Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce

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Advocacy

Chamber Positions Support Business

The Lower Bucks County Chamber is a strong advocate for business! Through the Board of Directors, LBCCC takes positions on numerous important issues. These views are communicated to elected officials, and others in positions of authority. Members are also encouraged to share their views. A summary of recent positions follow:


Chamber Position on Proposals for Expanding Pennsylvania’s Sales Tax

At the recommendation of the Chamber’s Advocacy Committee, the Chamber opposes the recently proposed expansion of Pennsylvania’s sales tax.

New burdens on Bucks County businesses are projected to be severe enough in 2016 without the systemic negative effect of expanding the sales tax to goods and services that have never been taxed before. We are already looking at absorbing the effect of a ten percent increase in the sales tax and a twenty percent increase in income tax. Added to that, health care burdens have increased markedly and it is now certain that interest rates will be higher in 2016.

In such an environment, incurring an entirely avoidable “shock to the system,” in the form of paying and collecting a tax that was never paid or collected before, is an exceptionally bad idea. Going from no tax to a 6 or 6.6 percent tax is not incremental change; it represents a material negative impact on the cost structures of entire market segments. It changes buy/don’t buy decisions. And the cost will be greater than the amount of the tax. Because it will be a new tax for many businesses, those businesses will have to create infrastructure and practices to collect and administer it. To cover the costs of doing that, businesses will either have to increase prices beyond the immediate effect of the tax, or reduce costs elsewhere (which means purchasing fewer goods and services and/or reducing staff), or suffer smaller margins.

In addition to the direct negative business impact, the tax will create true hardships for our most vulnerable citizens. In many instances, it may do so in ways that defeat the purpose for having the tax in the first place. Obvious examples are child care and elder care—services that are both essential and crushingly expensive for large portions of our population. The affordability of those services—especially child care –can make the difference between being a taxpaying member of society and staying home as a net consumer of taxes paid by others. The same can be said for services that help people combat addiction and deal with other challenges that impede their ability to be financial contributors to society.

In sum, there is not a single segment of our economy from theater to theme parks, textbooks to tailoring, or health clubs to hairdressers, that will not be harmed by the expansion of the sales tax. And the burden will be felt greatest by those who can afford it least.

Pennsylvania should not expand the scope of its sales tax.

Adopted – January 2016


Chamber Position on Senate Bill 974 – Amending the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act

The Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce supports Senate Bill 974. Senate Bill 974 Amends the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act so that its prohibitions against discrimination extend to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The Chamber believes that comprehensive protections against discrimination in the workplace are important to maintain a positive working environment in Pennsylvania and to keep Pennsylvania competitive with other states. In matters of protection against discrimination, it is also important to have clarity and uniformity across the state. With the respect to SB 974 and the extension of protection to matters concerning gender identification and expression, we note that further clarifications by the legislature regarding the distinction between acceptable practices and discrimination would be of great value in implementing the amended law.

(House Bill 300) Drafted for Approval by the Economics and Government Group on December 4, 2014
*Approved by the Board of Directors February 26, 2015
*Amended by the Economics and Government Group on October 1, 2015 to re-issue the position to amend the Human Relations Act under the new number for Senate Bill 974 Pennsylvania Fairness Act

Amended – October 2015

Chamber Position on House Bill 300 – Amending the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act

The Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce supports House Bill 300. House Bill 300 Amends the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act so that its prohibitions against discrimination extend to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The Chamber believes that comprehensive protections against discrimination in the workplace are important to maintain a positive working environment in Pennsylvania and to keep Pennsylvania competitive with other states. In matters of protection against discrimination, it is also important to have clarity and uniformity across the state. With the respect to HB 300 and the extension of protection to matters concerning gender identification and expression, we note that further clarifications by the legislature regarding the distinction between acceptable practices and discrimination would be of great value in implementing the amended law.

Drafted for Approval by the Economics and Government Group on December 4, 2014
*Approved by the Board of Directors February 26, 2015

Adopted – February 2015

Chamber Position on House Bill 1846, Workers Compensation Act

At the recommendation of the Chamber’s Economics and Government Affairs Committee, the 
Chamber supports House Bill 1846. In doing so, we join many other Pennsylvania organizations, including those that represent employers, pharmacists, law enforcement and insurers, as well as the Departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Labor & Industry, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, other healthcare providers, and the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council, which includes representatives for unions and claimants’ attorneys. Such broad support, no doubt, arises from the fact that the bill makes sense. Pennsylvania requires stronger controls over physicians dispensing medication within the workers’ compensation system. Specifically, it requires a prohibition against the treating physician continuing to dispense medication after filling the patient’s initial prescription in the doctor’s office (which is a reasonable, one-time, event to get the medication to the patient faster). The Chamber’s decision is driven by two underlying facts:

1). Outside companies charge huge markups on the medications from the doctor’s offices. These charges are out of control, and result in businesses paying inflated prices for medications readily available at a fraction of the cost; and,
2). There is compelling evidence that patients take longer to return to work when they continue to receive prescription medicine from their physicians, as opposed to when they refill their prescriptions at a pharmacy

Put simply, physician dispensing is associated with a higher number of prescriptions, higher overall costs, and more lost work days for patients.

As promoters of business and economic development, we want our injured workers to get the best possible care as quickly as possible—and we want them back on the job as quickly as possible too. Accomplishing that is a challenge that will not grow easier with time. Presently, we have the rare opportunity to both slash costs and get the desired healthcare results faster. That is why this Chamber supports House Bill 1846.

Adopted – September 2014

Chamber Position on Senate Bill 1837, Equal Employment for All Act

At the recommendation of the Chamber’s Economics and Government Affairs Committee, the 
Chamber does not support Senate Bill 1837 prohibiting credit checks on employees and job applicants. Nor will the Chamber support any legislation containing such a prohibition without an exception for employers hiring employees in industries/positions where the employee would be required to manage finances in any capacity, including but not limited to, the financial services and banking industries.

The proposal to prohibit employers from using consumer credit reports “for employment purposes” or for making adverse employment decisions has been introduced in the Senate. The “Equal Employment for All Act” (S. 1837), a bill to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act, has been introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The bill, which exempts jobs that require a national security clearance or “when otherwise required by law” -aims to stop employers from disqualifying would-be hires based on poor credit.

There is no intent here to impede, in very difficult times, the employability of large numbers of people with less than perfect credit. Nor is it the position of the LBCCC that organizations should not hire individuals with poor credit. However, any legislation in this area must take into account the legitimate interests of employers and the public, in addition to those of job seekers and specific employees. Companies typically use credit reports in targeted circumstances, especially where accounting or budgetary responsibilities are present, including in the financial services industry and where workers have access to credit cards or cash. Accordingly, any legislation in this area needs to make an exception for employers hiring employees in industries/positions where the employee would be required to manage finances in any capacity including the financial services and banking industries.

Finally, the LBCCC is not saying organizations shouldn’t hire anyone with a bad credit report. For certain jobs, however, common sense dictates the need to have some idea about a potential employee’s credit history before you hire him or her. That requires obtaining a credit report and making the appropriate effort to understand the circumstances behind anything in that report that reflects on the ability of a person to handle money and manage their finances when they will be performing those services for others.

Adopted – March 2014

Statement on Medicaid Expansion in Pennsylvania

At the recommendation of the Chamber’s Economics and Government Affairs Committee, the Chamber supports the following regarding Medicaid Expansion in Pennsylvania.

1) A significant portion of Bucks County residents will become eligible for health insurance coverage. These are not simply unemployed people, but rather the lower income working people who either do not work enough to receive insurance coverage through their employer or health insurance is not offered where they work. Medicaid Expansion will be a major step forward to alleviate the condition of the working poor who have no reasonable access to healthcare for themselves and their children.

With Medicaid Expansion, employers hugely decrease their exposure to the “shared responsibility” tax. Employers in states that do not expand risk further exposure to the “shared responsibility” tax penalty. Many are aware that employers with 50 or more full time or full time equivalent employees must offer health insurance or could risk a $2000 fine per employee. This penalty requires a trigger event which occurs when an employee applies for a tax credit to purchase their own health insurance. If Pennsylvania does not expand, employees who make between 19,500 and 26,000 for a family of 3, could apply for that credit and cause their employers to have to pay that penalty. Jackson Hewitt has estimated this risk for Pennsylvania being between 56 and 85 million dollars.

2) The working poor will be able to work more efficiently and effectively because they will not be as impaired by health problems that currently escalate to the emergency level of care before being treated.
3) The feeling is that the injection of additional funds to make this work will not increase healthcare pricing because essentially it is replacing higher cost emergency room services with lower cost early and preventative services.
4) Finally, various groups (the RAND Corp, the Independent Fiscal Office, the PA Economy League to name a few) have analyzed expansion and reached similar conclusions;

a) Pennsylvania is a net winner, that is money spent expanding is more than made up through Federal Government payments, tax collections, and gross state product increases. The maximum amount the state will ever pay is 10 percent, which can probably be re-covered completely or mostly through co-pays. Even if there was a more than a 10 percent contribution, it would be cost effective in the long-term treating conditions early, or preventing them entirely, is less expensive than treating an acute condition in the emergency room.

b) Expansion will bring in between 2 and 3 billion dollars in government money, generate 3-4 billion dollars in state activity, and create close to 40,000 jobs. Pennsylvania stands to get $40 billion injected into its economy over 10 years and this is not just related to healthcare but is recycled throughout the economy.

The positive is that it will allow more people access to the medical benefits that Medicaid provides since it lowers the qualifying income level quite a bit which would include much of the working-poor / uninsured. The long-term concern is that after having enrolled hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanian’s in a Medicaid program that is currently funded partially by the Federal Government, the Federal support will disappear in a few years and there may not be enough money to maintain all the new enrollees with State funding by itself. Currently, that concern seems to be unfounded, although not impossible. However, there is an opt-out clause and a bill sponsored by Representative Gene DiGirolamo (bill 1492) to go with this that would protect the state if and when the Federal funding decreases, if that should become an issue. However, there is an opt-out clause and a bill sponsored by Representative Gene DiGirolamo if that should become an issue.
From the Chamber’s perspective this is an issue that impacts entry level workers and has huge implications for small business in the current environment of health care reform. It is with that perspective that the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce supports Medicaid Expans

**** This position in support of Medicaid Expansion has come about after gathering information from Aria Health, Lower Bucks Hospital, Saint Mary Medical Center, Representative Gene DiGirolamo, local businesses and other involved and informed members of the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce.

Adopted – September, 2013

Statement on Senate Bill 1 – Transportation Infrastructure Bill

Recently, the Senate Transportation Committee overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 1, a funding plan sponsored by Senator John Rafferty (R-44) aimed at upgrading Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure. “This legislation offers a strategic and long-term solution to funding transportation projects that are vital to our state’s future,” Rafferty said.

Senate Bill 1 will increase Pennsylvania’s annual transportation investment by $2.5 billion. It follows the major recommendations made by the Governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission.

The Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce supports the leadership of Senator Rafferty in his advocacy of this transportation funding and his sponsorship of Senate Bill 1. The Chamber supports this effort as it recognizes the importance of maintaining our infrastructure as a means to support economic growth and provide safe and efficient transportation for the Business community.

The Chamber applauds Bucks County Senators Tomlinson, McIlhinney and Mensch for the support of S.B.1 and recommends the PA House support similar efforts.

Some highlights of the Bill important to the Chamber and business community are as follows:

Specific Revenue Producers in the Bill:

Phases out the $1.25 cap on the oil company franchise tax over a three-year period; at today’s price, that would add 28.5 cents per wholesale gallon;

Temporarily reduces the 12 cents per gallon flat tax at the pump to 11 cents per gallon in 2013-14 and 10 cents per gallon in 2014-15.

Imposes a $100 surcharge on drivers who violate traffic laws, like speeding or running a red light;

Increases fines for violation for failure to obey traffic control devices from $25 to a sliding scale of $1 00 to $300.

Imposes $50.50 licensing fee for six years, instead of a $29.50 fee for four years;

Imposes $104 registration fee for two years, instead of a $36 fee annually.

Specific Spending in the Bill Includes:

One billion a year for state and local highways and bridges;

One million a year for Pennsylvania’s 36 mass transit agencies, including $60 million to help them convert fleet vehicles to alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas;

$115 million a year .or railways, airports, ports and bicycle and pedestrian programs;

including $20 million to $35 million a year for related highway or bridge projects picked by the transportation secretary.

Turnpike Reimbursements:

After eight years, ends an annual Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission transfer of $200 million for highways and $250 million for mass transit; replaces it with a transfer of $450 million a year from a vehicle sales tax beginning in 2021.

Sources: SB 1; Sen. John Rafferty; Pennsylvania Highway Information Association, PA Chamber of Commerce,
Sean Schafer, Senator Tomlinson’s Office

June 17, 2013

In Response to Senate Bill 1

Keep Pennsylvania Moving Forward –
Support Transportation Infrastructure Funding

The business community in Bucks County and likely throughout the Commonwealth continue to feel the shortfalls that the lack of adequate funding for Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure has left over the years. 

Simply said, a safe and efficient transportation network is critical to Bucks County workers and employers in order to lead to a greater economic growth and productivity for our businesses.  And the possible consequences of doing nothing to address Pennsylvania’s transportation funding needs affects our business and community climate now and in the future. 
The Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce (LBCCC) proudly supports the leadership of Senator Rafferty and the Bucks County Senate Delegation in its advocacy and recent passage of transportation funding under Senate Bill 1. 

While not a perfect solution to the transportation and infrastructure issues, the Chamber supports this effort as it recognizes the importance of maintaining our infrastructure as a means to support economic growth and provide safe and efficient transportation for businesses and the community at large. 

The Chamber encourages the Bucks County House Delegation to support, and as important, pass similar legislation that enables long overdue funding of critical transportation and infrastructure right here in the County and across the Commonwealth.  

Dan Bates, President
Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce (LBCCC)

June 16, 2013

H.B. 440 – Support Tax Code Bill

A bill enacting long sought-after tax reform priorities moved to the state House yesterday and was passed by a vote of 129-65. As it moves on to the Senate for consideration we at the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce want it to be noted that we are in support of this bill. H.B. 440, a business tax reform bill, was amended with comprehensive tax reform language proposed by the Corbett administration and supported by PA Chamber members. H.B. 440 takes a tremendous step forward in making the Commonwealth’s business tax structure more competitive in that the legislation contains numerous positive reforms to the state tax code. The bill most notably addresses our grossly uncompetitive corporate net income tax.

Included in the reforms of the bill would be a gradual, 10-year reduction of Pennsylvania’s Corporate Net Income tax to 6.99 percent. At 9.99 percent, the Commonwealth’s current CNI is the highest effective rate in the country when combined with the federal rate, and is a definite barrier for businesses looking to invest and expand in Bucks County and the entire state of Pennsylvania.

In addition, House Bill 440 proposes increasing the cap on Net Operating Loss carry-forwards, which would particularly help research and development, start-up and cyclical businesses; and includes language that passed the state House last session with bipartisan support.

Pennsylvania lags behind most states with regard to corporate taxes, ranking 44th in this category according to the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index for 2011-12. Despite changes to the Commonwealth’s business taxes over the years, the economic boom of the mid-to-late 1990s and increased international competition allowed most of Pennsylvania’s competitors to significantly reduce their business tax burdens. However, Pennsylvania’s continued poor ranking hurts its national and global competitiveness.

The Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce joins with the PA Chamber in stressing support to elected officials that passing H.B. 440 and any other pro-growth business tax reforms are necessary to regain Pennsylvania’s economic strength, reduce financial burdens on job creators and increase private sector investment.

Adopted – May, 2013

In Response to the Commissioner’s Progress Report

As a leading business organization in the County, the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce (LBCCC) applauds the Bucks County Commissioners for their recent report that would clearly impact the effectiveness and efficiencies in Economic Development in our region. We embrace the concept of a centralized economic development function to create a “New Direction for Bucks County Economic Development”.

With the leadership of Chairman Loughery as well as the ongoing efforts of the Commissioners’ Economic Development Council (CEDC), and the 2012 Municipal Economic Development Initiative, the Chamber strongly believes this vision can be the first steps of a much needed collaborative and comprehensive, business growth and job creation platform for the County.

The Chamber (LBCCC) supports effective, strategic public and private economic development partnerships which meet the needs of the business community. Creative economic development is the spark that leads to job creation and a vibrant business community. Enhanced accountability, collaboration and transparency with economic development programs at the municipal, county and state levels will help remove barriers that stymie business growth and lead to true economic growth.

The Lower Bucks Chamber is eager, open and ready to work with the Commissioners, other Chambers, the business community and municipal leaders to assist in delivering a new economic engine for Bucks County which allows for creative business innovation and unique collaborations for growth and prosperity throughout the County’s business community.

Dan Bates, President

Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce

February, 2013

Route 13 Upgrades

“The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has begun construction, on a $36.5 million project to rebuild and improve Route 13 (Bristol Pike) between Route 413 and the Levittown Parkway in Bristol Township, Bristol Borough and Tullytown Borough, Bucks County. This project is intended to extend the life of Route 13 and its drainage facilities and to improve conditions so the corridor meets current standards.
 
The Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce(LBCCC) applauds PennDot for moving forward on this important project to improve safety and access. This project will do more than simply modernize this section of the Route 13 Corridor. It will have the added benefit of improving commerce and supporting positive economic development.
 
The LBCCC also recognizes TMA Bucks in their advocacy and support of this project. Their efforts have kept this long-awaited project at the fore-front of the legislative agenda for the benefit of the business community. TMA Bucks tirelessly solicited support for this project based on its potential to positively impact safety and economic development.
 
Public transportation offers significant benefits to our economy, our quality of life, and our environment, but has been chronically underfunded in Pennsylvania. Too many of our roads, bridges and mass transit systems desperately need repair. The LBCCC asks our legislators to give thoughtful consideration to increasing funding for Pennsylvania’s transportation systems with a focus on fixing and maintaining existing infrastructure rather than spending resources on new projects.”

Dan Bates
President
Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce

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