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Pennsylvania in focus: Impact fees shrink while natural gas production swells

By   /   June 16, 2017  /   News  /   No Comments

The Times-Tribune: Impact fees shrink while natural gas production swells

Pennsylvania’s natural gas impact fee tapped drillers for less money than ever in 2016, according to the state Public Utility Commission.

Natural gas developers paid a combined $173.3 million last year, an 8 percent drop from 2015, figures released Thursday show.

Drillers in Pennsylvania pay an annual fee for each well they drill. That fee shrinks over time. Amid low gas prices these last few years, developers have scaled back new drilling.

Despite the slowdown, the volume of gas produced in the state grows each year. In 2015, Marcellus Shale field wells produced on average 16.8 billion cubic feet of gas per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In 2016, that jumped to 18.1 billion cubic feet per day.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Pennsylvania gaming revenue down slightly

Pennsylvania gaming revenue, including slot machine and table games, for May was down 0.89 percent, compared to the same month last year, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said Thursday.

Table games revenue was up 4.4 percent to $76.5 million, vs. $71.3 million in May 2016. Slot machine revenue was $203.2 million, compared to $208.8 million in May 2016, down 2.7 percent.

SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia reported total gaming revenue of $26.9 million, compared to $25.2 million last May, an increase of 6.8 percent.  Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester reported slot machine and table games revenue of $23.2 million, compared to $24 million in May 2016, a 3.16 percent decline. Parx Casino in Bensalem reported overall gaming revenue of $48.3 million in May, compared to $47 million a year earlier, up 2.63 percent.

The Patriot-News: Attorney General Shapiro: Pennsylvania is part of multi-state opioids investigation

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Thursday he is part of a bipartisan group of Attorneys General nationwide investigating drug manufacturers’ roles in “creating or prolonging” America’s opioid abuse crisis.

The new multi-state probe is looking specifically, Shapiro said, at corporate marketing and sales practices.

News of the probe rolled out in scattershot press conferences in several states Thursday, apparently to give some of the affected AGs a chance to counter public impressions that they weren’t being as aggressive as those in other states that have already filed suits against drugmakers.

It was not immediately how many state prosecutors are involved in the joint effort, but Shapiro said it is involving a majority of the 50 states.

The new multi-state effort may take months, or even years, to produce results.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Groups sue Pennsylvania over congressional district map, citing gerrymandering

Calling partisan gerrymandering “one of the greatest threats to American democracy,” the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit Thursday in Commonwealth Court, asking that the state’s congressional district map be thrown out.

Future maps, the lawsuit urges, should be drawn without “burdening or penalizing an identifiable group, a political party, or individual voters based on their political beliefs.”

Filed on behalf of Democratic voters in each of the state’s 18 congressional districts, the complaint argues that the map, drafted in 2011, “was the product of a national movement by the Republican Party to entrench its own representatives in power.” They did so, it argues, by “utilizing the latest advances in mapmaking technologies and big data to gerrymander districts more effectively than ever before.”

At a news conference Thursday in Harrisburg, lawyers involved in the case said both parties engage in gerrymandering, the drawing of district boundaries to maximize political advantage.

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