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Government Outreach -September 5, 2023

Government Affairs & General Updates
September 5, 2023

1. Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration has slashed wait times and backlogs for state approvals and licenses - Within the first few weeks of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration, the new Democratic governor promised to make Pennsylvania more friendly for businesses and workers. Since then, Shapiro’s administration has made significant progress, after completing the first-ever catalog of all 2,400 state permits, certificates, licenses, and other necessary filings to begin working or start a business in the state. The administration is boasting of a number of successes in cutting wait lists, backlogs, and wait times by the thousands for different government approvals and services. “Governor Shapiro promised to make state government work efficiently and effectively, and only seven months into his administration, he’s already making good on that promise,” said Will Simons, a spokesperson for Shapiro, in a statement. The Shapiro administration said there’s still more work to be done to make the state government more accessible. One area where they’re hoping to improve this: moving more environmental applications online. Only about 3% of permit and license applications are submitted online, according to the Commonwealth Office of Digital Experience, which Shapiro created earlier this year to make more government processes available online. Read More

2. Pennsylvania collected nearly $3B in taxes in August - Pennsylvania Revenue Secretary Pat Browne says the state collected $2.9 billion in General Fund revenue last month. The revenue collected was about 0.9 percent less than anticipated, or $27.1 million. During the fiscal year Pennsylvania has had $5.8 billion in General Fund collections, about $27.2 million below the estimate. Here is a breakdown of tax revenue reported by the Department of Revenue: Sales tax receipts: $1.2 billion ($53.1 million below estimate); Personal income tax: $1.2 billion ($23.3 million below estimate); Corporation tax revenue: $138.6 million ($34.6 million above estimate); Inheritance tax revenue: $128.7 million ($7.6 million above estimate); Realty transfer tax: $60.6 million ($10.9 million below estimate). Other general fund tax revenue including cigarette, malt beverage, liquor, and gaming taxes totaled $148.9 million during August. The department says that was about $8.9 million below estimate. Non-tax revenue totaled $86.5 million for the month, $26.8 million above estimate. The Motor License Fund, also known as the gas and diesel taxes, received $282.9 million for the month, $8.6 million below estimate. Read More

3. Shapiro revamps, makes appointments to Workforce Development Board - With workforce development a top priority of his Administration, Gov. Josh Shapiro has revamped the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board and announced the appointments of more than 40 members who will guide the Administration’s work of creating real opportunity for Pennsylvania businesses and workers. The Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board, housed under the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I), is the Governor’s private-sector policy advisory board on building a workforce system that meets employers’ needs for skilled workers and workers’ needs for career and economic advancement. “We have a people-powered economy in Pennsylvania and we need to invest in and expand our workforce to meet the demands of today and tomorrow,” said Shapiro. “This diverse group of experienced leaders representing labor and business across every Pennsylvania industry will help us make smart investments to produce the results that we all want – a thriving economy where workers have access to stable careers with family-sustaining wages and employers have the talent they need to continue growing their businesses while supporting communities across the Commonwealth.” Read More

4. Frankel plans legislation to give DOH stronger oversight of medical marijuana lab testing. The majority chairman of the House Health Committee has announced plans for legislation to give the Department of Health greater oversight of lab testing of marijuana sold in the state's medical marijuana dispensaries. The move comes after years of controversy over how the industry should test medical marijuana. The Department of Health got the Independent Regulatory Review Commission last year to approve new regulations that would have required marijuana to be tested by two separate labs before it could be sold in the dispensaries. However, a number of marijuana businesses sued in state court to get the two-lab rule tossed. Commonwealth Court sided with the industry earlier this summer. The Department of Health is appealing that decision but for the time being the two-lab rule is not in effect. As a result, "two tests are still performed, but they are almost always done by the same lab. The two tests occur at different stages in the process," according to information provided by DOH. State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, has circulated a cosponsor memo indicating he will introduce legislation aimed at providing the Department of Health with the ability to verify the processes being used by labs testing medical marijuana and confirm their results.

5. L&I reports jump in child labor law violation complaints. The Department of Labor and Industry has seen a dramatic increase in Pennsylvania Child Labor Act cases referred to the Department for investigation, after Gov. Josh Shapiro announced he was committing to make child labor law violations a priority upon taking office in January. Since then, L&I has opened 403 child labor investigations compared to 107 cases during the same time period last year - a 276% increase, the agency said in a statement released over the Labor Day Weekend. "While we can only speculate on the reason for such a surge in child labor cases, this is a concerning trend involving Pennsylvania's most vulnerable workers. I want teens, parents, school employees, co-workers, local law enforcement and the general public to know that L&I investigates all potential violations of the Child Labor Act. I want employers to know that we will hold you accountable if we determine that a violation has occurred," Labor and Industry Secretary Nancy A. Walker said. BLLC responds to all complaints submitted by members of the public who suspect violations of the Child Labor Act and other Pennsylvania labor laws. Anyone can file a complaint on L&I's website using an online submission form.

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