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Treated Mine Water Proposal Signed Into Law
Last week, the General Assembly gave final approval to legislation I introduced to help reduce the amount of fresh water used in oil and gas drilling operations. I am pleased to report that the bill was signed into law by Governor Wolf this week.
The new law, Act 47 of 2015, clarifies liability issues pertaining to the use of treated mine water in oil and gas operations, an innovative process that reduces the need for fresh water in the natural gas extraction process. It will not change or weaken any existing environmental safeguards designed to protect public health or maintain water quality; it only clarifies parties that could be held responsible if the mine water is not treated or utilized properly.
The law opens the door for more companies to put this innovative and environmentally friendly process to good use, significantly reducing the withdrawal demands on Pennsylvania’s rivers, lakes and streams.
It is imperative for lawmakers to support efforts to protect our environment and develop our natural resources safely and responsibly. I am thankful that my colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives joined me in supporting this inventive approach.
Revised Wolf Tax Plan Defeated in the House
Following Governor Wolf’s rejection of more than $11 billion in emergency funding for schools and social service providers last week, legislative leaders agreed to give the Governor an opportunity to make his case directly to individual lawmakers and present his revenue package for a final vote in the House and Senate. The House defeated the Governor’s plan by a 127-73 margin this week, once again demonstrating the lack of broad support for his tax proposal.
While the Governor made a natural gas extraction tax the centerpiece of his campaign last year, the tax plan he presented to lawmakers drew an overwhelming majority of its revenues from a $3.5 billion Personal Income Tax hike. The structure of the Governor’s plan serves as a unambiguous acknowledgement that we cannot solve all of the Commonwealth’s ills with an extraction tax that will only chase away good-paying jobs and discourage economic development. I am hopeful that the defeat of this plan will finally help retire the myth perpetuated by the Wolf Administration that a severance tax is the key to breaking the budget stalemate.
The current impasse has gone on far too long. Vulnerable community residents are now facing the possibility of seeing critical services interrupted or curtailed, and numerous schools throughout the state are facing a financial crisis if the state misses another scheduled payment. The emergency funding measure vetoed by the Governor last week was the fourth attempt by lawmakers to fund critical services, and each time, these measures were blocked due to partisan politics.
It is time for Governor Wolf to concede the fact that we cannot solve this crisis by simply enacting massive unaffordable tax increases.
Tele-Town Hall Event Inspires Lively Discussion
My most recent telephone town hall event included a thoughtful and spirited debate regarding the state budget impasse and other critical issues facing communities throughout the region. I appreciate all of the community residents who asked questions, shared their thoughts and provided survey responses during this discussion.
In case you missed it, an audio link to the telephone town hall event is available here.
Local Teacher Named a Finalist in School Grant Contest
Avella Area High School teacher Lori Lochran was recently named one of 15 finalists for the nationwide Dream Big Teacher Challenge, which encourages teachers to explore new ways to educate students and transform their communities. Ms. Lochran’s proposal would create a vegetable garden to be run by students, with a portion of the food to be donated to local food banks.
Voting opened on October 1 and runs through the end of the month. Six winners will be announced in early December. To vote for Lori, visit www.thankamericasteachers.com and click Vote for a Teacher on the top right of the page.
For more information on issues of importance to
southwestern Pennsylvania, please visit my website at
www.senatorbartolotta.com and connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/senatorbartolotta)
and Twitter (www.twitter.com/senbartolotta).
SouthPointe District Office
Greene County Office Building