Meeting to consider SB 635 and SB 830

Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 | 9:30 a.m.

East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B


Call to Order and Roll Call

Consideration of Legislation

  • Senate Bill 635 (Yudichak) – Amends Title 12 (Commerce and Trade) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in property assessed clean energy program, pertaining to purpose, definitions, program establishment, notice to lien holder required for participation, scope of work, lien and collection of assessments.
    • Amendment No.  – Clarifies the eligibility standards for indoor air quality, resiliency improvements and multi-family dwellings. Specifies that definition of “qualified commercial property” does not include any residential property, except for a commercial, multifamily residential property, or mixed-use property which contains no less than five residential units. Requires a scope of work, energy baseline or water usage model, as well as projected energy savings or water usage reductions, for a proposed clean energy or water conservation project. Stipulates assessment protocols.
  • Senate Bill 830 (Yudichak) – Amends Title 64 (Public Authorities and Quasi-Public Corporations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in Commonwealth Financing Authority, establishing the Veteran-owned Pennsylvania Business Loan Guarantee Program.

Adjournment

 

YUDICHAK: Committee Urges Congress to Address School Bus Driver Shortage

HARRISBURG – The ongoing statewide and national school bus driver shortage prompted action today by the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee, which passed a legislative measure calling upon Congress to address the workforce famine.

Introduced by Committee Chair Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) and Senator John Yudichak (I-14), Senate Resolution 172 seeks assistance from federal lawmakers – as well as the US Department of Transportation – to improve the process of obtaining and maintaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Federal and state clearances can take up to 12 weeks to complete and are burdensome at a time when the industry is experiencing the lowest number of school bus drivers in 100 years.

“We have reached a crisis point,” said Yudichak, who chairs the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee. “If anyone wants to become a school bus driver, the process is time-consuming and unwieldy. As a father of four, the safety of our children is paramount, but we can do this in a way that does not impose irrelevant training requirements or barriers on Pennsylvanians seeking this line of work.”

A recent Associated Press report cited a national survey showing that 80 percent of school districts are having difficulty finding bus drivers. There are 500 school districts in Pennsylvania.

“The school bus driver shortage is uprooting school and personal schedules across this Commonwealth, from delaying bus schedules to cancelling an entire day of school,” said Senator Langerholc, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee.  After hearing from school districts and school bus companies, a major impediment is securing a CDL. The CDL law is governed by strict federal regulations, which is why our resolution urges Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation to re-evaluate the CDL for school bus drivers, while maintaining the safe transport of 1.5 million children in this Commonwealth.”

Across the state, school districts and school bus companies have been struggling to hire and retain an adequate number of qualified school bus drivers. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the shortage, and at times have resulted in schools attempting to borrow bus drivers from neighboring districts, modifying or delaying bus schedules, or ultimately cancelling an entire day of school. State and federal laws and regulations require school bus operators to pass knowledge and driving tests, and demonstrate their capability to safely operate a loaded school bus.

 

CONTACT:
Senator Yudichak’s Office:  spitzer@pasen.gov;
Senator Langerholc’s Office:  nritchie@pasen.gov.

YUDICHAK: Committee approves Max Manufacturing Initiative Act

HARRISBURG – Chaired by Senator John Yudichak (I-14), the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee took action on a bill today that would create the Max Manufacturing Initiative Act.

Introduced by Senator Devlin Robinson (R-37), Senate Bill 706 aims to utilize the state’s abundant natural gas resources, by establishing public-private partnerships between private entities and state-related universities.

“Ever since I was appointed chair of this committee, we have focused on job creation, boosting our economy and business revitalization, which this important piece of legislation certainly reflects those goals,” said Yudichak. “The legislation represents great promise to develop the untapped potential of Pennsylvania’s universities and business partnerships as international leaders in development, testing and implementation of innovative advances in technology and science.”

As a result of the unanimous vote, the legislation advances to the full Senate for consideration.  Robinson noted that the bill maximizes the research capabilities of state-related institutions, while also promoting stronger business alliances and increasing employment opportunities.

“My district is in a unique position to capitalize on the vast network of colleges and universities to create a partnership that will conduct research and develop strategies that will result in increased economic development and job opportunities,” said Senator Robinson. “I introduced Senate Bill 706 with the hopes of further incentivizing the manufacturing industry in Pennsylvania and with a vision for these kinds of partnerships across Pennsylvania. “

The committee held a hearing on May 25th in Pittsburgh on Government Barriers to Manufacturing Growth. Support was received from Allegheny County, Pittsburgh Works Together, The Pittsburgh International Airport and the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce.

WATCH: The committee votes on SB706.

CONTACT: spitzer@pasen.gov

Meeting to consider bills

Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 | 10:30 a.m.

East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-A


Meeting to consider bills

Senate Committees Tour Iron Mountain Data Center, Champion Tax Incentives.

BOYERS – Committees chaired by Pennsylvania State Senators John Yudichak (I-14) and Scott Hutchinson (R-21) hosted a tour of the Iron Mountain Data Center on Thursday.

Yudichak, chairman of the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee, joined forces with Hutchinson, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, in championing the sales and use tax exemptions that were approved as part of the state’s 2021-2022 budget. 

“Neighboring states, such as Virginia, have created tens of thousands of jobs and leveraged billions in private investment, as a result of data centers,” explained Yudichak. “We have been lagging in recruiting technology corporations to Pennsylvania – it is critical that they have confidence in our technology infrastructure.”

“The strength and resiliency of our technology infrastructure directly impacts our ability to compete for 21st century technology jobs and to attract the world’s technology giants to Pennsylvania,” concluded Yudichak.

Data Centers, such as Iron Mountain, are expected to benefit from the sales and use tax exclusion that was implemented within the budget, as part of Tax Code (House Bill 952 – Oberlander).

Over the last few legislative sessions, Hutchinson has supported the legislation to attract large-scale data center development and jobs to Pennsylvania.

“It’s terrific that so many of my legislative colleagues visited today to see Iron Mountain’s fascinating Boyers underground facility, which is a great representation of the modern data center industry,” said Senator Hutchinson.  “Thanks to the bipartisan leadership and support of these folks, in June the legislature adopted an important economic development tool for Pennsylvania to expand current employment, attract new employers, and remain competitive in the fast-growing data center business segment.”

After being named committee chair earlier this year, Yudichak hosted statewide hearings, to highlight the need for tax and economic incentives to build out Pennsylvania’s technology infrastructure and create jobs. A broad coalition of statewide building trade unions, tech industry leaders, and a bi-partisan group of legislators quickly formed after the hearings in support of building out Pennsylvania’s technology economy, by passing a sales and use tax emption for computer data center development.

As part of those hearings, the committee learned that Pennsylvania was not successfully competing for technology jobs and failed to secure a single enterprise data center in the last decade.

Twenty-nine other states were offering this type of economic incentive.

“The growth rate of data and the digital economy is setting new records every year. With the passage of the sales and use tax exemption for data center equipment, Pennsylvania is able to compete with other states to attract technology and data center investments like the infrastructure our legislators saw at Iron Mountain today,” said Rick Crutchley, Vice President of Iron Mountain North America Data Centers.

“Iron Mountain is dedicated to being a collaborative partner of the Pennsylvania community,” continued Crutchley. “Across our Boyers employee base, we have been fortunate to add almost 200 employees to our team over the past 24 months and expect to add more than 200 additional employees in the upcoming year, in addition to hiring local construction teams to assist with our impending $10 million data center outfits and expansion.  Additionally, data center growth benefits Pennsylvania through increased broadband and power investments.”

Crutchley added: “Iron Mountain is committed to continuing to offset our environmental impact to the local communities that we serve. To that end, Iron Mountain is proud to be the first and largest investor in the Ringer Hill Wind Farm south of Pittsburgh to offset the demands from our data center here as well as investing $5 million to run fiber from Pittsburgh and adding additional electrical capacity for the region.”

Numerous lawmakers participated Thursday morning, including Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-39), Senator Dan Laughlin (R-49), Senator Devlin Robinson (R-37), House Majority Whip Representative Donna Oberlander (R-63) and House Finance Committee Chairman Representative Michael Peifer (R-139), among others.

The underground Boyers facility occupies approximately 200 acres, within a 1,500-acre mine complex, for operating and supporting data management and document storage business. Iron Mountain employs 275 people in support of business, while Iron Mountain’s customers employ about 2,500 people at the site.

In the past seven years, Iron Mountain has invested over $100 million of capital in the data center and related businesses at the facility.

 

CONTACT: Scot Pitzer – Executive Director; spitzer@pasen.gov.

Senator Yudichak and Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee hold hearing on updates to Neighborhood Improvement District Act.

PITTSBURGH – Chaired by State Senator John Yudichak (I-14), the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee held a hearing today on proposed updates to the Neighborhood Improvement District Act.

State Senator Devlin Robinson (R-37), whose district includes parts of Allegheny and Washington counties, recently introduced Senate Bill 797, which would modernize and streamline components of the program.

“As our state reopens for business and rebounds from pandemic-related restrictions, we need forward-thinking and visionary concepts that will rejuvenate our economy, and produce family-sustaining jobs,” said Yudichak.

“A comprehensive look at modernizing our existing Neighborhood Improvement District Act, and associated changes, will go a long way toward helping our local communities bounce back,” continued Yudichak. “Two decades have passed since lawmakers approved the original Neighborhood Improvement District Act – much has changed over those 20 years, especially with economic development in Pennsylvania. I look forward to continuing these conversations with Senator Robinson, and stakeholders, to help move our state forward.”

The legislation would include Allegheny County as a jurisdiction that is eligible to participate in the program.

Testimony was received from economic development experts, tourism officials and local business leaders. Visit Pittsburgh President & CEO Jerad Bachar noted that the Pittsburgh hospitality and tourism industries were “gravely impacted” by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“Visit Pittsburgh supports the amendments to the existing Neighborhood Improvement District legislation, as presented today to the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee, as they allow for the development of an Allegheny County Tourism Improvement District, which would assist in the generation of much-needed marketing funds,” said Bachar.

“Now, more than ever, it is critical that we find a stable source of funding for tourism marketing and development,” continued Bachar. “Addressing the need for destination promotion is for the benefit and wellbeing of visitors and residents alike.”

Similarly, Robinson noted that the pandemic has resulted in devastating consequences for the tourism and hospitality industries throughout Pennsylvania, especially in areas which rely heavily on attracting tourists, groups and organizations through promotion of available amenities and attractions.

Originally adopted in 2000, speakers pointed out that local economic dynamics and policy needs have changed significantly over the years. Robinson’s legislation would provide “much of the simplified process and flexibility” afforded to Neighborhood Improvement District authorization in Philadelphia County, and it is “critical that we provide counties and municipalities all the necessary policy tools to promote and enhance economic growth.”

“So much has changed during the more than 20 years since Neighborhood Improvement Districts were created,” said Senator Robinson. “I sponsored Senate Bill 797 with the hope that expanding this opportunity to additional communities such as Allegheny County will provide the much-needed tools to promote and enhance economic growth.”

“Mitigation efforts for COVID-19 had a devastating effect on the tourism and hospitality industries and the Greater Pittsburgh region has not been spared,” continued Senator Robinson. “Modernizing the system, simplifying the process and allowing other communities to participate will provide the momentum needed for reviving our economy. I am grateful that Senator Yudichak brought the committee here so local employers and community leaders can share directly with the decision-makers the importance of a program such as this.”

Panelists suggested that by modernizing the act with industry-driven standards, the state would benefit from a maximum return on investment. Providing a flexible policy option for municipalities to help jumpstart local economies will enable Pennsylvania to market itself as a leading destination for travel and business within the United States.

Other speakers included Tiffany Gallagher, of Civitas Advisors; Alisa Faulk, President of the Greater Pittsburgh Hotel Association and General manager of the AC Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown; and Mike Mitcham, Director of Operations for Pimanti Brothers, and President of the SW Chapter of the PA Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Westin Hotel General Manager Tom Martini joined as a panelist.

The hearing was held at the Omni William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. It was streamed live at https://community.pasenategop.com/.

CONTACT: Scot Pitzer – Executive Director; spitzer@pasen.gov

Media Advisory – Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee and Senate Finance Committee Plan Tour of Iron Mountain Data Center

BOYERS – Chaired by State Senator John Yudichak (I-14), the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee is joining the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday for a tour of the Iron Mountain Data Center in Butler County.

Yudichak is linking forces with Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21), chair of the Finance Committee, who championed legislation to attract large-scale data center development and jobs to Pennsylvania.

Data Centers, such as Iron Mountain, are expected to benefit from a sales and use tax exclusion – implemented as part of the Tax Code (House Bill 952) – that was adopted as part of the state’s budget.

“Neighboring states, such as Virginia, have created tens of thousands of jobs and leveraged billions in private investment, as a result of data centers,” explained Yudichak. “We have been lagging in recruiting technology corporations to Pennsylvania – it is critical that they have confidence in our technology infrastructure.”

“The strength and resiliency of our technology infrastructure directly impacts our ability to compete for 21st century technology jobs and to attract the world’s technology giants to Pennsylvania,” concluded Yudichak.

After being named committee chair earlier this year, Yudichak hosted statewide hearings to highlight the need for tax and economic incentives to build out Pennsylvania’s technology infrastructure and create jobs.

As part of those hearings, the committee learned that Pennsylvania was not successfully competing for technology jobs and failed to secure a single enterprise data center in the last decade.

WHAT: The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are touring the Iron Mountain Data Center in Butler County.

WHEN: 9:00 am., Thursday, Sept. 9th.

WHERE: Iron Mountain Data Center, 1137 Branchton Road, Boyers, PA 16020.

The tour is not open to the press, although on-side media interviews are available by request. 

CONTACT: Scot Pitzer – Executive Director; spitzer@pasen.gov.

Media Advisory – Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee to host Pittsburgh hearing on updates to Neighborhood Improvement District Act.

PITTSBURGH – The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee is holding a public hearing at 9:30 am on Wednesday, September 8th to discuss Senate Bill 797, Neighborhood Improvement District Act Modernization & Streamlining.

Committee member Senator Devlin Robinson (R-37), whose district includes parts of Allegheny and Washington counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, introduced the legislation. 

WHO: Senator John Yudichak (I-14), chair of committee, will be joined by Robinson, as well as other members of the legislative panel. Business leaders, economic development specialists and tourism experts – including Visit Pittsburgh – are slated to participate, among others. The schedule is subject to change.

  • Jerad Bachar: President & CEO, Visit Pittsburgh.
  • Alisa Faulk: Greater Pittsburgh Hotel Association; General Manager of AC Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown;
  • Tiffany Gallagher: Civitas Advisors.

WHAT: The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee is holding a hearing on Senate Bill 797, Neighborhood Improvement District Act Modernization & Streamlining.

WHEN: 9:30 am., Wednesday, Sept. 8th.

WHERE: Omni William Penn Hotel, 530 William Penn Place, Pittsburgh; Lawrence Welk Room Mezzanine.

WATCH: The hearing will be streamed live at https://community.pasenategop.com/.

The hearing is open to the media, but RSVP’s are recommended. 

CONTACT: Scot Pitzer – Executive Director; spitzer@pasen.gov

Public hearing on SB 797, the Neighborhood Improvement District Act

Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 | 9:30 a.m.

Omni William Penn Hotel
530 William Penn  Place
Pittsburgh,  PA  15219


Public hearing on SB 797, the Neighborhood Improvement District Act

9:30 am:

Opening Remarks – Senator John Yudichak, Chair – Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee.

Opening Remarks – Senator Amanda Cappelletti, Minority Chair – Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee

Recognition of Members in Attendance.

Remarks – Senator Devlin Robinson (R-37), Senate Bill 797

Mr. Jerad Bachar – President & CEO, Visit Pittsburgh. – Testimony

Tiffany Gallagher – Civitas Enterprises. – Testimony

Alisa Faulk – President, Greater Pittsburgh Hotel Association and General Manager of the AC Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown; joined by Tom Martini, General Manager of the Westin Hotel. – Testimony

Mike Mitcham – Director of Operations, Primanti Brothers and President of the SW Chapter of the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association. – Testimony

Final Remarks & Adjournment.

* * * Schedule is subject to change. * * *

Senator Yudichak and the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee Hold Hearing on Economic Impact of the Workforce Shortage

Lancaster, July 28, 2021 – Chaired by State Senator John Yudichak (I-Luzerne/Carbon), the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee held a hearing today at the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce on the Economic Impact of the Workforce Shortage.

“As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania is facing a serious workforce crisis that is threatening our businesses and slowing our economic recovery,” said State Senator John Yudichak. “Businesses across my district and throughout the Commonwealth have been forced to curtail their hours of operation or even close because of a workforce shortage. Today’s hearing will help the committee and the General Assembly learn more about workforce development reforms that will help our businesses, our communities and the people of Pennsylvania as we rebuild our economy.”

The committee heard testimony from the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and local business owners. Senator Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) also joined Senator Yudichak and committee members at the hearing.

“Small businesses in Lancaster County and across this Commonwealth have already suffered immensely due to the restrictions and forced closures they had to endure throughout the pandemic, and now the workforce shortage threatens to delay their recovery even further,” said Senator Aument. “Anything that we as elected officials can do to help employers and employees get back on track and move our state’s economy forward is worthwhile. I commend Senator Yudichak for calling this hearing, so that we can learn more about this problem and work together to find commonsense solutions.”

“When you drive down any street in Lancaster County, you see ‘Help Wanted’ signs on lawns or in store fronts almost everywhere,” Senator Scott Martin (R-13) said. “We know that unfulfilled jobs are causing employers to shutter permanently and scale back operating hours. Workforce shortages also mean supply chain disruptions and increased prices on other goods and services. Whether we realize it or not, the impact of this is rippling through our economy and impacting all of us and our families. I’m thankful for Chairman Yudichak’s willingness to take a closer look at pocketbook issues such as this, so we can fully identify the needs and the role the General Assembly can play in creating an environment for economic growth and job creation.”

A May 2021 survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that forty-nine percent of Americans who became unemployed during the pandemic said they are not actively or not very actively looking for work.

“Big and small, businesses across the Commonwealth are facing an unprecedented workforce crisis that threatens their survival and Pennsylvania’s overall economic recovery.  Today’s hearing was an excellent opportunity to discuss the challenges Pennsylvania businesses face and how industry and lawmakers can work together to help return Pennsylvanians to work and jumpstart our state’s economy,” said Gene Barr, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

John Longstreet, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association testified that the shortage is exacerbated in the hospitality industry because it takes so many people to run a restaurant or a hotel. The restaurant business generates more jobs per dollar of revenue than virtually any other industry and is the third largest non-farm employer in the country.

“Workforce is by far the most pressing issue the hospitality industry faces. I have never seen such a severe shortage in my 40-year career,” said John Longstreet, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association.  “There are several ways the legislature can help us address this crisis, including support for industry-specific workforce development programs and the association health plan, which would allow our members to affordably provide health insurance to their employees.”

All committee materials from the hearing, including a video of the hearing will be accessible here as soon as they are available: https://community.pasenategop.com/072821/

MEDIA CONTACTS

Carly Simpson: csimpson@pasen.gov

Brad Hurley: bhurley@pasen.gov

Scot Pitzer:   spitzer@pasen.gov