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NEWS
July 10, 2014 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
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.
NEWS
July 10, 2014 | By Angela Couloumbis and Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - A bill allowing Philadelphia to impose a new cigarette tax to help fund the city's cash-strapped schools is again up in the air. The Republicans who control the state Senate made changes to the legislation in the eleventh hour early Tuesday evening, delaying implementation of the $2-per-pack tax and setting the stage for Philadelphia public schools to possibly not open on time. "This is terrible for schoolchildren, for teachers, for parents, and for the taxpayers in the city of Philadelphia," said Mayor Nutter.
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
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
June 29, 2014 | By Erin McCarthy, Inquirer Staff Writer
HARRISBURG - A state Senate committee unanimously approved a bill Friday 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 cosponsored the bill, said they anticipated its 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. Most GOP leaders in the House oppose it. "Obviously some members support it, but the vast majority of members in our caucus believe the states should not be in the business of deciding what is or is not medicine.
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.
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