I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities from the session week of February 17, 2015.
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Senate Approves My Bill Promoting Conventional Oil Production in PA
The Senate approved my legislation that will protect and promote conventional oil and natural gas production in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 279, legislation to protect the conventional oil and gas production industry from state regulations intended for companies extracting Marcellus Shale gas, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
SB 279 would establish the Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council, a panel empowered to study existing regulations and assist the Department of Environmental Protection in making changes that better address the differences between conventional and unconventional oil and gas production.
Oil and gas production is a part of the Commonwealth’s heritage and remains a key component of the economy of northwestern Pennsylvania. The council created under this bill would work with the DEP to ensure that the differences between the operations are taken into account as these regulations and laws are developed and implemented.
On Tuesday (February 17) the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the formation of a Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee (COGAC) to increase transparency and communication about regulating the conventional oil and gas drilling industry. Coincidentally, the DEP’s announcement came on the same day that the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved SB 279.
I am pleased to see the DEP is now moving in a similar direction as I propose in Senate Bill 279, but I still believe it is important that we codify this initiative in law. One significant difference is the Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council is intended to promote the conventional oil and gas industry in the Commonwealth. Our region includes the birthplace of oil and gas production in Pennsylvania over a century and a half ago. These resources fueled the industrial revolution and transformed our nation’s economy. This industry is an important part of the regional economy. It should be supported by the state, not stymied by excessive and unnecessary regulatory burdens.
The DEP is accepting nominations for COGAC. Persons interested in nominating a committee member should send their full name, title, affiliation, address, e-mail, and telephone number and their nominee’s resume to Todd Wallace of the Office of Oil at Gas Management at: Rachel Carson State Office Building, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Nominations will be accepted through March 3.
Senate Approves Purely Public Charities Bill
The Senate passed a proposal on Tuesday that would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to give the General Assembly the power to determine whether an institution is a purely public charity and thus exempt from paying local property taxes.
Senate Bill 4 specifies that the General Assembly, not the judiciary, has the exclusive right to set the parameters for an organization to qualify as a purely public charity. The measure is necessary following a 2012 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling which created a great deal of confusion among charities and local governments regarding the criteria for an organization to qualify for a tax exemption.
Because the bill would amend the state Constitution, the proposal must pass in two consecutive legislative sessions before being decided by the voters via referendum. The proposal was already approved once by the General Assembly during the 2013-14 session.
Committee Hearing Focuses on “True Costs of E-911”
With the end of the Emergency Telephone Act looming at the end of June, the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday to gather testimony on the “True Costs of E-911” in Pennsylvania.
Substantial changes in technology and society since the original enactment of the law in 1996 have increased equipment and personnel costs for county dispatch centers, while whittling away at the funding sources that were intended to support those operations, according to state and county officials.
Testifiers included representatives from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Legislative Budget & Finance Committee, County Commissioners Association of PA, and a panel consisting of officials from the Allegheny, Philadelphia, Tioga, and Westmoreland County E-911 centers.
The committee also considered and approved House Bill 152, a measure amending the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefit Act by extending the filing period for the death benefit from 90 days to three years. That bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
Click here for video of the committee’s proceedings.
Click here for the committee’s agenda and written testimony.
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