Sunday, October 21, 2018

Last Week/This Week At The PA Capitol

Last Week/This Week gives you a quick summary of action in the Pennsylvania Senate and House last week on environmental, energy bills and issues and a preview of what’s coming up this week from the October 22 PA Environment Digest.
Last Week the Senate and House held what we thought was their last scheduled regular voting day on bills in the 2017-18 legislative session moving the last 5 environmental bills to Gov. Wolf’s desk for his action.
The bills on the desk include legislation on landowner recreation liability, lead service water lines, leaf waste recycling, new responsibilities for DEP’s Agricultural Advisory Board and setting up a new 1-stop business and permitting center in DCED.
The bills now on the Governor’s desk are--
-- Recreation Liability: House Bill 544 (Moul-R-Adams) further providing for liability protection for landowners opening their land for public recreation (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).
-- Leaf Waste Recycling: House Bill 927 (Rader-R-Monroe) amends Act 101 Municipal Waste Planning and Recycling Act to eliminate the mandate on smaller municipalities to have a leaf waste collection program (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).
-- Lead Service Lines: House Bill 2075 (Charlton-R-Delaware) authorizing rate recovery for customer-owned lead water service lines (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).
-- DEP Agricultural Advisory Board: Senate Bill 1171 (Brooks-R-Crawford) provides detailed procedures for DEP to consult with the existing Agricultural Advisory Board on the adoption of technical guidance, changes to permits affecting agriculture and regulations (House Fiscal Note and summary).
-- One-Stop-Business Center: House Bill 1284 (Peifer-R-Pike) directs DCED to develop a one-stop-shop online business formation and permitting portal for business (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).
The Governor has 10 days to sign or veto these bills.
Not Making It
Among the bills not making it to the Governor’s desk are--
-- 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) remains on the Senate Calendar for action.  Click Here for more.
-- Cleanup Funding: House Bill 2638 (Stephens-R-Montgomery) which would authorize new local authorities to cleanup former military installations financed by tax refunds by businesses and individuals working in the remediation area was amended to eliminate its application to all properties with pollution to just those involving former military installations (Senate Fiscal Note and summary), passed by the Senate.  However, the bill was then defeated in the House on concurrence by a vote of 95 to 86.  Click Here for more.
-- 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.
-- 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 has sat on the Senate Calendar since then.
-- Emergency Pipeline Notification: Senate Bill 930 (Dinniman-D- Chester) setting notification requirements related to pipeline emergencies (sponsor summary)
-- 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 has remained on the Senate Calendar without action since then.
-- 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.
-- 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.  Click Here for more.
--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.
-- 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.
-- Protect Existing Act 13 Drilling Impact Fee Income: A Commonwealth Court decision in March on the definition of stripper well in Act 13 threatens to reduce revenue from the Act 13 drilling impact fee by another 10 percent ($16 million) a year.  Although the Public Utility Commission is appealing the decision, Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Fayette) introduced House Bill 1283 in April to fix the problem (sponsor summary).  The bill was stuck in the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee since April  Click Here for more.
-- 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.
-- 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) remained 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.
-- 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.
-- 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.
-- 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.  Click Here for more.
-- 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.  Click Here for more.
-- 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 is now stalled in the House Game and Fisheries Committee. Senate Bill 30 (Eichelberger-R-Blair) authorizing the Fish and Boat Commission to adopt its own fees saw no action on the bill in Committee.  Senate Bill 192 (Stefano-R-Fayette) authorizing the Game Commission to adopt its own fees was Tabled in the Committee.  Click Here for more.
This Week
Not much is going on this week at the Capitol as House and Senate members are busy campaigning for the November 6 election.
The House Democratic Policy Committee Wednesday is holding a hearing with Rep. Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery) on environmental education programs in Montgomery County.
Looking ahead, OK, now there’s only one more scheduled voting day left for the House and Senate this year after the House Thursday changed its November 13 return date to a voting day.
As of now, the House is on a 12-hour call by the Speaker and is scheduled to be back in Harrisburg on November 13 for Leadership Elections (and now voting).
The Senate is adjourned to the call of the President Pro Tempore and is scheduled to be back in Harrisburg November 14 for their Leadership Elections.  
No more voting days have been scheduled in the Senate, but they could, for example, to return to finish the biggest issue they left undone-- legislation to deal with the grand jury recommendations on child sex abuse.
As a reminder, with the expected end of voting session for 2017-18, all bills introduced will ‘die’ and will have to start over when the 2019-20 legislative session begins on January 8.
Environment/Energy Bills 2017-18
The major environmental and energy bills becoming law in the 2017-18 legislative session include--
2018 -----------
-- Steel Slag Waste Exemption: Senate Bill 497 (Vogel-R-Beaver) exempting steel slag from the definition of waste under certain circumstances.  A House Fiscal Note and summary is available. Signed into law as Act 7.
-- Farm High Tunnels: House Bill 1486 (Zimmerman-R-Lancaster) exempting agricultural high-tunnel structures from the Stormwater Management Act (House Fiscal Note and summary). Signed into law as Act 15.
-- Mine Medical Personnel: House Bill 1341 (Pyle-R-Armstrong) further providing for training and certification of emergency medical personnel responding to bituminous deep mine accidents..  A House Fiscal Note and summary is available. Signed into law as Act 16.
-- Local Clean Energy Funding: Senate Bill 234 (Blake-D-Lackawanna), Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing Program, that authorizes local governments to create energy improvement districts to help fund energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation projects for commercial, agricultural and industrial buildings to reduce their operating costs (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).  Signed into law as Act 30.
-- Fiscal Code-Multiple Provisions: House Bill 1929 (Marsico-R- Dauphin) amending the Fiscal Code 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 (Senate Fiscal Note and summary, House Fiscal Note and summary).  Click Here for a summary by House Democrats.   Click Here for more.  Signed into law as Act 42.
-- Limiting Eminent Domain: House Bill 2468 limiting the use of eminent domain by government agencies on land with conservation easements for parks and open space purposes except for emergency condemnation and condemnation by public utilities (House Fiscal Note).  Click Here for more. Signed into law as Act 45.
-- Alternative Ratemaking: House Bill 1782 (Delozier-R-Cumberland) authorizing alternative ratemaking such as decoupling, performance-based, multiyear and other mechanisms for utilities regulated by the PUC, including electric, natural gas, water and wastewater services (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).  Click Here for more. Signed into law as Act 58.
-- Littering/Dumping: Senate Bill 431 (Scavello-R-Monroe) authorizes the designation of local litter enforcement corridors where fines are doubled for certain offences or even tripled for commercial littering or illegal dumping and designates all scenic highways as litter enforcement corridors (House Fiscal Note and summary).  Click Here for more.  Signed into law as Act 61.
-- Disposal Of Hospice Medication: Senate Bill 978 (Baker-R-Luzerne) disposal of unused medicines in hospice or for home health care patients (House Fiscal Note and summary). Signed into law as Act 69.
2017 ----------
-- Timber On Federal Land: House Bill 1494 (Rapp-R-Forest) authorizing the state to enter into a cooperative agreement with federal agencies for the purpose of selling timber on federal land (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).  Signed into law as Act 25.
-- Alternative Septic Systems: Senate Bill 144 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) amending Act 537 on include alternative on-lot sewage systems in sewage plans (House Fiscal Note and summary).  Signed into law as Act 26.
-- Natural Gas Vehicles: Senate Bill 589 (Langerholc-R-Bedford) increasing maximum allowable weight for natural gas vehicles (House Fiscal Note and summary).  Click Here for more. Signed into law as Act 31.
-- Roll Back Stream Protections From Mining: Senate Bill 624 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson) retroactively rolling back protections for streams from deep coal mining (House Fiscal Note and summary).  (Click Here for more.)  Gov. Wolf allowed this bill to become law without his signature as Act 32.
-- Uniform Construction Code: House Bill 409 (Evankovich-R- Allegheny) making changes to the process for adopting amendments to the Uniform Construction Code, including energy efficiency standards (Senate Fiscal Note and summary). Click Here for more.  Signed into law as Act 36.  
-- Sunset For $2/ton Recycling Fee Eliminated: Part of the Administrative Code bill-- House Bill 118-- that became law included a provision eliminating the sunset date on the $2/ton Recycling Fee ensuring financial stability for the state’s local Recycling Program into the future (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).  Click Here for more. Signed into law as Act 40.
-- Closing Solar Borders: A provision requiring solar energy credits under the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards to be purchased within Pennsylvania also became law as part of House Bill 118 (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).  Signed into law as Act 40.
-- Manganese Standard: Included in the Administrative Code bill-- House Bill 118 (Kaufer-R- Luzerne)-- is a provision which directs the Environmental Quality Board to adopt a proposed manganese standard within 90 days that includes the 1 milligram/liter manganese standard established under 25 Pa Code Chapter 93.7 and insure the standard is met at the point of intake for water suppliers (25 Pa Code Chapter 96.3). The 1 milligram/liter standard is 20 times the level of manganese that water suppliers are allowed to have in their water supplies, according to EPA’s secondary maximum contaminant level (Senate Fiscal Note and summary). Click Here for more.  Signed into law as Act 40.  
-- Wild Resource Conservation Tax Checkoff: This checkoff was permanently reauthorized as part of the Tax Code bill-- House Bill 542-- that became law.  It helps assure funding for DCNR’s Wild Resource Conservation Program (House Fiscal Note and summary).  Signed into law as Act 43.
-- Funding Sewer/Water Laterals: A section of the Fiscal Code bill-- House Bill 674-- that became law allows public municipal authorities to use funds to replace private water and sewer laterals (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).  This was proposed originally to help the Pittsburgh Water Authority deal with lead service lines.  Signed into law as Act 44.
-- Noxious Weeds: House Bill 790 (Pashinski-D-Luzerne) repeal the Noxious Weed Control Law and replace with the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act (House Fiscal Note and summary).  Signed into law as Act 46.
-- Performance-Based Budgeting: Senate Bill 181 (Mensch-R-Montgomery) providing for a performance-based budgeting (exempting appropriations to the General Assembly and the Judiciary) and creating a Performance-Based Budget Board (House Fiscal Note and summary).  Click Here for more. Signed into law as Act 48.  
-- Natural Gas Gathering Pipelines: Senate Bill 242 (Baker-R-Luzerne) adding unconventional and larger conventional natural gas gathering pipelines to the PA One Call utility safety program is a major win (House Fiscal Note and summary). Click Here for more. Signed into law as Act 50.  
-- Storage Tanks: House Bill 290 (Metzgar-R-Bedford) providing for legislative appointments to the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board, fills a gap in funding for DEP’s Storage Tank Program and extends the sunset date for the environmental cleanup programs for storage tanks (House Fiscal Note and summary).  Signed into law as Act 61.
-- Water Authorities Under PUC: House Bill 1490 (Turzai-R-Allegheny) placing the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority under the regulation of the Public Utility Commission (House Fiscal Note and summary) .Click Here for more. Signed into law as Act 65.  
-- Banning Plastic Bag Bans: House Bill 1071 (Farry-R-Bucks) to prevent the imposition of a ban, fee or surcharge on recyclable plastic bags (House Fiscal Note and summary).  This bill was vetoed by Gov. Wolf as Veto No. 1.
-- Lead Exposure Task Force: Senate Resolution 33 (Yudichak-D-Luzerne) was passed by the Senate creating a bipartisan task force to investigate the scope of Pennsylvania’s lead exposure problem, including in drinking water (sponsor summary). Click Here for more. Adopted June 6, 2017.

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