Yudichak chairs hearings on impact of technology/energy infrastructure

Apr. 18—WILKES-BARRE — As the Chairman of the Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee, State Sen. John Yudichak this week held two days of hearings in southeastern Pennsylvania on the economic impact of the technology and energy infrastructure industries in Pennsylvania.

Yudichak, I-Swoyersville, said the hearings focused on the need for Pennsylvania to rebuild and recover from the pandemic by investing in the development of two critical components of our economy — technology and energy infrastructure.

Specifically, Yudichak said the hearings were held to discus how legislation would provide a sales and use tax exemption to companies who develop large scale computer data centers in Pennsylvania.

“Currently, Pennsylvania is not competing for the $70 billion annual computer data center market,” Yudichak said. “In the last seven years, Pennsylvania has not landed one new data center project, while neighboring Virginia, which offers a sales and use tax exemption for data center development, is averaging $1.6 billion in development per year and has created over 40,000 high wage jobs.”

Also discussed was recently enacted legislation that Yudichak advanced with Rep. Kaufer, R-Kingston — Act 66 of 2020 — the local resource manufacturing tax credit.

“The tax credit will help attract manufacturing companies to NEPA who purchase Pennsylvania natural gas to produce a Pennsylvania manufactured product,” Yudichak said. “The Pennsylvania Manufactures Association produced an economic study that indicates that the Local Resource Manufacturing tax credit can create over 4,000 new jobs in NEPA.”

The committee hosted a hearing and a tour on April 13 at the vXchnge Data Center in Philadelphia on technology infrastructure. A second hearing held on April 14, dealt with Pennsylvania’s energy infrastructure . It was held at Veritas Medical Solutions, which is in Sen. Bob Mensch’s district. Prior to the hearing on April 14, the committee toured the Philadelphia Steamfitters Local Union 420.

Yudichak said the Committee learned that a critical component of building out Pennsylvania’s technology and energy infrastructure is the highly skilled labor provided by the Pennsylvania Building Trades and Construction Unions.

The large scale computer data centers and energy infrastructure projects require highly trained workers who are products of the intensive apprenticeship programs offered by our building trade unions. It is estimated that the construction of a data center will employ over 1,600 trade workers and the construction of a petrochemical manufacturing facility will employ a minimum of 800 trade workers.

“Pennsylvania’s road to economic recovery beyond the pandemic is going to be forged through the partnership of business and labor, and the smart state tax policies that set the stage form private sector job growth in foundational components of our economy — technology and energy,” Yudichak said.

“As we work to recover from the pandemic, it is an important time to talk about our economy, and the reliability of two of the essential building blocks of the 21st century digital economy — technology and energy. Pennsylvania has the natural resources and the skilled workforce to compete with any state or nation in the world, but we have to advance innovative business tax policies that help set the stage for private investment and the growth of high-wage jobs in the technology and energy sectors.”

Cartwright supporting Vietnam

veterans Exposed to Agent Orange

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, and U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), this week introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War receive all the benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

The Veterans Agent Orange Exposure Equity Act would provide long-due relief to Vietnam War veterans exposed to this toxic herbicide by expanding the presumption of exposure for those who were deployed to certain locations in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.

“In the United States, we take care of our fellow Americans who have been harmed in the course of their military service,” Cartwright said. “It should be no different in the case of the Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Many of those who have been exposed are living with cancers, heart disease or Parkinson’s disease. They deserve relief for the pain and hardship this has caused for them and their families.”

Fitzpatrick added: “Our veterans are heroes and deserve to be treated as such. I am proud to join Rep. Cartwright in introducing legislation that will ensure our Vietnam War veterans who served in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia receive the care they deserve now, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to work across the aisle to support these men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country.”

The Veterans Agent Orange Exposure Equity Act will:

—Expand the presumption of exposure to herbicides to certain veterans who served in the active military, naval, or air service while assigned to a duty station in close proximity to the Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975

—Presume exposure for veterans with service at the following duty stations, regardless of military occupation specialty or other designation:

— Served in Thailand at US Army Bases or Royal Thai Air Force Bases during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975 or

— Royal Thai Army Replacement Training Center, Pranburi Military Reservation during the period beginning January 1, 1964 and ending on April 30, 1964

— Served in Laos during the period beginning on December 1, 1965 and ending on September 30, 1969

— Served in Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kompon Cham Province during the period beginning on April 16 and ending on April 30, 1969

Keller, Meuser visit

US southern border

U.S Reps. Fred Keller, R-Middleburgh, and Dan Meuser, R-Dallas, recently visited the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the southern border.

Keller introduced legislation to commend the agents of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for their service and sacrifice amidst the growing crisis at the southern border.

While on a trip to the southern border in Texas and New Mexico with members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform this week, Keller and Meuser witnessed the challenges CBP agents face in keeping up with record-breaking numbers of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S. border.

Keller said according to one agent, officers are currently stretched dangerously thin, tasked with serving as social workers and detention guards in addition to patrolling 260 miles of border in the El Paso sector alone.

According to DHS, in March of 2021:

—CBP encountered over 172,000 illegal immigrants at the southwest border, the highest monthly total in 15 years and an increase of 400% compared to March 2020.

—CBP encountered nearly 19,000 unaccompanied alien children (UACs), an increase of 486% compared to March 2020.

—CBP encountered more than 53,000 family units at the southwest border, an increase of 1056% compared to March 2020.

On the resolution, Keller made the following statement:

“During our trip to the southern border, I saw first-hand how hard our Customs and Border Patrol agents must work as a result of the detrimental policies and rhetoric of the Biden administration. These hardworking men and women operate in an incredibly dangerous environment to defend American sovereignty, and their service is well-deserving of formal recognition from Congress.”

Meuser posted the following on his Facebook page”1/4

“I traveled to the Mexican border with members of the Problem Solvers Caucus to speak with Customs and Border Protection agents in McAllen, Texas.

“I visited several migrant processing facilities and joined Operation Lone Star on patrol on the Rio Grande.

“It is overtly evident that the recent policy changes from President Biden created incentives for this mass amount of illegal immigrants, primarily from the northern triangle of Central America.

“These perceived incentives need to be corrected and we must provide CBP all that is necessary to increase border security and help bring this crisis to an end.

“I hope we can engage in a bipartisan effort to rectify this situation.”

Reminder: Personal Income

Tax filing deadline is May 17

The Department of Revenue is reminding the public that the deadline for filing 2020 Pennsylvania personal income tax returns and making final 2020 income tax payments is May 17, 2021.

The personal income tax filing deadline was originally set for April 15, but the department in mid-March announced an extension to May 17, 2021 to provide taxpayers with additional time. This followed an announcement from the Internal Revenue Service, which also extended the federal income tax filing deadline to May 17, 2021.

The extension of the filing deadline to May 17, 2021 means the Department of Revenue will waive penalties and interest on final 2020 personal income tax returns and payments through the new deadline of May 17, 2021.