BUILDING TODAY

 for a better tomorrow.

News and Updates

  • 01 Mar 2016 12:34 PM | Deleted user

    On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from groups challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, letting stand an earlier decision of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

    The lawsuit and subsequent appeal, filed by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), related members of the farming industry, and joined by the National Association of Home Builders, concerned the legality of the federal plan to control water pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. AFBF and allies argued that the clean-up plan exceeded the scope of EPA’s authority.  

    EPA’s Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint consists of EPA regulations designed to lessen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, and plans released by six states and the District of Columbia to meet those federal regulations.

    In November, 2015, the Third Circuit disagreed with AFBF’s assertions, unanimously upholding the EPA’s authority to develop and implement the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) as part of the Clean Water Act.

    The TMDL, first adopted by the EPA in 2010, describes the maximum amount of pollutants a waterway can receive while still meeting quality standards under the Clean Water Act. The TMDL dictates the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that may be allowed into Chesapeake Bay waterways.

    In petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review the determination of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, AFBF President Bob Stallman stated, “It’s about whether EPA has the power to override local decisions on what land can be farmed, where homes can be built, and where schools, hospitals, roads and communities can be developed.” He continued, “This is nothing less than federal super-zoning authority. As much as we all support the goal of achieving a healthy Chesapeake Bay, we have to fight this particular process for getting there.”

    For more news and updates from PBA's Government Affairs team, go to www.pabuilders.org/government-affairs

    Follow us on Twitter @pabuildersGA



  • 19 Feb 2016 10:10 AM | Deleted user

    John Hanger, Secretary of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Planning, announced today that he is leaving his position in the Wolf Administration in order to spend more time with his family.

    In a press release, Hanger stated, “It has been an honor to serve an extraordinary governor and his administration who work tirelessly to make [a] better Pennsylvania. It is difficult to leave, but I cannot be in two places at once,” referring to the fact that his family lives in Massachusetts.

    Added Hanger, “Commuting regularly to and from Massachusetts and doing my demanding job has become impossible. At this point, it is important to place first my wife of 36 years and my remarkable daughter who have supported me in my work. We have accomplished so much in a little more than one year including Medicaid expansion, a comprehensive plan to combat the heroin crisis and enacting greater environmental protections.”

    Governor Wolf has named Sarah Galbally as new Secretary of Policy and Planning. Previously, Galbally was the Deputy Secretary for Policy and Planning.

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    For more news and updates from PBA's Government Affairs team, go to www.pabuilders.org/government-affairs

    Follow us on Twitter @pabuildersGA

     

  • 16 Feb 2016 1:19 PM | Deleted user

    This year’s entertainment at the 2016 Installation & Awards Banquet, the Hari Karaoke Band (along with some surprise guests), will be one for the books. A handful of brave PBA members have volunteered to channel their inner karaoke star to benefit the PA Foundation for Housing and our endorsed trade programs.

    So, which member would you pay to see up on stage alongside the Hari Karaoke Band? During Friday committee meetings and the banquet, drop cash or check donations into the bucket of your favorite PBA rock star. The bucket who has the most donations SINGS!

    The 2016 Installation & Awards Banquet will take place on Friday, March 18 at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort. RSVP before March 4th and tickets are $75 each ($85 after). Contact Mary Ann Sesler at masesler@pabuilders.org with your seating request and meal choice.

    • ·         Click here to read more about the Hari Karaoke Band
    • ·         Click here to read more on the 2016 Installation Banquet


  • 15 Feb 2016 4:00 PM | Deleted user

    While Pennsylvania has just finalized the 2015 Uniform Construction Code review process, the International Code Council (ICC) is already considering code changes to the next International Residential Code (IRC) and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Although builders who are members of the ICC can participate in the Code development process, only designated persons from Governmental Agencies who are ICC members are eligible to vote on the final changes to the model code provisions.

    For Building Code Officials (BCOs) in Pennsylvania, there exists no shortage of reasons for their Governmental Agency to join the ICC. Pennsylvania currently has a very low voting base with ICC. States like California and Virginia largely dictate what codes are adopted by ICC as part of their triennial code revision process. Pennsylvania’s lack of participation in ICC’s voting process leads to onerous and burdensome code provisions that are not cost-effective or affordable and serve no responsible purpose for Pennsylvania industry professionals and consumers. Only 1% of the total voters at the 2015 hearings represented a governmental agency in Pennsylvania. 

    For talking points on the importance of Pennsylvania participation in the model code adoption process, read more here.


    Additional benefits of ICC Membership for Governmental Entities

    • Governmental members can request oral and written code interpretations from ICC experts to help them better understand and enforce the codes.

    • New members may receive a complimentary copy of an ICC code book and member discounts on publications.

    • Governmental members are able to participate in the ICC Code Development Process – writing proposed changes, collaborating with others in writing and revising proposed changes, joining Code Action Committees, and voting on proposed changes – utilizing ICC’s new cdpAccess program to participate via computer.

    • Governmental members can have their voices heard on which code changes are written into the I-Codes.

    • Governmental members can keep Pennsylvania’s code adoption process more streamlined by voting against code changes that are not reasonable, cost-effective, or are technically infeasible, before they are written into Pennsylvania’s Uniform Construction Code.

    • Only Governmental members are able to vote during the final hearings.

    The deadline to join as an ICC Governmental Member, in order to be able to participate in the 2016 Group B hearings, is March 18, 2016. The Group B codes include administrative provisions for all areas of the I-Codes, the IECC and IRC, and is among the most important code group for the home building industry.


    Reach out to your local BCOs and have them obtain an ICC Governmental Membership here.

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    For more news and updates from PBA's Government Affairs team, go to www.pabuilders.org/government-affairs

    Follow us on Twitter @pabuildersGA
  • 10 Feb 2016 4:30 PM | Deleted user

    On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf proposed a $32.7 billion state budget for fiscal year 2016-17, an increase from the $30.3 billion blue line vetoed budget signed in late December.

    The budget address itself had little to do with the governor addressing his actual priorities for the upcoming year. Rather, most of the address was spent admonishing Republican lawmakers for failing to agree to an increase in spending and tax hikes in the 2015-16 budget.

    At one point, Wolf remarked that GOP members should “find another job” if they were unable to agree on the state’s fiscal issues. Representative Craig Staats (R-Bucks) stated that rather than provide concrete details on the budget proposal, Wolf instead “lectured the Legislature and used political attacks to further polarize an already contentious environment.”

    Democratic lawmakers say the newest budget includes spending and revenue figures designed to solve a looming $2 billion structural deficit. However, the Wolf Administration is still operating under the assumption that the Legislature will eventually pass his $30.5 billion framework budget from the previous fiscal year. Republican lawmakers urged Governor Wolf to be realistic. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) stated, “The framework basis for his budget died the day that pension reform died after the governor failed to garner the support for his plans from within his own party.”

    The proposed budget for 2016-17 still calls for large increases in funding to the state’s public school system. During a presentation this morning, attended by PBA’s Government Affairs team, Secretary of the Budget Randy Albright explained that the $2.2 billion spending increase over the framework budget of 2015-16 falls into three categories: mandated spending increases of $1.6 billion, an aid package to schools in the amount of $500 million, and $120 million worth of other spending increases.

    Governor Wolf again renewed his call for higher taxes to help balance the proposed budget. Those tax increases are as follows:

    • Retroactive Personal Income Tax. The PIT will increase from 3.07% to 3.4%, an increase of 11%, and will be retroactive to January 1, 2016.
    • Sales Tax will expand to include movie tickets, basic television and digital downloads.
    • Bank Share Tax increase from 0.89% to 0.99%.
    • Insurance Premiums Tax Surcharge of 0.5%.
    • Cigarette Tax increase of $1.00, from $1.60 to $2.60.
    • Tax on other tobacco products will increase 40%.
    • Gaming Promotional Play Tax at 8%.
    • Finally, Wolf is also pushing for a Severance Tax at 6.5%, offset by an Impact Fee Credit. With the current downturn in natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale region, a severance tax will further damage the state’s energy industry.

    In the weeks ahead, both House and Senate Appropriations Committees will hold hearings on Governor Wolf’s budget proposal.

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    For more news and updates from PBA's Government Affairs team, go to www.pabuilders.org/government-affairs

    Follow us on Twitter @pabuildersGA


  • 09 Feb 2016 11:21 AM | Deleted user

    Overview

    The PBA Board Meeting is a multi-day event that takes place three times each calendar year at multiple locations across the state. During these gatherings, PBA’s committee meetings are held (see a full list of committees here) along with seminars or trainings for members. Our partners from member benefits programs also attend to connect with members and answer questions. There are social events for members to attend, as well, whether it’s a cocktail reception in the summer/fall or the Winter Installation & Awards Banquet.

    These events are not just for board members or leadership; any member may attend! Unless otherwise noted on the schedule of events below, committee meetings are open to all membership and we encourage you to attend them to let your voice be heard. It’s your chance to get involved at the state level, learn about issues concerning the industry, and make valuable connections with other members. So, how do you sign up?

    Registration Process

    If you are on the  Board of Directors or a member of our local leadership, you should have received an email earlier this week called “Register for the PBA Winter Board Meeting (Regional/Board Packet available)

    For easy access for all members, this information is also posted to the PBA events calendar at www.pabuilders.org/events. The calendar has details such as:

    All members can expect to receive an email next week highlighting the Installation & Awards Banquet. We are excited to announce this year's entertainment, the Hari Karaoke Band! Click here to read more.

    If you aren't getting the emails you're supposed to, contact PBA staff.

    Schedule of Events

    Board Meetings usually take place over the span of 3 days (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).

    You can see a full schedule of events by clicking here.

    Any Questions?

    Consult your Member Guide or our FAQ’s document for more information. If you still can’t find your answers, please don’t hesitate to contact PBA Staff. We hope to see you in Bedford Springs in March!


  • 29 Jan 2016 4:23 PM | Deleted user

    The Budget Negotiating Table

    By State Rep. Eli Evankovich (R-Westmoreland/Allegheny)


    Over the last seven months, the public has heard from both sides of this budget debate. Political pundits, elected officials and special interest groups have all done their best to give their perspective. Perhaps we have not heard from the most important side of the debate – the hard-working men and women of Pennsylvania. 

    The current budget standoff has been defined by entrenched perspectives on three issues: raising taxes and spending, pension reform, and liquor privatization. 

    The political climate, both here in Pennsylvania and nationally, has been reduced to gridlock and the public is justifiably frustrated. From the outside looking in, whether or not a person is directly or indirectly impacted by government, the very fact that there is no budget is viewed by the voting public as elected officials not doing their job. 

    Little, however, has been mentioned that the General Assembly DID send Gov. Tom Wolf several budgets. The last of which he signed after vetoing roughly one-fifth of the funding. Most of the funding he vetoed was slated to fund schools with an additional $400 million above what the state provided last year. We need to ask ourselves – why would the governor veto this funding? 

    Pennsylvanians deserve their elected officials to collectively represent their interests and find a solution to this budget impasse despite the divided government which they elected. We have a deeply ideological, liberal governor in Tom Wolf. Yet, we also have a Republican-controlled legislature that is comprised of dozens of political entrepreneurs – lawmakers who won their elections due to their own hard work rather than the party hierarchy or leadership. What should a compromise look like? How would you run state government differently? And, what things would you be satisfied with changing in order to pay more in taxes? 

    The current budget standoff has been marked by the illusion that a compromise to raise taxes can be reached in the Legislature simply by enacting two policy changes that the public either outright expects or heavily favors with pension reform and liquor privatization. The governor can certainly claim that he has compromised by “downsizing” his tax plan from $4.7 billion to $1.3 billion, but any tax increase flies directly against the will of the majority of the Legislature and the voting public that we were elected to represent. 

    The dichotomy before us essentially boils down to competing interests. The governor has repeatedly announced publicly that he will not sign a budget that does not raise taxes and spend more. In order for the Legislature to agree to the governor’s terms, more things about state government NEED to change. More policy changes must be put on the negotiating table. 

    Our tax system is designed so that, as the economy grows, the state receives more revenue. As people make more in their paychecks, they pay more income tax. As people spend more, they pay more in sales tax. Making the argument to raise taxes is advocating that the government should grow faster than the private economy. 

    Here are a few changes for the public to think about. 

    Our state’s expenditures ARE slated to grow faster than our revenue, which means that our state government IS growing faster than the economy. Changing this growth in spending MUST be placed on the negotiating table. 

    K-12 education is the largest and fastest-growing area of our budget. Moreover, employee salaries and benefits represent one of the largest cost drivers in this state. Legislative leaders and the governor should place policy changes on the table that allow those costs to be controlled better moving forward in order to make a budget deal possible. 

    School districts are given almost no management rights over school district employees. That needs to change. 

    State agencies are allowed to operate with limited or no performance expectations for its workforce OR mandated to do more with less. That needs to change. 

    The public is saddled with increased costs to all building projects with procurement rules and prevailing wage. That needs to change. 

    The very special interest groups that are paying for the millions of dollars worth of campaign-style ads about the budget are having that money collected by the state payroll system, funneled through various third-party groups, and used to lobby lawmakers to raise taxes. That is correct. Taxpayers pay to collect the money that is then used to pay for commercials and mailers to lobby lawmakers to raise your taxes to give more money to state employees. That needs to change. 

    We have the opportunity to not only resolve this current budget mess but to also put Pennsylvania on solid ground financially moving forward. A budget deal today that increases taxes in exchange for light reforms to our pension system and privatizing the liquor stores may look good in today’s headlines but it doesn’t solve the root of the problem. In fact, it sets up the public to have this fight again, very soon. 

    As the budget discussions move forward, shouldn’t we look to the future and be visionary for what Pennsylvania can be to the next generation rather than being narrowly focused on what the balance sheet looks like today? 

    I, for one, firmly believe that we need to put our state on a more sustainable path financially. Raising taxes just to subsidize the continued growth in government is the status quo. Please join me in having your voice heard in this debate. 

    State Rep. Eli Evankovich is a Republican who serves the 54th Legislative District in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties. 

    Representative Eli Evankovich 
    54th District 
    Pennsylvania House of Representatives 

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    For more news and updates from PBA's Government Affairs team, go to www.pabuilders.org/government-affairs

    Follow us on Twitter @pabuildersGA


  • 26 Jan 2016 1:44 PM | Deleted user

    Pennsylvania officials announced last Thursday a renewed effort to clean up local waters that drain into the Chesapeake Bay. The announcement occurs months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated Pennsylvania was “substantially off track” in meeting goals to reduce agricultural runoff, and warned of the potential for increased federal oversight of state efforts.

    A major issue continues to be the lack of state oversight and enforcement of existing regulations concerning manure-management and sedimentation control plans.

    In a webinar, John Quigley, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), spoke candidly about issues surrounding the lack of progress in our state. “We’ve got to create a culture of compliance in Pennsylvania,” Quigley explained. Members of Governor Tom Wolf’s administration acknowledge that Pennsylvania needs to change its current approach to meeting EPA regulations, but caution that the state may lack the resources to effectively do so. Quigley stated that DEP will seek more state and federal funding in order to implement the new strategy.

    Moving forward, the rebooted plan focuses on six elements:

    • Put high-impact, low-cost Best Management Practices (BMPs) on the ground, and quantify undocumented BMPs in watersheds impaired by agriculture or stormwater.
    • Improve reporting, record keeping and data systems to provide better and more accessible documentation.
    • Address nutrient reduction by meeting EPA’s goal of inspecting 10 percent of farms in the watershed, ensuring development and use of manure management and agricultural erosion and sediment control plans, and enforcement for non-compliance.
    • Identify legislative, programmatic or regulatory changes to provide the additional tools and resources necessary to meet federal pollution reduction goals by 2025.
    • Obtain additional resources for water quality improvement.
    • Establish a Chesapeake Bay Office to coordinate the development, implementation and funding of the commonwealth’s Chesapeake Bay efforts.

    Read more at the Pennsylvania Pressroom

    The rebooted plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay Watershed will bring with it a renewed grassroots push toward enacting more restrictive forest and riparian buffers within the affected area.

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    For more news and updates from PBA's Government Affairs team, go to www.pabuilders.org/government-affairs

    Follow us on Twitter @pabuildersGA


  • 26 Jan 2016 10:27 AM | Deleted user


    The Residential Construction Management Competition (RCMC) is an annual event that takes place at NAHB's International Builders Show. This year, two of Pennsylvania's secondary schools came in at the top of their division. Defending their title and receiving back-to-back first places in 2015 and 2016 is Williamsport High School. Right behind them in second place is York County School of Technology. Both of these schools have programs endorsed by PBA. We are excited for these students, teachers, and their programs during this time of success! 

    This yearly competition gives students from schools across the country the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom to a real construction company by completing a management project and proposal. Proposals are submitted to a group of construction company executives who act as judges. During the convention, students defend their proposals to the judges in front of an audience.

    Click the links below to read more about the RCMC and see photos from the Awards Ceremony:

  • 22 Jan 2016 11:40 PM | Deleted user

    On January 19, 2016, President Obama vetoed a vital congressional resolution of disapproval which focused on preventing the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Water Rule, commonly referred to as the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.

    Read a summary of the WOTUS rule here

    “Because this resolution seeks to block the progress represented by this rule and deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty and clarity needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water, I cannot support it,” Obama wrote in his veto message to Congress.

    The resolution passed through the US House of Representatives last week by a 253-166 vote. It had previously passed through the US Senate in November.

    WOTUS was jointly drafted by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, who stated that the legislation was necessary to protect small waterways from pollutants in the same manner in which larger waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act. The new regulations, which dramatically expanded the definition of “wetlands,” went into effect on Aug. 28, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit enacted a nationwide stay on Oct. 9.

    The rule is opposed by a broad coalition of industries including the National Association of Home Builders,  American Farm Bureau Federation, American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Mining Association, National Pork Producers Council and Public Lands Council; who worry that the new regulations are too broad and complicated to follow, and are concerned about the potential far reaching consequences of granting federal oversight to small waterways.

    The resolution's prime sponsor, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she was still “committed to identifying new ways to push back against this complex, burdensome and overreaching rule.”

    Members of farming, small business and land use industries now need to obtain costly and time-consuming “jurisdictional determinations” from the Army Corps of Engineers in order to ascertain whether the property in question is a wetland within the new definitions of the Clear Water Rule.

    The fight against WOTUS isn’t over; read more about NAHB’s fight at the Supreme Court to protect land owners from excessive federal overreach on the Clean Water Rule at NAHBNow.

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    For more news and updates from PBA's Government Affairs team, go to www.pabuilders.org/government-affairs

    Follow us on Twitter @pabuildersGA

     




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