Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of March 3. Members of the General Assembly were set to return to session March 10.
Banking and Securities Commission
Jim Biery, the retired CEO of the Pennsylvania Bankers Association, has been nominated by Gov. Tom Corbett to serve as a member of the Banking and Securities Commission.
Biery has served as chairman of the state association division of the American Bankers Association and chaired the Corbett transition team for the former Pennsylvania Department of Banking.
Revenue from slot machines at Pennsylvania casinos in February was down 7.54 percent compared with the amount generated a year ago, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
February’s gross revenue at the 12 operating casinos from slot machine play was $181 million, compared with $195 million of gross revenue in February 2013. Tax revenue generated in February of this year just from slot machine play was $97 million.
The board noted that gross revenue from slot machine gaming was likely impacted by the severe winter weather in the state.
Drilling in State Parks
State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, filed a Right-to-Know request seeking additional details on the Corbett administration’s plan to raise $75 million through additional “non-impact surface drilling” in state parks and forests.
Vitali asked the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to detail which parks and forests it is considering for additional drilling, how many acres would be leased, the calculations used to determine the $75 million figure, which drilling companies have expressed an interest, and information about environmental impacts of drilling already occurring on state land. The records are being requested for the time period of 2010 until the present.
The following were among bills introduced in the General Assembly:
SB 1263, introduced by state Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, would create the Website Witness and Victim Protection Act and make it a second-degree felony if someone publishes names of witnesses or victims in violation of the act. Those found guilty of the crime could be sentenced to between one and 10 years in prison.
HB 754 would extend the state’s Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services Grant Program to include nonprofits known as quick-response services (QRS). It was the subject of a public hearing before the state House of Representatives veterans affairs and emergency preparedness committee. “When a 911 medical call is received, the nearest ambulance may be many miles away. That is when a much closer QRS is dispatched,” said state Rep. RoseMarie Swanger, R-Lebanon, the sponsor of the bill.
The Department of Revenue reported that it collected $1.6 billion in general fund revenue in February, which was $34.6 million, or 2.1 percent, less than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date general fund collections total $16.3 billion, which is $75.5 million, or 0.5 percent, below estimate.
Sales tax receipts totaled $621.6 million for February, $44.6 million below estimate. Year-to-date sales tax collections total $6 billion, which is $67 million, or 1.1 percent, less than anticipated.
Personal income tax (PIT) revenue in February was $745.3 million, $500,000 below estimate. This brings year-to-date PIT collections to $6.9 billion, which is $101 million, or 1.4 percent, below estimate.