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Let the Games Begin! “Legislative Shenanigans and Chess!”

  May 2018 / Vol 8 Issue 3

Let the Games Begin! “Legislative Shenanigans and Chess!”
By: Teresa Irvin McCurdy, President of TD Connections, Inc.

 

About this time every year the Pennsylvania Legislature and the Administration start a high-stakes chess game by carefully selecting numerous bills/legislation and begin to move them into place to capture the king – or in this case pass the Capital Budget bill on-time while bringing with the King various pawns or pieces of legislation. Constitutionally, the General Assembly must pass, and Governor must sign into law a balanced budget by June 30th at midnight. As I mentioned in a previous article, that has not been done consistently since Governor Rendell’s first year in office.

Before I mention some of the stakes, let’s first look at the number one prize. Can you guess what that is? Nope, not the budget bill. Nope, not if there will be a severance tax or not. The number one prize for any legislator is whether they will get re-elected. The entire House is elected every two-years whereas the Senate serves a four-year term with half being elected every two-years. The number two prize? Who will be Governor for the next four-years and who will control of each branch of the Legislature.

For 21 members who choose not to run for re-election at all this year, they could have a lot of power in close votes as they have nothing to lose when casting their vote. The rest will be attempting to move their issues and casting votes to show their constituents at home that they are fighting for them and their causes, so they can win at the polls.

During the 2016 election, the Senate Republicans retained the majority with 34 to 16 Democrats; while the House Republicans did so too with 121 to 82 Democrats.  However, this year’s election will be quite interesting due to President Trump’s somewhat negative shadow being cast on all Republicans and the Courts redrawing the voting districts causing some shake ups. For instance, House Majority Leader Dave Reed announced he was running for a House Congressional seat and did not to seek re-election for his own seat. When the maps were redrawn, where he lived was redrawn out of the district for which he was seeking to be elected thus causing an end to his political career…at least for now.

There are nine members running for a different seat and four House Democrats who are running for their same seat and a different seat. Some political analysts are predicting that Democrats have a good chance of picking up a lot of seats; maybe enough to gain the majority in one of the chambers. With the primary election in PA being May 15th, we will soon find out which Republican Gubernatorial Candidate will be facing off against Governor Wolf.

Now on to the pieces of legislation that are being set up as pawns to either distract or get passed as a part of a package of bills to get the budget done on-time. Wait, I know if the budget has been late most of time over the past 15 years, then why care about this year? Because it is a controversial election year, and everyone wants to get back to their districts and campaign.

Governor Wolf moved the first pieces in the game back in February when he introduced his budget and sought a severance tax for the fourth year in a row. House Speaker Mike Turzai moved second and has taken a strong stance against a severance tax, but during several floor debates the votes were close and with the political posturing going on those against the tax should not get complacent.

For well over a year, a group of legislators have been fighting for regulatory reform and are continuing to push a package of bills through the system to set them up for a final vote when the timing is right. Meanwhile, the opposition continues to build its case as to why the regulatory reform language as written will weaken the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), cause more harm to the environment, and cause any advances in protecting the environment to take steps backwards. Past House floor debates and votes have only been 1 or 2 votes from either passing or defeating pieces of this package of bills, so again those who don’t have anything to lose are free and may be the deciding vote.

There are also some tax reform bills, such as HB 2017 by Rep. Frank Ryan (R) which amends the Tax Reform Code, in corporate net income tax, further providing for the definition of “taxable income” relating to deduction for appreciation and its companion bill, SB 1056 by Senator Michele Brooks (R) which amends the Tax Reform Code, in corporate net income tax, further providing for definitions. Both bills stated intent is to align state law with federal law’s 100 percent bonus depreciation. However, according to the Senate Democratic analysis, it states that the Governor’s Office opposes these bills and projects the bills will result in a total loss of $26.4M in the 2017-18 fiscal year. For corporations, this alignment with Federal law would help with accounting and fiscal matters.

These are just a few topics I have highlighted, but there is so much more. And that’s the thing about budget time, you never know what will happen during the latenight negotiations and sessions. Sometimes, those like me on the inside are caught off-guard in the middle of the night but for companies that are not even following what is going on, many of them will just have to live with it. I’ve never been the type of person to “just have to live with it.”

If you are not involved, then you can take a different approach and get involved. At a minimum signup for a newsletter like mine where you can get weekly or even daily alerts when necessary, so you can call your legislator and tell them why they should vote your way. Let them know how the legislation will impact your company, your job, and most importantly your personal life.

Want more information or have a question, contact Teresa at 717-329-6402 or Teresa@TDConnections.com or learn more about TD Connections at https://bit.ly/2JE3fbM.

 

 


If you have a problem and/or a solution, Teresa would love to hear from you by contacting her at 717-329-6402 or Teresa@TDConnections.com.

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