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Senate Impact Fee Vote Shines Light On How Bills Are Passed

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The state Capitol

The state Senate’s Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is set to consider and approve the House’s impact fee today.

“What’s that?” You may be wondering. “Legislative leaders have reached an agreement on how much to charge drillers, who would collect an impact fee, and other outstanding disagreements?”

Not at all. Today’s vote is the latest example of how major bills don’t move through the Legislature School House Rock-style, with committee hearings, floor debates, and open deliberations over amendments. Rather, details are worked out in closed-door meetings attended by legislative leaders and their top staffers. When an agreement is in place, they’re quickly amended into bills and then voted as soon as possible.

HB 1950 is merely serving as a vehicle today – a shell that lawmakers will advance in order to put the bill in position for quick passage when a deal is struck. Another example of this practice is HB 5, which dictates the new boundaries for Congressional districts.   How does the measure draw the lines right now?

(1)  The First District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.

(2)  The Second District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.

(3)  The Third District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.

(4)  The Fourth District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth.

..and so on. This will be amended in the coming weeks, when lawmakers finalize their redistricting agreement. You can bet the legislation will move fast, as soon as it’s amended.

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