Senate News Brief

“These bills will give landowners more weapons to use in their arguments with the gas drilling companies that pay their royalties. We’ve tried to provide them with the tools that they can use to determine the accuracy of their royalty reports.”

Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Chairman Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) on Senate passage of his bills to protect natural gas leaseholders across the state.

Preview

Senate Reconvenes at 1 p.m.

The Senate reconvenes today at 1 p.m. Due to weather and travel conditions, today will be a non-voting session.

Among the bills that could come up for vote this week are two sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), Senate Bill 210, jury duty exemptions, and Senate Bill 301, Title 2 consolidation.

Senate Bill 286 and Senate Bill 287, Delaware River Port Authority reform bills sponsored by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), and Senate Bill 279, legislation sponsored by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) establishing the Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council, could also see floor votes.

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), will hold a public hearing on issues related to tax exemptions for charitable institutions and Senate Bill 4. (Wed., 2 p.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

Senate Committee Schedule
Hearings are streamed live at PASenateGOP.com.

Review

Senate Unanimously Approves Yaw Leaseholder Protection Bills

Two bills sponsored by Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Chairman Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) to protect natural gas leaseholders across the state were unanimously approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 147 would allow a royalty interest owner the opportunity to inspect records of a gas company to verify proper payment.  In addition, the legislation requires that proceeds from production of oil and gas shall be paid within 90 days of production to ensure monthly royalty payments, unless otherwise stated in the lease.

Senate Bill 148 would prohibit a gas company from retaliating against a royalty interest owner by terminating the lease agreement or ceasing development because a landowner questions the accuracy of the royalty payments.

Both bills now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.
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 Pileggi Bill to Abolish Philadelphia Traffic Court Unanimously Approved

The Senate approved legislation Wednesday to abolish the scandal-ridden Philadelphia Traffic Court.

Senate Bill 283, sponsored by Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware), is identical to a joint resolution passed last session in the General Assembly to eliminate the court. Because complete elimination of the Philadelphia Traffic Court requires an amendment to the state constitution, it must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions and be approved by voters in a statewide referendum. The bill will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

In 2012, the General Assembly also approved Senator Pileggi’s legislation to create a new Traffic Division in the Philadelphia Municipal Court to handle the responsibilities of Traffic Court.

Senator Pileggi: “Eliminating the Philadelphia Traffic Court will save up to $650,000 per year. There is no good reason for taxpayers to continue footing the bill for a court that is unnecessary and has become an embarrassment to the state’s judicial system.”

Folmer Reintroduces Measure to Allow Medical Cannabis

Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and legislative colleagues held a news conference Tuesday to outline plans for advancing medical cannabis legislation.

Senate Bill 3 has been introduced and referred to the Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Senator Folmer. 

For more on this issue, please see In the Spotlight, below.
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In the Spotlight

The medical cannabis legislation for the 2015-16 legislative session, Senate Bill 3, has been reintroduced as passed 43-7 by the full Senate last session.  The bill has 25 co-sponsors with bipartisan support.

Senate Bill 3 would allow patients who have a recommendation from their doctor to purchase and use medical cannabis from centers licensed by a to-be-created State Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing.  The entire process would be regulated by licensing: medical cannabis growers, processors and dispensers.  Smoking the product would be prohibited.

Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have similar laws.

Senator Folmer: “This bill needs to get done.  There are so many ill and suffering in Pennsylvania that could benefit from medical cannabis – reducing prescriptions of narcotic cocktails of highly addictive and dangerous drugs.”

Fast Facts

Independent Fiscal Office 2014-15 Revenue Estimate – Mid-Year Update

  • The revised estimate is $30.207 billion, which is $250 million higher than the estimate published by the IFO at the beginning of the fiscal year.
  • The revised estimate is $26 million higher than the official estimate recertified by the governor in September.
  • Corporate Net Income, Sales and Use, Inheritance taxes and other sources revised upward by $520 million.
  • Non-Tax Revenue, Personal Income Tax, Bank Shares, and other sources revised downward by $270 million.