By Rocco Pugliese, President
With the PA General Assembly having 6 legislative days remaining in this legislative session, there are certain key issues that the Legislature needs to tackle that have budgetary implications; and there are some that the Legislature would like to put to rest. Below is just a sample of several of the issues that will be brought before both chambers of the Legislature.
Gaming – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled this past Wednesday that the municipal portion of tax on slot machines outside of Philadelphia violates the state constitution because it effectively imposes different rates on casinos depending on their size. At stake, nearly $50 million. The court gave the Legislature four months to fix the 2004 law that legalized casinos. Opening up that law for revisions at a time when the state is desperate for revenue could lead to dramatic changes in Pennsylvania’s gambling landscape, such as the introduction of video gaming terminals in bars and online gambling, both of which have already been under consideration by legislators. Coupled with the need to enact enabling legislation on internet gaming since the Legislature “booked” $100 million in this fiscal year’s budget makes this issue paramount to resolve. In addition, on the issue of amending the small games of chance statute, the House approved legislation last week without debate to make it less burdensome for tavern owners to apply for small-games licenses.
Transportation Network Companies (TNC’s)– It appears that SB 984, Sen. Bartolotta’ s bill, will be poised to move sometime the week of October 17th. Uber, Lyft and other TNC’s are currently out of compliance in the City of Philadelphia since the temporary operation agreement expired on September 30.
State pension reform – Although this issue has garnered a great deal of attention due to the increased cost to the taxpayers in the State, it may be problematic that it will make it across the finish line.
Opioids – With the Governor and the Legislature focusing on this issue, we believe that this issue will receive attention and probably see at least one bill on the Governor’s desk for signage.
Liquor Reform– A “fix-it” bill is needed, according to numerous stakeholders, to address certain issues in Act 39, Pennsylvania’s historic vote to loosen the tight restrictions on alcohol sale in the state. For example, the Pa. Dept. of Revenue is concerned with a confusing provision regarding how they are to collect sales taxes on wine-to-go now being sold in supermarkets, restaurants and convenience stores. Beer distributors, which opposed any changes to alcohol sales during the years – long effort to pass the bill, now want to be able to sell wine-to-go.