Feb. 17, 2017

Natural Gas Royalty Legislation Reintroduced


I am continuing the effort to bring fairness to our landowners who hold natural gas leases through legislation designed to guarantee a minimum one-eighth (12.5 percent) royalty on unconventional gas well drilling.

I am joined by several of my colleagues, Reps. Matt Baker (R-Bradford/Potter/Tioga), Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna), Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming) and Jonathan Fritz (R-Susquehanna/Wayne), in sponsoring House Bill 557.

The problem being addressed in this legislation is the deduction of “post-production” costs by drilling companies that drain the royalties of leaseholders unfairly. This was not the legislative intent of the Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act (Act 60 of 1979), which clearly states that leaseholders shall not receive less than the 12.5 percent royalty, regardless of costs.

A 2010 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling stated that the General Assembly is the proper venue in which to address this issue.

We need to ensure that the deduction of costs does not cause the leaseholders to lose their guaranteed one-eighth minimum royalty payment.

Detailed Look into Governor’s Budget to Begin Next Week

The House Appropriations Committee, of which I am a member, will begin its detailed look into the governor’s $32.3 billion budget proposal as hearings start on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

The opening day of hearings will include testimony from the Independent Fiscal Office, and the departments of Revenue and State.

The remainder of the week will include looks into the proposed budgets of the pension systems, departments of Labor and Industry and Transportation, treasury, offices of auditor and attorney general and the State System of Higher Education.

The full schedule is available here, which will also include video of the archived hearings.

More information about the governor’s proposal is available here.
Committee Accepts Hunting, Fishing Reports from State Agencies

The House Game and Fisheries Committee accepted the annual reports of the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) during meetings this week.

In the face of declining revenues, both groups advocated for legislation that would allow them to set their own license fees. Last session, similar legislation that originated in the Senate passed out of committee in the House but was never voted on the floor.

Among the PGC’s top issues presented to the committee were the recruitment of a new class of wildlife conservation officer cadets, the closing of two of Pennsylvania’s four pheasant farms due to insufficient funding and a decline of the ruffed grouse population.

The PFBC addressed the agency’s fiscal challenges, noting that license fees have not increased since 2005 and expenses are expected to exceed revenue during the current fiscal year.
PennDOT Offers Internship Opportunities

PennDOT is offering internships for those seeking engineering, science and technical degrees, along with general government service, this summer.

A variety of internship positions will be filled, including those that may lead to full-time employment after graduation. Click here to learn more about the types of internships offered.

Applications for the summer program will be accepted through March 30.

More information, including application instructions, is available here.
PennDOT Offices Closed for Presidents Day
In observance of Presidents Day, all PennDOT driver license and photo centers, including the full-service center in Harrisburg, will be closed Saturday, Feb. 18, through Monday, Feb. 20. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, dmv.pa.gov.
Government Contracting Webinar

Regional businesses can learn how to get paid quickly and “go green” when contracting with the U.S. Department of Defense at a new webinar by SEDA-Council of Governments Procurement Technical Assistance Center.

The Department of Defense offers millions of dollars’ worth of contracts to qualifying businesses. The department uses an electronic invoicing system and correct submittal by businesses is key to insuring timely payment.

David Kern, small business specialist with Tobyhanna Army Depot, Monroe County, will show businesses how to:

  • Register with the invoicing system (Wide Area Workflow).
  • Submit invoices correctly.
  • Track payment status.
The webinar will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

To register for the webinar, click here.

For more information, contact SEDA-COG’s Kristen Moyer at 570-524-4491 or Kristen@seda-cog.org.

SEDA-COG’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center helps companies explore and compete in the local, state and federal government marketplace. For more information about the SEDA-COG Procurement Technical Assistance Center, visit the SEDA Council of Governments.
Special Veterans Assistance Hours Feb. 27

If you are a veteran or a family member of one, I encourage you to take advantage of free assistance at Penn Hills Plaza, Suite 1, Muncy.

Dan Falls, department service officer with the Pennsylvania American Legion, will be available by appointment on Monday, Feb. 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., to help with issues such as compensation, pension, death benefits, education, health care and general veterans’ benefits. Veterans do not need to be a member of the legion to participate.

To schedule an appointment, call my district office at (570) 546-2084.
Road Maintenance Info Available Online

To make your travels easier, the weekly road maintenance schedule is available at the PennDOT Regional Office website here. For statewide information, visit 511pa.com.