HARMONY – House Republicans unveiled a pro-jobs, recovery-focused legislative package designed to achieve a better normal. The initiative, “Commonwealth’s COVID Comeback,” would rebound the economy by incentivizing manufacturing with no new taxes or fees.
To bring more jobs back to Pennsylvania, Rep. Josh Kail’s (R-Beaver/Washington) bill would allow the Commonwealth Financing Authority to designate strategic and targeted zones in the state to be used as the base of operations for manufacturing. Businesses in those zones would receive tax abatements for state and local taxes and would be eligible for targeted job creation tax credits.
“Earlier this year, we discovered how scary it can be when the supply chain is interrupted, and that becomes even more profound when we’re reliant on another country,” Kail said. “Making critical supplies in America is more important than ever.”
Another bill, drafted by Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R-Allegheny/Washington), would encourage entrepreneurs and businesses to create more jobs in the Commonwealth by lowering the Corporate Net Income Tax from 9.99% to 5.99% by Jan. 1, 2025.
“Pennsylvania was home to the early American industrialists. Now we are closed for business. Entrepreneurs looking for a place to bring their ideas and start their businesses would automatically take Pennsylvania out of the running due to our policies that make it difficult to do business and our taxes, which are the third highest in the nation,” said Mihalek.
The resolution in the package, drafted by Rep. Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset), would create a committee to review opportunities for the development of new industries in the Commonwealth, including advanced manufacturing.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly magnified some issues our Commonwealth was already facing in terms of jobs and opportunity,” said Reese. “It is vital that we plan for our future success by identifying opportunities to grow, change and capitalize on our unique strengths, including our natural resources, outstanding higher education institutions and the strong work ethic of our citizens. The study I propose to create through my legislation will be a cornerstone in this effort.”
Another bill in the package, authored by Rep. Jonathan Fritz (R-Susquehanna/Wayne), would ensure permitting decisions are made promptly and reliably by deeming Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permit applications administratively complete if accompanied by a professional engineer’s affidavit attesting to the sufficiency of the application. DEP would be required to render a decision on any permit application without an affidavit within 45 days.
“Pennsylvania is currently experiencing a very real economic hardship after businesses were shuttered, jobs were lost and the will of our Commonwealth shaken,” said Fritz. “This package of bills offers a solution that would not only incentivize manufacturing investments, but further create jobs and supply a much-needed boost to our state.”
The final bill, authored by Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland), would provide commonsense protections via limited liability to the critical suppliers, health care providers and employers operating during the pandemic.
“Our health care workers, manufacturers and businesses stepped up during the pandemic when the Commonwealth needed them most. They deserve the commonsense liability protection that would be afforded to them in my proposal. By providing this protection, these industries can continue to do their jobs with confidence,” Ecker said. “These safe-harbor protections will be critical to facilitating our economic recovery.”
House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) expressed his support for the work being done by the package’s sponsors and supporters as a reflection of the top priorities of the House Republican Caucus.
“The package of bills being unveiled today reflects the overarching priority of our caucus to bring Pennsylvania’s economy to life again. To, once again, make Pennsylvania the envy of the east,” Benninghoff said. “We can and should make Pennsylvania better than before. With all of the talk about creating a new normal, our caucus wants to start Pennsylvania on the road to a better normal, and I am thankful for this group of hard-working and eager members for leading the charge on doing that with this package of bills.”
The package of bills is also supported by Pittsburgh Works, a partnership between the business community and labor unions in the Pittsburgh area focused on job growth and economic development.
“As a non-partisan organization uniting labor, business, workforce development and community leaders, Pittsburgh Works is pleased to see proposals that reflect our goal of making this region the center of the post-COVID economic comeback. We look forward to working with members of both parties to promote legislation and policy that will increase employment, address workforce development for our changing economic landscape, revive manufacturing and put our region and state in a position of economic leadership,” said Jeff Nobers, executive director for Pittsburgh Works Together.
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