Following is a listing of legislative and executive action for the week of Feb. 17. Members of the General Assembly are set to return to session March 10.
Interest rate reduction
Gov. Tom Corbett announced that he has directed the Department of Community and Economic Development to reduce the interest rates of three business loan programs to encourage small business and manufacturing growth and new job creation.
"Small businesses and manufacturers continue to be the driver of Pennsylvania's economic engine," Corbett said in a statement. "Access to affordable capital spurs new growth and is critical to ensuring Pennsylvania's economy is built to advance. By reducing interest rates and the cost of borrowing, we are encouraging new growth through providing critical access to capital and freeing up operating cash to support new job creation."
Beginning Feb. 1, the DCED is reducing interest rates for the machinery and equipment loan fund, pollution prevention assistance program, export financing program and "Small Business First" program to 1.75 percent for applications received prior to July 1. The DCED also is planning to waive fees charged to borrowers.
At its Feb. 5 board meeting, the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) also reduced its interest rates from 4 percent to 2.25 percent for applications received through July 1. PIDA also waived its fees charged to borrowers.
The Corbett administration said the decision was part of its "JOBS1st PA" initiative.
Senate bills introduced
The following legislative proposals have been introduced in the state Senate:
Sen. John Yudichak, D-Luzerne, introduced SB 1254, legislation aimed at mandating the use of lead-free products only in residential plumbing.
Sen. Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, introduced SB 1256, legislation that would create the Heritage Areas Program Act, which would create a formal process for the distribution of funding of state heritage parks by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
School Background Checks
Legislation has been introduced in the state House of Representatives that would require public and private schools in Pennsylvania and their independent contractors to conduct a thorough employment history review prior to offering employment to any applicant for a position involving direct contact with children.