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Legislative Update – March 2016

SB 166, known as Act 5 of 2016 (the “Amendment”) amends the Pennsylvania Crimes Code (the “Code”) to authorize Courts of Common Pleas, upon petition, to issue orders of limited access to criminal records of individuals convicted of a second degree or third degree misdemeanor or an ungraded offense with a maximum penalty of incarceration for up to two years. The petitioner must have completed any sentence of incarceration or supervision for at least ten (10) years without arrest or prosecution as a condition to file the petition.  Any such court order would prohibit dissemination of criminal records to individuals, noncriminal justice agencies or to an internet website. Accordingly, such an order does not expunge the criminal record under the Code. Instead, it limits the duty to circulate the records only to criminal justice agencies and certain authorized governmental agencies such as licensing agencies.

The Amendment limits dissemination of information relating to a conviction, arrest, indictment or other information subject to the court order. But the court order is not assured simply by filing the petition. The petitioner must give notice and an opportunity for the district attorney to object. On objection, the court holds a hearing.  If the district attorney does not object in 30 days, the court may grant the petition in the form of a limited access order. Such order must be submitted to the central repository which must notify all criminal justice agencies which have received criminal history record information related to the conviction that access to such data has been limited by court order. Specific convictions may not be subject to a limitation order including those punishable for more than 2 years, four or more offenses punishable by imprisonment of one or more years, witness intimidation convictions and convictions for other specific second and third degree misdemeanors.  The public benefit to the Amendment is that it removes impediments to gainful employment for people with dated or minor criminal records. Governor Wolf signed the Amendment on February 16, 2016, and it will take effect 270 days later.


HB 561 (the “Amendment”) amends the Local Tax Enabling Act (the “Law”) to restore the exemption of persons on active military service from payment of the earned income taxes levied by and otherwise payable to Pennsylvania municipalities. This exemption to levy under the Law appeared first in 1965 and was “inadvertently removed” five years ago according to Rep. David Parker (R-Monroe).  The Amendment restores this exemption by excluding from the term, “Earned Income,” wages or compensation “paid to individuals on active military service, regardless of whether it is earned for active military service inside or outside this Commonwealth.”  Governor Wolf approved the Amendment on February 23, 2016, and it took effect immediately “for all income taxes levied and collected after December 31, 2015.”


Governor Tom Wolf issued Executive Order 2016-2 dated March 7, 2016 (the “Order”) which requires a minimum wage of $10.15 per hour for covered employees beginning (a) March 7, 2016, for employees (as defined in the Minimum Wage Act of 1968 (the “Act”) of the Commonwealth under the jurisdiction of the Governor and (b) July 1, 2016 for employees under the Act who directly perform services or construction; or directly perform services for the Commonwealth and are employed by a lessor of property to the Commonwealth; or spend at least 20 percent of their work week time performing services or construction called for in a lease or contract over the small business threshold with the Commonwealth under the Governor’s jurisdiction. The Order contains a cost of living adjustment to be implemented on the first day of each year beginning January 1, 2017, against the $10.15 value using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. The Order raises the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour for about 450 seasonal, temporary or clerical state employees and the covered employees of about 109 vendors. The Federal Government raised the raised the minimum wage nationally to $7.25 in 2007 and the Governor has asked the Pennsylvania Legislature to raise the minimum wage for all Pennsylvania employees covered by the Act.


© 2016 Robert J. Hobaugh, Jr.