In this Update:
Regan Speaks Against Biden Bank Account Access Proposal
The Senate adopted Senate Resolution 195 on Monday urging Congress to oppose the proposal by President Biden to require financial institutions provide customer bank account information to the Internal Revenue Service.
Originally, the President’s proposal called for such disclosure on all accounts with $600 in transactions over the course of a year. While recent reports indicate a possibility of increasing the threshold to $10,000 in yearly transactions, any such required disclosure of personal bank information is concerning, and I spoke against the proposal on the Senate floor.
Senate Advances Bills to Protect 2nd Amendment Rights
Tuesday evening brought much debate on the Senate floor as two bills aimed at ensuring the Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms were considered on final passage.
Senate Bill 484 prevents local governments from imposing restrictions on the possession of firearms and ammunition that are stricter than Pennsylvania law. This is important in order to protect citizens traveling through the state while legally carrying a firearm from crossing the border into Pennsylvania cities or towns with restrictions that would cause the person to be unknowingly breaking the law. The legislation also allows for an individual or member organization to sue a county or municipality that implements a local firearms ordinance in violation of existing state law.
Senate Bill 565 provides for “Constitutional Carry” of a firearm, meaning that a concealed carry permit would no longer be required to have a legally possessed, concealed firearm on your person. Currently, to openly carry a firearm in plain sight, a law-abiding citizen does not need a license, yet does need one if they want to conceal their gun. Under the bill, an optional license could be obtained in order to still carry a firearm in the 32 states that recognize Pennsylvania concealed carry permits.
Much of Tuesday’s debate revolved around gun violence, particularly that which we have seen in Philadelphia where there have been 460 homicides so far this year. There is no doubt that such violence is a problem, but illegal guns are the problem – not law-abiding citizens with their legally obtained and possessed firearms.
Those who oppose SB 484 and SB 565 are the same ones that cry for gun reform but vehemently oppose efforts to impose severe punishments on those who illegally obtain, carry, or use a gun.
Both bills now head to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
Commonwealth Court Overturns Wolf Mask Mandate
On Wednesday, the Commonwealth Court issued a ruling that voided the Acting Secretary of Health’s school mask mandate.
Having heard from so many parents and school board members on the need for such decisions to remain in their hands, I was pleased the court recognized that the Wolf Administration had once again overstepped its authority. Not only has the Governor himself overused his power to issue Executive Orders and declare endless states of emergency, he also allowed and encouraged an unelected, unconfirmed bureaucrat to impose mandates on the citizens of Pennsylvania.
Of course, the Governor has indicated that he will be appealing the ruling, and a stay in the matter has been issued. Unfortunately, that means the status quo regarding the Governor’s mask mandate on our children remains.
Approving Tax Reform Measure for Small Business Employers
The Senate approved legislation to advance small business tax reform that would help move Pennsylvania out of a pandemic economy and create jobs for Pennsylvanians.
Senate Bill 347 would eliminate a disadvantage faced by Pennsylvania small businesses when competing with those in other states. Under federal tax law, a “like-kind” exchange under the Internal Revenue Code allows for tax deferral when property is exchanged for similar property. This long-standing federal provision allows employers to invest in the job-creating assets businesses need to remain competitive. Every state but Pennsylvania provides for a similar deferral on the state level.
The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. It is part of a Small Business Tax Reform Package to help employers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and mandated shutdowns. Small businesses create 65% of the jobs in the commonwealth.
The Senate previously passed Senate Bill 349 to bring state tax law governing expense deductions in line with federal law, eliminating the unequal treatment of small businesses in Pennsylvania. The increase in limits makes it easier for employers to buy equipment and to invest, which promotes job growth.
Helping PA’s Economy and Veterans
To support Pennsylvania’s economy and veterans, the Senate supported legislation that would establish a Veteran-owned Business Loan Guarantee Program and would clarify the Veterans Preference Law to include veterans who served honorably but were discharged with a disability before completing their initial obligation.
Senate Bill 830 would create a program providing loan guarantees to commercial lending institutions that make loans to veteran-owned businesses. The program would authorize the Commonwealth Financing Authority to guarantee up to 50% of the outstanding principal of the loan, limited to $250,000 for any one loan.
Senate Bill 849 would add an exemption for those with a disability discharge and would ensure that veterans with medical discharges receive the preference with seeking careers within the Commonwealth.
Both bills now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.