Energy - February 17, 2012

Federal Payroll Tax Break Deal Reached

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that on Thursday talks regarding the payroll tax break made significant progress in Congress.  A deal that will extend a “$1 billion federal payroll tax break through the end of” 2012 has been reached.  The deal also includes a hold off on cutting some Medicare payments and extends some unemployment benefits.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, voiced his opinion about the deal saying it was fair and he was supportive but it is “an economic relief package” and not something “that’s going to grow the economy and create jobs.” While Republicans agreed to an extension of the payroll tax cut, Democrats didn’t see the millionaire tax they were hoping for.  The number of weeks that jobless benefits will be paid will also be gradually reduced by the fall.  The bill is now headed to the House and Senate to be voted on. 

Open Seats in PA House

With several members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives having resigned as a result of being elected to other positions there are now a number of empty seats as budget season gets underway. is reporting that with six open seats in the House that will need to be filled by special elections, Minority Leader Frank Dermody has written to Speaker of the House Sam Smith asking him to schedule those elections soon. also reports that with the legislative redistricting plan being dismissed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Representative Smith is allowed to wait to schedule those elections until the plan is approved.  Representative Dermody’s letter expressed the need to fill those seats and not leave taxpayers without representation.  It also asked for those elections to be held on primary day in order to save taxpayer dollars.