Earlier this week, Governor Tom Wolf, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) and Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) announced a number of nominations to fill judicial vacancies at all levels of the Commonwealth’s judiciary. Although each nomination still requires Senate confirmation, the nominees were selected as part of a bipartisan-backed process.
Wolf named current Republican Superior Court Judge Sallie Mundy to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Michael Eakin’s departure in March of this year. Eakin resigned in the wake of an ethics investigation tied to Pennsylvania’s perpetually on-going Porngate scandal.
Wolf’s appointment of Mundy to the state’s highest court is likely an olive branch to Republican legislators as the state budget deadline approaches.
Perhaps most interesting are the two nominations tapped to fill upcoming vacancies at the Commonwealth Court.
The first pick, attorney Joe Cosgrove, a professor of constitutional law at Kings College and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, has previously served as an interim judge after the “kids-for-cash” scandal plagued Luzerne County’s judiciary. Cosgrove is very vocal in his opposition to the death penalty, once having Mother Teresa testify via telephone as a defense witness in a case where the death penalty was on the table. His most recent public-sector tenure was with the legal department of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
Wolf’s second pick for the Commonwealth Court is Julia Hearthway, a graduate of the Rutgers University School of Law and a resident of Chester County. From 2011 to 2015, Hearthway served as Secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry after being tapped for the position by then Governor Tom Corbett. For almost two decades prior, she worked in the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, serving as chief deputy attorney general since 2001.
The two Commonwealth Court picks hail from very different backgrounds, and add to an already diverse judicial bench. PBA currently has pending litigation before the Commonwealth Court, so we will continue to monitor the status of Wolf’s nominations.
For more news and updates from PBA's Government Affairs team, go to www.pabuilders.org/government-affairs
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Recently, several members of the Building Industry Association of Lancaster County were granted class certification in a lawsuit against a township accused of charging excessive water-tapping fees. Achieving class certification means that thirty-seven builders may combine their factual and legal claims against the defendants in one lawsuit, rather than forcing each individual builder the file his or her own case.
The lawsuit, initially filed in 2014 by five Lancaster County builders, alleges that defendants Manheim Township and Manheim Township General Municipal Authority violated the Pennsylvania Municipality Authorities Act (PMMA) by imposing water tapping fees when there was no authority to do so.
Further, the builders allege the municipal defendants miscalculated the fees, and utilized the funds collected for general welfare rather than to specifically benefit the builders that paid the fees. If true, those actions would directly violate Article III, Section 31 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Plaintiff builders also claim that Arro Consulting, Inc. conspired with the municipal defendants to violate the PMMA by intentionally or recklessly miscalculating the tapping fees.
Manheim Township has previously denied construction permits for builders that choose not to pay the miscalculated tapping fee.
Over the last several years, the township’s tapping fees have amounted to approximately $5,600 per connection, and the total cost of the fees sought to be recovered is well above $1 million.
If successful, the lawsuit will both assist the named builders in obtaining a financial settlement and prevent the municipality from harming future construction projects with excessive and incorrect tapping fees.
This is the second lawsuit launched against Manheim Township concerning its tapping fees. The first, brought by a single developer in 2011, is still pending.
PBA has announced its designation of the exclusive publisher and advertising sales agent for the PBA Buyers’ Guide (the “Guide”) — Overland Park, Kan.-based Strategic Value Media, a leading nationwide provider of print and digital media solutions to national, state and local trade and membership associations. PBA is proud to provide its members with this exclusive, easily accessible, year-round, valuable resource that is expected to be first available this coming early Fall.
“This comprehensive Guide offers access to a vast network of industry suppliers,” said Daniel Durden, CEO of PBA. “We’re pleased to offer such a valuable resource, which will greatly assist industry professionals in making educated purchasing decisions throughout the year.”
The Guide features updated and expanded company and product listings, in addition to other valuable information relating to the construction industry. The Guide provides users with an efficient way to browse for goods and services and offers construction suppliers and professionals exceptional visibility by showcasing their products and services to a targeted, industry-specific buyer group.
The Guide will be accessible through the PBA website at www.pabuilders.org. We encourage you to take advantage of this exceptional opportunity to highlight your products and services.
To learn more about advertising your products or services in the Guide, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PBA members can access a list of over 800 students who have completed their certificate goals from local endorsed trade programs!
Support the future of our industry by hiring these students.
Need help logging in to the website? Contact Doug Vu.
Secondary Students have successfully completed the NOCTI (National Occupational Competency Testing Institute) exam at the competent or advanced level. Post-Secondary Students obtained a GPA of 3.0 or higher as well as a minimum B grade on the Exit Exam.
Learn more about PBA Endorsed Trade Programs here.
Questions about these programs? Contact Tom Turnbaugh.
Homeownership is the American dream, but it’s also a lot of work. Your home is a significant investment and requires a consistent level of upkeep to maintain its efficiency and to protect its value.
It's never too late to set aside some time to build a schedule of your ongoing home maintenance duties. Creating a calendar of anticipated maintenance needs will help you remember key milestones and better prepare for any big expenses.
The following examples of typical home maintenance should be completed at least annually. Consider your home’s specific needs to determine the relevance and timing of each task, and mark your calendar appropriately.
In the spring:
In the fall:
Anytime throughout the year:
The joys of homeownership come with a long list or responsibilities. But staying on top of these duties will help keep your home healthy as the seasons change and the years pass.
For more ideas to maintain your home throughout the year, visit nahb.org/consumers.
Today the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion allowing landowners to immediately challenge jurisdictional determinations made by the Army Corps of Engineers pursuant to the Clean Water Act – colloquially referred to as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule – prior to the conclusion of the permitting process.
The WOTUS rule prohibits “the discharge of any pollutant” without a permit into “navigable waters,” defined as “waters of the United States.” In order to ascertain whether the WOTUS rule applies to an area of land, the Army Corps of Engineers is permitted to perform a “jurisdictional determination.” If the Army Corps determines that a property contains waters of the United States, the WOTUS rule applies and the landowner must obtain a permit prior to developing or utilizing the property.
Chief Justice John Roberts penned the opinion, siding with respondents Hawkes Co. and affirming the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Read the opinion here.
Hawkes Co. sought a permit from the Army Corps in order to harvest peat from wetlands located in the upper Midwest. The Army Corps determined that the wetlands contained waters of the United States, finding a “significant nexus” between the wetlands and the Red River, which is located approximately 120 miles away. The finding triggered a lengthy and costly permitting procedure for Hawkes Co., which, under the WOTUS rule, was allowed to appeal the decision only after the conclusion of the permitting process.
Hawkes Co. filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers, alleging that a landowner should be able to immediately appeal a jurisdictional determination in federal court prior to participating in the permitting process.
The eight Justices of the Supreme Court unanimously agreed, holding that a jurisdictional determination is a “final agency action,” and may be immediately appealed.
M. Reed Hopper, legal counsel for Hawkes Co., stated that the ruling “marks a long-awaited victory for individual liberty, property rights and the rule of law.”
Nationwide, listings for new homes fell 1.1% in April, the first year-over-year drop since August 2014.
According to a report last week from real estate brokerage firm Redfin, two-thirds of larger metropolitan markets had fewer new listings last month than in April 2015. The Northeast suffered the largest drop in new listings, with some metropolitan areas seeing declines over 10%.
The stagnation in new listings may be attributed to potential sellers waiting to find the right home to buy before selling their current residence.
"A slowdown in new listings reflects a lack of confidence on the part of the homeowner that they can find a desirable home to purchase," Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson explains. "This triggers a domino effect down the supply chain that leads to lower sales in tight markets."
In Pennsylvania, Philadelphia saw a 13.2% drop in new listings year-over-year while Pittsburgh suffered a 2.7% drop.
The latest housing updates are not all negative. The figures also indicate continued growth in several areas of the market. Home sales were up 2.5% in April, while home prices rose 4.8%. However, these figures are likely a result of increased competition among buyers for fewer homes on the market.
Pennsylvania’s metropolitan areas saw sizeable increases in sale prices for April. Philadelphia saw sale prices increase 4.7% year-over-year, while Pittsburgh edged out a 5.7% increase.
Source: Read Redfin’s April 2016 report here.
For more reading on what factors are causing a shortage of new listings, read HousingWire’s report here.
It's that time again! The Summer Regional Meetings are here. This is a chance for PBA members to get together with local association leadership and make your voices heard.
Our local associations are divided into 8 regions across the state. Each region meets three times a year a couple weeks before a PBA Board of Directors meeting. At these regional meetings, you'll have the opportunity to discuss any statewide initiatives, voting measures or events taking place at the upcoming Board meeting. Your region will then send the feedback from this meeting to PBA to be presented before the Board of Directors.
Any member may attend a regional meeting. If you're unsure which region your local association is in, check the map. However, all attendees must RSVP using registration links below.
Regional Meetings Registration:
Click on your region below for details & to RSVP.
Note - The Regional/Board Packet will be emailed prior to meetings with the subject line
"Register for the PBA Board Meeting." Please download it to bring with you.
MIDEAST - June 23 at the HBA of Metro Harrisburg in Harrisburg (RSVP by June 16)
MIDWEST - June 23 at the Indiana Country Club in Indiana (RSVP by June 16)
NORTHCENTRAL - June 29 at the Mountain View County Club in Boalsburg (RSVP by June 22)
NORTHEAST - June 22 at Marzoni's in Moosic (RSVP by June 15)
NORTHWEST - June 22 at Chovy's in Meadville (RSVP by June 15)
SOUTHCENTRAL - June 21 at Loxley's in Lancaster (RSVP by June 14)
SOUTHEAST - June 22 at the HBA of Bucks/Mont in Fort Washington (RSVP by June 15)
SOUTHWEST - June 22 at Burgh's Pizza and Wing Pub in Bridgeville (RSVP by June 15)
Call us at 717.730.4380
Each meeting is also listed as an event on our website. To view the full calendar, click here.
Home buying and home remodeling television programs aren’t just a fad; their enduring popularity indicates that they’re here to stay. If you’re among the growing masses of dedicated viewers, you might begin (if you haven’t already) to look around and notice some of your own home’s shortcomings. Inadequate storage, limited cooking space or simply an outdated design might conjure thoughts of one day remodeling your kitchen, bathrooms or living spaces. Or instead, perhaps you’ll begin to consider moving into a bigger or newer home.
Whether you decide to remodel or relocate, your decision will involve a great deal of logistics, emotions and, of course, finances. Thoroughly weighing the pros and cons of each option now will help you feel more prepared to act when the time is right.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
What’s in the budget? The first step is the most obvious: you’ll need to crunch some numbers to determine what is financially feasible. Remodeling can be a great investment and save you the hassle of moving. But it requires a great deal of patience and flexibility. On the other hand, buying a home can be instantly gratifying, but the true costs of buying (and selling) – such as commissions, closing costs and moving fees – need to be part of the equation, as that is money you won’t get back.
Is it a simple fix that you can do yourself? Or a bigger project that will require a professional? Some home owners are especially handy and want to tackle the job themselves. But most others like having the assurance of knowing a professional – who has the necessary equipment, expertise and resources – will get the job done right the first time.
What is the current value of your home compared to similar homes in your neighborhood? If your home is already the most expensive one in the neighborhood, you might not see a significant return on your investment if you remodel. But if comparable home values are greater than your home’s value, you’re much more likely to see a strong return by making improvements.
How might your decision impact your taxes? Remodeling your current home or moving to a new home will have an effect on your property taxes. The change may or may not be significant, so it’s good to keep it in mind.
How might your needs change in the next 3, 5 or 10 years? A growing family, kids going off to college, an aging family member moving in – all are examples of factors that can significantly impact your future requirements for a home.
Is the layout of your current home conducive to a remodel? All other considerations aside, if you have limited options to alter your home in a way that will address your needs (such as load-bearing walls that can’t be removed, or space constraints that will not allow for an addition), you may need to consider moving.
Are there any zoning restrictions that would affect the remodeling project(s) you envision? These laws vary widely by area, so go to your local zoning office and ask for a copy of your local ordinance.
How do you feel about your current neighborhood? Even if you changed everything about your home, there are many things outside of your home over which you have no control. Give some thought to the school district, proximity to work, parks and shopping centers, and the overall look and feel of the community.
The answers to these questions are different for everyone, which is why it is important for you to carefully consider each one while keeping in mind your unique situation. This will help you effectively determine which step is right for you so that next year, you can be confident in your home’s ability to not only survive the holidays, but to also keep up with the demands of your everyday life.
Search our Find a Pro member directory to find a remodeler in your area. Our local builders associations are also a great resource for remodeling advice. Find a Local now.
ICC’s new cdpACCESS feature enables voting members to approve or disapprove floor motions from their home or work computer. Floor motions are approved or disapproved by a simple majority, so every vote is important. For more information, please see NAHB’s blog here, and download the NAHB Floor Voting Guide here.
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