July 22, 2017

House Republicans: It’s Up To The Senate, Wolf To Lead On Budget, Then Went Home

House Republicans failed to get an agreement on a revenue package to fill the $2.2 billion deficit and support the $31.996 billion budget passed June 30, according to House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), and then decided to go home.
Turzai said it is now time for the Senate and Gov. Wolf to lead on the budget and to pass their tax and revenue proposals and send them to the House.
He said House Republicans already passed a responsible budget in April and that is the preferred position of his Caucus.  
Turzai said the House has already passed revenue proposals in the form of expanded gaming with video gaming terminals and five different liquor privatization bills that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars, but the Senate hasn’t dealt with them.
Turzai called on Gov. Wolf to put his ideas on the table to raise revenue.  He said several times Wolf has been absent from the budget discussions, “I haven’t even seen the Governor in the halls.”  “Where is the Governor, do you know where he is?”
Turzai said there was resistance in his Republican Caucus to the Senate’s idea of borrowing $1.5 billion to fill the budget gap and added it is the Senate that wants to pass a tax increase.  He challenged the Senate to do it and send it over to the House.
Turzai said his Caucus does not believe casinos should have a monopoly on gaming and that they do not have 102 Republican votes for expanded gaming, but that video gaming terminals increase those numbers a little.
He also said Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York), Majority Appropriations Committee Chair, is planning to introduce a casino impact fee or tax bill in the near future.
He blamed the Senate for putting special fund transfers on the negotiating table, but there would have to be a lot more work to get agreement on which funds would be diverted to the General Fund.
(Summary from remarks broadcast via PLS Reporter and the Periscope app.)
The House is now on a 6-hour call to return to Harrisburg.  Sunday session is canceled. The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee meeting scheduled for Sunday is canceled.
Senate Reaction
PLS Reporter quoted Drew Crompton, Senate Republican Chief Of Staff, as saying, “I think we are going back to some of the points and views and policies that we’ve been talking about for several weeks now. We do not think it is responsible to leave things the way they are now, so we’ll address them next week and hopefully whoever will like to participate with us, they will.”
Capitolwire.com quoted Drew Crompton as saying, “I watched the House Republicans this week – I’m not sure they’re looking for consensus… we will work with whoever wants to work with us. We think it’s a mutual obligation to fund the 2017-18 appropriations bill, and we’ll share in that obligation. We would rather not do it alone, but we can only play with people who want to play with us.”

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July 21, 2017

July 24 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The July 24  PA Environment Digest is now available.  Here are just a few of the headlines--

The PA Environmental Council Friday sent a letter to all members of the Senate and House encouraging members to oppose any budget revenue plan that involves diverting monies from the Keystone and Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Funds and the state’s agricultural land preservation program.

Ed Wytovich received one of two 2017 Mayfly awards at the PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference in June to recognize his lifetime contributions to developing local and start partnerships for the reclamation of abandoned mine lands, treatment of mine drainage and watershed restoration.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell Tuesday commended more than 30 communities for working together to reduce pollution through the creation of the Regional Stormwater Management Program by the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority at an event with state and local leaders in Luzerne County.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful welcomes all Pennsylvania boating facilities, boating groups, sailors, fishermen and water enthusiasts to protect our aquatic ecosystems by holding a Marina or boating facility cleanup during the International Coastal Cleanup September 1 to October 31.  

The PA Sustainable Community Certification offers a free, online platform for municipalities to gauge progress in sustainable community development. Seventy-one municipalities across Pennsylvania have earned Sustainable Certification and dozens more are in the process.

The Department of Environmental Protection Friday released details of oversight activities for the Sunoco Mariner East 2 Pipeline Project (ME2).  To date, DEP has issued 4 Notices of Violation to Sunoco for the project. Additionally, one Consent Order and Agreement has been executed, with a penalty of $87,600 for a violation that impacted a wetland area next to Interstate 81 in Cumberland County.

The Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for up to $1 million in funding for its Small Business Advantage Grant Program to help fund energy efficiency and pollution prevention projects. (formal notice)

The Northern Illinois Federal District Court Friday dismissed legal challenges to a Zero Emission Credit Program adopted in Illinois to help keep that state’s zero carbon emitting nuclear power plants operating.

By David Hess, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection at the Time of the Rescue
On the 15th anniversary of the 2002 Quecreek Mine Rescue, I thought it would be appropriate to write an account of the rescue operation from my perspective as Secretary of Department of Environmental Protection.

To read the Digest, visit: www.PaEnvironmentDigest.com.  Click Here to view or print the entire Digest.

PA Environment Digest is edited by David E. Hess, former Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and is published as a service of Crisci Associates.

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Questions?: Send email to David Hess at: DHess@CrisciAssociates.com

Gov. Wolf Nominates PSEA President Jerry Oleksiak As Secretary Of Labor & Industry

Gov. Tom Wolf Friday announced he will nominate Jerry Oleksiak, a special education teacher and the president of the 180,000 member Pennsylvania State Education Association, to serve as Secretary of Labor and Industry.
“Throughout his 32 years in the classroom and as a voice for hundreds of thousands of workers across Pennsylvania, Jerry has been dedicated to improving education and training, and the support of family-sustaining jobs,” Gov. Wolf said. “I am confident that Jerry can lead the Department of Labor and Industry to build on our improving business climate to encourage companies to locate and expand in Pennsylvania and to provide apprenticeships and other job training programs so workers have the skills to succeed in the 21st century economy."
In his three decades in the classroom, primarily in the Upper Merion Area School District, Oleksiak dedicated his career to educating students with special needs. As a local and region PSEA leader, he worked to ensure that the educators he represented were paid fairly.
And, as a PSEA state officer for ten years, he led efforts to fund Pennsylvania schools, reform standardized testing, and advocate for working people in all walks of life.
“I thank the governor for the opportunity to join his administration,” Oleksiak said. “I have always fought for working families and I see this as a great opportunity to help create good-paying, family-sustaining jobs across our state.
"No matter where you live or what you do for a living, Governor Wolf and I want to make sure that all Pennsylvanians have jobs that can open doors for a better future for their families," Oleksiak said. "That makes sense for our state's economy, the businesses that create jobs, and the men and women who make our state work."
Throughout his career, Oleksiak has collaborated with employers, employees, and community groups in order to create partnerships that benefit all stakeholders.
He used that experience to lead the 180,000 member PSEA, the largest professional association in Pennsylvania. Before becoming president in 2015, he served as PSEA vice president, treasurer, and as a member of the board of directors.
Oleksiak received his Master’s degree in Education as well as a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a teaching certificate in social studies from Saint Joseph’s University.
Secretary Kathy Manderino is leaving the Department of Labor and Industry to join the PA Gaming Control Board.

State System Of Higher Education Receives Final Consultant Report On Strategic Review

The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems Friday delivered its final report on the strategic review of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education—a report commissioned by Chancellor Frank T. Brogan and the Board of Governors.
The NCHEMS report builds on the consultant’s public presentation to the Board of Governors last week by providing additional information regarding each of its recommendations.
"Chancellor Brogan and the Board of Governors have demonstrated real courage and leadership in choosing to undertake this system review—looking at every level of the organization and beyond," said NCHEMS President Sally Johnstone. "They recognized that decades of mounting issues had to be addressed in a new way and have taken action to bring them to the forefront."
“With the final report in hand, we will be able to take a much deeper look at the findings and recommendations as we determine the path forward for the State System,” said Board of Governors Chair Cynthia D. Shapira. “We will review the report thoroughly in the coming weeks and use it to help shape an action plan for the future that focuses on students first, and ensures they continue to have access to high-quality, high-value education that leads to a career path, at each of our 14 universities.”
Click Here for a copy of the report.