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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A needle exchange program currently confined to the city of Wilmington is going statewide.

Legislation being signed into law Thursday by Gov. Jack Markell authorizes the statewide expansion of the needle exchange program, which is aimed at reducing the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other diseases.

Lawmakers approved the bill earlier this summer on the final night of this year's legislative session.

The program allows drug addicts to exchange used needles and syringes for clean ones provided by the Division of Public Health.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - State officials are mandating that child sexual abuse awareness and prevention be taught in schools.

Officials say Delaware is joining more than 25 other states that have enacted legislation requiring the study or development of curricula for educating teachers, students and parents about personal body safety and child sexual abuse awareness and prevention.

nj.com

The transmission line project for the Artificial Island Nuclear Power complex that promised to increase the utility bills of Delmarva customers has been suspended.

PJM has ordered a review of the project by February.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan along with Delaware Governor Jack Markell had opposed the project.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the $272 million project would run under the Delaware River and was aimed at stabilizing generation at the complex in New Jersey.

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HARBESON, Del. (AP) - Poultry producer Allen Harim is celebrating upgrades at the company's processing plant in Harbeson.

The company says it has invested about $30 million to date in expansions and renovations and expects to invest a total of about $40 million by the end of next year.

Renovations at the Harbeson site include upgrades to its wastewater system and production lines that will allow production to double to almost 2 million birds a week.

State officials approved some $11 million in low-interest loans for the wastewater system improvements and expansions.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware is being formally recognized as an American Indian tribe.

The formal recognition becomes official with Gov. Jack Markell's signature Thursday on legislation passed by state lawmakers on the final day of this year's legislative session.

The action by the state acknowledges the Lenape tribe's history and culture, centered in Kent County, but also means the tribe can be recognized as eligible for the programs and services provided by the federal government to Native Americans because of their status as Indians.

NEWARK, Del. (AP) - Help is on the way for Delawareans taking care of family members released from the hospital.

Legislation being signed Wednesday by Gov. Jack Markell requires health care facilities to develop processes to maintain records and educate family caregivers about their responsibilities upon discharge of a loved one from a hospital or treatment facility.

nj.com

Delaware lawmakers are moving to intervene in the proposed plan for the state’s utility users to pay for a transmission line to the Artificial Island nuclear power plant.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that a legislative committee met late last week to act as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gets set to rehear the plan for construction of the controversial power line.

The plan would place 60 percent of the cost on Delaware residents while Maryland would pick up 35 percent.

The Delaware General Assembly voted to reject those percentages last month.

governor.delaware.gov

Frustration has boiled over with a group of Delaware’s African American leaders who have been dissatisfied with the response by Governor Jack Markell to allegations of racism in state government.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the Delaware Faith in Action Coalition said last week that they have lost faith in Markell to confront the issue.

Over the last year the group has gotten testimony from around 200 state workers of color who claim that they have faced discrimination.

Don Rush

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Convicted felons in Delaware have one fewer hurdle to jump before having their voting rights restored.

State lawmakers last month approved a bill that allows felons to vote before they have paid all fines, fees and restitution.

Gov. Jack Markell who included the proposal in his State of the State address in January, planned to sign the legislation Wednesday at the Achievement Center in Wilmington.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell has signed a series of bills regarding pay equity and other women's issues.

Lilly Ledbetter, an Alabama woman whose fight for equal pay led to Congress passing a 2009 law that bears her name, was the featured guest at Thursday's bill signing ceremony.

One new law makes it illegal for employers in Delaware to prohibit employees from talking about how much they are or their co-workers are paid.

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Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan blasted the cost-sharing plan to improve the Artificial Island nuclear power plant.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that they appeared together insisting that they would do whatever it takes to reverse the April decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Hogan said that residents of both states would bear an unfair burden paying for electricity they will be using.

The estimated total cost of the improvements by PJM Company will now total $272 million.

delaware.state.gov

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware lawmakers are entering the final day of this year's legislative session with plenty of work still left to do.

While the House and Senate have passed a $4 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that starts Friday, they must still sign off on a capital budget for construction projects and a grants budget for community groups and nonprofit agencies.

Meanwhile, a controversial school redistricting plan for Wilmington backed by Gov. Jack Markell is languishing in the Senate, much to the frustration of Wilmington-area lawmakers.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Senate has approved a bill making it illegal for employers in Delaware to prohibit employees from talking about how much they or their co-workers are paid.

The measure was approved Wednesday by majority Democrats on a straight 12-9 party line vote and now goes to Gov. Jack Markell. It is part of a package of bills aimed at improving workplace equity between men and women.

Supporters say the bill will help women determine whether they're being paid less than male co-workers for equal work and fight for equal pay.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - State lawmakers have unveiled a uniform policy for use of body cameras by police agencies in Delaware.

The policy released Wednesday is not binding on law enforcement agencies but has been endorsed by groups including the Delaware Police Chiefs Council and the Fraternal Order of Police.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - After months of warning that money is tight and even threatening funding cuts, members of the legislature's budget committee have approved almost $46 million in grants to nonprofit groups, community agencies and volunteer fire companies.

The proposed grant-in-aid budget approved Tuesday is $2 million higher than the current level of funding and Gov. Jack Markell's recommendation.

The grants package is one of three budget bills that must be approved by lawmakers each year.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - State officials are hoping more urban gardeners in Delaware will see the fruits, and vegetables, of their labor.

Officials are announcing grants of up to $1,000 each to 11 recipients to help expand existing gardens or start new ones.

Gov. Jack Markell was scheduled to be on hand when the grant winners are announced Friday at Kingswood Community Center in Wilmington.

Participating groups include the Delaware Urban Farm and Food Coalition, the Delaware Center for Horticulture and the Delaware Cooperative Extension.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell is set to sign legislation eliminating mandatory life sentences for habitual offenders and distinguishing between violent felonies and nonviolent felonies when sentencing habitual criminals.

The legislation cleared the House on a 29-to-11 vote Tuesday after earlier passing the Senate.

Under the measure, a person would be declared a habitual criminal after a third violent felony conviction or a fourth felony conviction of any kind.

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Nonprofits and capital projects in Delaware are looking at some serious cut in the state budget.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that lawmakers now have 40% less in grant money after the reduced projections by the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council.

Originally the capital projects and the non-profits were budgeted for $74 million total but after the forecasts there is only $41 million left.

The paper reports there is uncertainty as to which programs and projects will be on the chopping block.

ryliessmilefoundation.org

The Delaware House of Representatives gave its approval yesterday to legislation that would allow children to use marijuana-based medicines in school.

The vote was unanimous.

It now goes to Governor Jack Markell who has said he would review the legislation.

The measure expands an earlier law named after 10 year old Rylie Maedler who suffers from seizures.

WBOC reports that since marijuana based medicines are not allowed on campus she must leave school for 30 minutes in order to take his medicine.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - House lawmakers are set to vote this week on a bill to toughen penalties for texting or otherwise using a handheld phone while driving.

The legislation to be considered Tuesday increases the penalty for a first offense from $50 to $100. It also increases the penalty for subsequent offenses from between $100 and $200 to between $200 and $300.

The bill initially called for points to be assessed on a person's driver's license for second or subsequent offenses, but a recent amendment strikes that provision.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill removing homosexuality from the definition of misconduct that would serve as grounds for divorce.

The legislation, which was approved unanimously on Thursday, strikes both "homosexuality" and "lesbianism" from the definition of marital misconduct.

The measure now goes to Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, who signed legislation in 2013 legally recognizing same-sex marriage in Delaware.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Legislative budget writers have voted unanimously to spend more than $20 million to give state government workers a pay raise.

Members of the Joint Finance Committee voted Thursday to give most state employees a pay raise of 1.5 percent or $750, whichever is greater. Gov. Jack Markell in his budget proposal had recommended a smaller raise of 1 percent, or $500.

The panel also voted to approve pay hikes for employees of the University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Delaware Technical and Community College.

nj.com

Delaware officials do not want state residents to cover the costs of a transmission line that will largely provide electricity to New Jersey.

And they are asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider its decision to force Delaware customers to pay for most of the $272 million cost.

The transmission line would connect the Artificial Island nuclear complex in New Jersey to the state.

Don Rush

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - Lawmakers who meet this week to begin marking up Gov. Jack Markell's proposed $4 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 have almost $36 million less to work with than they did last month.

The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council on Monday lowered official revenue projections for the current and upcoming fiscal years by about $18 million each compared to April's estimates.

The changes were largely driven by lower expectations for personal and corporate income taxes.

dover.delaware.state.gov

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Senate has unanimously approved a bill aimed at strengthening reporting of sexual assaults on college campuses.

The bill approved Wednesday requires employees of higher education institutions to offer to report sexual assault incidents to law enforcement officials if the alleged victim agrees. Lawmakers struck a previous version of the bill that required school officials to contact police regardless of the alleged victim's wishes.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill banning sales of a popular cough suppressant to anyone under 18 in Delaware unless they have a prescription.

The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to pass the legislation, which seeks to limit over-the-counter sales of dextromethorphan, or DXM, to minors.

The measure, which cleared the House unanimously last month, is aimed at youngsters who abuse DXM to get high.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state House is set to vote on a bill that would remove homosexuality from the definition of misconduct that would serve as grounds for divorce.

The legislation to be voted on Tuesday strikes both "homosexuality" and "lesbianism" from the definition of marital misconduct.

The law defines misconduct as behavior by a spouse so destructive that a person filing for divorce could not reasonably be expected to continue in the relationship.

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The State of Delaware is seeing an increasing number of seniors moving into the state while millennials are moving out.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that three decades ago 30 percent of the First State’s population was between the ages of 18 and 34.

That figure has declined to 23 percent.

In addition, 61 percent of the people born in Delaware now live somewhere else.

The News Journal reports that economists say millennials are looking for a better labor market where the can build their lives.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Chris Coons is taking a break from politics to do a little preaching.

Coons was scheduled to the give keynote address Thursday at the 56th annual Governor's Prayer Breakfast in Dover.

Gov. Jack Markell will join a host of other officials at the event, including state lawmakers, local elected officials, clerics and representatives of charitable organizations.

The theme of this year's breakfast is "Faith and Family."

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell is pledging his support for a bill to toughen penalties for texting or otherwise using a handheld phone while driving.

After experiencing a virtual reality demonstration Tuesday of the potentially fatal consequences of texting while driving, a somber Markell said he would sign the bill no matter how high the penalty is increased.

As currently written, the bill increases the penalty for a first offense from $50 to $100. It also increases the penalty for subsequent offenses from between $100 and $200 to between $200 and $300.

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