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NEWS
September 25, 2014 | By Amy Worden and Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writers
HARRISBURG - The state Senate late Tuesday approved a bill authorizing the City of Philadelphia to impose a $2-a-pack tax on cigarettes, ending months of wrangling over revenue to plug a deepening hole in the School District budget. Gov. Corbett said he would sign the bill Wednesday. The price hike could take affect in a week or so. "I am pleased that both chambers have taken action on this legislation so that the Philadelphia School District and, more importantly, the students of Philadelphia can benefit from it," he said in a statement.
NEWS
September 24, 2014 | By Amy Worden and Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writers
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.
BUSINESS
September 17, 2014 | By Joseph N. DiStefano, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
September 10, 2014 | By Mark Fazlollah, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
September 8, 2014 | By Craig R. McCoy and Dylan Purcell, Inquirer Staff Writers
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.
NEWS
August 25, 2014 | By Tom Fitzgerald, Inquirer Politics Writer
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.
NEWS
August 3, 2014 | By Jessica Parks, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
August 2, 2014 | By Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
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.
NEWS
August 2, 2014 | By Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Washington Bureau
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.
NEWS
July 18, 2014 | Bob Fernandez, Inquirer Staff Writer
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...
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