June 27, 2015 |
TRENTON - New Jersey lawmakers Thursday overwhelmingly approved legislation that would give Cooper University Hospital control over emergency medical services in Camden. It passed without debate on the floor of either house of the Legislature despite vociferous opposition from the current provider of paramedic services in Camden, Virtua Health System, which operates in every town in Burlington and Camden Counties. The bill now heads to Gov. Christie's desk and seems likely to be signed into law, given that he has worked with Cooper's chairman, George E. Norcross III, on many initiatives in the city.
June 24, 2015
ISSUE | SCHOOL FUNDING All fall down on job Although I share the view that it's City Council's responsibility to provide adequate and consistent funding for Philadelphia schools, more attention should be given to the state legislature's role in creating the problems the School District faces ("Indecent proposal," June 17). Since the late 1990s, the legislature has ducked its responsibility for adequately funding the pension fund it created and manages. To correct this oversight, the legislature has passed the responsibility for addressing pension fund obligations to local districts - which in turn have had to dramatically increase taxes and/or reduce operating costs and programs.
May 29, 2015 |
Gov. Wolf announced Wednesday that a new task force will formulate "policies, guidelines and tools" governing pipelines that deliver natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation. Wolf said the Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force will include representatives from state agencies, the legislature, federal and local governments, the pipeline and natural-gas industries, and environmental groups. John Quigley, acting secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, will serve as chairman.
May 11, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Pension reform and property-tax relief are two issues on which state legislators and governors have spent years trying to reach consensus. Now, they will attempt to do so in less than two months. This week, both issues will take center stage in the Capitol as the Republican-controlled legislature tries to solidify its negotiating position on two issues pivotal to any budget deal. Senate leaders plan a vote on a comprehensive but controversial proposal to change future pension benefits and increase contributions from current employees.
March 10, 2015 |
ATLANTIC CITY - A measure aimed at stabilizing this city's taxes has stalled in the Statehouse, just three weeks before a deadline for the casinos to challenge their assessed value in a shrinking gaming market, leaving embattled Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian caught between two of the state's most powerful politicians. Gov. Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) are at odds over the fate of an Atlantic City tax relief plan, formally known as the Casino Property Taxation Stabilization Act, that Sweeney sponsored.
February 7, 2015 |
TRENTON - New Jersey senators voted Thursday to change the penalties for drunken driving, requiring all first-time DWI offenders to install Breathalyzer-like devices in their vehicles in lieu of lengthy suspensions of their licenses. The legislation was praised by the safety group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which said New Jersey would become the 25th state to require first-time DWI offenders to install ignition-interlock devices. The bill, which passed the Senate, 29-4, on Thursday and was approved, 46-15 with 14 abstentions, in the Assembly in June, now heads to Gov. Christie.
January 8, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - The 199th Pennsylvania legislative session opened Tuesday with lawmakers in the House and Senate being sworn in to first or new terms. Rep. Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) won a standing ovation from his colleagues after being unanimously elected speaker. Senators also took their oaths, and President Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson) was unanimously reelected. Both chambers begin the two-year session with stronger Republican majorities: the 50-member Senate has 30 GOP members and the 203-member House of Representatives 119. That makeup is bound to set the stage for showdowns with incoming Democratic governor Tom Wolf, who takes office Jan. 20. Among the priorities for the legislature and Wolf will be figuring out how to close an estimated $2 billion budget deficit.
January 6, 2015
POPE FRANCIS is due in Philly in September. I wish he were due in Harrisburg tomorrow. That's when the Legislature comes to the Capitol to be sworn in for a new two-year term. And you remember how His Papalness last month peppered the Curia, those running the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church? Well, I wish he'd bestow the same sort of "blessing" on those who run our state government. Somebody should. And he or she can use the pope's outline. If you missed it, Francis lambasted church leaders for, among other things, vanity, selfishness and the "pathology of power.
January 6, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - The ceremonial start to the 2015-16 legislative session begins Tuesday in the Capitol with the swearing in of House and Senate lawmakers - including nine newcomers from the southeast. The governor-elect, Democrat Tom Wolf, does not take office until Jan. 20. What will happen in the intervening weeks is as yet unresolved, with House and Senate leaders saying they are leaving the door open on scheduling voting days while Gov. Corbett is still in office. The prospect of the GOP-controlled legislature's rushing through controversial bills with a lame-duck Republican governor raised hackles among Democrats last month.
December 23, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - It was a strange experience for Jim Gerlach: After more than 20 years in public office, he was sitting out an election. Gerlach, a Chester County Republican, had decided to leave office after a decade in the state legislature and 12 years in Congress - making for some odd feelings as he saw campaigns ramp up last fall without him. Gerlach, 59, is one of three local members of Congress who leave office Jan. 3. He, Jon Runyan (R.,...