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Reminder:This info maybe forwarded as long as PA Legislative Services and the PFSC are given credit for providing this info.

HB 40 Perry (R) (Castle Doctrine) (PN 3799) Amends Titles 18 (Crimes & Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) further stipulating, in general principles of justification, certain circumstances and situations in which protective and/or deadly force is justified. The bill provides for presumptions of intent, for reasonable belief, for exceptions, for definitions, and for public officers. Additionally, justifications for the use of force in the performance of duty are outlined. Grading of the offense is provided as well as when civil immunity is appropriate.

Sep 28, 2010 - H-Motion to call up Discharge Resolution withdrawn, and Committee to vote on bill Monday, Oct. 4



HR 951 Staback (D) (PN 4316) Resolution recognizing September 28, 2010, as “National Hunting and Fishing Day” in Pennsylvania.

Sep 28, 2010 - H-Adopted by a vote of 197 YEAS 0 NAYS



HB 181 Cutler (R) (PN 1851) Amends Title 34 (Game) further providing for powers and duties of enforcement officers relating to searches and for resisting or interfering with an officer. Also allows courts to continue to decide the definition of curtilage as it pertains to cabins.

Sep 28, 2010 - H-Signed in the House

Sep 28, 2010 - S-Signed in the Senate

Awaiting Governor’s signature





New Legislation:



HB 386 Donatucci (D)

Amends Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) further providing for firearms not to be carried without a license.

Sep 28, 2010 - H-Filed



HB 1400 Everett (R)

(PN 4337) Amends “An act encouraging landowners to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting liability in connection therewith, and repealing certain acts” by redefining “recreational purpose” to include recreational noncommercial aircraft operations or recreational noncommercial ultralight operations on private airstrips.

Sep 28, 2010 - H-Filed



Severance Tax Update:



Monday:

House moves new natural gas extraction tax plan. After a weekend where various proposals were floated, a natural gas extraction tax plan whose proceeds are heavily weighted towards filling in state financial holes could receive a House vote Tuesday. After a plan by House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne, to give the first $50 million to property tax relief capsized Monday, the House Appropriations Committee approved by an 18-15 vote an amendment creating a new House natural gas tax plan. Since the new language was amended into a Senate Bill (SB 1155) that will be on third consideration in the House, the bill could come up for a final vote in the full House later today or tomorrow. That would allow the bill to be returned to the Senate this week – prior to the Oct. 1 deadline - for that chamber’s concurrence or non-concurrence with the changes to the legislation. House and Senate Republicans criticized many of the bill’s provisions, and staffers for Senate GOP leaders said they are poised to unveil and move their own proposal later this week.



Tuesday:

SB 1155 was on Tuesday’s marked calendar for third consideration in the House. It was laid out for discussion and third consideration. Another amendment was adopted, but it wasn’t given final consideration.



The House amendment increases the environmental share in natural gas tax proposal. After nearly five hours of debate, House lawmakers amended a natural gas extraction tax proposal but left a vote on final approval for Wednesday. Lawmakers adopted changes to Senate Bill 1155 that left the 39-cent per 1,000 cubic feet tax rate in place, but swapped the amounts of the 60 percent general fund share and 40 percent for environmental programs and localities. The additional 20 percent for environmental programs would be used to boost the amount of revenues for the Environmental Stewardship Fund, which would receive 32 percent instead of the previously proposed 12 percent.



The bill is on today’s House marked calendar from final consideration, but unless they suspend the rules, they can’t vote on it till after 8:00pm to follow the 24 hour rule.



================= Capitol Wire Story on Amendments =========



Sent: Wed Sep 29 08:53:14 2010
Subject: Capitolwire: House increases environmental share in natural gas tax proposal.

HARRISBURG (Sept. 28) - After nearly five hours of debate, House lawmakers amended a natural gas extraction tax proposal but left a vote on final approval for Wednesday.

Lawmakers adopted changes to Senate Bill 1155 that left the 39-cent per 1,000 cubic feet tax rate in place, but swapped the amounts of the 60 percent general fund share and 40 percent for environmental programs and localities.

The additional 20 percent for environmental programs would be used to boost the amount of revenues for the Environmental Stewardship Fund, which would receive 32 percent instead of the previously-proposed 12 percent.

The general fund would receive $88 million this year - $70 million plus 40 percent of the remaining revenues - instead of $97 million projected under the earlier version.

That amendment from Rep. Kate Harper, R-Montgomery, initially failed to gain enough votes for consideration, but was later adopted on a vote of 154-45.

House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne, after urging his members to reject the Harper amendment on the first vote, urged its passage on the second try. He called it "a magnificent compromise."

"In the end, a lot of my members wanted a little bit lower percentage, but in the Democratic caucus, in order to come up with my equation" of enough members to pass a bill, "I had to compromise with my own coalition," Eachus said.

The new proposal will be brought up for debate during the day Wednesday, but cannot be voted before 8:20 p.m. without suspending the 24-hour rule, according to House Democratic staff.

The heated and lengthy debate on the long-awaited tax proposal came as House Democratic leaders attempt to meet an Oct. 1 deadline, set during the budget process, for passing that tax. Senate GOP leaders have said the tax rate in the House plan is too high, and have been preparing their own proposal with a lower initial rate of 1.5 percent.

Asked about the amended House plan, Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, wrote in an e-mail: "We will review it if the House passes it but we have not examined the language yet."

The vote count remained close throughout the House floor debate, and former Speaker John Perzel, R-Philadelphia, was seen negotiating with colleagues outside the chamber in an effort to gather the final affirmative votes. Labor leaders also helped Eachus round up votes, button-holing members near the back of the chamber.

Much of the floor discussion was a reiteration of earlier extraction tax debates - pleas to remember the environmental damage caused by the coal industry, and comments that the levy would drive drillers and job opportunities out of the state.

"This is just another taking of money from a prosperous industry that has huge potential for growth," said Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Armstrong.

Republicans in opposition said they disagreed with the tax rate - which would be the highest, or among the highest, in the country, depending upon the price of gas - and with the revenue distribution formula. They also criticized the procedure used Monday in the Appropriations Committee to amend the new proposal into a Senate bill that was awaiting final passage.

Rep. John Maher, R-Allegheny, called the measure a "rabbit pulled from the hat of the Appropriations Committee." He said it should have provided more funding toward oversight and prevention of drilling accidents, a point echoed by many southeastern House Republicans.

Several Democratic supporters urged approval of the measure as "a starting point," in order to get a tax in place before the next governor and General Assembly take office in January.

"The Pennsylvania Senate, without action from the House, will do nothing," said Rep. Gene DePasquale, D-York. "It will not take action on serious legislation without action from this House. That's the reality that we're dealing with. We need this bill to pass to have the negotiating leverage."

Many advocating for the bill said they would have liked to see more funding for environmental programs and for local communities with drilling activity, but that some additional funding would be preferable to none.

"If we don't start this process, I can guarantee you that we will go five years without a severance tax," said Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton. "That means your local municipality, who may want more than this bill provides, will get nothing."

But several more moderate southeastern Republicans - Harper and Rep. Chris Ross, R-Chester - said they would have supported a measure that provided more funding to environmental priorities.

"You're not voting for mother nature, you're voting to dump $80 million in the general fund, and I don't think the voters will appreciate it," Harper said.

Harper's amendment was revived after Rep. Mario Scavello, R-Monroe, suggested that the changes would have gained some Republican votes, and filed a motion to reconsider.

When the reconsideration vote was successful, House Minority Leader Sam Smith, R-Punxsutawney, brought up procedural questions about the vote, halting activity for an hour as staff reviewed the motion and vote. House Speaker Keith McCall, D-Carbon, ruled that the amendment was properly before the House, and Republicans continued to raise concerns but did not challenge that ruling.

Harper touted the amendment for increasing the share for the Environmental Stewardship Fund, but several opponents were critical of the plan for not increasing the share for local governments. Harper's amendment maintained the 16 percent share to be split among municipalities and counties.

Maher questioned who would be the beneficiary of the amendment's changes: "It's not going to be your townships. . They are bearing the brunt, and instead it doesn't go to them. It does go to the environmental defense fund."

Eachus said he expects to gain the support of township and borough associations, arguing that some additional local assistance could come from the money allocated to the general fund and Environmental Stewardship Fund.

The amended bill also would decrease the percentage of revenue going to the Fish and Boat Commission, dropping it to 1.4 percent from 2.4 percent. That 1 percent difference would go to operation and administration of the Environmental Hearing Board.

Another amendment, to incorporate the House Republican plan for increasing demand of natural gas, failed after the Harper amendment was adopted. That plan, dubbed "Marcellus Works," would transition the state fleet of cars to natural gas vehicles and provide grants to help local governments do so as well.



From PA Land Trust Assoc:



You can make an "almost win" into a "win" with a phone call right now. Later is too late.



Last night the PA House approved Representative Kate Harper's amendment to Senate Bill 1155, which would provide substantial funding to the Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener) from a gas severance tax. However, the House has not yet voted on the amended SB1155 as a whole; today they most likely will, as early as mid-morning. Call your State Representative now and tell them to vote for SB1155 as amended by Harper. Tell them that it is vitally important to your community for this reinvestment in Growing Greener be made. Remind them of the projects in your community that Growing Greener has funded and can fund. (Find Your Legislator)



Keep on calling and encouraging others to call until we tell you the vote has happened!



Secondary messages:

When we take from our natural resources, we have to reinvest in our natural resources (or eventually we will have nothing). The gas severance tax represents a perfect opportunity to direct a portion of the proceeds from an activity that takes from Pennsylvania's natural resources back into a successful program that benefits the environment and all Pennsylvanians.
After a decade of helping communities protect working farms and special places, revitalize cities and towns, and clean up rivers and streams, Growing Greener is nearly out of money ($200M annually at its peak down to $15M). If Growing Greener does not secure new money now, it likely will be years before there is another opportunity.
Corporate reports to Wall Street are clear that PA's Marcellus gas is extremely lucrative. A company recently reported a 64% rate of return on investment. A tax will not slow down the gas rush; it will ensure that the public receives something back for the impact to the public's water, wildlife and air.
The industry is here because the gas is here and the mid-Atlantic population that uses it is here. Transportation is the biggest cost behind retail sales. The industry is here in Pennsylvania because the location is perfect. No tax is going to change that.
The Renew Growing Greener Coalition has identified more than $200M/year of environmental, conservation and recreational need across the Commonwealth. The severance tax is the only opportunity now available to help fill this need.
Other notes:



Revenue estimates for the Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener) based on Rep. Harper's amendment:



2010-11 $14.48 million



2011-12 $80.36 million



2012-13 $106.81 million



2013-14 $158.66 million



2014-15 $188.01 million



Rep. Harper's amendment raised the share of revenue going to the Environmental Stewardship Fund from 15% to 25%. (Contrary to some statements, it did not lower local government's share and local governments of course can also receive Growing Greener grants.)





Joint Legislative Conservation Committee

9/27/10

By Matt Hess, PA Legislative Services Reporter



The committee held an environmental issue forum on investing and trading in the forest carbon market with guest speaker, Matt Smith, Vice President of Forest Operations for the Finite Carbon Corporation.

Craig Brooks, Executive Director of the Joint Legislative Conservation Committee, introduced Smith. He stated that Finite Carbon “provides forest carbon development and commercialization services across the United States and provides solutions to landowners in creating and monetizing carbon credits.” Brooks said Smith spent more than 20 years as a forester in Pennsylvania and is a Society of American Foresters certified forester, a member of the Forest Education Carbon Group and a member of the Forest Carbon Standards Committee. He is also a published author and adjunct professor of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York College.

Matt Smith, Vice President of Forest Operations for the Finite Carbon Corporation, gave an overview of company which is located in Wayne County. “We provide a single-source to handle all the complexities of a forest carbon offset at the behest of the landowner,” he stated. “Starting a forest carbon offset in today’s market takes six figures and it can take another six figures to maintain that project throughout the commitment period. We put our capital to work. We manage the process. We handle all the paperwork, inventory and pay all the bills. In the end we get paid in tons of CO2 that we can then hedge the market on and capitalize on later.”

Brooks questioned what the minimum qualification is for a private landowner to enter into the forest carbon offset market. Smith called the qualifications a “moving target” and a variety programs such as the American Carbon Registry and the Volunteer Carbon Standard offer different restrictions. “Right now you’re probably looking at 800-1,000 acres or more to generate enough CO2 to make it worthwhile,” he added.

Smith broke-down forest carbon offsets into three different categories:

· Afforestation or reforestation: “I have a field today. I make a legitimate and decisive decision to plant a forest on that field to generate increased climate benefits. It’s happening on a very small scale and some rules need to change to make it more economically viable in the long haul.”

· Reduced Emissions from Forest Degradation and Deforestation (RED): “These are largely international projects in areas of high biological concern. 20 percent of our global CO2 emissions are from deforestation and degradation so actions to lockup land and hold it in for us are legitimate forest carbon offset projects. They are kind of the black knight of the forest carbon world. Everyone is very attracted to them but no one has been able to develop a definitive rule-set to quantify and handle these projects yet.”

· Sustainably Managed Forests: “Present the most scalable and reasonable opportunity in today’s voluntary and hopefully tomorrow’s federal programs. As owner and developer of a forest carbon offset project, that forest owner makes a contractual commitment to maintaining and managing their forest sustainably for the long haul. That results in additional and guaranteed climate change benefits that would not have been guaranteed if they had not made that commitment.”

Smith explained that forests in the United States “sequester over 200 million metric tons of CO2 every year” which is ten percent of the country’s industrial emissions. He said Sustainably Managed Forests “aren’t the silver bullet to handle climate change but they are one very strong tool in our toolbox to make a significant dent.” He highlighted the benefits of forest carbon offsets including the following:

· Forests can provide real and equivalent climate change benefits.

· Managed forest offset credits can provide landowners with financial incentives to manage their land for the long term and avoid or reduce the pressures to convert forest land to other land use.

· Forest benefits can be increased and enhanced through sustainable management.

Rep. Miller questioned if there is an advantage of having younger trees in a sustainably managed forest as opposed to mature trees. “There are benefits to both,” Smith responded. “A mature forest will store more carbon but a young forest will take up carbon at a faster rate. What’s important is that we maintain a balance of age classes in the forest landscape to maintain that carbon benefit.”

Smith also gave an overview of the carbon offset market. “The carbon market has grown exponentially,” he stated. “The voluntary carbon market is $92 billion. Whether there is a federal program here in the states or not the folks that monitor this market estimate that the carbon market could reach $3.1 trillion by 2020.” He explained that “demand greatly outstrips supply” and “the EPA estimates that by 2050 we’re going to need 600 million tons of offsets to satisfy this market.” Smith said utility companies are the primary buyers of carbon offsets as well as manufactures and speculators who are buying portfolios of tons as an investment. He indicated that forest carbon offsets are worth $3-7 per ton right now but that can vary depending on “what vintage they are” and “what program they’re registered under.”

Rep. Ross asked if the company “is trying to aggregate smaller holdings or are you literally looking at a tract of land that is 800 acres.” Smith said Finite Carbon is “looking at tracts of land that have 800-1,000 acres because they need the ability to produce enough tons to offset the cost structure for getting these projects going.” He added “there are aggregation rules out there but they just don’t make economic sense at $4-7 a ton.”

Smith then discussed the future of regulating the carbon market. “Those of us in the carbon market were really hoping for some federal action in cap and trade and I think the utilities are too,” he stated. “Emitting CO2, emitting greenhouse gases has a cost. Up until now the burden of that cost has been absorbed by the environment and society and now we’re shifting that cost of emitting greenhouse gas unto those that emit it. That’s going to translate to increased power costs and increased cost of goods and services to the American public. That can be a flat-out cost and it can be very high cost or we can look for ways to achieve the same environmental result and absorb the same cost in a less intrusive way by considering offsets. Cap and trade considers offsets. That’s how we can meliorate the negative economic impact.”

He emphasized that the EPA is mandated to regulate greenhouse gas by 2011. “Climate change and climate change reductions are not going away for emitters,” he said. “If the EPA fails we’ve got some judicial activity that forces us down the path of cap and trade. I think a lot of people have come to the foregone conclusion that regulation is in front of us it’s just a matter of what form it will take and when it will take place.” Smith indicated that a number of state and regional programs are in place to curb carbon emissions which cover 53 percent of economy and 49 percent of the population and stressed the importance of California’s greenhouse gas cap bill, AEB 32, which will be considered by the legislature on November 2. “The pass or failure of AEB 32 will say a lot about what people want in this country,” he said. “It will set some important precedents. It will formally regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the state of California and it will allow offsets.”

Smith then responded to questions from the audience.

What are your folks telling you about how the vote will turn out in California?

Literally it’s 50/50. They really don’t know which way it’s going to go. It’s another state in the nation that’s broke and struggling economically. It’s very difficult to levy a greenhouse gas cap because of the added negative economic impact.

Who varies the offset for companies that buy offsets?

These voluntary programs are called registries. You produce a project and register tons on that registry. Those tons might have a serial number, they know where it came from, whether it’s in compliance or not. There’s also a verification component to that so the registry will third party verify the tons, the reductions from the project. It’s kind of all over the board but most of the demand that’s out there is looking for registered tons that are perceived to be high enough quality to count later in federal court.

Do you think that carbon will be regulated by regions?

It’s going to be a national program that straightens this out. I’m not a fan of more regulation but we need one program with one set of rules and one market. I think that’s where we’re headed and the only the thing that can straighten it out.
 
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