House Passes Several Tax Reform Bills to Help Small Businesses

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The state House passed three PA Chamber-backed measures last week that would bring clarity to the state’s tax structure, improve competition and help level the playing field for small businesses.

House Bill 331, which passed by a nearly unanimous vote, aims to allow for “like-kind” exchange of tax deferrals when a property is exchanged with a similar property. This would put the Commonwealth in line with every other state, removing a disadvantage that Pennsylvania’s small businesses face when competing with businesses across state lines.

The House also passed H.B. 333, which would increase deductible amounts for qualifying small business equipment purchases. This move would bring Pennsylvania in line with the federal Internal Revenue Code, and with 33 other states that currently allow businesses to deduct the full purchase price of $1 million per year. To put that in context, under current law, businesses in Pennsylvania may only claim $25,000 for these purposes.  “Pennsylvania is unique in being the only state that allows for full Section 179 expensing for  larger businesses while not allowing small businesses to do the same,” PA Chamber Government Affairs Vice President Sam Denisco said in a memo to House lawmakers prior to the vote. “As we have all seen subsequent to the enactment of federal tax reform, employers are investing back into their companies, rewarding their employees, and hiring more workers. By coming into line with federal law, small businesses will have more resources and flexibility to grow and the PA Chamber asks for your support.”

Another important tax reform bill that House lawmakers passed unanimously last week was H.B. 994, which aims to bring clarity to the Gross Receipts Tax statute regarding wireless services.  Under current law, wireless services are subject to both of the Sales and Use Tax and GRT at 6 and 5 percent, respectively. However, while Pennsylvania follows clear and updated language under the federal Mobile Telecommunications Sourcing Act regarding the SUT on telecommunications, GRT definitions haven’t been modernized. This has created confusion as to whether wireless series are included in that tax base, which H.B. 994 would remedy by inserting the clear definitions from the SUT statute into the GRT statute. “This would bring consistency between the application of the sales and use tax and gross receipts taxes,” Denisco said in a memo to House members. “It would also eliminate confusion and uncertainty over which services were subject to taxation both now and in the future.”

Representatives Kurt Masser and David Millard voted in favor of all three of these bills.

All three bills now await further consideration in the state Senate.

Bloomsburg Town/Gown Relations Committee Announces Block Party Weekend Parking Lot and On-Campus Residence Hall Visitation Restrictions

From Bloomsburg University and Town of Bloomsburg

Bloomsburg University and the Town of Bloomsburg, Town/Gown Relations Committee, will again implement initiatives to increase security related to the annual spring event known as “Block Party.” Those initiatives are:

– Parking Restrictions – Bloomsburg University will temporarily close the Lightstreet Road Parking Lot and the ATM Parking Lot to all vehicles and temporarily restrict access to the First Street (Green) Parking Lot to permit-holders only from 12:00 p.m. Friday, April 20, 2018, through 12:00 p.m. Sunday, April 22, 2018.

– Residence Hall Visitation Restrictions – Bloomsburg University will temporarily restrict overnight guests in the residence halls to one visitor per student for the evenings of Friday, April 20, Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, April 22, 2018. A professional security company firm will assist in managing guest registrations and enhance front door security.

The Town/Gown Relations Committee also asks all participants to keep in mind:

– Neither the Town of Bloomsburg nor Bloomsburg University endorse the Block Party Event, and a large police contingency of both uniformed and plainclothes officers will be present.

– Parking Enforcement officers will be on duty, strictly enforcing all parking regulations.

– Town and University Police both have a “zero tolerance” policy for all violations during Block Party weekend. Parents and Bloomsburg University will be notified of all arrests, and university students will be subject to discipline for violations under BU’s Code of Conduct.

– The Town of Bloomsburg requires permits for “social gatherings” of 150 or more individuals. Students are reminded that they can be held responsible for ordinance and crimes code violations that occur on property they lease or control.

– The Town of Bloomsburg prohibits open containers of alcohol in public rights-of-way.

– Hosts are responsible for what takes place on the property and risk fines and university sanctions for any violations. Control how many individuals are permitted at your housing unit. If a DJ is present, anticipate large numbers of people to be attracted to your location.

– Bloomsburg University students and visitors to town are reminded that your actions and decisions can affect your safety, your future, and the safety of others around you.

The Town/Gown Relations Committee is a joint body comprised of representatives from the Town of Bloomsburg and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Bloomsburg University and the Town of Bloomsburg share concerns about recent Block Parties including safety, the large number of attendees, the number of out-of-town individuals participating in the event, and the reflection it has on both the university and the community. The Committee will continue to work together to develop new approaches.

Workforce Needs the Leading Issue for Members

From main street retail shops to non-profit organizations to the area’s largest manufacturers, finding skilled employees is a common need among employers. Within the last two weeks, the Chamber had meetings with a group of downtown Berwick businesses as well as one of the area’s largest manufacturing facilities, who all shared this issue. The Chamber and its Foundation are spending more resources than ever helping to build the workforce for the future while meeting the current needs of members so they can be successful and grow.

The Chamber Foundation has traditionally focused the majority of its attention supporting programs which develop good work ethics in K-12 youth. Ongoing programs include The Leader in Me, School Counts, and Student in the Work. For more information about these programs, visit the Foundation website.

The Foundation is also working with regional partners to help young people, and their parents, understand career opportunities that exist in our area. Thanks to support from the Arconic Foundation (Kawneer) and Williams, a website is being developed that will provide information about local career options in a wide variety of fields, to include education requirements and wage levels. Members will be able to post opportunities for job shadowing, facility tours, internships, career day speakers, etc. This website is being developed now to be ready for the start of the 2018-19 school year.

To assist members with their current workforce needs, the Chamber is working to leverage the substantial network of education providers in the region to provide employee testing and training in filling skills gaps, and within the next few weeks, we hope to be able to make an official announcement about a big new member benefit in this area that we’ve been working on for the last several months.

Additionally, a meeting with local employers and education providers is being organized to identify specific educational needs and opportunities. If you are interested in being a part of this conversation, or in learning more, please contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber at 570-784-2522 or email.

Member News – April 18, 2018

Member News

  • French-Tunisian saxophonist Yacine Boulares

    World music from Tunisia will be featured in a performance titled “Suite for Abu Sadiya” tonight, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center Atrium Lobby at the Weis Center For the Performing Arts. The performance is free and tickets are not required. In this musical take on a North African myth, Brooklyn-based, French-Tunisian saxophonist Yacine Boulares and French cellist Vincent Segal will present an original suite of variations re-imagining the Tunisian healing trance music — Stambeli — for their trio with American drummer Nasheet Waits.

 

  • First Columbia Bank & Trust will hold its 8th annual Teen Star musical competition on Sunday, May 20 as Haas Auditorium on the campus of Bloomsburg University. Audition registration is now open through this Friday, April 20. Auditions will be held at Millville Area High School on Wednesday, April 25 and Saturday, April 28. This annual competition is open to any freshman, sophomore, junior or senior that attends high school in Columbia County or the Danville School District, or that permanently resides in Columbia County or within the Danville Area School District but attends a school outside the county or district. For more information and to register, visit the Teen Star website

 

  • The Bloomsburg Area YMCA will hold Healthy Kids Day this Saturday, April 21 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. There will be games, activities and more to get kids thinking about healthy lifestyles. Snacks will be available, along with information about youth development programs at the Y, such as its upcoming summer camp. To give children an adventurous, active and healthy summer, the Y will be waiving its $35 camp registration fee on this day. For more information, visit the Facebook event page

 

  • Ken Pollock Ford Lincoln will host a ribbon cutting and grand reopening of its new showroom at the Berwick dealership this Saturday, April 21, from 1-3 p.m. After the Chamber joins the Ken Pollock Auto Group staff for a ribbon cutting at 1 p.m., enjoy food, beverages, prizes and outstanding entertainment from local musicians, as well as a special guest star. There will also be a cornhole tournament. There is no cost to attend and registration is not required. However, to participate in the cornhole tournament, registration is requested. See the flyer for more information. 

 

Double bassist Xavier Foley

  • Double bassist Xavier Foley will give a classical performance on Sunday, April 22 at 2 p.m. in the Weis Center Atrium Lobby at the Weis Center For the Performing Arts. The performance is free and tickets are not required. The classical repertoire will include a world premiere work and a Weis Center commission by composer Daniel Temkin. As a winner of the 2016 Young Concert Artists (YCA) International Auditions along with four Performance Prizes, Foley gave his New York and Washington, D.C. debut recitals this season, which included two of his own compositions. Foley is only the second double bassist in the 57-year history of YCA to win and join its roster.

 

  • State Rep. David Millard will host a drug forum on Tuesday, April 24 at Benton High School, from 6-8 p.m. Adults and children are invited to attend these events, which are designed to share information about drug abuse, the opioid crisis and how to avoid drug addiction. Speakers include Jeremy Reese, Columbia County coroner, representatives from Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital, and representatives from a local rehabilitation facility. These forums are free and open to the public, and registration is not required. Visit Rep. Millard’s website or call 570-759-8734 or 570-387-0246 for more information. 

 

  • The Bucknell Small Business Development Center will host a workshop on how to become an Amazon seller on Wednesday, April 25, from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. at its location of 416 Market St., Lewisburg. Learn tips and best practices that will give you an edge rather than going it alone through trial and error. Amazon has surpassed Google as the starting point for online shoppers, making the Amazon Marketplace an appealing channel for sellers. A discount on the registration fee is available using the code “AMZN101LEWISBURG” when registering.

 

  • The local PA CareerLink centers have scheduled their 2018 job fairs. The local one in our area will be held on Wednesday, May 9, from 4-7 p.m. at Columbia-Montour Area Vocational Technical School, located at 5050 Sweppenheiser Dr., Bloomsburg. There will also be job fairs during May just outside of the area at Shikellamy High School in Sunbury on May 2 and at the Selinsgrove VFW in May 30. Later in the year, there will be one at the Best Western in Lewisburg on Sept. 6. Registration for employers is now closed, however this event is open to the public to attend. See the flyer for more information. 

 

  • The Weis Center for the Performing Arts, in collaboration with the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau and the Susquehanna River Arts initiative, is hosting a free art exhibit and installation featuring the work of 10 local artists from now through Friday, May 25 in the Weis Center’s upper Atrium Lobby. The exhibit is free and takes place on the upper level of the Atrium Lobby, which is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Participating artists will include: Annie Barnhart, Robert Brown, Pete Grimord, Joan Grimord, Gail Fox, Glen Klein, Abigail Kurecian, Sara Mika, Pam Thomas and William Whitmoyer. Each artist will have several samples of artwork on display. 

 

  • Geisinger Health Plan and the Columbia-Montour Aging Office, Inc. are teaming up to bring “A Matter of Balance,” an award-winning program, to the area for a series of presentations in April and May. This program for older adults and is designed to manage falls and increase activity levels. It is available to the public at no cost and will be held each Monday, through May 21, from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community, located at 1707 Montour Blvd. (Rt. 11), Danville. The program will also be held on Tuesday, May 29 due to Memorial Day, and this will be the last class. Attendees will learn to view falls as controllable, set goals for increasing activity, make changes to reduce fall risks at home and exercise to increase strength and balance. Registration is required, and to do so, call the GHP wellness team at 866-415-7138. 

House Passes Workers’ Comp Drug Formulary Bill

On Monday, April 16, the PA House passed legislation that will direct the Department of Labor and Industry to adopt a drug formulary for workers’ compensation. The intent of Senate Bill 936 is to reduce the overprescribing of opioids in dealing with the nationwide crisis. The Chamber joined with the PA Chamber of Business and Industry and dozens of chambers from across the state in supporting this legislation.

The bill passed in the Senate last October with the support of Senator John Gordner. Representatives Kurt Masser and David Millard voted in favor of the bill on Monday. The legislation now moves to the Governor’s office where it is expected to be signed.