State Capitol Roundup
5/10/2013

House Passes Bill to Close the Delaware Loophole, Create Fair Tax Structure for Job Creation

The House passed legislation this week to close the Delaware Loophole and implement comprehensive business tax reforms for Pennsylvania job creators.  House Bill 440 would close the loophole by targeting specific transactions that some businesses use for the sole purpose of avoiding taxation in the Commonwealth.  The bill also includes several additional tax reforms, including reducing the Corporate Net Income (CNI) Tax rate to 6.99 percent and uncapping the Net Operating Loss (NOL) deductions businesses may take.  In addition, the bill would support Pennsylvania’s small businesses, encourage new investments in existing businesses and promote the development of new start-up companies.  All of these reforms seek to make Pennsylvania a more competitive and attractive place to do business.  The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Governor, Lawmakers Unveil Pension Reform Plan

Gov. Tom Corbett was joined by several legislators at the Capitol this week for the introduction of his plan to address rising costs associated with the state’s two public pension systems, the State Employee Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS).  House Bill 1350, and its companion Senate Bill 922, are aimed at providing short- and long-term pension relief.  The plan would rebalance the state’s obligations to both pension funds and the General Fund.  It also would provide short-term budgetary relief to avoid deep cuts in core services and programs.  Long-term reforms would produce overall savings to the pension systems.  The legislation contains no changes to current retiree pensions; keeps current employees and retirees in a defined benefit plan; automatically enrolls new employees, including legislators, in a defined contribution plan, similar to a 401(k); and limits the amount by which the state’s employer contributions can be increased to provide short-term budgetary relief.  According to the governor’s budget office, new calculations show the current unfunded liability of SERS and PSERS to be $47 billion.  If no reforms are made, pension costs will consume an estimated 60 percent of all new state General Fund revenues in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

House Judiciary Committee Advances Cyber Bullying Bill

The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved legislation this week to address cyber harassment of a child.  House Bill 1163 would make it a third-degree misdemeanor to use electronic communications to repeatedly make statements or offer opinions about a child’s sexuality or sexual activity.  The bill also would make it a misdemeanor to make statements that significantly ridicule, demean or cause serious embarrassment to a child under the circumstances or offer a threat of unlawful harm.  House Bill 1163 now goes to the full House for consideration.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Gov. Tom Corbett has signed a proclamation to commemorate May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.  Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) shows there were nearly 4,000 crashes involving motorcycles statewide last year, resulting in 210 fatalities, up from 3,600 crashes and 199 fatalities in 2011.  Motorcyclists can improve their safety on the road by following some simple safety tips, including: wearing a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved helmet, face or eye protection and protective clothing; wearing reflective clothing and putting reflective tape on protective riding gear and the motorcycle; and knowing how to handle a motorcycle in adverse road and weather conditions such as potholes, gravel, and wet or slippery surfaces.  Motorists sharing the road with motorcyclists should also consider some safety tips, including: looking out for motorcyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots; allowing more following distance when following a motorcycle; and respecting a motorcycle as a full-size vehicle with the same rights and privileges as any vehicle on the roadway.  For more information on motorcycle safety, visit Rep. Kerry Benninghoff’s (R-Centre/Mifflin) website at www.KerryBenninghoff.com.
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