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
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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.
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 email@example.com with your seating request and meal choice.
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.
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.
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:
In the weeks ahead, both House and Senate Appropriations Committees will hold hearings on Governor Wolf’s budget proposal.
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?
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:
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.
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!
The Budget Negotiating Table
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:
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.
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:
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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