Regulations

A Severance Tax: The Basics

Pennsylvania has been considering a severance tax on natural gas for years. Here are four reasons it is long overdue: 

TALKING POINT #1: A severance tax can bring in substantial and, as natural gas prices rise, growing revenues to help close our budget and investment deficits now and in the future.

Governor Wolf’s proposal is projected to bring in $349 million next year, $712 million in 2018-2019 and $1.15 billion a year by 2021-22. (These are net revenues after deducting a credit for the impact fee already paid by natural gas drillers.) Even a tax at slightly lower levels brings in over $200 million next year and close to a billion dollars a year 2021-2022.

Backroom budget deal attempts to derail environmental regulations

The Pennsylvania Senate today passed the Fiscal Code, a must-pass piece of legislation that is part of the budget process. It contains provisions that would subvert Pennsylvania’s climate plan and gas drilling regulations and raid $12 million from the Alternative Energy Investment Act to create a new “Natural Gas Infrastructure Development Fund” providing more taxpayer help to an industry that still doesn’t pay a severance tax in Pennsylvania.

Why Triad Strategies is Wrong on Ride Sharing

Our recent blog on 'the Non-Sharing Economy' prompted a response from Roy Wells at Triad Strategies. Triad is the Harrisburg lobbying and public relations firm secured by Lyft to make the case that its services should not be subject to the same rules that govern cabs. We appreciate Roy's weighing in and giving us the opportunity for a deeper back-and-forth.

PA Deregulation Bill Will Hurt Rural Broadband Access and Increase Phone Rates

There has been a wave of deregulation bills introduced in statehouses across the country in recent years, and the latest in Pennsylvania is targeting landline telephone service. The plan could end up limiting access to broadband service in rural parts of the commonwealth and sharply increasing telephone rates.

Water Polo Swimsuit Malfunctions CAN Be Revealing

You heard it first on The Rick Smith Show!

Last night, while guest hosting Rick's show, I used the need for rules in water polo — to prevent players from ripping off each other's swimsuits and Speedos underwater — as a metaphor for the fact that we need regulations and government policy to achieve "good" competition in our economy (based on productivity, quality, service, and innovation).

Midday Must Reads: College Grads Compete with Outsourcing, Face Debt

Recent college graduates seeking jobs are finding more competition from across the globe. American companies are cutting costs and raising revenues by employing international workers, Nancy Folbre, a University of Massachusetts economics professor, explains at the New York Times' Economix Blog.

Morning Must Reads: Trust Us, Would We Lie To You Again and Again and Again...

Reuters reports on a poll of Wall Street executives on the subject of honesty.

A quarter of Wall Street executives see wrongdoing as a key to success, according to a survey by whistleblower law firm Labaton Sucharow released on Tuesday.

Morning Must Reads: Policy Matters in Payday lending and Fracking

Unless you have been away for two weeks, you will note I have been posting a lot about House Bill 2191, which if enacted would legalize predatory payday lending in Pennsylvania.

If you listen to only the policymakers pushing this legislation, you would conclude this bill is a common-sense reform aimed at boosting consumer protection. The reality is quite different since the bill opens the door to a kind of predatory lending that exploits working families and destroys jobs

Predatory Payday Lending Bill Flies Out of Cramped House Consumer Affairs Hearing

Room 148 of the State Capitol might as well double as a Capitol broom closet. That's where the House Consumer Affairs Committee this morning rushed out amendments to House Bill 2191, which legalizes predatory payday lending in Pennsylvania.

The amendments to HB 2191 were misleadingly pitched as adding more consumer protections to the bill. Even the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society took a look at these amendments and said they do "nothing to mitigate the already harmful aspects of HB 2191," and that one amendment "actually worsens the problem it claims to solve."

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