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NEWS
October 18, 2014 | By Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
As his party lurches toward November's midterm elections at risk of losing control of the Senate, U.S. Sen. Cory A. Booker said a Democratic majority is needed to tackle big problems such as immigration and corporate tax policy. "This is why I think it's so important the Democrats hold the Senate: The House is controlled by Republicans, and Republicans are heavily influenced, if not controlled, by the tea party," Booker said in an interview Tuesday with the Inquirer Editorial Board. "Trust me. You don't think [Republican House Speaker John]
NEWS
October 18, 2014 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - The state Senate closed out its 2013-14 session by passing more than a dozen pieces of legislation, many of them crime-related, including bills covering local gun ordinances, domestic violence, and animal cruelty. Most of the bills approved Thursday are headed for Gov. Corbett's desk, but others must receive final votes in the House, which returns for its last voting day Monday. Among the most controversial pieces of legislation moved by the Senate was a measure to give legal standing to "membership organizations," including the National Rifle Association, to sue municipalities if they enact gun laws stricter than state law. Philadelphia is one of 30 municipalities that have enacted ordinances mandating the reporting of lost and stolen weapons over the last several years since efforts failed to win passage of state gun-control laws.
NEWS
October 16, 2014 | By Laura McCrystal, Inquirer Staff Writer
As the manhunt for Eric Frein drags into a second month, a state senator from northeastern Pennsylvania wants lawmakers to review the response and impact on the area. In a letter released Tuesday, Sen. Lisa Baker (R., Luzerne) said her goal in calling for a hearing "is not to find fault" with the search efforts, but to assess and, if possible, improve the state's response to such incidents. Her request came on the same day that State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan and Lt. Col. George Bivens privately briefed Baker and other lawmakers in Harrisburg about the ongoing search for Frein in the woods of Pike and Monroe Counties.
NEWS
October 12, 2014 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - In a move that underscores an apparent growing divide between the Southeast and the rest of the state, two members of the Senate GOP caucus have withdrawn their support for the majority leader. Sen. Donald White of Armstrong County said Friday that he would not vote for Dominic Pileggi of Delaware County should he seek a fifth term as Republican leader next month. White accused Pileggi of refusing to advance legislation on liquor privatization and pensions, and pandering to environmentalists and gun-control advocates.
NEWS
October 10, 2014 | By Dylan Purcell and Mark Fazlollah, Inquirer Staff Writers
HARRISBURG - In the first overhaul of Pennsylvania's drunken-driving laws in a decade, the state Senate unanimously approved a measure Wednesday to require first-time offenders to use "interlock" devices before they can drive. The legislation - approved 50-0 and expected to pass the House - stipulates that interlock devices must be installed for first-time DUI offenders with higher levels of alcohol. The measure says anyone convicted of driving with an alcohol blood level of 0.10 percent or more must have their cars equipped with the devices that prevent operation when drivers have been drinking.
NEWS
September 27, 2014 | By Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
Breaking from the antiamnesty, secure-the-border hawkishness coursing through the national Republican Party, New Jersey's GOP nominee for a U.S. Senate seat says he would fight for "comprehensive immigration reform" in Washington. And like many Republicans, Jeff Bell is claiming the mantle of Ronald Reagan. "Ronald Reagan once said, 'Latinos are Republicans - they just don't know it yet.' Maybe that's politically incorrect to repeat in 2014," Bell wrote in an e-mail to supporters Wednesday.
NEWS
September 26, 2014 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - The state Senate on Wednesday passed legislation legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. But the legislation, approved by a vote of 43-7, faces an uncertain fate. GOP leaders in the House, where the bill heads next, say the federal government ought to take the lead on drug policy. And Gov. Corbett has said he is opposed to legalizing marijuana in any form. The legislation mirrors medical marijuana laws in 23 states that require patients seeking access to medical cannabis to have a doctor's authorization.
NEWS
September 26, 2014 | By Amy Worden and Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - The state Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The measure was approved by 43-7, the first time such a proposal has passed either chamber of the legislature. But its fate was uncertain at best. GOP leaders in the House, where the bill heads next for consideration, have said the federal government, not state government, ought to take the lead on drug policy. And Gov. Corbett has said he is opposed to legalizing marijuana in any form.
NEWS
September 25, 2014 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
PHILADELPHIA School District officials breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as a local cigarette tax - $2 per pack to provide key funding for schools - cleared the final hurdle in Harrisburg after months of suspense. The state Senate approved the bill, 39-11, one day after lawmakers in the House passed it. It heads to Gov. Corbett, who is expected to sign it publicly today. The tax is expected to generate at least $49 million this school year for the embattled district, erasing a sizable deficit and averting massive layoffs.
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.
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