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NEW PA LAWS: MORE CONSUMER CHOICES, MORE TAXES
Judge James Continues Stay on Landlord Registration Ordinance
On December 29, 2016, Judge James, “in the interest of judicial economy,” signed a court order stating that he won’t take action on Jones, Gregg’s pending case challenging that the City’s Landlord Registration Ordinance violates Pennsylvania’s Home Rule Charter...
Act 171 Opens Doors to Minority, Women, and Veteran-Owned PA Businesses
With the federal government considering a huge infrastructure investment, Pennsylvania’s Act 171 business certification expansion will open a wide range of opportunities to our state’s minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses.
Whether new Fair Labor Standards Act overtime rules take effect in December 2016 or a recently passed House bill succeeds in delaying implementation until June 2017, start planning now to comply with the new regulations and protect your business.
Act 16 of 2016 Makes PA a Medical Marijuana State:
Governor Tom Wolf signed the Medical Marijuana Program into law on April 14, 2016.
Act 16 of 2016 Makes PA a Medical Marijuana State:
Governor Tom Wolf signed the Medical Marijuana Program into law on April 14, 2016. While the PA Department of Health will take 18 to 24 months to implement the law, patients afflicted with serious medical conditions like cancer, autism, ALS, and epilepsy (seventeen conditions in all) will soon have access to marijuana to alleviate pain.
Pennsylvania is the 24th state to adopt a medical marijuana program, even though, according to the PA Department of Health, “growing, distributing, and/or possessing marijuana in any capacity, except through a federally approved research program, is a violation of federal law.” According to an August 29, 2013 Department of Justice memorandum on state medical marijuana programs, the DOJ has indicated that they will not prosecute growers, processors, dispensaries, physicians, or seriously ill individuals, as long as they comply with Act 16.
The PA Department of Health will initially issue permits to no more than 50 medical marijuana dispensaries, each of which may have up to three separate locations. To apply for a dispensary permit, applicants must pay a non-refundable $5,000 fee; a $30,000 permit fee, refundable if a permit isn’t granted; and submit proof of $150,000 in capital.
To become an approved medical marijuana “grower/processor,” applicants must pay an initial non-refundable $10,000 fee; a $200,000 permit fee, to be refunded if a permit is denied; and proof of $2 million in capital, $500,000 of which must be on deposit in a financial institution.
According to a fiscal impact report, Pennsylvania estimates application and registration fees for the program will net $10 million within a year. The state will also collect a 5 percent tax on medical marijuana purchases.
Act 39 Expands Wine and Beer Sales:
Pennsylvania’s blue laws gripped the state into the 21st century, when Sunday sales of alcohol were approved by the state legislature in late 2002. Fourteen years later, on June 8, 2016, House Bill 1690 changed more than thirty-five sections of the state’s liquor code. On August 8, 2016, the law went into effect, expanding wine and beer sales to new venues.
For the first time, Pennsylvania residents are able to purchase up to four bottles of wine at grocery chains that already sell beer, and pick up a 6-pack while stopping by a convenience store or permanent gas stations. Consumers will also be able to receive direct shipments of wine through the mail.
The new law allows restaurants and hotels who are already licensed to sell alcohol for on-site consumption to sell up to four bottles of wine to go per customer. Casinos can apply for a license to serve drinks 24/7, and state liquor stores may expand their hours of operation and set more flexible pricing.
Businesses who want to sell wine as well as beer must pay a $2,000 application fee to secure a wine expanded permit, in addition to an annual renewal fee. These fees are expected to generate $150 million in revenue for the state.
Act 84 Imposes Sales Tax on Netflix, Kindle, Apps, and More:
On August 1, 2016, Pennsylvania consumers began paying a 6 percent sales and use tax on all downloaded, streamed, or emailed digital purchases. All customers with billing addresses is in Pennsylvania are subject to Act 84.
Some of the items to be taxed include smartphone ringtones; apps; music; audio books; subscriptions to satellite radio and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu; games, add-ons to games, and subscriptions to online games; downloaded or streamed video; photographs; and e-greeting cards.
According to the PA Department of Revenue, the same tax exemptions that apply to tangible property apply to digital products. Qualified charitable organizations, volunteer fire companies, religious organizations, and nonprofit educational institutions are exempt from the new tax. Taxes are also not assessed on textbooks purchased from or through an accredited school; newspaper and magazine subscriptions; or the resale of a digital product.