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October 1, 2012
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Pennsylvania Senate Republican News Brief


"This legislation does not require the state or SSHE to lease or sell any property rights. It simply provides a new opportunity to generate revenue, while helping students, supporting Pennsylvania's environmental protection efforts and boosting our state economy through the creation of new jobs."

- Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) on passage of the Indigenous Mineral Resources Incentives Development Act.


Preview

Senate Session Monday at 1 p.m., Tuesday at 1 p.m., Wednesday at 11 a.m.

On Monday, the Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), will hold a joint public hearing with the House Transportation Committee on PennDOT's modernization efforts. (10 a.m. N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin), will hold a public hearing on diabetes care for students. (10:30 a.m. N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

The Senate Communications and Technology Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), will hold a public hearing Wednesday on federal stimulus broadband projects. (9:30 a.m. Room 8 E-A)

On Thursday, the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), will hold a public hearing on municipal/zoning restrictions on student housing. (Senate Majority Caucus Room)

The Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), will hold a public hearing Thursday on the Local Government Unit Debt Act, debt of the Harrisburg Authority, and more. (10 a.m. N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

The Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Delaware), will hold a public hearing Thursday on Growing Small Business in Pennsylvania. (1 p.m. DeSales University, Center Valley)

Review

Resource Extraction Measure Receives Final Approval

Legislation allowing the leasing of property owned by the state and the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) for mining or removal of valuable coal, oil, natural gas, coal bed methane, limestone and mineral resources received final legislative approval Tuesday and was sent to the governor for enactment into law.

Senate Bill 367, sponsored by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), does not require the state or SSHE to lease or sell any property rights. The senator noted that it simply provides a new opportunity to generate revenue, while helping students, supporting Pennsylvania's environmental protection efforts and boosting our state economy through the creation of new jobs.

For more on the Indigenous Mineral Resources Incentives Development Act, please see In the Spotlight and Fast Facts, below.
Listen

Senate Legislation to Boost Gas Station Safety

The Senate approved legislation Tuesday designed to improve safety at self-service gasoline stations.

House Bill 728 incorporates National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, permitting fuel dispensing systems to have multiple emergency control devices and electrical disconnects to be used to shutdown all pumps at an attended self-service gasoline station during an emergency in the gasoline pump bay area.

The measure requires that there be one emergency control device within every 100 feet of each gas pump "island," and that all such devices be inter-connected to allow all pumps to be shut down when any one device is activated by either the attendant/cashier inside the facility or a person located in the gas pump bay area. This legislation applies to all new construction, modification or installation of fuel dispensing systems. House Bill 728 was amended in the Senate and returns to the House of Representatives.

Joint Hearing Focuses on Financial Stability of Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

The Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), and the House Transportation Committee held a joint hearing Monday to learn more about the financial situation of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

The committee heard testimony from the Auditor General and representatives of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission about the impact of the passage of Act 44 on the commission's growing debt load and how it could impact the commonwealth.

Act 44 established a long-term public partnership between the Turnpike Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and authorized the tolling of I-80 to pay for transportation costs. However, the federal government decided not to allow the tolling, leaving a revenue shortfall that continues to grow larger.

Senator Rafferty: "The turnpike is a key part of our state's transportation system, and it is important to look at its financial situation and the impact it could have on users and all taxpayers. This hearing has helped us to gather new information on the situation, and to also focus on the need to adequately fund all our roads and bridges."
Hearing Agenda |Watch | Listen - 1:49

Greenleaf Octane Testing Bill Moves Forward

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) authorizing the Department of Agriculture to conduct random testing of octane levels in gasoline, Senate Bill 341, was approved Monday by the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

Pennsylvania is one of only three states that do not conduct testing of octane levels. The Department of Agriculture is required to annually inspect gas pumps for accuracy, but testing for levels of octane is not required.

In January 2007, the Pennsylvania Auditor General recommended that the state begin testing octane levels following an audit on retail gas pumps across the state. The Pennsylvania AAA Federation supports legislation that provides for octane testing.

Brubaker Measure Would Protect Agricultural Operations

Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster) introduced legislation Monday that would protect Pennsylvania agricultural operations by prohibiting unauthorized photos and video recordings.

Senate Bill 1596 would require individuals to obtain the owner's permission before taking any photos or recordings on the premises. The bill would add individuals who take photos or video on a farm without the owner's consent to the list of agricultural trespassers. Violators of the law would be guilty of a third-degree misdemeanor.

The legislation stems from an incident in Senator Brubaker's district that involved an activist group targeting a laying hen operation for an exposť featuring an unauthorized video filmed by an undercover employee. Despite the fact that three independent inspectors found health and safety conditions of the operation were at or above industry-best practices immediately following the incident, the accusations still placed a heavy burden on the business.

Under current law, there is no recourse for farm owners to protect their operation from an individual who takes photos or records video on their property without permission.

In the Spotlight

Under Senator Don White's bill, the Indigenous Mineral Resources Incentives Development Act, payments or royalties received pursuant to contracts or leases on state-owned land will be apportioned into three areas: the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, which supports conservation efforts, (60 percent); the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST), (25 percent); and, the host agency, (15 percent).

That formula would only apply to revenues from leases on state-own lands. A separate formula would be used for revenues from leases of land held by Pennsylvania's state-owned universities.

Fifty percent of the payments or royalties received pursuant to contracts or leases on State System of Higher Education land would be retained by the university where the resources are located and 35 percent would be allocated for SSHE distribution among the member universities. The remaining 15 percent of the revenue would be used for tuition assistance at all 14 member universities.

Senator White: "This distribution formula benefits all state universities. Perhaps the best component of the formula is the requirement that 15 percent be set aside for scholarships, which will allow students and their families to directly benefit from this as well."

Fast Facts

Indigenous Mineral Resources Incentives Development Act Revenue Apportionment

State-Owned Land:

  • Oil and Gas Lease Fund (conservation efforts): 60%
  • Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST): 25%
  • Host agency: 15%

State System of Higher Education

  • Retained by the university where the resources are located: 50%
  • Allocated for SSHE distribution among the member universities: 35%
  • Tuition assistance at all 14 member universities: 15%

 

 

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