14 November 2011 Dear Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, I write today regarding House Bill 1950.
While the bill is a step in the right direction from Sen. Scarnati’s proposal earlier this year, ATR opposes HB 1950 in its current form and recommends several ways in which the bill could be improved to ensure that no part of it would be accurately described as a tax increase. First, HB 1950 needs a strong burden of proof provision. Under current law energy companies are required to compensate for various impacts on the communities in which they drill. ATR recommends that HB 1950 be amended to include a strong burden of proof provision to ensure that any revenue generated by an impact fee is used for true impacts that industry is not already compensating for. Additionally, if this is to be a true local impact fee, then all of the revenue generated by the fee should remain at the county level. There is no reason any money should be run through Harrisburg to address local impacts. This legislation would also force the gas industry to pay for the road impacts caused by other businesses. Furthermore, this legislation gives no credit to energy companies that are already putting a significant amount of revenue toward roads. The fact that a fiscal note has not yet been assigned is indicative of the fact that this legislation is far from a final product. That said, the amount of revenue that analysts estimate such an impact fee could yield is less than half of one percent of the state general fund. Such revenue could be easily offset with tax relief elsewhere, such as a reduction in Pennsylvania’s second highest in the nation corporate income tax. ATR applauds Gov. Corbett for moving the ball in the right direction on this issue for restoring fiscal sanity in Pennsylvania after eight years of tax and spend policies under Ed Rendell. While this is a huge improvement over proposals for a severance tax and Sen. Scarnati’s proposal from earlier this year, there are still ways in which it can be improved. If you have any questions please contact ATR’s Director of State Affairs, Patrick Gleason, at 202-785-0266 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Onward,
Grover G. Norquist