State Priorities_March2017 (4/6/2017) 

House passes its own version of a budget

The State House has passed a $31.5 billion budget in response to the Governor’s proposed $32.3 billion budget. The House plans to pay for its budget by expanding gambling and privatizing the PLCB. The budget, as passed, is by no means a final product but a demonstration for the Governor that cuts can be made rather than passing tax increases. The final budget will likely land somewhere between the House budget number and the Governor’s proposed budget number.  

So what did the House do to tourism funding?

The House reduced the $10 million line item for statewide tourism promotion to $2.5 million. While the budget will be amended, PRLA is very disappointed with the House’s lack of support for statewide tourism promotion.

House Liquor Control meeting

The House Liquor Control Committee voted out two bills with a vote of 14-12. It was a mostly party-line vote, except for Rep. Scott Petri (R—Bucks), who voted with Democrats in opposing both bills.
  1. HB 438 (Reese—R, Westmoreland): Would create a spirit expanded permit which would be modeled exactly like the wine expanded permit. Licensees, for a $2,000 fee, could apply to sell up to four bottles of spirits to go.
  2. HB 991 (Harris—R, Juniata): Would create wine and spirits retail store license to allow the private sector to more readily compete with the current state stores. The cost of the licenses range from $100,000 to $500,000.  The bill was amended to state that the PLCB could not assess more than a 15 percent mark-up on the product it sells to the holders of a retail store license.

Fiscal impact of minimum wage increase

The Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released the fiscal impact of Gov. Wolf’s proposed minimum wage increase from $7.25 to $12.
  • The Governor stated the increase would bring in $95 million in revenue. The IFO stated that number is more likely $40 million, and of that, it would take years before $25 million of that is fully realized.
  • The IFO stated that 1.3 million people would see a wage increase, but also that 53,700 people would lose their jobs.
  • The IFO stated that welfare spending could potentially be reduced by $231 million, but that could also be upset by a necessary increase in the child care subsidy program, nursing home and community-based care. In addition, more funding would need to be given for non-profit entities, local governments, school districts and higher pension costs of all of those entities.  
  • The IFO also noted that the proposed minimum wage increase would put Pennsylvania at a higher minimum wage than any surrounding states. Pennsylvania currently has an unemployment rate higher than our neighbors and the higher wage would put Pennsylvania at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to bringing in new business.

Mandated paid leave preemption

The Senate Local Government Committee voted Senate Bill (SB) 128 (Eichelberger—R, Blair) out of committee with a vote of 8-4. The legislation, very simply, states that it is not the role of Pennsylvania’s 2,500 municipalities to mandate paid leave on businesses in the Commonwealth and that it should be a state discussion and decision. The legislation was amended in committee to declare the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh paid leave mandates illegal.  

Second “dead” license auction results

The PLCB opened the bids for the second sealed bid auction it held for 50 “dead” restaurant licenses in the state. The bids ranged from $25,001 to $463,802 and 42 of the 50 licenses were sold. 

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State Legislative Priorities Archive

State Priorities_March2017

Posted on 4/6/2017

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