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NEWS
July 3, 2014 | By Jessica Parks, Inquirer Staff Writer
As her criminal trial approaches and a civil lawsuit begins, State Sen. LeAnna Washington is getting a little help from her friends, in the form of a legal-defense fund. Washington, a Democrat representing parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, is due in court Thursday for a pretrial conference on charges that she used taxpayer-funded staff and resources to plan her annual campaign fund-raisers. Last month, the man who blew the whistle on Washington's alleged misconduct filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination and defamation.
NEWS
July 3, 2014 | By Amy Worden and Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - The Senate went home. The governor was largely silent. And as the first day of a new fiscal year without a state budget neared an end, House members met behind closed doors Tuesday, trying to find consensus on changes to the pension system - but refusing to move on a proposed a cigarette tax that could fund Philadelphia schools. Almost a day after legislators handed him a $29.1 billion budget on time and with no tax increases, Gov. Corbett still had not signed it, or signaled if or when he would.
NEWS
June 29, 2014 | By Erin McCarthy, Inquirer Staff Writer
  HARRISBURG - A state Senate committee on Friday unanimously approved a bill that would legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes for patients with certain medical conditions. Sens. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) and Mike Folmer (R., Lebanon), who co-sponsored the bill, said they anticipate it reaching the Senate floor for a vote before the legislature breaks for summer recess. But, while proponents of medical marijuana celebrated, the future of the bill was uncertain.
NEWS
June 27, 2014 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - The state House on Wednesday approved a $29.1 billion spending plan for 2014-15 that will serve as the framework for final budget negotiations ahead of the Monday deadline. The GOP-crafted budget, which passed on a near-party-line vote of 110-93, calls for increasing spending on education and human services. But as the bill heads to the Senate, the lingering question was how to pay for it and close an estimated $1.5 billion deficit. The Senate could approve the bill as early as Friday and send it to the governor's desk.
NEWS
June 24, 2014
HEY, budget watchers, there's good news and bad news. OK, I'm kidding, there's no good news. Your governor and Legislature are wandering Dante's circles of hell en route to some agreement certain to be late, contain new taxes and meet all the low expectations that Pennsylvanians learn to live with. Current status? The first circle, limbo: Nobody has a clue how it all turns out. Philly schools, pension reformers, free-market boozers and others reliant on action from Harrisburg can do nothing at this stage but wait.
NEWS
June 21, 2014 | By Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
TRENTON - The New Jersey Senate on Thursday confirmed Gov. Christie's two picks to the state Supreme Court, sealing a breakthrough in a years-long impasse over the court's composition. Chief Justice Stuart Rabner was confirmed on a 29-6 vote after months of speculation about whether Christie would renominate him. The Republican governor had criticized Rabner's court as liberal and activist. The Senate also confirmed Lee Solomon, a Haddonfield Republican and state court judge, by a 34-2 vote.
NEWS
June 12, 2014 | By Jonathan Lai, Inquirer Staff Writer
A report sought by New Jersey's top elected Democrat in a campaign to change the governance of Rutgers University did not specifically support the changes he has proposed. Legislation sponsored by State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) to increase the number of political appointees to Rutgers' main governing body has been scheduled for a full Senate vote Thursday. The Assembly Budget Committee will take up the corresponding bill the same day. The report was the product of a Rutgers task force appointed in August to evaluate the university's two-board governance structure and make recommendations for the future.
NEWS
June 5, 2014 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - No one quibbles about the size and cost of Pennsylvania's government. The numbers speak for themselves: With a budget of roughly $280 million and about 2,600 staffers, the state legislature is among the biggest and costliest nationwide. Proposals to shrink it bubble up every now and then, but none have gone this far before: On Tuesday, a Senate committee passed resolutions to eliminate 55 legislative seats, four judgeships - even the office of lieutenant governor. The vote was an incremental step on a path that could take years.
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