House Votes Down Senate Impact Fee, Setting Up January Conference Committee

  • Scott Detrow

Scott LaMar / WITF

Pennsylvania's Capitol


Now it’s official: the next chapter of the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s ongoing, never-ending impact fee saga will be written in a January conference committee.
Moments ago, the House unanimously voted to “non-concur” on the impact fee the Senate approved last week. The vote sets the stage for a joint House-Senate conference committee. What’s that? The PA Independent explains:

The leaders of the House and Senate will select the six members of the committee, which will consist of two legislators each from the House and Senate majorities as well as one from each body’s minority.

The members are expected to be announced in January, and committee meetings are likely to begin that month.

A conference committee streamlines the legislative process. Once the panel reaches a compromise between the two impact fee plans, the new legislation would go straight to the House and Senate floors for final votes. No committee, no amendments, just a final up-or-down vote.
Among the issues the committee will be charged with settling:

  • How much will the fee charge each well, and how long will it last? The Senate’s measure creates a 20-year fee, beginning at $50,000-per-well. The House’s, which is backed by Governor Corbett, starts at $40,000 and lasts just ten years.
  • Who enacts and collects the fee? Under the Corbett/House scheme, each county decides whether or not to implement a fee. The Senate bill creates a statewide levy, collected and administered by the Public Utility Commission.
  • Will the legislation restrict local zoning of drilling? The House and Senate passed near-identical language setting zoning parameters, but the Corbett Administration continues to push for its initial language “superseding and preempting” all municipal drilling zoning.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai has made it clear a county-level fee is a “must” for his caucus. If that’s the case, look for a final levy closer to the Senate’s $50,000-per-well fee than the House’s lower price tag.

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