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Pennsylvania Legislation and Issues

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Budget Impasse Bill (HB398)

Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R–Bucks) has introduced HB 398 – the Budget Impasse Bill – and he has asked PANO to participate in a nonprofit coalition promoting passage of the bill.

If there is a budget impasse this year, the bill will allow for:
• The continuation of payments based on prior year levels to organizations providing essential services; and
• The payment of interest on any loans/lines of credit drawn as a result of delayed grant and contract payment for essential services.

The House Human Services Committee will be reviewing this bill on Tuesday, March 22, 2017.

PANO supports HB 398 and asks members to contact their state House members, asking them to support this bill.

For your convenience, PANO has created a sample letter that you can use to send to your legislator. Contact PANO's Executive Director, Anne Gingerich with any questions.

PA Budget Impasse

In 2015-16 Pennsylvania went through a 9-month budget impasse. PANO partnered with the United Way of Pennsylvania and the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership to administer a survey, developing a brief but compelling snapshot of how the nine (9)-month budget delay affected 176 nonprofit organizations and the clients they serve across all 67 Pennsylvania counties. Check out the full report below to learn more.

PA House Human Services Committee Hearing

The PA House Human Services Committee held a hearing on the impact of Pennsylvania’s FY 2015-2016 budget impasse on June 9, 2016.

PANO testified in partnership with the United Way of Pennsylvania and PANO member, Friendship Community. Other nonprofits affected by the delayed budget also testified, including:
- Public Health Management Corporation
- Congreso
- The Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership
- Community Human Services Corporation
- County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania
- Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste

Press Releases

Nonprofits, School Districts and the General Assembly Go Into Debt Due to the Budget Impasse - The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is ending its fourth month without a budget. As a direct result of this impasse, nonprofit organizations, school districts and even the House and the Senate have gone into debt to continue operating.

Nonprofit Workforce Negatively Affected By the Budget Impasse - As a direct result of the budget impasse, nonprofit organizations have laid off or furloughed employees or reduced staff hours. Some individuals have been working without pay and hundreds of employees have lost access to employee benefits.

What Can You Do?

Check out the recording of previous advocacy calls and webinars:
Employment Law and the Budget Impasse
Crowdfunding Tactics to Weather a Budget Blizzard
Best Practices for Discussing Lines of Credit

Meet with Your State Legislators
State Senators and Representatives are interested in hearing directly from constituents about the impact the budget stalemate has on people they served. PANO highly recommends that you reach out to your local representatives. Prepare for these conversations by asking the following questions (remember to use facts and to stay away from speculation):

1. What specific funding streams are being affected? What percentage of your budget or a particular program’s budget is being affected?
2. Who is being affected? (Focus on the clients and how the change in funding directly impacts their day to day lives. Include the # clients affected)
3. How are you paying bills now (e.g. reserve funding, line of credit, crowdsource funding, etc.)?
4. How long will those dollars last?
5. What have you chosen not to do as result of no funding?

Luzerne County - R-2016-57

In late summer 2016 the Luzerne County Council adopted R-2016-57, a resolution compelling nonprofits receiving the County’s discretionary funding to disclose certain information on their own websites or the Luzerne County’s website such as copies of board minutes and other information already included in their Form 990s. Because the requirements were unduly burdensome, exceeded the bounds of accepted best practices and those required by nonprofit corporate law, and were in some cases an invasion of privacy, PANO wrote a letter to the County Solicitor responding to the resolution. The Country responded by requesting more information regarding PANO’s Standards for Excellence. After meeting with local nonprofit leaders, they have also taken a step back to reevaluate the stated requirements.

PA Senate Bill 4

Senate Bill 4 was reintroduced for the 2015-16 legislative session on 1-20-15 by Senator Ryan Aument, and passed in the Senate on February 17, 2015, by a 30-19 vote.

This bill proposes to amend the state Constitution to give the legislature the authority to determine the qualifications of institutions of “purely public charities” for tax-exempt purposes.

PANO has not taken a position on Senate Bill 4, but we do support fair, predictable rules for determining tax-exempt status such as those established in PA Act 55.

Senate Bill 4 came about as a legislative response to the Mesivtah decision in 2012, where the PA Supreme Court retained the right to interpret the constitutional minimum requirements of tax exemption.

This bill would amend the state Constitution to provide that only the Legislature has the right to determine the qualifications of institutions of “purely public charities.”

Senate Bill 4 passed both the House and the Senate in 2013, and the Constitution requires that constitutional amendments must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions. If the bill passes again in 2015-16, it must then go to Pennsylvania voters for approval as an amendment to the PA Constitution.

Senate Bill 4 Resources
PA Senate Finance Committee Hearings
Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership
PA General Assembly
2012 Report from the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution

Senate Resolution 28/Senate Bill 446

Senate Resolution 28 would create a “Joint Select Committee on Institutions of Purely Public Charity”. The Select Committee would work for a year, hold public hearings, and “examine, investigate and complete a study of the laws of this Commonwealth regarding tax exemptions provided to institutions of purely public charity.” SR 28 was approved unanimously by the Senate Finance Committee (February 25, 2015), by the Senate Appropriations Committee (March 3), and by the full Senate (March 3). The resolution is currently assigned to the House Rules Committee.

Senate Bill 446 was introduced by Senator Scavello on February 17, 2015, which “establish[es] a special legislative committee to study and make recommendations to address the definition and treatment of ‘Purely Public Charities’ in the Commonwealth.” SB 446 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, and no action has been taken.

Changes to PA Requirements for Adult Volunteers & Employees Working with Children

Note: On June 10, 2015, Governor Wolf announced fee waivers for volunteers seeking background checks: Press Release

New! As of July 1, 2015 - Updates to background check requirements for adult volunteers with a child-care service, a school or a program, activity or service, as a person responsible for the child's welfare or having direct volunteer contact with children. (HB 1276--signed by Governor Wolf on July 1, 2015-enacted as Act 15)
Summary of HB 1276
Full text of HB 1276

Highlights of revisions to background check requirements for volunteers:

• Background check renewal period has been increased from 3 to 5 years.
• Fee waivers for background checks for volunteers (Child Line and State Police only—fees for FBI fingerprint check are not waived)
• For FBI checks, the 10-year PA residency exception has been expanded to include volunteers who haven't lived in PA for the past 10 years but who have received certification since establishing residency in PA.
• Volunteers will be able to receive a free certification every 57 months.
• Free volunteer certifications may not be used for employment.
• Effective August 25, 2015, applicable volunteers shall be required to obtain required certifications every 60 months from the date of the person's most recent certification or, if the current certification is older than 60 months, within one year of the effective date.
• A volunteer who was previously not required to have a certification shall be required to obtain the required certifications no later than July 1, 2016.
• Clarification of individuals required to comply with the requirements of the law.
• Addition of a good faith presumption for volunteer organizations when identifying those volunteers who need clearances.

2014 Legislation: House Bill 435, amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, signed by Governor Tom Corbett on October 22, 2014. (Bill Summary)

For questions around employees who have contact with children, check out the Department of Human Services Employees Having Contact with Children Frequently Asked Questions Sheet

Download the DHS disclosure statement template for adult volunteers who have lived in PA for the past 10 years

For questions related to the new clearance requirements visit the PA Department of Human Services’ website related to these new laws, Keep Kids Safe PA or contact the DHS ChildLine Verification Unit at 717-783-6211 or 1-877-371-5422.

Child Abuse History Certification (Clearance) Application Information

Individuals applying for their Child Abuse History Certification can apply, and if applicable, pay online at www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis. Applying for your Child Abuse History Certification online streamlines and expedites the application process and provides the applicant with their results electronically. DHS strongly encourages applicants to apply electronically.

DHS will continue to accept paper applications for applicants who prefer to apply for their Child Abuse History Certification by paper. Please know that submitting a paper application takes additional time to process.

For individuals applying for their Child Abuse History Certification for non-volunteer purposes, the fee has been reduced to $8. DHS will be issuing refunds for over-payment of fees for applications that were submitted after July 25, 2015. For applications submitted with an over-payment prior to July 25, 2015, no refund will be issued.

For individuals applying for their Child Abuse History Certification for volunteer purposes, the fee has been waived and no payment is required. For those applicants submitting payment with an application for volunteer purposes, the application will be processed and the payment will be returned.

If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Human Serviecs, Office of Children, Youth and Families

New Mandated Reporter Requirements for Volunteers Working with Children

Mandated Reporter: An individual paid or unpaid, who, on the basis of the individual’s role as an integral part of a regularly scheduled program, activity or service, is a person responsible for the child's welfare or who has direct contact with children. This person is required to make a report of suspected child abuse.
Although Mandated Reporter Training is not required for volunteers under the changes, it is recommended.

Go to Keep Kids Safe PA for more information.

Mandated Reporter Training Resources:
Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance
The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Center at the University of Pittsburgh

If you suspect child abuse or neglect, please call the PA Department of Human Services ChildLine to make a confidential report: at 1-800-932-0313. Visit the PA ChildLine and Abuse Registry Website for more information.

Annual BCCO Registrations Due Date (click to read more)

Starting December 15, 2014, charitable organizations that conduct solicitations must submit their annual registration to the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations (BCCO) by the fifteenth day of the fifth month following the close of their fiscal year.

If an organization is receiving an extension from BCCO, the filing will be due by the fifteenth day of the eleventh month after the end of the organization’s fiscal year. This change brings the due date into line with the due date of the IRS Form 990.

PA House Bill 359 was signed by Governor Tom Corbett on October 14, 2014.

PA House Bill 2234 - Amendment to Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (click to read more)

An Act amending Titles 15 (Corporations and Unincorporated Associations) and 54 (Names) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, modernizing the law on corporations and unincorporated associations by doing the following: Adding provisions applicable to associations generally on names, mergers, interest exchanges, conversions, divisions, domestications and registration of foreign associations to do business. All legislation is in effect as of July, 1 2015.
For more information check out the Summary of Changes or Full bill text

Small Games of Chance (click to read more)

On November of 2013, the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act (P.L.1262, No.156) was amended providing:
• Definitions and for games of chance permitted
• Prohibition regarding pools
• Prize limits and for limited sales
• Raffle sales
• Distributor licenses
• Registration of manufacturers
• Regulations of department
• Licensing of eligible organizations to conduct games of chance
• Special permits and for revocation of licenses
• Affiliated clubs
• Enforcement
• Pool selling

These changes went into effect January 27, 2014.

Changes to Small Games of Chance Reporting Requirements
As of Feb. 1, 2014:
• Eligible organizations (non-club licensees) with proceeds in excess of $2,500 in a year must electronically file an annual report with the Department of Revenue for the preceding calendar year.
• Club licensees (organizations with liquor licenses that hold licenses to conduct small games of chance) are required to electronically file semi-annual reports with the Department. These reports are due Feb. 1 for the preceding six-month period beginning July 1 and ending Dec. 31, and Aug. 1 for the preceding six-month period beginning Jan. 1 and ending June 30.

For more information about the changes, go to the PA Department of Revenue Website

Also see the information on the Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Website.

Contact PANO

Note PANO's New Address: 4801 Lindle Road, Harrisburg, PA 17111
Phone: (717) 236-8584

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