As reported earlier today, the Pennsylvania House Fish and Wildlife Committee voted to approve amendments to House Bill 1576, environmental legislation that threatens protection statuses for state-specific endangered species. The committee also voted to send this bill to the House Floor 16-8, with one representative not present.
The legislation was written by State Representative Jeffrey Pyle, who is a member of the House Energy and Environmental Resources Industry. In our original coverage, we broke down oil and gas contributions for all republicans on that committee.
In Pennsylvania, the little brown bat’s population has decreased significantly since 2006 – 2007 when White Nose Syndrome was first discovered in New York State. The fungal disease is poorly understood; but, the Pennsylvania Game Commission estimated that 99.5 percent of monitored colonies across the Commonwealth have been wiped out. To raise awareness of this plight in the little brown bat community, freshman Representative Steve McCarter (D – 154th) introduced House Resolution 199 on April 3, 2013. The resolution would have dedicated the week of April 13, 2013 as “Bat Protection Awareness Week.” According to Representative McCarter, resolutions like House Resolution 199 usually pass the House floor by unanimous consent. That is, at least until Representative Pyle found out about Bat Protection Awareness Week. In a meeting with Representative McCarter, he explained that his House Resolution was procedurally killed before its vote when it was abruptly diverted to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee before allowing House members to vote on it. According to VoteSmart.org, the 15 republicans in the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee have received over $128,000 in donations from the energy industries, and some of the largest recipients include: Tim Krieger ($10,150), Donna Oberlander ($11,000), Eli Evankovich ($15,000), Jim Christiana ($21,250) and Jeff Pyle (31,660). These six representatives received close to $90,000 from the fossil fuel extraction industry. Protecting the little brown bat means that some industries, like the fossil fuel industries in the Commonwealth, would have some hindrance, but they don’t have to worry with those 6 representatives in their back pockets
However, the legislation was assigned to a different committee, the House Fish and Wildlife Committee, and when sorting party affiliation, campaign contributions and the vote to send this bill to the House Floor, it is obvious that the five democrats who voted yes have received much more in campaign contributions from the fossil fuels industry than five who voted no.
A real spine was shown by Minority Chair Gary Haluska who voted for the legislation. When compiling data on campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry on VoteSmart.org, Representative Haluska has received close to $7,000 in donations and contributions from the industry, but he isn’t the breadwinner out of the spineless group. Among the Democrats, the breadwinner is Marc Gergely who received $20,700 from the industry. Other Dems who voted yes include: John Galloway ($3,750), Pam Snyder ($6,200) and Deborah Kula who at least received $1,000 (campaign finance data was not available). The group received a total of $38,460 from the industry, or $7,700 per person.
Those who voted no included Tim Mahoney ($4,600), Jesse White ($3,750), Gerald Mullery ($1,595), Frank Farina ($0) and Kevin Haggerty ($0). The total money received by the no votes was $9,945, or an average of $2,000 per person.