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news.delaware.gov

The new Labor Secretary in Delaware has gotten high praise from a coalition of ministers and the NAACP after accusations have swirled around agency of racist atmosphere in the agency.

Patrice Gilliam-Johnson is African American and has known Governor Jack Markell for decades.

She is chairwoman of the Organizational Dynamics program at Wilmington University.

The appointment comes after 73 year-old John McMahon announced his retirement as his agency faced accusations of racism in a report by the coalition of ministers.

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There is a suspect in the bomb threat phoned into Stephen Decatur High School this week.  

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that it is a student who is charged with the threat of arson and disturbing school activities and personnel.

He is being charged as a juvenile.

On Wednesday a bomb threat was phoned in causing the high school to be evacuated.

The student was taken into custody yesterday and sent to the Lower Eastern Shore Children’s Center in Salisbury. 

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - The state House has approved a resolution apologizing for Delaware's role in slavery and wrongs committed against blacks during the Jim Crow era.

The resolution passed on a 38-1 vote Thursday and now goes to the Senate.  Gov. Jack Markell has said he supports the measure.

Chief House sponsor Rep. Stephanie Bolden acknowledged that the resolution is a symbolic measure aimed at promoting "reconciliation and healing."

The resolution states that it is the General Assembly's intent that it not be used in, or be the basis for, any litigation.

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The effort to override Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s veto of a measure that would have allow students to opt out of the state’s standardized test has failed.

Representative John Kowalko tried to get a resolution to suspend the House rules in order to get a vote on opt out legislation.

But it failed by a vote of 13 to 26.

The Newark Democrat told the Wilmington News Journal that he will try to get the legislation onto the regular agenda but he said he was not optimistic.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A federal judge has rejected a bid by Donald Trump supporters to block the use of a party affiliation statement in Virginia's Republican presidential primary.

U.S. District Judge Hannah Lauck declined to issue a preliminary injunction Thursday.

GOP leaders last month persuaded the Virginia State Board of Elections to require voters in the party's March 1 primary to sign a statement affirming that they are Republicans. Three black pastors are sued, arguing that the "loyalty oath" violates their civil and free-speech rights.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - House lawmakers have approved proposed changes to Delaware's corporate income tax system to eliminate disincentives for multistate firms to hire workers and invest in property in the state.

The legislation, supported by Gov. Jack Markell, was approved Thursday on a 36-to-2 vote and sent to the Senate.

The bill revises a formula that equally factors the Delaware-based percentages of a company's total payroll, property and sales in calculating the state income tax due.

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA is adding a third company to its short list of space station suppliers.

On Thursday, NASA announced Sierra Nevada Corp. will join SpaceX and Orbital ATK in launching cargo to the International Space Station. These flights, yet to be finalized, will  run through 2024.

Sierra Nevada competed for NASA's commercial crew contract, but lost out in 2014 to SpaceX and Boeing. This marks a second chance for the Nevada-based company, which is developing a mini shuttle. The other companies use standard-shaped capsules.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorneys general from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia are getting together to talk about ways they can reduce gun violence in the region.

Friday's first-of-its kind meeting in Washington will focus on illegal guns and ways the jurisdictions can work together to cut down on gun trafficking.

All three attorneys general are Democrats who support gun control. Brian Frosh of Maryland, Mark Herring of Virginia and Karl Racine of the District will speak to reporters following their meeting.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - A Baltimore judge has scheduled a hearing on a state motion asking the court to force an officer whose trial ended in mistrial to testify against other officers charged in Freddie Gray's death.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams will hear from attorneys for Sgt. Alicia White asking to strike down an order to force Officer William Porter to testify against White and Officer Caesar Goodson at trial.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - A commission appointed by Baltimore's mayor is recommending that the city remove two of four Confederate monuments on public property.

The seven-member panel voted on Thursday to urge removal of Roger B. Taney Monument on Mount Vernon Place and the Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson Monument in the Wyman Park Dell, The Baltimore Sun reported.

In the first half to day's program, we get reaction to the latest State of he Union Address. In the second half, with the Iowa Caucuses just around the corner, we look at the battles between Trump and Cruz on the right and Clinton and Sanders on the left.

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The Cape Henlopen School District wants a $154.5 million referendum to go before the voters.

The funding request comes after the state of Delaware offered $106 million for renovating and rebuilding five elementary schools.

WBOC reports that school officials say the request is based on need not want pointing out that the average elementary school in the district is 70 years old.

The referendum proposal is set to come up before the Board of Education at 6 p.m. at Beacon Middle School.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Baltimore officials have approved spending $200,000 for equipment police say will improve the safety of the department's vans.
 
The Board of Estimates voted Wednesday to authorize the funds for new compartments in 13 existing vans and 10 more the police department is purchasing.
 
The issue of safety in police transport vans gained wide attention after the death of Freddie Gray a week after his neck was broken during a van ride.
 

Don Rush

There was another bomb threat yesterday.

This time at Stephen Decatur High School.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that Worcester County school district officials said the high school got a live call at around 9:30 a.m.

The school’s 13-hundred students were quickly evacuated.

Law enforcement officials found no explosives and the students went back to class at around 11:25 a.m.

Meanwhile, there was a rumor of a bomb threat at Richard A. Shields Elementary School.

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OCEAN CITY, Md. (AP) - Ocean City officials say a fire heavily damaged a condominium building, sending black smoke over the ocean.

Town communications manager Jessica Waters says the fire at the Pelican Beach condominiums on 140th Street was reported about 11 a.m. Wednesday. She says there no injuries; the building was not occupied, and three maintenance workers escaped safely.

Photos show the front of the four-story building was charred. Waters say the blaze spread to vegetation in dune area on the side of the building.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Republicans are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to put a new congressional map for Virginia on hold and allow the 2016 elections to proceed under the old boundaries.

A three-judge panel last week ordered the state to impose a new redistricting plan crafted by a court-appointed expert. The panel had previously ruled that lawmakers in 2012 illegally packed black voters into the 3rd Congressional District, represented by Democrat Bobby Scott, to make surrounding districts safer for GOP incumbents.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A judge says she will rule Thursday on a bid by Donald Trump supporters to immediately block the use of a party affiliation statement in Virginia's Republican primary.

U.S. District Judge Hannah Lauck made the statement Wednesday at the end of a three-hour hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction.

GOP leaders last month persuaded the Virginia State Board of Elections to require voters in the March 1 primary to sign a statement affirming they are Republicans. Trump has criticized the requirement, saying it would scare off new GOP voters.

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Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave a warning to Republican lawmakers that he would veto any legislation he thought would curb abortion rights or expand gun rights in a way he thinks is unsafe.

McAuliffe issued the warning during his State of the Commonwealth address to the legislature last night.

The governor has been an outspoken advocate for abortion rights and signed an executive order last year banning the open carry of guns in some state-owned buildings.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Maryland Lottery officials say three Powerball tickets sold in the state are worth $1 million.

Officials say Maryland didn't have a big jackpot winner after Wednesday night's drawing, but three second-tier winning tickets were sold in the state. Those tickets were sold at a Wawa on Urbana Pike in Frederick, an Amoco on Walker Mill Road in Capitol Heights and a 7-Eleven on Annapolis Road in Bladensburg.

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Time may be running out for 15 developments in Sussex County.

They have until July 1st to demonstrate that they have begun major work at the site.

Otherwise their land use permits will expire.

This would affect nearly 16-hundred homes.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the County Council issued extensions this week for these projects -- many of which -- were begun in the mid-2-thousands just before the Great Recession decimated the housing market.

The council denied extension for five projects.

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Sharp criticism is coming from civil rights groups for new disciplinary rules for public schools in Delaware.

The new regulations by the Department of Education, they said, would make it too easy for administrators to suspend or expel students rather than seek alternatives.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware believes the new regulations would remove safe guards against suspensions or expulsions for minor infractions.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Supporters of putting ignition interlocks in the vehicles of all drunk drivers in Maryland are moving quickly to underscore how it could save lives.

Del. Ben Kramer and Sen. Jamie Raskin held a news conference Wednesday with Lisa Spicknall, the state program director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

They were joined by Capt. Tom Didone, a Montgomery County police officer and a colleague of Officer Noah Leotta, who was killed in December while working on a driving under the influence assignment.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware lawmakers are poised to challenge Gov. Jack Markell's veto of a bill allowing Delaware students to opt out of standardized tests.

The legislation would allow students to opt out of tests without repercussions. It is aimed in particular at the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which is tied to Common Core standards championed by Markell.

Rep. John Kowalko, a Newark Democrat, was expected to seek an override vote Thursday, following a rally by supporters of the legislation.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Lawmakers are mulling legislation changing Delaware's corporate income tax system in an effort to eliminate disincentives for multi-state firms to hire workers and invest in property in Delaware.

The legislation was to be heard in the appropriations committee Thursday after clearing the revenue and finance committee Wednesday.

Don Rush

There was a second day of automated bomb threats against Delmarva schools yesterday.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that Delmar Elementary School received threats and that calls went out to parents. Eventually the facility was declared safe.

The paper also reports that police said bomb threats were also made to Millsboro Middle School and Beacon Middle School in Lewes which prompted evacuations.

In addition, Ocean City Elementary School got a phone call that was not automated at around 9:15 a.m.

msa.maryland.gov

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland lawmakers are gathering for their annual 90-day legislative session.

The General Assembly convenes at noon on Wednesday.

Democratic leaders who have majorities in the Senate and House say they will be working to maintain funding priorities, particularly in education.

Gov. Larry Hogan battled with Democrats over the state budget last year, the governor's first session after winning office in 2014. Hogan wanted more tax relief, and Democrats pushed for more education funding.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Lawmakers are returning to Richmond to kick off the 2016 legislative session and to hear Gov. Terry McAuliffe's State of the Commonwealth speech.

The Democratic governor is entering his third year in office and will be seeking support from state lawmakers to support his $109 billion proposed budget that includes a billion-dollar increase in education spending, small corporate and individual tax cuts, and a 2 percent raise for state employees.

He delivers his third State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night.

news.delaware.gov

Delaware Labor Secretary John McMahon is stepping down amidst allegations of workplace racism in his agency.

He announced yesterday that he will be retiring at the age of 73.

The issue of racism in Delaware state government has gotten the attention of Governor Jack Markell who recently received a report by African American leaders that found state employees complaining of a racially hostile environment.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Markell is expected to name a replacement in the coming days and he praised him for his work during the Great Recession.

nccde.org

New County Council Executive Tom Gordon has restored funding for a start-up stock exchange in Wilmington.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the county leader is using tax reserves for the project.

But County Council member Penrose Hollins called the move “money laundering” and it is expected to set off another fight over how the county invests its funds.

The council has already authorized $10-thousand to explore the legality of Gordon’s action.

Department of Correction

A videotaped confession in the murder case of freed former death row inmate Jermaine Wright will be allowed to be used by prosecutors in the retrial.

Delaware’s Supreme Court unanimously overturned a lower court ruling that threw out the confession in the 1991 death of Phillip Seifert.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the confession was a key element in the state’s death penalty case when Wright was tried twenty years ago.

The paper reports that this means Wright will be taken into custody to await his trial.

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