Meeting to consider HB 1694

Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee

Tuesday, June 7, 2022 | 12 p.m.

Main Capitol, Room 461

Agenda

Meeting to consider HB 1694

 

Meeting to consider SB 643 and SB 1159

Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee

May 25, 2022 | 10:30 a.m.

East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B

AGENDA

Meeting to consider SB 643 and SB 1159

Public hearing on the economic impacts of RGGI

JOINT HEARING
Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee

AND Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee

Tuesday, March 29, 2022 | 10:00 a.m.

North Office Building, Hearing Room #1

Agenda

Public hearing on the economic impacts of RGGI

Schedule

Opening Remarks (10:00 am)

Sen. Gene Yaw, Chair, Environmental Resources & Energy Committee
Sen. John Yudichak, Chair, Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee
Sen. Carolyn Comitta, Minority Chair, Environmental Resources & Energy Committee
Sen. Amanda Cappelletti, Minority Chair, Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee

Independent Fiscal Office Matthew Knittel, Director (10:15am-10:45am) Testimony

Economic Development (10:45 am-11:30 am)

Kevin Sunday, Director, Government Affairs, PA Chamber of Business & Industry – Testimony
Melissa Morgan, Assistant State Director, National Federation of Independent Business – Testimony
Carl Marrara – Vice President, Government Affairs, PA Manufacturers Association – Testimony
Brett Vassey – President & CEO, Virginia Manufacturers Association – Testimony

Labor (11:30 am-12:15 pm)

Kris Anderson, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Third District – Testimony
Martin Williams, National Coordinator of State Legislative Affairs; International Brotherhood of Boilermakers – Testimony
Shawn Steffee, Business Agent, Boilermakers Local 154 – Testimony

Education (12:15 pm-12:45 pm)

Professor Daniel Mallinson – Assistant Professor of Public Policy & Administration, School of Public Affairs, Penn State-Harrisburg (Zoom)
Dr. William M. Shobe, Director, Center for Economic & Policy Studies, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service; Adjunct Professor of Economics; University of Virginia – Testimony

Closing Remarks & Adjournment.

Sen. Gene Yaw, Chair, Environmental Resources & Energy Committee.
Sen. John Yudichak, Chair, Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee.
Sen. Carolyn Comitta, Minority Chair, Environmental Resources & Energy Committee.
Sen. Amanda Cappelletti, Minority Chair, Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee.

Additional Written Testimony

Department of Environmental Protection – Testimony

Herr’s – Testimony

Ohio River Valley Institute – Testimony

The Pennsylvania State University-Dr. Seth Blumsack Testimony

MEDIA ADVISORY: Joint Senate Hearing to Discuss Economic Impacts of RGGI

HARRISBURG – The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will hold a joint hearing with the Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee on Tuesday, March 29 at 10 a.m. to discuss the economic impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The Independent Fiscal Office will discuss the results of its own analysis regarding RGGI’s effects. The IFO offers revenue projections for use in the state’s annual budget process as well as impartial analysis of fiscal and economic concerns that assist the General Assembly in evaluating policy decisions.

Additional panels will include testifiers from affected businesses and labor groups, including the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry; the National Federation of Independent Business; the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association; the Virginia Manufacturers’ Association; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Boilermakers Local 154.

The hearing will be held in Hearing Room 1 of the North Office Building. A livestream link will also be available at PASenateGOP.com.

 CONTACT:

Nick Troutman (Yaw)
Scot Pitzer (Yudichak)

Yudichak Questions DCED Budget Cuts, Touts Job Creation and Economic Programs.

HARRISBURG – State Senator John Yudichak (I-14) questioned Pennsylvania economic development officials Tuesday on how budget cuts proposed by Governor Wolf might impact job growth, tourism and business programming in 2022-2023.

During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing with the PA Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED), Yudichak – Chair of the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee – urged the agency to intensify job creation efforts, as residents and businesses rebound from the latest COVID variants.

“Understanding the role that DCED and state resources play in economic development, it concerns me that the Governor has proposed a 21 percent decrease for DCED’s line item,” said Yudichak.

He pointed out that DCED and the Governor’s Action Team helped spearhead historic job growth in northeast Pennsylvania (NEPA), producing 2,300 new jobs and $1.2 billion in new private investment. Overall, those accomplishments made NEPA the state’s top job creation region, according to an annual report by the Governor’s Action Team.

“It is an accomplishment that we want to build upon,” said Yudichak, noting that NEPA can be used as a blueprint for other portions of the state to emulate.

Yudichak referenced the success of innovative tax policies that are driving economic development and private investment, such as a Sales & Use Tax Exemption for Computer Data Center equipment, approved as part of the state’s 2021-2022 budget, and Act 66 of 2020, which established the Local Resource Manufacturing Tax Credit.

Nacero Inc. recently announced its intention to build a $6 billion lower carbon gasoline facility in Luzerne County, made possible by Act 66, and two companies have expressed interest in constructing new computer data centers in southeast Pennsylvania and NEPA.

Both policies were the result of a unique coalition formed between labor, business and lawmakers.

“Competitive tax rates help create jobs, and smart tax incentive programs help attract new companies to Pennsylvania,” said Yudichak, noting that the “administration has a history of resisting tax credits or exemptions as an economic tool.”

“As we have seen in NEPA and throughout the Commonwealth, smart tax policies leverage private investment and capital goes where capital is welcome,” added Yudichak.

Yudichak voiced support for a legislative initiative by Senator Ryan Aument that would lower the state’s Corporate Net Income Tax. Governor Wolf has also championed the concept. The current rate of 9.99 percent is the second highest in the nation, behind New Jersey.

“State resources and incentives often play a key role in closing a deal on an economic development project or attracting a new company to Pennsylvania, but our business tax policies are what will sustain economic progress,” said Yudichak. “We created nearly 10,000 new jobs in Pennsylvania last year, but we lost many new business opportunities because of our high corporate income tax.”

Workforce development is an ongoing issue, given the state and national labor shortage. Yudichak asked why workforce development programming is not centralized under DCED.

“It remains fragmented over many state agencies, while driving out more than $2 billion to organizations that many of us believe produce very little in terms of developing a highly-skilled workforce,” said Yudichak, who also questioned why the state’s building and construction trades are prevented from having access to workforce development funding.

Additionally, Yudichak touted the Invent Penn State program, which the CERD Committee examined during a public hearing in November 2021.

As part of the Governor’s $43.7 billion budget proposal, $2.4 million would be allocated toward the initiative, which has helped nearly 5,000 entrepreneurs form 218 new companies and spur 300 new jobs since its inception five years ago.

The program blends academic programming, business start-up training and funding for commercialization. Branch locations in Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre are “bringing world class research and innovative economic tools to Main Street,” said Yudichak.

Among other topics, Yudichak questioned DCED officials about business recovery and assistance, escalating energy costs, and a proposed one-time $500 million program that would help families pay for what the Governor broadly defines as household expenses.

WATCH: Senator Yudichak questions officials during a Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing for the Department of Community & Economic Development.

CONTACT: spitzer@pasen.gov.

Senate Committee reviews Small Business Assistance Package

HARRISBURG – Chaired by State Senator John Yudichak (I-14), the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee received testimony today from economic experts and entrepreneurs on a proposed Small Business Assistance Package.

Introduced by Senator Ryan Aument (R-36), the bills would establish a $500 million Business Loan Bond Fund, as a Small Business Assistance Grant Program, and an associated tax credit.

Speakers included representatives from the PA Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, the PA Restaurant and Lodging Association, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, as well as statewide business panelists.

“As each new COVID-19 variant hits Pennsylvania, the small businesses that are the heart of our communities must brace for more and more economic turbulence,” said Senator Yudichak. “A robust economic recovery lifts all ships — our businesses, our schools, our health care system, and every citizen in Pennsylvania who is fighting through inflation, high energy bills, and rising retail prices.”

The legislation under review by the committee, Senate Bill 983 and Senate Bill 984, represent a component of a package of bills designed to enhance economic recovery in Pennsylvania. Small businesses throughout the Commonwealth have been struggling to remain relevant, with pandemic restrictions, the workforce shortage and other factors playing a role.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our restaurants, small businesses, and bars especially hard,” said Senator Aument. “Between the perfect storm of supply chain disruptions, mandated business closures, increased costs for PPE and cleaning supplies, strict capacity limits, and reduced revenue, many were forced to permanently close their doors, while others are still struggling to get by.”

“If we want to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever before, we need to make a concerted effort to create a favorable environment for business and job growth,” added Aument. “It is my hope that these two bills can help our struggling restaurants, bars, and small businesses get back on their feet.”

Representing the Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, Board President Thomas Tyler told committee members that only one out of every three members received grants from previous government programs. Tyler owns McStew’s Irish Sports Pub in Levittown.

“There’s no question that our members need support from the state to recover from the losses they’ve suffered, while complying with state edicts over the last two years,” said Tyler.

“Basing the grants on lost profits and loss of employees just makes sense,” continued Tyler. “Hopefully, the system for approvals will be improved from our experiences with the state’s CHIRP program or Washington’s Restaurant Relief Fund, which sounded good, but left a sour taste in the mouths of many of my members, who applied but received nothing.”

Senator Yudichak noted that the bills aim to help businesses that were forced to cease operations due to Governor Wolf’s closure order issued in March of 2020. Only businesses that the administration deemed to be “life-sustaining” were permitted to remain open.

“It is debatable whether these draconian emergency restrictions had a positive impact on public health – but what is crystal clear is the economic hardship endured by many small businesses, who have since closed their doors or have struggled to find workers to build back their businesses,” said Yudichak. “Pennsylvania had the second highest percentage of businesses that were forced to close during the pandemic.”

Senate Bill 983 would establish a Business Loan Bond Fund and facilitate loans to small businesses as they rebound from government restrictions and capacity limitations. The temporary loan program would be funded through a long-term bond, of which, rates are at record lows.

As part of Senate Bill 984, businesses that have done well during the pandemic could contribute a donation toward a new Small Business Grant Assistance Program that would go directly to funding small businesses. In return, the donating businesses would receive a tax credit for their efforts in assisting restaurants, bars and other entrepreneurs that are hurting.

Yudichak pointed out that Wednesday’s hearing reflected the committee’s ongoing commitment to economic recovery and breathing new life into Pennsylvania businesses.

Over the past several months, this committee unanimously passed numerous bills to provide an economic jolt such as legislation by Senator Devlin Robinson – Senate Bill 797 – that would update the statewide Neighborhood Improvement District Act to include Allegheny County, and give the tourism industry more resources to attract visitors to the Pittsburgh region.

Additionally, the committee recently voted in favor of an economic recovery grant program, Senate Bill 977, introduced by Senator Lisa Boscola.WATCH: The committee hears testimony on Small Business Assistance

CONTACT: Scot Pitzer; spitzer@pasen.gov

YUDICHAK: Panel Approves Grant Program for Rural Coworking & Innovation Centers

HARRISBURG – Legislation that would establish a statewide grant program for Rural Coworking & Innovation Centers (RCIC) received favorable consideration today by the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee, according to Committee Chairman Senator John Yudichak (I-Luzerne/Carbon).

As part of Senate Bill 962, proposed by committee member Senator Wayne Langerholc (R-Bedford/Cambria/Clearfield) grants of up to $500,000 could be awarded to eligible entities in rural counties and municipalities located within in non-rural counties to construct or renovate a facility, improve utilities and broadband service connections, and for purchasing furniture and security systems to facilitate an online workforce. Forty-eight counties are considered to be rural, according to the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

“Working families have altered their livelihoods in response to the latest COVID variants and working closer to home has become an attractive option for our ever evolving workforce,” said Senator Yudichak. “The program has the potential to breathe new life into community facilities, facilitate partnerships with government and school venues, and encourage the adaptive re-use of rural venues.”

As a result of Tuesday’s vote, the bill advances to the full Senate for consideration. Senator Langerholc pointed out that Utah recently enacted a similar program.

“The pandemic fundamentally changed the way individuals work, with many working remotely and even continuing on a permanent basis.  As the way we work evolves, we must ensure that rural Pennsylvania is not left behind,” Senator Langerholc said. “Access to high-speed broadband, infrastructure and equipment is critical to today’s economy, and by enabling our rural communities access, we will help spur economic development.”

Currently, the state’s rural workforce equates to about 1.88 million people. The legislation was supported by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

WATCH: The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee considers Senate Bill 962.

CONTACT: Scot Pitzer; spitzer@pasen.gov

Public hearing on small business assistance and economic recovery

Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 | 9:30 a.m.

North Office Building, Hearing Room 1

Agenda

Public hearing on small business assistance and economic recovery

Schedule

9:30 am: Opening Remarks – Senator John Yudichak, Chair – Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee; Senator Amanda Cappelletti, Minority Chair.

Remarks – Senator Aument: Small Business Assistance & Recovery Package.

Panel #1: Tom Tyler, Board President of PA Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association; owner of McStew’s Irish Sports Pub, Bucks County. (participating remotely) – Testimony

Panel #2: Melissa Morgan – PA Assistant State Director, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), accompanied by Warren Hudak, President of Hudak and Company, and Chair of NFIB Leadership Council.

Panel #3: Zak Pyzik – Director of Government Affairs, PA Restaurant & Lodging Association, accompanied by Jennifer Fertenbaugh, Partner and Business Director at Café Fresco.

Closing Remarks and Adjournment.

 

Voting meeting on SB 962

Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee

Tuesday, January 25, 2022 | 12:00 p.m.

Room 461, Main Capitol

Agenda

Voting meeting on SB 962

Schedule

  • Call to Order and Roll Call.
  • Consideration of Legislation.
    • Senate Bill 962 (Langerholc) – Establishes the Rural Coworking & Innovation Center Grant Program, providing for requirements and imposing duties on the Department of Community & Economic Development.
      • Amendment No. A03427 – Technical amendment clarifying components of grant program, updating definitions, revising application guidelines and prioritization, updating local match requirement and adding operational guidelines.
      • Amendment No. A03557 – Adds definition of rural municipality; expands program eligibility.
  • Adjournment

 

 

YUDICHAK: Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee approves legislation to aide economic recovery in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG – The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee, chaired by Senator John Yudichak (I-14), took action on a pair of bills today that would support Pennsylvania’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Bill 797, authored by Senator Devlin Robinson (R-37), will update the statewide Neighborhood Improvement District Act to include Allegheny County, giving the tourism industry more resources to attract visitors to the greater Pittsburgh region.

Senate Bill 977, authored by Senator Lisa Boscola (D-18), will create a new $75 million economic recovery grant program within the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

“As each new COVID-19 variant hits Pennsylvania, businesses in our communities must brace for more and more economic turbulence,” said Yudichak. “I commend Senator Robinson and Senator Boscola for working to advance legislation that will help Pennsylvania businesses sustain their companies and their employees through the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Economic recovery in the Commonwealth is essential for our businesses, especially within the tourism industry,” said Senator Robinson, a committee member. “I appreciate the support from Senator Yudichak and the committee in recognizing the importance of this bill.” 

“This legislation is another step to assist our constituents by turning old vacant factories and buildings into new state-of-the-art facilities, and bringing economic security and stability back to Pennsylvania’s communities,” said Boscola, a committee member.

As a result of Wednesday’s committee deliberations, both pieces of legislation advance to the full Senate for consideration.

WATCH: The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee considers SB797 and SB977.

CONTACT: Scot Pitzer; spitzer@pasen.gov