With the 2021-22 Legislative Session winding down, Reps. Clint Owlett (Tioga/Bradford/Potter) and Tina Pickett (Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) are encouraged by Senate committee passage of several bills in the creeks and streams maintenance package they have been working on for the past year.
“These bills are about protecting the lives and livelihoods of people in the Northern Tier and across the Commonwealth who have been impacted or are at risk of being impacted by devastating flood waters,” Owlett said. “With only a few days left in the current legislative session, I am hopeful these bills can continue moving forward onto the governor’s desk where they can be signed into law.”
“It is so important to get these bills done now; otherwise, we will be starting the process all over again when the 2023-24 session starts in January,” Pickett said. “Our communities, business owners and residents cannot afford that delay. These measures will definitely help minimize the impacts of flooding, and the sooner we can put them into action the better.”
At its meeting Tuesday, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy approved the following bills:
- House Bill 2404 (Owlett): Would allow local government organizations and PennDOT to apply for a permit for continuing maintenance for a period of at least 10 years for the streams within their jurisdiction.
- House Bill 2405 (Rep. Tina Pickett, R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna): Would create a program that allows counties to opt in to address hazards within their streams by allowing for emergency maintenance permits in consultation with their county conservation district.
- House Bill 2406 (Rep. Jonathan Fritz, R-Susquehanna/Wayne): Would create a permit specific to smaller maintenance projects for the mitigation of flood-related hazards of less than 250 linear feet. This permit would be reviewed and issued by the local county conservation district.
- House Bill 2407 (Rep. Joe Hamm, R-Lycoming/Union): Would clarify that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has no authority for permitting or enforcement related to stream clearing or maintenance activities. This authority shall belong solely to Department of Environmental Protection and the county conservation districts as appropriate.
The bills, which were developed following a hearing of the House Majority Policy Committee in Wellsboro late last year, are now pending action by the full Senate.