The state's business leaders have sent a letter to Gov. Tom Corbett and members of the General Assembly with a holiday request: finish the Marcellus Shale bill, please.
That memo, dated Dec. 7, asks Harrisburg political leaders to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills aimed at beefing up industry regulations and creating an impact fee for local and statewide costs. The letter can be viewed here.
The Senate has three remaining session days, while the House has six left this month. But compromise won't be an easier after Christmas and New Year's, says Dave Patti of the Pennsylvania Business Council, one of four groups co-signed on the letter.
"We all know how this is going to end, that concessions will have to be made on all sides," Patti said. "We know the final bill isn't going to be how any one side would have drafted it. But don't lose momentum and let everyone come back with new ideas and new issues."
Patti said the letter, sent to all 253 lawmakers and the governor's office, wasn't meant to be a public criticism. He added that the business community wants the drilling industry to be successful, because their demand for supplies and output of natural gas helps dozens of other sectors.
"If they start have a whole lot of uncertainty, they're going to slow their investments and the rest of the business community gets hurt," he said.
While the Senate on Wednesday positioned a bill in case an agreement can be reached, those close to the shale talks say numerous issues remain unresolved, including the question of whether the state or counties should collect the impact fee.
But Patti and leaders from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce will have time this weekend to reinforce their request. Lawmakers will see many of the state's top business leaders at parties throughout the weekend's Pennsylvania Society soiree in New York City.