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Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce
July 2018 
The GPCC's Jenn Beer (standing second from left) and other supporters of "Clean Slate" legislation, now Act 56 of 2018, appear with Governor Wolf after the bill is signed into law. 


Two Allegheny Conference Legislative Priorities Become Law


Two major legislative priorities of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, specifically included in the Allegheny Conference's 2018-19 agenda, passed in late June. The two pieces of legislation, SB 1056 (now Act 72 of 2018), which provides a legislative fix to the bonus depreciation tax issue, and HB 1419 (now Act 56 of 2018), referred to as “clean slate” legislation (criminal justice reform legislation), represent a significant achievement in our efforts to improve the competitiveness and economic climate of the Pittsburgh region. 

Act 72

Sponsored by Senator Michele Brooks (R-Jamestown), Act 72 corrects an uncompetitive tax policy change from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue regarding the depreciation of business assets. This tax policy change placed Pennsylvania on an uneven playing field compared to other states.  

Act 72 will incentivize capital investment by allowing depreciation ratably over the useful life of the asset. The legislation was necessary because the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s policy change, which reacted to recent changes in the federal tax bill, did not allow a Pennsylvania business to deduct depreciation of a purchased asset until it is sold or disposed. Without this fix, employers in the Pittsburgh region would have been negatively impacted, and coupled with our state’s high corporate tax rate and the cap on Net Operating Loss Carryforwards, the policy would discourage employers from locating in Pennsylvania.
 
Act 72 is a fair, equitable and fiscally responsible way of resolving the uncompetitive tax policy change. We applaud Senator Brooks’ leadership, Governor Wolf for his support and all of the bipartisan members of the General Assembly who supported the legislation.

Act 56

Referred to as "Clean Slate" legislation, Act 56 is an important advancement of criminal justice reform policy that provides for automatic sealing of criminal records for certain individuals with misdemeanor convictions, allowing potential employers to look past minor mistakes and focus on the qualifications of the individual. The passage of the bill is an important step in addressing the Pittsburgh region’s workforce challenge while expanding economic inclusion to all of our communities.

Sensible, data-driven justice reforms, such as “Clean Slate,” are a proven pathway to create a more robust and skilled workforce. We can’t afford to turn away hardworking Pennsylvanians and deny them a fair shot at a good job and a promising future.  And our employers need access to a full, competitive labor pool.
 
We applaud the strong group of bipartisan legislators who have supported Act 56 and we appreciate Governor Wolf's support and leadership. The “Clean Slate” reforms will help to provide a new start to those who have effectively demonstrated that their past mistakes do not define them. It will give these individuals a meaningful second chance and will help to improve the economy of the Pittsburgh region.
To learn more about the "Clean Slate" law, read this column in the Pittsburgh Business Times authored by Matt Smith, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and Darrin Kelly, president of the Allegheny County Labor Council.


GPCC President Matt Smith Testifies on Benefits of Act 89 Transportation Funding Law 


The business community in southwestern Pennsylvania recognizes that adequate investment in our transportation network is one of the most important issues facing our region's ability to attract investment and jobs. For both urban and rural areas in our region, a robust and well-connected multi-modal network of roads, bridges, transit, highways, ports, railroads and airports is critical for moving goods to market and people to work. 

Matt Smith, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, testified before the PA Senate Transportation Committee earlier this week on the benefits that Act 89 has afforded the Pittsburgh region. Signed into law in 2013, Act 89 invests an additional $2.4 billion annually in the state's transportation network and provides $500 million annually for Pennsylvania's transit agencies. This legislation represented a historic accomplishment for the future of southwestern Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth. 

With public transit needed as the critical backbone of an urban economy, Act 89 allowed the Port Authority to avoid ruinous service cuts and fare increases, and also invest the millions necessary for maintenance and capital projects to keep those services online.

Act 89 has also made many excellent projects possible that our region is benefitting from today. Act 89 funding and the state's Rapid Bridge Replacement Program has knocked a structurally deficient bridge list that was as high as 6,000 in 2008 down to 3,000.   

And the Multimodal Fund created by Act 89 has made great community investments possible, from $100,000 for a bike park along the Great Allegheny Passage in Homestead Borough, to $1.9 million in upgrades to river cells, dock, and rail at the Colona Transfer facility originally built in the early 1930s in Monaca, to $1.6 million just awarded this year to create pedestrian connections between the three transit stations in Castle Shannon.

These benefits to our communities and businesses are significant. And they would not have been possible without Act 89. The Pittsburgh region owes much to the sustainable transporting funding revenue provided by the law and we applaud members of the General Assembly who supported this critical measure. 


Federal Perkins CTE Bill Advances in the Senate  


A critical step in support of the Allegheny Conference's workforce agenda, the federal Perkins CTE bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in June. The bipartisan legislation reauthorizes and provides essential updates to the Perkins CTE Act. The law was originally enacted in 1984 and then reauthorized in 1998 and 2006. The Perkins CTE Act is designed to provide federal monetary support to enhance career and technical programs in all 50 states (approximately $1 billion annually).

The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce has been actively involved and engaged in supporting reauthorization of the Perkins CTE Act. To this end, in June, we helped Senator Casey’s team develop a 50 person roundtable on Perkins CTE reauthorization. Those in the room included community college presidents, CTE center directors, and business leaders throughout the Commonwealth. The GPCC's Brandon Mendoza moderated the discussion. We hope to see a full vote in the Senate on the bill in late summer / early fall. 
 


GPCC's Jenn Beer Testifies on Need to Expand Neighborhood Assistance Program 


We know that for our region and the state to grow in a sustainable way, and to elevate, attract and retain the diversity of workers needed to fuel our economy, it is critical that attention is focused on the needs of historically disinvested communities across the region and state. 

Today, seven communities across southwestern Pennsylvania - Connellsville, Homewood, McKees Rocks, Mount Oliver/Knoxville, Sharpsburg, Washington and Wilkinsburg - participate in the Allegheny Conference's Strengthening Communities Partnership program. Together, members of the Allegheny Conference are leveraging a state tax credit program called the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) to contribute $2.5 million annually to the community organizations that are doing the on-the-ground work to drive investment and job creation in these communities.

Beyond providing operational and project funding for community groups, the NAP creates true public-private partnerships between businesses and communities. Business leaders become more invested in communities and more directly connected to their revitalization, often times also offering pro bono business advice and service. The program is also designed to help communities leverage additional funding from both private and public sources. 

The NAP needs to be expanded for more communities across our region and state to have access to this critical community development funding tool. With a cap set at $18 million per year, the NAP gets the same level of funding as when it was created 44 years ago. Yet in recent years, it has seen nearly $50 million in annual requests - and matching corporate commitments of funding - meaning more than half had to be rejected because of the program's funding cap. 

The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce created the NAP Coalition in 2017, which has since grown to more than 80 businesses and organizations across Pennsylvania. The NAP Coalition's goal is to come together with one voice to increase the annual cap on the NAP tax credit from its current $18 million to $36 million.

Jenn Beer, the GPCC's vice president of government affairs, testified in front of the PA Senate Finance Committee Hearing last month on behalf of the NAP Coalition, calling for an expansion of the NAP program. Read this coverage from the hearing in Pennsylvania Watchdog to learn more. 

PHOTOS: 2018 PA Legislative Reception 


Members of the Allegheny Conference and Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce were on the ground in Harrisburg in June for the annual Pennsylvania Legislative Reception hosted in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.

One of the three signature receptions that we host each year, the reception recognizes the work of our many committed public and private sector partners to improve the economy and quality of life in the Pittsburgh region and across the state.

This year’s reception was preceded by a joint public policy seminar featuring a discussion with Gladys Brown, chair of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.  

As always, we thank our event co-sponsors and corporate partners. Without their support these events would not be possible.

If you’re interested in viewing a gallery of photos from the event, please click here.

Sponsorship Opportunity: 15th Annual Pittsburgh Region / Washington D.C. Elected Officials


The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce invites you to participate as a sponsor of our 15th annual Pittsburgh Region / Washington D.C. Elected Officials Reception to be held on Sept. 5, 2018 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Bullfeathers, 410 First Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. 

If you are interested in sponsoring this event, please fill out our online sponsorship form here. Corporate and individual sponsorships are available using the online form.

Further questions on sponsorship can be directed to Patriece Thompson at 412-281-4783 ext. 3108.

Rail-Volution: Building Livable Communities with Transit 


The Allegheny Conference and the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce continue to be focused on strengthening the region's transportation network to ensure a prosperous economy and superior quality of life for all who live and do business in the region. Leading transportation and mobility experts will be in Pittsburgh in October for Rail-Volution, a national mobility conference that we are proud to support. We look forward to learning from these experts. 

To learn more, view the Our Region's Business segment below with Katherine Eagan Kelleman, CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County, and Lynn DeLorenzo, principal with TARQUINCoRE, LLC. 

Tickets Available for Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards 


Named for the Greek goddess of strength and wisdom, the ATHENA Award recognizes women who demonstrate excellence in their profession, contribute to their community and help other women to succeed. The ATHENA Young Professional Award recognizes an emerging leader age 35 or younger. (Click here to learn about previous recipients.)

Mark your calendar for the awards luncheon on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 at the Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh. Nearly 900 women and men attended last year's luncheon, which is one of the largest gatherings among the hundreds of ATHENA International-affiliated events presented around the world each year. Tickets can be purchased here
 
Greater Pittsburgh Chamber is an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference | AlleghenyConference.org
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