WHERE WE ARE: Guide To Legislation Likely To Be Reintroduced In The House, Senate In 2019
The following is a list of bills-- good and bad-- likely to be reintroduced in the House and Senate early in 2019--
-- Water Quality Protection--
--Good: Lawn Fertilizer Regulation/Education: Senate Bill 792 (Alloway-R-Franklin) regulating the application of fertilizer by homeowners, golf courses and athletic fields passed the Senate in March of this year. The House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee held a hearing on the bill in June, but took no further action. This effort has been underway for 8 years. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Richard Alloway, one of Pennsylvania’s representatives on the Chesapeake Bay Commission. Click Here for more.
-- Good: Keystone Tree Fund: House Bill 2486 (Everett-R-Lycoming) creating the Keystone Tree Fund to providing funding for the Treevitalize and Riparian Forest Buffer Grant Program by creating a $3 checkoff box on vehicle and drivers’ licenses was reported out of the House Transportation Committee at the end of September and was Tabled, not seeing further action. Click Here for more.
-- Good: Eastern Hellbender: Senate Bill 658 (Yaw-R-Lycoming), which would have designated the Eastern Hellbender as the state amphibian and clean water ambassador, remains stuck in the House State Government Committee without action. By not acting, the House let down the high school students who worked 2 years on the designation and the thousands of people who signed a petition supporting the legislation. Click Here for more.
-- Oil & Gas Development, Infrastructure Issues--
-- Threat: Conventional Drilling: House Bill 2154 (Causer-R-Cameron) which would weaken environmental standards for conventional (not Shale) oil and gas drilling (Senate Fiscal Note, House Fiscal Note and summaries) was stuck on the Senate Calendar for action. Click Here for more.
-- Pipeline Issues
-- Good: Pipeline Commission: Senate Resolution 373 (Rafferty-R-Montgomery)-- a concurrent Senate-House resolution to establish a Senate-House legislative Commission to Study Pipeline Construction and Operations and to recommend improvements for the safe transport of oil, natural gas and other hazardous liquids through pipelines was put back on the Calendar October 1.
-- Good: Landowner Bill Of Rights: Senate Bill 1199 (Rafferty-R-Montgomery)-- providing for a landowners’ bill of rights in cases of eminent domain, including by private entities like pipeline companies (sponsor summary)-- was also reported out of Committee in June and sat on the Senate Calendar since then.
-- Good: Emergency Pipeline Notification: Senate Bill 930 (Dinniman-D- Chester) setting notification requirements related to pipeline emergencies (sponsor summary) sat on the Senate Calendar since October 2.
-- Good: Safety Valves: Senate Bill 931 (Dinniman-D-Chester) requiring the installation of automatic or remote controlled safety values in natural gas pipelines in densely populated areas was reported out of committee in November of last year and remained on the Senate Calendar without action since then.
-- Threat: Critical Infrastructure Protection: Senate Bill 652 (Regan-R-Cumberland), which would make it a felony to simply trespass on the right-of-way of pipelines, electric power lines, railroad tracks, refineries or on the property of any of 21 other “critical infrastructure facilities” outlined in the bill passed the Senate in May. It grew out of a concern to not have a repeat of the mass demonstrations that accompanied the Dakota Access Pipeline. Members in the Senate expressed concerns about the bill infringing on First Amendment rights. The bill got stuck in the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. Click Here for more.
-- Threat: Another bill-- Senate Bill 754 (Martin-R-Lancaster)-- was introduced, but not considered by the Senate State Government Committee, tries to address the same issue by imposing the public costs for dealing with any “public assembly, meeting or gathering” entirely on the individuals doing the protesting. Click Here for more.
-- No Help: Natural Gas Severance Tax: Several proposals to impose a severance tax on natural gas production failed to see action and NONE of them would provide funding for environmental programs. Despite a promise by House Republican Leadership, House Bill 1401 (DiGirolamo-R-Bucks) never was given a final vote in the House. It remained on the House Calendar for action since November 20, 2017. The other primary bills include Senate Bill 1000 (Yudichak-D-Luzerne) and House Bill 2253 (Wheatley-D-Allegheny), a bipartisan proposal that never left committee.
-- Helps: Natural Gas Lease Royalties: Senate Bill 138 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) providing oil and gas royalty interest landowners access to records of drilling companies to verify proper payment of royalties (sponsor summary) died in the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. Another bill on the same topic-- House Bill 557 (Everett-R-Lycoming)-- also was left in Committee.
-- Threat: Regulatory and Permitting "Reform" Bills - In May the House passed a 5 bill package of regulatory and permitting “reform” bills that would effectively hamstring the adoption of regulations by state agencies, including environmental regulations, and allow private consultants to take over review of DEP permits. The bills, thankfully, saw no action in the Senate. Click Here for more.
The bills include--
-- Threat: Killing A Regulation By Doing Nothing: House Bill 1237 (Keefer-R-York) authorizes the General Assembly to kill an economically significant final regulation from any agency by doing nothing and not passing a concurrent regulation to approve the regulation. The bill died in the Senate Rules Committee. (House Fiscal Note and summary.)
This legislation is similar to a bill-- Senate Bill 561 (DiSanto-R-Dauphin)-- passed by the Senate on June 13 last year by a party-line vote (Republicans supporting) allowing the General Assembly to kill regulations by doing nothing. The bill died in the House State Government Committee.
-- Threat: Taking Permit Reviews Away From DEP, State Agencies Giving It To Third Parties: House Bill 1959 (Rothman-R-Cumberland) establishes the Pennsylvania Permit Act which requires agencies to create and develop a navigable online permit tracking system and takes authority to issue certain permits away from state agencies like DEP and creates a new bureaucracy of third-party reviewers. The bill died in the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee. (House Fiscal Note and summary.)
There was no mention of the fact the General Assembly and Governors have cut DEP General Fund money going to DEP by 40 percent over the last decade with the resulting loss of over 25 percent of its staff. Click Here for more.
-- Threat: Cap On Number Of Regulations: House Bill 209 (Phillips-Hill-R-York): Establishes the Independent Office of the Repealer, a new bureaucracy to undertake an ongoing review of existing regulations; receive and process recommendations; and make recommendations to the General Assembly, the governor, and executive agencies for repeal. It also places a cap on all regulations and requires agencies to delete two regulations for every new regulations agencies seek to adopt. It is modeled after policies adopted by the Trump Administration. The bill died in the Senate Rules Committee, but its prime sponsor was elected to the Senate in November. (House Fiscal Note and summary).
-- Threat: Waiving Penalties: House Bill 1960 (Ellis-R-Butler) which requires each agency to appoint a Regulatory Compliance Officer with the authority to waive fines and penalties if a permit holder “attempts” to comply is now in the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee. (House Fiscal Note and summary.)
-- Threat: Repeal Any Regulation By Resolution: House Bill 1792 (Benninghoff-R-Mifflin) gives the General Assembly the ability to repeal any state regulation in effect by a concurrent resolution by requiring a single vote in the Senate and House. The process is modeled after a federal procedure used by the Trump Administration to repeal regulations (sponsor summary).
Currently, the General Assembly can repeal any regulation by passing a new law which involves a more extensive committee review and several votes each by the Senate and House. (House Fiscal Note and summary.)
The bill died in the Senate Rules Committee, but its prime sponsor is now a member of House Republican leadership.
-- Threat: Automatic Review Of Significant Regulations: Senate Bill 1231 (Brooks-R-Crawford), which would require an automatic review of “economically significant” regulations every three years moving forward, was introduced in August. The bill died in the Senate Rules Committee (sponsor summary).
-- Good: Electronics Waste Recycling Program Reform: On October 30, 2017 the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 800 (Alloway-R- Franklin) which totally revamps the whole electronics waste recycling law and put in its place a new system that he believes will fix many of the problems. The bill died in Committee. Click Here for more.
-- Energy - Renewable, Conservation--
-- Good: Microgrids: House Bill 1412 (Barrar-R-Delaware) proposing a regulatory framework to encourage energy storage and microgrids to improve electric grid resiliency during disaster emergencies and other circumstances (sponsor summary) was the subject of two hearings by the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. The bill was briefly reported out and then back to the Committee. Click Here for more.
-- Good: Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: House Bill 1446 (Quinn-R-Bucks) encouraging the development of infrastructure for electric and natural gas fueled vehicles (sponsor summary) was the subject of a House Transportation Committee hearing in November 2017, was reported out of the Committee but then sat on the House Calendar with no further action. Click Here for more.
-- Good: Act 129 Energy Conservation Program: Senate Bill 1236 (McGarrigle-R-Delaware) just introduced this bill in the Senate in September to update the very successful Act 129 utility Energy Conservation Program requirements for electric utilities. The prime sponsor, however, lost his bid for re-election in November, but others are likely to take up the cause. Click Here for more.
-- Good: Community Solar: House Bill 2681 (Santora-R-Delaware and a bipartisan group of cosponsors) would authorize community solar electric generation systems was just introduced this month. The prime sponsor, however, lost his bid for re-election in November, but others are likely to take up the cause. Click Here for more.
-- Wildlife --
-- Good: Game, Fish Commission Fees: Legislation passed the Senate in March of 2017 giving the Game and Fish and Boat Commissions the ability to set their own fees by regulation died in the House Game and Fisheries Committee. Senate Bill 30 (Eichelberger-R-Blair) authorizing the Fish and Boat Commission to adopt its own fees also died in Committee. Senate Bill 192 (Stefano-R-Fayette) authorizing the Game Commission to adopt its own fees was Tabled in the House Committee. Controversy over the bills cost Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway his job due to Senate and House opposition (not the Commission Board) to his advocacy for changing the way fees are adopted. The new Executive Director-- Tim Schaeffer-- has also made getting the Fish and Boat Commission on firmer financial ground. All 4 Chairs of the Senate and House Game and Fisheries Committees also “promised” to work to the same end at the same time Arway “retired.” Click Here for more.
[Posted: Dec. 28, 2018]
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