Science & Technology
2:05 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Marcellus Legislation Enters Final Phase as Budget Talks Loom

Reconciliation is underway in the state legislature for separate Senate and House versions of a bill that mandates impact fees on Marcellus shale gas drilling. Leaders from both chambers are working out discrepancies in the amount of the fee and how it will be collected, among other details.

With budget negotiations set to begin in earnest shortly, lawmakers are under pressure to wrap up the impact fee legislation in the next few weeks. Governor Tom Corbett said he'd like to see a final version by February 7.

"There's a goal by all of us to have it done before the budget, and before the budget address, if we could get it done that quickly," Corbett said. "There's been a lot of discussion between staff. We've narrowed down the issues. The next thing is for the leaders and myself to take those remaining issues and work them out."

Senate leadership said progress is being made, but warn that a protracted negotiation process could endanger what's already been accomplished. Senate Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati has said talks have been fruitful so far, but Governor Corbett said the real work is yet to come.

"The big lift is when they vote," said Corbett, grunting for dramatic effect. "The big lifts are getting the votes out there and discussing it between the leadership and myself."