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House begins debating natural gas severance tax

Kimberly Paynter/

Kimberly Paynter / Newsworks

Many of the amendments filed to the severance tax bill would make it easier for natural gas drillers to get environmental permits. 

(Harrisburg) — House lawmakers have begun moving a natural gas severance tax through their chamber.

It’s major priority for Democrats, who have been trying unsuccessfully to pass one for a decade.

But it’s slow going–the bill is saddled with well over 300 amendments.

Along with Democrats, the tax is championed by a coalition of moderate, largely southeastern Republicans.

Update Nov. 22: As lawmakers leave for holiday, fate of severance tax unclear

GOP Representative Kate Harper, of Montgomery County, is one of the most vocal advocates.

“Members,” Harper told colleagues in her floor testimony, “we’re broke. We just passed a budget that borrowed over $1.5 billion for operating funds.”

The bill is projected to raise around $100 million a year

Lawmakers spent several hours debating amendments. They only managed to get through a handful before running out the clock.

But the ones that passed would make significant changes to speed up the state’s environmental permitting process–something the natural gas industry favors.

Debate is expected to resume Tuesday.

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