Friday, June 22, 2018

Fiscal Code Bill Goes To Governor With New Private Dam Financial Assurance Program, ATV Trails Provisions

The Senate and House have passed and sent to the Governor the Fiscal Code bill-- House Bill 1929-- that goes along with the General Fund budget bill.  It includes a new Private Dam Financial Assurance and Loan Program, direction to DCNR on developing ATV trails and more funding for small water and sewer projects.
Gov. Wolf signed the bill into law late Friday evening.
Here’s a quick summary of the environmental provisions--
-- Private Dam Financial Assurance Program/Revolving Loan Fund: Requires the Department of Community and Economic Development, in consultation with DEP, to establish the Private Dam Financial Assurance program to provide financial assurance assistance to owners of regulated private dams to meet proof of financial responsibility requirements under the law.  The provisions are borrowed from House Bill 1712 (R.Brown-R-Monroe) that was passed by the House in February 2016 and not given a final vote by the Senate. The session’s bill-- House Bill 431-- never saw any action.
DEP is also authorized to establish a revolving loan program to provide assistance for private dam owners if unused proceeds in the Financial Assurance Fund exceed $1.5 million.  Loans cannot exceed 50 percent of eligible costs and no loan can exceed $500,000.
-- CFA Small Water and Sewer Program: Again makes funding available-- $14.5 million to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for a Small Water and Sewer Program for projects from $30,000 to $500,000 in size.  The CFA is prohibited from accepting new applications for this funding.
-- $30.4 Million VW Settlement By Attorney General: Again requires the transfer of the $30.5 million VW settlement by the Attorney General to the General Fund as the General Assembly did in FY 2017-18.
-- ATV Trail In Clinton County: DCNR is required to develop and maintain an ATV trail connecting the Whiskey Springs ATV trail in Clinton County to the Blood Skillet ATV trail by April 1, 2020.
-- Northcentral ATV Initiative: DCNR is required to implement the full Northcentral PA ATV Initiative and create a network of trails connecting Clinton County to the New York State Border by April 1, 2024.
-- Farm Succession Funding: Authorized the Department of Agriculture to use Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase funding for farm succession planning grants like in FY 2017-18.
Click Here for the text of the bill. Senate Fiscal Note and summary.  Click Here for a summary by House Democrats.
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