September 24, 2014 |
After a months-long delay, the Pennsylvania House approved a bill Monday authorizing Philadelphia to impose a tax of $2 per pack on cigarettes to fund schools. The bill - which passed without debate largely along party lines, 114-84 - next goes to the Senate, which could take a final vote as early as Wednesday. Philadelphia lawmakers applauded the bill's passage as a way to generate funds to address an $80 million school budget shortfall. School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. had said that without it he would be forced to close schools and lay off teachers and staff.
September 17, 2014 |
John Bogle , founder of Vanguard Group , the $3 trillion-asset, Malvern-based leader of the mutual fund industry, is due in Washington on Tuesday to lecture the Senate Finance Committee on what ought to be done to prevent retired Americans from ending up in their kids' closets and garages or public shelters, now that most big companies no longer offer guaranteed pensions. Some of Bogle's suggestions: Save Social Security by delaying retirement until age 69; boost benefits based on inflation, not wage increases; impose the Social Security tax to higher wages; and limit payouts to rich retirees.
September 10, 2014 |
LANCASTER - Witnesses at a state Senate committee hearing Monday called for a dramatic strengthening of DUI laws, saying current statutes are too weak to stop repeat offenders who endanger everyone. Patrick Crowley, whose 24-year-old son Liam was killed last year by a man prosecutors called the worst drunk driver in Chester County, testified that people are dying because of Pennsylvania's lax laws. "We watched our son, Liam, die," Crowley said, reading a statement written by Liam's mother.
September 8, 2014 |
State senators plan to meet Monday to consider ways of toughening Pennsylvania's DUI laws. Changing four words could do the job. A 2009 state Supreme Court decision defanged the state's decade-old efforts to impose harsher penalties on drivers awaiting trial on a string of DUI arrests. The court ruled that the wording of the 2003 law required judges to use the date of past convictions - not the date of arrests - to determine whether someone is a second offender. Legislators could fix the wording by saying past DUI convictions can trigger more aggressive penalties "if the violation occurred" before sentencing for subsequent offenses.
August 25, 2014 |
John Kane, a plumbers' union leader and Democrat running for state Senate, was knocking on doors on both sides of Thorndale Road in Aldan, Delaware County, hustling on a hot Sunday afternoon. "How you makin' out?" he'd begin when someone answered. "Do you have a death wish?" one man joked as he took the proffered brochure, referring to the county Republican organization's century-long dominance in most local races. This year, in little places like Aldan, big things are at stake.
August 3, 2014 |
On a state-funded trip to Denver last week, Pennsylvania State Sen. Daylin Leach aimed to study every aspect of Colorado's legal marijuana industry. Even the customer side. After touring growers and processors, visiting dispensaries, and talking with the National Conference of State Legislatures, Leach said, he returned to his hotel room and took two marijuana hits off a vaporizer pen. The Montgomery County Democrat has cosponsored a bill to legalize medical marijuana, and said he was optimistic that it will pass in September.
August 2, 2014 |
TRENTON - The New Jersey Senate passed two proposals Thursday that would upend the state's bail system, hours after Gov. Christie delivered a special address imploring lawmakers to act. The Assembly did not act, but Speaker Vincent Prieto (D., Hudson) notified members in the early evening that he would call for a vote Monday. That is the last day lawmakers have to vote on one of the measures - a proposed constitutional amendment eliminating the right to bail for certain defendants - if they want to put it before voters in November.
August 2, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - The plan to rename 30th Street Station for former Philadelphia U.S. Rep. Bill Gray is heading to President Obama for his signature. The Senate, in one of its final acts before a five-week recess, late Thursday approved a bill to rename the station "William H. Gray III 30th Street Station. " The Senate approval, by unanimous consent, was confirmed by Senate Democrats' Twitter feed Thursday night, hours after the Senate had concluded its formal voting and left for its August break.
July 18, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - A Dish Network Corp. executive told lawmakers Wednesday that Comcast Corp.'s deal for Time Warner Cable Inc. should be flatly rejected because the combined cable-TV giant would serve half of the residential Internet customers in America and could thwart new streaming companies that compete with traditional TV. The Comcast/Time Warner Cable deal and a related proposed merger of AT&T Inc. and DirecTV "will determine whether a few large...
July 10, 2014 |
LIKE A SLOW, grueling tennis volley, the state Senate bounced the proposed Philadelphia cigarette tax intended to aid city schools back to the House yesterday, holding up millions of dollars for the distressed district indefinitely. The state Senate voted 43-5 in favor of House Bill 1177, which contains the Philly-only cigarette tax, but not before making major changes to other parts of the bill, which will require it to go before the House again. Senate lawmakers further complicated the cigarette tax by adding a sunset provision, which would require lawmakers to reassess it in five years.