While the new fiscal year dawned without a budget in place, the General Assembly and the Wolf Administration were able to get a $45.2 billion budget deal across the finish line eight days later. The negotiations were contentious at times, mostly surrounding how to deal with the nearly $2 billion from federal stimulus monies and more than $5 billion in surplus revenues.
Business groups celebrated language in this year’s Tax Reform Code which established a pathway to step down the Corporate Net Income Tax. Currently sitting at 9.99%, Pennsylvania’s CNIT is the second highest in the country among the 44 states that levy one.
In January 2023, the CNIT will be cut to 8.99% with a 0.5% annual reduction thereafter until the rate reaches 4.99% in 2031.
The state Tourism Office was once again flat-funded at around $4 million. Earlier this year, PRLA released the findings of our Tourism Study showing that tourism promotion in Pennsylvania is significantly underfunded.
PRLA’s lobbying firm, Greenlee Partners, prepared a comprehensive summary of the Fiscal Year 2022–23 Budget.
Fall Session Resumes
The House returned from summer recess on September 12, and the Senate reconvened on September 19. There are only a handful of session days left until the elections and several PRLA priorities are close to the finish line. Priorities of note include the following:
Frozen Desserts Law: Both the House and Senate have passed legislation out of their respective chambers addressing Pennsylvania’s outdated, duplicative Frozen Dessert Law. PRLA is advocating for a final vote on this legislation this fall.
Reducing the Licensee Discount: This bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support last year. It currently awaits consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Unemployment Compensation Law: Both the House and Senate are moving legislation which would amend the UC Law so that employers are deemed to have paid UC contributions during fiscal year 2021 even if they remained shut down due to the COVID-19 emergency.
Amusement Park Liquor License Fix: HB 2049 cleared the House earlier this year and is now in the Senate Law & Justice Committee. The bill would allow amusement parks to sell alcohol by utilizing a Public Venue License. Currently, amusement parks in PA usually obtain an R Liquor License in order to serve alcohol; however, that does not match the reality of their operations.
Any bill that does not make it to the Governor by the end of the year will have to be reintroduced and start the process over in the next session.
Pennsylvania’s November 8 elections are finding the national spotlight as attention turns to two high-profile races. In the race for governor, Democratic nominee and current state Attorney General Josh Shapiro faces off against Republican candidate and current state Senator Doug Mastriano.
Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz and current Lt. Governor John Fetterman are vying for retiring U.S. Senator Pat Toomey’s seat. This race could impact which political party has the majority in the US Senate.
In addition to these two races, all state House seats are up for reelection and half of the seats in the state Senate. PRLA expects at least 40 new faces in the General Assembly next year. It’s vital to research the candidates on your ballot. As such, Spotlight PA has prepared a comprehensive voting guide for readers.
The PRLA Lodging & Tourism Committee and Board of Directors worked hard in 2022 to formalize a new leadership structure within the PA Tourism Coalition. The Coalition met for the first time under this new structure at the Keystone Building on August 18, 2022. The Tourism Coalition is made up of various stakeholders from all sectors of Pennsylvania’s lodging and tourism industry. The Coalition’s goal is to help organize and unify the industry in an effort to maximize Pennsylvania’s potential as it relates to tourism.
Credit Card Competition Act
In August, U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced the bipartisan Credit Card Competition Act of 2022. The proposal will bring competition to the credit card network routing market. It would require credit cards to operate on more than one network option to route financial data, which is already required with debit card transactions. Reps. Welch (D-VT) and Gooden (R-TX) introduced the House companion to the bipartisan Credit Card Competition Act of 2022 in September.
SBA Sitting on RRF funds
This summer, the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to the Small Business Administration after learning they had over $180 million in undistributed Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) money. Subsequently, the SBA announced that it would be working with the Justice Department on a plan to award the rest of the funds.
FAST Recovery Act
While the FAST Recovery Act is a new state law in California, the National Restaurant Association is urging the industry to take warning. The legislation gives a Fast Food Sector Council of unelected individuals complete authority to set regulations on wages, training requirements, and health and safety standards for national counter-service restaurants located in the state. As detailed in the association’s policy brief, the FAST Recovery Acts hands power over the quick service industry to unelected political appointees without any accountability, which is unprecedented and will create ramifications for the entire industry across the country.
Philadelphia City Council/Mayoral Race
Philadelphia City Council returned to its session in September with four vacant seats (for now). Four members resigned over the summer to consider running in the 2023 mayoral race. The individuals who have resigned to date include Cherelle Parker, Derek Green, Maria Quinones-Sanchez, and Allan Domb. Councilmembers Helen Gym and David Oh are said to be considering the mayoral race as well.
Philadelphia Outdoor Dining
PRLA’s top priority in Philadelphia is securing a permanent path forward for outdoor dining in the city. Businesses, Philadelphians, and visitors alike love outdoor dining—the association is working hard to assure that all operators have access to the program and that it’s here to stay.
Pittsburgh City Council Short-term Rental Legislation
Days after an April shooting at an Airbnb party on the city’s North Side, legislation was introduced to regulate short-term rental properties in the City. Council has held the bill from a vote while it continues to refine the details.