News & Brews March 23, 2023

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Senate DEP budget hearing tackles permitting, RGGI

CNHI reports, “Speeding up the processing of environmental permits along with Pennsylvania’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative were central focus points during the state Senate’s budget hearing Wednesday for the Department of Environmental Protection.” On permitting, DEP Acting Secretary Richard Negrin “said the permit process must be modified to ensure it’s not just efficient but practical and user-friendly for applicants, noting even professional engineers at times find themselves baffled by the complexities of the process.” Meanwhile, on RGGI, Negrin noted that Shapiro’s budget proposes 17 new employees to work specifically on the carbon tax program.

Appropriations hearings continue today 

The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hold a budget hearing this morning at 9:30 a.m. with the  Office of the Attorney General. That hearing will be live-streamed here. The House Appropriations Committee will hold budget hearings at both 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. today. The former will be with the  Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (live-streamed here), and the latter will be with the  Department of Environmental Protection (live-streamed here).

Nat’l Dems increasing focus on Lt. Gov. races

POLITICO reports, “The Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association plans to raise $15 million by 2026 and spend $2 million each in a pair of high profile lieutenant governor races in 2024 and 2025.” The effort is part of  a broader goal to help Democrats ascend to higher office. The story mentions recently elected Pa. Lt. Gov. Austin Davis.

Hypothesizing about a Trump/Mastriano ticket

Well, PennLive’s John Baer went there. He writes, “It’s at least possible 2024 brings Pennsylvania a Republican ticket with Donald Trump for president, Doug Mastriano for U.S. Senate.” Baer writes, “Some (many D’s) call this a political dream. Others (many R’s) call it a political nightmare.  I’m just calling it worth considering.” He chatted with politicos on both sides of the aisle to get their take.

Lawmaker wants more transparency for Allentown NIZ reports that  Sen. Jarrett Coleman is proposing legislation that  “would make the revenues of Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone more transparent.” The story explains, “The NIZ is a special tax zone that incentivized developers to invest in parts of Center City Allentown by letting them use state taxes and local earned income tax to pay off debts.” Coleman’s predecessor, former Sen. (and now Revenue Secretary) Pat Browne created the NIZ in 2009. But he “shielded tax revenue the NIZ collected in 2021 from public view after The Morning Call newspaper in 2019 requested to get the total revenues generated by each tax collected by the NIZ for 2016-18 from the Department of Revenue.” Coleman seeks to increase transparency so the public can “see the buckets of taxes the NIZ is collecting to know whether the NIZ has been successful in driving economic development.”

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