Nothing gets a reporter's attention faster than someone saying they won't be making a piece of information available.
So when the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported this morning that the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission would be voting publicly tomorrow on its recommendations to the governor, but not revealing the content of those proposals, the Capitol newsroom got a bit huffy.
Those recommendations have been in the works since March, with the panel taking testimony during monthly meetings and work-group sessions regarding oversight of the gas drilling industry. And its July 22 report was the key roadblock stopping the momentum against approving a drilling impact fee alongside the state budget last month.
But Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, who chairs the commission, and his spokesman Chad Saylor say there's been a misunderstanding. Tomorrow's meeting has at least four hours set aside for discussion of proposed recommendations and consideration of additional ones.
"They're going to be debated," said Saylor of the recommendations. "Each work-group is going to present what came out of their work-group sessions."
Saylor cautioned that there won't be a final product by the end of Friday's meeting: the wording could change somewhat as they "go back and gussy up" the report before it heads to the governor on July 22. And the list of proposed recommendations won't be distributed following the meeting.
However, the recommendations will be talked about publicly before they are voted, and any removed from the set offered by a work-group will be noted specifically, he said.
As I wrote in Sunday's Post-Gazette, some sparse details of those specific recommendations have been available so far. The work-groups summed up their proposals at their final sessions (I wrote mostly about the public safety and environment panel's ideas, since the other three groups held their final meetings as budget discussions were wrapping up and we were unable to attend those meetings.) Barring other dramatic turns tomorrow, we'll have more details midway through the meeting and in Saturday's paper.
But as StateImpact Pennsylvania reported this week, the impact that report has on the legislation expected to move forward this fall, particularly on a drilling fee, will depend on the substance of the report.