximately 70% of Commonwealth-issued permits, licenses, and certifications are eligible for a refund through PAyback. Certain permits, licenses, and certifications that don’t charge application fees or are set by legislation will not be eligible for a refund. PAyback will only apply for completed applications starting today, November 1, 2023. Pennsylvanians cannot retroactively apply for a refund using PAyback.
In addition to supporting Pennsylvanians who want to start new businesses or renew their existing permits, licenses, and certifications, PAyback will make it easier for companies who are looking to establish operations and expand in Pennsylvania, according to the Administration.
In addition to creating PAyback, the Shapiro Administration has been working to help businesses and workers from across Pennsylvania receive faster and more efficient services from the Commonwealth. Among the achievements cited was that they have reduced the average processing times for business and corporate filings from eight weeks to just 3 days, and reduced the time it takes to certify a small business from 15 days to 10 days.
Moving forward, the Shapiro Administration will continue its work to improve the permitting, licensing, and certification processes by filling key vacancies, updating the Commonwealth’s IT and technological assets, improving the application processes, and more.
To check your eligibility for a refund of permits, licenses, or certification application fees, visit payback.pa.gov.
On October 18th, the Pennsylvania House passed legislation (HB 1449) that would establish responsible contractor requirements for all public works projects in the state. Similar to many municipal responsible contractor ordinances, contractors wishing to bid on publicly funded projects would need to meet certain standards. Among those qualifications is that at least 70% of the workers on the project are enrolled in or have graduated from an approved apprenticeship program or have equivalent experience.
The bill passed the house by a vote of 134 to 69. Here is a link to the final passage vote in the House. The bill is now in the Senate State Government committee. In the House, House Bill 1449 had been assigned to the committee on Labor and Industry. The Senate referral to the State Government committee makes its prognosis unclear.
This Month in the PA Bulletin:
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 842 RE: Clawback Act (by Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, et al)
Provides for mandatory contract provisions to prevent the misuse of state grants or loans. Inserts definitions for use in the act. Provides that a contract executed for a state grant or loan between an awarding agency and recipient on or after the effective date of this section shall include, at a minimum, notification to the recipient in writing upon determining if the awarded agency improperly awarded the state grant or loan to the recipient, further providing for appeals and repayment. Applicable to a state grant or loan agreement between an awarding agency and a recipient on or after the effective date and the act shall not apply to a state grant or loan if it conflicts with the act.
Reported as amended from House Commerce Committee, read first time, and laid on the table, 10/18/2023
Amends the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act, further providing for definitions, for improper classification of employees and for criminal penalties; providing for private right of action and for fines and penalties; further providing for administrative penalties, for retaliation for action prohibited, for availability of information and for funding; and imposing penalties. Adds a definition for "debar" and "public work." Strikes language pertaining to enforcement and adds that if the secretary finds that an employer has failed to properly classify an individual as an employee for the purposes of this act, the secretary may impose administrative penalties. Adds that the secretary may also refer the matter to the Attorney General for criminal investigation. Replaces language related to grading of criminal penalties, adding that an employer or officer or agent of an employer, who knowingly violates section 4(a) commits a misdemeanor of the first degree for first offense and a felony of the third degree for one or more prior offenses. Adds additional definitions. Establishes private right to action of an employee who has been misclassified in violation of the act and outlines the time and relief requirements. Adds a financial audit or tax audit to administrative penalties. Adds debarment for a period of at least three years for an intentional violation of the act. Provides for additional protection against retaliation. Requires the publication and availability of the information in the act to be available to employees. Adds that the department, Office of Attorney General or a district attorney's office shall be entitled to recover attorney fees and costs associated with the investigation of employers who violate the provisions of the act.
Introduced and referred to House Labor and Industry Committee, 10/13/2023
Reported as committed from House Labor and Industry Committee, read first time, and laid on the table, 10/18/2023
SB 577 RE: Improvements to the Construction Worker Misclassification Act (by Sen. John Kane, et al)
Amends the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act to insert and amend definitions for use in the act. Further provides for improper classification of employees and for criminal penalties, providing for private right of action, further providing for administrative penalties. Amends language throughout for specificity.
Reported as amended from Senate Labor and Industry Committee, and read first time, 10/4/2023
HB 623 RE: Capital Budget Act of 2023-2024 (by Rep. Jordan Harris, et al)
Provides for overall limitations on debt to be incurred for capital projects. Provides the maximum principal amount of additional debt to be incurred during the 2023-2024 fiscal year for capital projects shall be capped at $600,000 for building and structure public improvement projects, $10,000,000 for furniture and equipment, $350,000,000 for transportation assistance projects, $375,000,000 for redevelopment assistance projects and $1,335,000,000 for flood control projects. Effective July 1, 2023, or immediately, whichever is later.
Removed from the table, 10/24/2023
HB 1300 RE: Fiscal Code (by Rep. Tom Mehaffie, et al)
An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code, in disposition of abandoned and unclaimed property, further providing for claim for property paid or delivered; in oil and gas wells, further providing for Oil and Gas Lease Fund; in human services, providing for child support costs and fees; providing for Statewide Quality Care Assessment and for Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Council; in additional special funds and restricted accounts, further providing for establishment of special fund and account, for use of fund and for distributions for Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund, repealing provisions relating to Enhanced Revenue Collection Account; in additional special funds and restricted accounts, further providing for Clean Streams Fund and for definitions, renaming the Sports Tourism and Marketing Account to the Sports, Marketing and Tourism Account, further providing for transfer of funds and providing for Facility Transition Account and for Game Fund; in general budget implementation, further providing for Department of Agriculture, for Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, for Department of Education, for Pennsylvania State Police, for surcharges, for Federal and Commonwealth use of forest land and for Multimodal Transportation Fund and repealing provisions relating to sales by distilleries; providing for 2023-2024 budget implementation, for 2023-2024 restrictions on appropriations for funds and accounts and for prior year appropriations; imposing penalties; making repeals; and making an editorial change.
Received in the Senate and referred to Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee, 10/16/2023
SB 265 RE: Garage Floor Drains (by Sen. Dan Laughlin, et al)
Amends the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act providing floor drains of a garage may be drained into a treatment tank permitted within the act. All acts and parts of acts are repealed insofar as they are inconsistent with this act.
Reported as committed from Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, and read first time,
SB 689 RE: Stream Maintenance Package (by Sen. Gene Yaw, et al)
Amends the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, providing for the issuance of and conditions for municipal continuous maintenance permits. Provides that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shall develop a continuous maintenance permit for which the Department of Transportation (PennDOT) or a municipality may apply. Further provides the permit shall allow permittees to maintain, inspect and monitor watercourses, water obstructions, appurtenant works and encroachments as specified within the permit. Directs DEP to approve an application for a permit to an application if the applicant meets all of the requirements. Provides a permittee shall provide a compilation of maintenance projects undertaken between January 1 and December 31 of the previous year that were permitted under this section by January 15. Further provides that a permit shall be in effect for no less than 10 years, providing DEP can extend a permit to a permittee for 10 years following 10 years of operation without a permit violation.
Reported as committed from Senate Appropriations Committee, 10/24/2023
Amends the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act amending definitions to provide definitions for drainage area and regional curve and amend the definition for the department. Provides county programs for removing obstructions and flood-related hazards on streams. Provides a county may develop a program to provide two regional curves for the watershed to cover the entire county, the first curve for rural areas and the second curve for portions of streams located in municipalities. Provides the county shall submit a written notification to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that describes the program it developed. Provides DEP shall conduct at least one annual follow-up review of the county's program to determine effectiveness and compliance. DEP shall develop a training program for conducting channel maintenance for the purpose of a program, upon completion of the training program. Provides a county conservation district may authorize emergency permits to persons operating within a developed program. The Environmental Quality Board shall promulgate regulations for the removal of obstructions and flood-related hazards on streams by counties, municipal equipment workers, and contractors operating as agents of the counties and the board may consider existing county programs for the same or similar purpose.
Reported as committed from Senate Appropriations Committee, 10/24/2023
HB 123 RE: Signage Requirements for Subdivision and Land Development (by Rep. Joe Ciresi, et al)
Amends the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, in subdivision and land development, providing for signage on subdivision or land development. Amends language to provide that no later than seven days after the first official submission of a subdivision or land development application, and as a criterion of approval, the subdivider or developer shall post signage of a minimum of nine square feet in surface area. Provides certain signage requirements for developers.
Amended on House floor, read second time, and rereferred to House Appropriations Committee, 10/2/2023
Reported as committed from House Appropriations Committee, read third time, and passed House, 10/3/2023 (106-97)
Received in the Senate and referred to Senate Local Government Committee, 10/13/2023
HB 573 RE: Preparing State Departments for Emergencies (by Rep. Jessica Benham, et al)
Amends the Administrative Code, in powers and duties in general, to provide that reports shall contain a thorough assessment of the weaknesses and risks within each administrative department excluding the Office of Attorney General, Department of the Auditor General and Treasury Department, and that the administrative department shall annually report in writing to the governor concerning the condition, management and financial transactions of the administrative department. Provides that each independent administrative board and commission that could negatively affect the ability of the department or board or commission to respond to a future emergency and detail the actions necessary to address or resolve the weaknesses and risks within each administrative department and each independent administrative board and commission. Specifies details for inclusion in the report. Amends COVID-19 record retention to disaster emergency record retention. Effective in 60 days.
Reported as committed from House Rules Committee, amended on House floor, read second time, and Rereferred to House Appropriations Committee, 10/18/2023
SB 754 RE: Digital Transmittals and Submissions to Governmental Bodies (by Sen. Rosemary Brown, et al)
Amends the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, in general provisions, providing a county or municipality required to propose a plan, amendment or proposed land use ordinance for review may do so electronically. Further provides provisions related to electronic transmission by a municipality or county.
Read third time, and passed Senate, 10/2/2023 (49-0)
Received in the House and referred to House Local Government Committee, 10/3/2023
SB 934 RE: Reducing Project Delivery Costs at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (by Sen. Wayne Langerholc, et al)
Amends the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, in repeals, further providing for general repeal. Excludes laws administered by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission from being repealed by the act. The legislation will place PTC under the same exemption from local municipal ordinances as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Read second time, and Rereferred to Senate Appropriations Committee, 10/2/2023
Reported as committed from Senate Appropriations Committee, 10/16/2023
Read third time, and passed Senate, 10/18/2023 (43-5)
Received in the House and referred to House Transportation Committee, 10/19/2023
HB 1449 RE: Establishing a Statewide Responsible Contractor Law (by Rep. Josh Siegel, et al)
Amends Title 62 (Procurement), in source selection and contract formation, providing for additional qualifications for public work projects; imposing duties on the Office of State Inspector General; and imposing penalties.
Reported as committed from House Rules
Read second time, and rereferred to House Appropriations Committee, 10/17/2023
Reported as committed from House Appropriations Committee, read third time, and passed House, 10/18/2023 (134-69)
Received in the Senate and referred to Senate State Government Committee, 10/20/2023
Amends the Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law, further providing for definitions, for general powers of board, for procedure for licensing as professional engineer, for continuing professional competency requirements. Amends language, changing "engineer in training" to "engineer intern." Inserts and amends provisions relating to procedure for licensing as professional land surveyor to update language. Requires continuing professional competency requirements, including completion of distance learning courses if the courses relate to professional practice and units are verifiable and measurable by the actual hours of instruction.
Reported as amended from Senate Consumer Protection & Prof. Licensure Committee, and read first time, 10/25/2023
SB 910 RE: Expungement of Disciplinary Records (by Sen. Jarrett Coleman, et al)
Amends Title 63 (Professions and Occupations (State Licensed)), in powers and duties, to provide for violations otherwise specified in the schedule of civil penalties under paragraph (1) and to require the licensee, registrant, certificate holder or permit holder to make written application to the commissioner for expungement no earlier than five years following the final disposition of the disciplinary record.
Reported as committed from Senate Consumer Protection & Prof. Licensure Committee, and read first time, 10/25/2023
Amends the State Highway Law, in construction, improvement, maintenance and repair of State highways, further providing for duty on Department of Highways.
Introduced and referred to House Transportation Committee, 10/27/2023
SB 799 RE: Funding for Municipal Highway Maintenance (by Sen. Greg Rothman, et al)
Amends Title 75 (Vehicles), in supplemental funding for municipal highway maintenance, further providing for supplemental funding for municipal highway maintenance. Provides for imposition of tax and specifies in addition to any other use authorized by law, a county may use supplemental funding for the construction and maintenance of the bridges owned by the municipalities in the county. Effective July 1, 2023, or immediately, whichever is later.
Reported as committed from Senate Appropriations Committee, 10/2/2023
Amended on Senate floor, 10/3/2023
Read third time, and passed Senate, 10/4/2023 (50-0)
Received in the House and referred to House Transportation Committee, 10/4/2023
HB 1465 RE: Underground Infrastructure Works Act (by Rep. Dave Delloso, et al)
Establishes minimum workplace standards for public utilities regarding a contractor or subcontract engaging in underground infrastructure work. Inserts definition for "electric utility company" and excludes the term from the definition of "underground infrastructure work." Provides that ratepayers may not reimburse costs and expenses incurred by a public utility under the act. Provides prevailing wage requirements.
Amended on House floor, read second time, and rereferred to House Appropriations Committee, 10/17/2023
Reported as committed from House Appropriations Committee, read third time, and passed House,
Received in the Senate and referred to Senate Consumer Protection & Prof. Licensure Committee, 10/19/2023
HR 222 RE: Careers in Construction Month (by Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, et al)
A Resolution designating the month of October 2023 as "Careers in Construction Month" in Pennsylvania.
Adopted, 10/16/2023 (202-1)
Upcoming Meetings of Interest
November 13, 14, 15
December 11, 12, 13
November 13, 14, 15
December 11, 12, 13
All Board meetings are held in person and remotely via Teams. In-person meetings will be held at a new location: 2525 N. 7th Street, Harrisburg, PA
Remaining 2023 meeting dates: November 8
2024 meeting dates: January 24, March 13, May 29, July 24, September 25, November 13
1 Technology Park, Commonwealth Technology Center (CTC), Harrisburg, PA 17110
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM
2023 Meeting Schedule: November 16
The Department of Labor and Industry’s Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council will hold a meeting at 9 am on January 4, 2024. Individuals may join the meeting by dialing Zoom’s local number, using meeting ID: 361 131 6502, and passcode 259161. Questions concerning this meeting may be directed to Kristen Gardner at (717) 346-1497. Pennsylvania Bulletin (pacodeandbulletin.gov)
Future meeting dates: February 1, 2024 @ 9 am (RAC Public Hearing – East) • February 29, 2024 @ 9 am (RAC Public Hearing – Harrisburg) • March 28, 2024 @ 9 am (RAC Public Hearing – West)