Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Talks On Severance Tax Break Down In Disagreement

Talks this morning between House and Senate Leadership and Gov. Rendell over adoption of a Marcellus Shale natural gas severance tax broke down in disagreement over the tax rate and whether the vehicle used by the House-- Senate Bill 1155-- to adopt a severance tax was constitutional.
Senate Republicans have an opinion from the independent Legislative Reference Bureau saying there are constitutional issues with Senate Bill 1155.
House Speaker Keith McCall (D-Carbon) told a press conference he has another opinion from the Legislative Reference Bureau saying the constitutional issues with Senate Bill 1155 can be fixed with amendments and there are two other legislative vehicles in the Senate they could use to pass a severance tax-- House Bill 786 (D-George) establishing a state energy office within DEP or House Bill 2235 (Vitali-D-Delaware) putting in place a three year moratorium on Marcellus Shale drilling.
While Gov. Rendell said at the same press conference talks will continue Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) said the prospects for an agreement on a severance tax "diminish by the hour."
Sen. Scarnati said Republicans have negotiated in good faith and have lived up to their commitment in the budget agreement in July to work to pass a severance tax. Gov. Rendell responded, "bull."
Both Gov. Rendell and Speaker McCall said today's discussions did not tackle the issue of where revenues would be distributed, but Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) said the Governor's position is significantly different from the one taken by the House Democrats and Senate Republicans.
Speaker McCall said he is more than willing to bring the House back into session this week to take action on a severance tax and in fact notified House members that was a possibility.
The Senate is only scheduled to be in session through Thursday of this week and said it will not return to take action on any legislation for the remainder of the year. Any bill not receiving final action by the House and Senate will die and have to start all over next year with a new Governor and General Assembly.
Online Video
Senators Scarnati & Pileggi Part 1 (Roxbury News)
Senators Scarnati & Pileggi Part 2 (Roxbury News)
Gov. Rendell & House Speaker McCall Part 1 (Roxbury News)
Gov. Rendell & House Speaker McCall Part 2 (Roxbury News)
Scarnati: Rendell, Senate GOP Worlds Apart On Gas Tax
State Far Away From Shale Gas Compromise Senate GOP Says
Legislators, Rendell Far Apart On Marcellus shale Tax
Shale Gas Tax Compromise Looks Dead

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