July 1, 2014

Fiscal Code Bill Passed By Senate After A Tie Vote

The Senate Tuesday passed the Fiscal Code bill-- House Bill 278 (Baker-R-Tioga)-- that follows to implement provisions in the General Fund budget.  But this year, the bill includes creation of new programs, some which have never passed either the Senate or House, provides for transfers from special funds and makes other changes.
The announcement of the final Senate vote on the bill was interrupted on the Senate Floor because it resulted in a 25-25 tie.  Only after Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) changed his vote from no to yes was the 26-24 final vote announced.
Very late on Monday the Senate Appropriations Committee made 66 pages of additions to House Bill 278 (Baker-R-Tioga) that gave Senate members little time to absorb the volume of changes included in the bill.
Here’s a quick summary of some of the major provisions--
Major Programs Included--
— Requires DEP to use funds to promulgate separate conventional and unconventional oil and gas regulations-- Senate Bill 1378 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson), House Bill 2350 (Causer-R-Cameron) were never considered by the full Senate, House)
— Creating new Rural Regional College-- Senate Bill 1000 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson) which passed the Senate, House Bill 1701 (Causer-R-Cameron) which did not pass the House.
— Reduction in Small Games of Chance license fee from $2,000 to $500
— Education funding distribution to local school districts
— Escheats: Reduce years, Treasury Enforcement, Bankers modernization
— $10 increase in judicial surcharge
— City Revitalization and Improvement Zone Update: 3 Zones and 1 pilot in 2014, 2 Zones and 1 pilot in 2015
Transfer of Funds--
— Transfer $20 million from State Forest Timber leases
— Transfers $95 million from DCNR Oil and Gas Fund for additional “non-impact” gas leasing
— Transfers $8,672,845 from the Alternative Energy Investment Act
— Suspend transfer to Rainy Day Fund
— Horsemen transfers from Governor’s budget $17.6 million
— Transfers $225,000,000 of tobacco venture assets to PSERS
— Transfers $8,000,000 in excess law enforcement grants from Gaming Board to General Fund
— Transfers $5,676,000 from Gaming Capital money to General Fund for Pittsburgh Penguins
Other Changes--
— Establish H20 account to hold gaming money and Act 13
— Distributed tobacco payment to program
— Civil Service reforms authorize operational contracts
— Appropriates funds from DGS to caucus operations
— Includes caucus earmarks of funds
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council Monday expressed its opposition to including fundamentally changing the regulation of oil and gas operations in the Fiscal Code bill moving on parallel to the General Fund budget bill when the language was never been considered by either the full House or Senate.  Click Here for more information.
Click Here for the most recent version of House Bill 278.
The bill now goes to the House for a concurrence vote.