Lacking support to get Pa. severance tax to House floor, Dems will try again

Facing forward from the rear, arched ceilings, painted murals, and members of the Pa. legislature seated at desks

In order to get considered on the floor, a resolution to discharge the severance tax bill from committee needs votes from most Democrats and a number of Republicans. (AP Photo)

Pennsylvania House Democrats and a handful of Republicans are trying to figure out the best way to bring a natural gas severance tax up for a vote.

The group briefly tried to bring a bill to the floor Tuesday, but had to drop the effort because it lacked enough support.

The version of the severance tax under consideration has been sitting in the GOP-controlled House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee since January.

Because the panel’s leaders haven’t seemed inclined to act on it, some members have signed on to a discharge resolution — a procedure to bypass the committee and let the full House decide whether to consider the bill.

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House Democratic spokesman Bill Patton said that’s where things get hairy.

He thinks the bill would pass on the floor with support from most Democrats and some moderate Republicans.

But, he noted, it’s harder to rally the procedural votes to get it there because it basically requires the GOP to vote against the legislative process it controls, and members “sometimes feel they have to support their caucus leaders.”

He said the House hasn’t given up getting the tax to the floor — but its exact route will remain to be seen.

House Republican leaders have said they’re happy to consider the tax on the floor, if it can get there.

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