Legal and Government Affairs
North Side/ North Shore Legislative Committee
The North Side/ North Shore Chamber of Commerce has taken an active role in working with both state and local governments to encourage the establishment and growth of business in the North Side and North Shore specifically and in the region generally. This is accomplished by advocating for lower taxes on businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, less regulation, less red tape and common sense solutions to economic problems. Recently, the NSNSCC has attacked the following issues:
Successfully Fought Parking Permit Enforcement on Sundays:
When the City of Pittsburgh sought to enforce residential permit parking on Sundays due to neighborhood complaints about lack of parking due to Steeler games (8 regular season games at most), the NSNSCC led the fight to stop the initiative.
Noting that many restaurants in the East Allegheny business district rely on Steeler traffic to make a profit, and that free neighborhood parking is a major draw of fans to the district, the NSNSCC successfully argued to the City Planning Commission that it should not recommend the implementation of the permit plan due to the severe harm to business interests versus the relatively mild harm to the neighborhood caused by fan parking.
Led the Fight Against Restrictions on Liquor Licenses:
In early 2007, a Pittsburgh City Councilman, Jeff Koch, brought forth legislation that would prohibit the establishment of any new liquor licensed business located within a 250 foot radius of any existing liquor licensed business. Councilman Koch’s concern was an overabundance of bars on Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood’s East Carson Street.
The problem was that in business district’s like those on Pittsburgh’s North Side, it would strangle development by not permitting a neighborhood bistro to open while preserving the right of a nuisance bar to stay in business without any new competition. The City Planning Commission recommended that City Council not pass the ordinance, which was eventually withdrawn and substituted for one which applied only to the City’s Lawrenceville and South Side business districts.
Spearheaded Efforts to Defeat Proposed Alcohol Drink Tax and Rental Car Tax in Allegheny County:
The NSNSCC was the only Chamber of Commerce which actively fought against the imposition of the Allegheny County’s proposed 10% tax on alcoholic beverages sold in restaurants and taverns, and against the $2.00 per day tax on rental cars.
The taxes are regressive and counterproductive, as has been born out by a spate of restaurant closings this year. While the taxes went into effect in January 2008 despite the efforts of the NSNSCC and others, the NSNSCC continues the fight to repeal these onerous, business-killing taxes.
See here for NSNSCC President John Graf’s Opinion article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette taking the Allegheny Conference to task for supporting the taxes.
See here for the NSNSCC’s Position Paper with regard to the Drink Tax.
Continuing the Fight to Reform Health Care and Insurance Costs:
The NSNSCC continues to work with other Chambers and business development organizations to urge state legislators and the Governor to take steps to control heath care costs and the ever rising costs of insurance.
Measures the NSNSCC has urged be moved forward include legislation (HB 1240 of 2005) which would bar insurers from discriminating against small groups with respect to underwriting, and which would eliminate the consideration of the sex and age of group insurance participants in the underwriting process. See www.pasmallgroupreform.org for more information.
Working Hard to Streamline Business and Construction Permitting:
Making the start-up of a new businesses easier and more efficient is a continuing priority for the NSNSCC. Recently, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has introduced measures to make obtaining building permits easier and more efficient.
The NSNSCC’s work continues apace, however.
Partnership with Regional Advocacy Council:
The Regional Advocacy Council is made up of business development organizations through southwestern Pennsylvania. The NSNSCC works vigorously with this organization to advocate for the abolition of business taxes which make Pennsylvania uncompetitive with other states, such as the Corporate Net Income Tax and Stock Franchise Tax. For more information see www.competepa.org.