On Monday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed into law a bill that would allow the state to impose higher rates on steel pipe.
The law, which takes effect immediately, will allow the Pennsylvania Industrial Commission (PIC) to levy an average of 2.25 percent in the coming year for pipe, which is used for the manufacturing of steel and other metals.
The new law also requires companies to upgrade their pipes to make them more corrosion-resistant and provide for mandatory corrosion-control testing for pipe that goes through a pipe mill.
Corbett’s new law will allow for a 1.5 percent increase in the rate for pipe in 2019.
The PIC is the state’s industrial regulator.
The bill passed the state House of Representatives on Monday and is headed for the Senate, where the Assembly will consider it.
The legislation is a huge win for Corbett, who has made steel a centerpiece of his administration, citing the cost of repairing steel pipes in Pennsylvania and its impact on the state economy.
Corbet’s bill was also supported by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Association of Business, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources.
“This bill is a win for the state and industry,” said Paul J. Fetter, president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers and Exporters, in a statement.
“Pipe repair is a top priority for our state, and this bill will provide a boost for our industry.”
The state has been grappling with a series of disasters and pipe leaks in recent years.
In 2015, the state saw a pipe collapse in the city of Altoona, killing five people and injuring more than 120.
The pipe broke through a wall and a ceiling in October 2016, killing two people and seriously injuring nine others.
A pipe burst on a freight train in November of that year and killed five people, including a pregnant woman.
In February of 2017, a pipe burst in the town of Winooski and killed eight people and injured six others.
In June of 2017 and July of that same year, pipe ruptured in the village of New Smyrna Beach, killing three people and damaging more than 100 homes.
In December of that month, a leak of pipes at the town’s largest steel mill led to the collapse of a second pipe in the area.
The latest pipe tragedy came just weeks after another pipe broke at the same mill, causing a massive fire that killed eight workers and injured more than 40 others.
“Today’s news brings the number of pipe and pipe component accidents in the state of Pennsylvania to more than 60, and will provide relief to the entire state of New York,” Corbett said in a release.
“Steel is the backbone of our state’s economy, and we must continue to invest in the future of our manufacturing industries and infrastructure.”
Corbett had proposed an additional $25 billion to rebuild the state following the disaster in New Smyrias Beach.
However, he has been pushing for more spending on the steel industry in the aftermath of the catastrophic incident.
He has repeatedly suggested that a bill to allow companies to increase rates would also help to help Pennsylvania pay for the $3.9 billion to $5.4 billion that was approved by the legislature.
The governor’s proposal, which has already been approved by lawmakers, would have set a 1 percent rate for steel in 2019, but would also increase the state rate for all other pipe by an average 2.75 percent.
Pennsylvania also has the second highest rate in the nation for pipe.
Last year, a rate of 2 percent was approved in North Carolina for pipe pipes.
That state’s legislature approved a 3 percent rate in January for pipes, which were used in steel mills.