Posts Tagged voters

Regulation Uber Alles

In nearly every study of state-by-state economic competitiveness Pennsylvania ranks near the bottom.  The most recent Keystone Business Climate Survey conducted by the Lincoln Institute found 53% of business owners and chief executive officers think our business climate is getting worse, only six percent think it is improving.

State government is doing everything in its power to prove them correct.

Two recent cases of regulatory excess and job crushing taxation illustrate the point.  The first involves the ride sharing company Uber; the second is the vaping industry.  Ride sharing and vaping have little in common aside from the fact both are being victimized by state government over-reach.  Sadly, they are just the latest example of how public policy in Penn’s Woods discourages business growth and job creation.

In the case of Uber it is an un-elected government regulatory agency, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) that has levied an $11.4 million fine because the firm supposedly operated for six months without the appropriate license.  I use the word supposedly because the Uber concept was so innovative it did not fit neatly into any existing regulatory category.  What we have here is not a company flaunting the law, but a hyde-bound bureaucracy unable to keep pace with technological advancements.

Rather than work with Uber, the regulators flexed their muscle by issuing a cease and desist order – which Uber ignored.  Uber thus committed the greatest of sins: failure to bow before the power of the bureaucrats.  So out-of-bounds is the fine that Governor Tom Wolf and Republican legislative leaders urged the PUC to reconsider.  Those folks don’t normally agree on much, so their unity on behalf of Uber was striking.

For its part Uber remains committed to Pennsylvania.  The company is testing a new driverless system in Pittsburgh.  Apparently if such a system can navigate the circular roads, hills and bridges of the Steel City it will work anywhere.  That research has brought much needed jobs to the southwestern part of the state – something the PUC apparently failed to take into consideration.

It’s not just regulators who are crushing jobs; some legislators are doing their part.  After splurging on $1.4 billion in new spending in this year’s budget lawmakers went in search of the revenue to pay for their spending spree.  Part of the answer was to impose a 40% tax on vaping stock.

Vaping is an alternative to smoking that utilizes what is in effect a personal vaporizer to turn vaping liquid or juice into steam.  Such liquids can be infused with various amount of nicotine – or none at all – and has been known to help smokers quit using tobacco products.  As vaping has become more popular mom and pop vape shops have sprouted across the commonwealth.

A 40% tax on any product or service is excessive, but in the case of the nascent vaping industry it is a killer.  Since the tax is applied to any items in stock at the time the tax takes effect next month it will crush many if not most of the small businesses.  For example, if a shop had $100,000.00 of vaping stock on hand they will immediately have to write the commonwealth a check for $40,000.00.  For some that exceeds their annual profit margin.

The end result is one of the few industries available for first time or small entrepreneurs will close and disappear, or the industry will be dominated by a few larger operations capable of surviving the tax onslaught.  The end result will be fewer small businesses, lost jobs and fewer choices for consumers.  Oh, and those sales and personal income taxes paid by the vape shops, they go away too.

The General Election campaign is now underway with half of the state senate and the entire state house on the ballot.  This is an excellent time for voters to demand their elected officials stop imposing job killing taxation on businesses and call upon them to reign in the power of regulatory agencies.  Unless a stand is taken at the ballot box Pennsylvania has no hope of shedding its well-deserved reputation as an unfriendly place to do business.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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PA Voters Voice Strong Support for Labor Law Reforms

Support Right-to-Work, elimination of Prevailing Wage and Dues Deduction

 (Harrisburg) — A number of union-related issues are currently before the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and a new poll by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc., finds voters across the commonwealth are in the mood for significant reforms.  From elimination of the state’s antiquated Prevailing Wage law, to halting the collection of union dues by governments and school districts, to putting an end to exemptions allowing business and labor unions to stalk, harass or threaten to use a weapon of mass destruction during labor disputes, Keystone State voters say the time for change has arrived.

Pennsylvania law actually has exemptions that would permit either side in a labor dispute – the employer or the union – to engage in tactics that otherwise would be clearly illegal.  Included among the tactics allowed during a labor dispute are stalking, harassment, and the making of threats to use a weapon of mass destruction.  Eighty-four percent of those polled by the Lincoln Institute said they favor making it illegal for either business or labor to engage in such activities during a labor dispute.  Of that number, 69% strongly supported criminalizing such activities.  A total of 16% said they support the current law.

Prevailing Wage reform has become a key bargaining point in ongoing negotiations toward arriving at a new transportation funding bill.  Prevailing Wage applies to all public construction projects such as roads, bridges, and schools costing more than $25,000 funded by tax dollars.  The law basically requires the highest union level wage be paid on all such projects.  Seventy-one percent of the poll respondents said they felt market conditions should be allowed to determine labor rates, 29% favored retaining the current law.

The current push in the state House is to raise the ceiling on projects falling under Prevailing Wage from $25,000 to $100,000.  Seventy-five percent of the Lincoln Institute poll respondents support such an increase while 25% are in opposition.

It is the current practice of state government as well as many county and municipal governments and school districts to collect union dues via payroll deduction for their bargaining units.  Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require unions to collect such dues on their own.  Sixty-two percent of those participating in the poll said they support such a change in the law, 38% felt such dues collection by government should continue.

A number of states, including Michigan and Indiana have recently adopted Right-to-Work laws which have dramatically improved their state’s business climates.  Such a law, which would mean a worker could not be compelled to join or pay fees to a labor union as a condition of employment, is proposed for Pennsylvania.  Voters polled by the Lincoln Institute support enactment of such a law by a three-to-one margin.  Seventy-seven percent support enactment of a Right-to-Work law, with 57% saying they strongly support such legislation.  A total of 23% opposed enactment of a Right-to-Work law.

The Lincoln Institute’s Pulse Poll on union issues was conducted electronically from October 28th through October 31st, 2013.  A total of

404 registered voters residing within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania participated in the poll.

Complete numeric results are available at


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