After several previous tries and five hours of debate, the House tonight voted on legislation-- Senate Bill 1155 (Eichelberger-R-Blair)-- to enact a Marcellus Shale natural gas production severance tax which is expected to generate about $110 million in FY 2010-11 and about $316 million in FY 2011-12. As required by House rules, a final vote on the bill can take place no sooner than tomorrow at 8:30 p.m., unless members decide to suspend the rules.
Thanks to motions by Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) and Rep. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), the House voted 154 to 45 on an amendment to more than double the monies going to the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund from the Marcellus Shale natural gas severance tax as originally proposed by some House Democrats.
The House proposal as amended would distribute funds through this formula--
For FY 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 the first $75 million shall go to: $70 million General Fund, $5 million Department of Labor & Industry for job training and for contracting with community colleges and other institutions of higher education for job training programs.
After the above transfers, the money remaining is to be allocated as follows:
-- 40 percent to General Fund (the original House Democratic proposal was 60 percent);
-- 32 percent to the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund (the original proposal was 12 percent);
-- 16 percent to the Local Government Services Account;
-- 1.6 percent to Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund;
-- 2.4 percent to Conservation District Fund;
-- 1.6 percent to Game Commission;
-- 1.4 percent to Fish & Boat Commission (the original proposal was 2.4 percent);
-- 1.6 percent to Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program;
-- 1.6 percent to Oil and Gas Environmental Disaster Recovery Account;
-- 0.8 percent to DEP for dam removal, restoration and repair; and
-- (New) 1 percent for the operation and administration of the Environmental Hearing Board.
Most House members expressed disappointment with the contents of the original proposal, but agreed to support the bill to move the process along and help comply with a budget agreement to pass Marcellus Shale severance tax legislation before October 1.