The Senate Appropriations Committee amended and reported out yet another Fiscal Code bill-- House Bill 1614 (Belfanti-D-Columbia) amended to include provisions from Senate Bill 1042, the earlier Fiscal Code bill passed by the Senate.
However, the State Forest natural gas leasing provisions are different from that bill and those adopted today by the House in House Bill 1407 (DeLuca-D-Allegheny). In this version there are no acreage limits, no minimum bids/royalties, only the transfer of $60 million in FY 2009-10 and the specific language requiring the General Assembly to appropriate funds to DCNR, up to $50 million.
The amended bill also does not contain an extension of the $2/ton recycling fee.
This action was prompted by continuing disagreements with the House over what should be in a Fiscal Code bill. Senate Republicans want an independent budget office and more acreage leased for natural gas drilling in State Forests and the House Democrats are disagreeing. Stay tuned...