State lawmakers are back in Harrisburg today, after a whirlwind weekend of cocktail receptions, black tie affairs and fundraisers at the annual Pennsylvania Society festivities in New York City.
With House and Senate leaders still hammering out the details of a final Marcellus Shale impact fee bill, one of the big questions at this year’s events was whether or not an agreement will be reached before year’s end. This was especially true at the Saturday night gala hosted by the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
The Post-Gazette’s Laura Olson polled the partiers on their prognostications:
The Corbett administration remains hopeful about completing a shale measure, with Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, who chaired the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, saying Friday that he’s “very optimistic.”
“The talks have been going very well between the staffs, and we’re narrowing down the issues to one or two,” Mr. Corbett said after his Saturday morning remarks at the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association forum.
One energy lobbyist offered a much-less-bullish prognostication, suggesting that he is more likely to fly to the moon than a shale measure is to land on the governor’s desk this month.
Legislative negotiators said weighty issues remain unresolved, including whether counties should decide whether to assess a fee or if the state should charge all drillers collectively.
“It’s certainly possible,” said House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson. “But I wouldn’t promise that it’s getting done.” Mr. Smith cautioned that dragging an agreement on regulating the booming drilling industry into 2012 could complicate the process, with attention to shift back to the state budget after the governor outlines his spending plan in early February.
Other than that, this year’s Pennsylvania Society didn’t produce much news, according to John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News.
The Allentown Morning Call’s John Micek covered the events, as well, focusing his dispatch on what revelers said about this week’s impending redistricting votes.