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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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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.

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Governor Jack Markell wants to make Delaware more tax friendly for business.

So, he has said that he wants to change the way the corporate tax is calculated.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the Delaware Democrat wants to move from a formula based on the proportion of employees, property and sales in the First State to one based only on in-state sales.

It’s estimated that the change would cost the state around $8.2 billion in the next fiscal year and would total $47 billion over the next three years.

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A coalition of groups has released a report that found rampant racial discrimination for Delaware state employees.

The report was released by the NAACP and other groups this week and came after a meeting with Governor Jack Markell.

WBOC reports that the findings from testimony from state employees ranged from 26 percent complaining about a hostile work environment to 24 percent about recruitment, hiring and promotion problems.

In addition, another 18 percent testified that there was racial discrimination while another 17 percent said they had seen retaliation.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials are scrapping a state standardized test for high school juniors in favor of the SAT college entrance exam.

Wednesday's announcement comes one week after House Democrats sent a letter to Gov. Jack Markell urging that 11th-graders be allowed to take the SAT in lieu of the state Smarter Balanced assessment, which is tied to the Common Core standards.

The change takes effect this spring.

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Discrimination against state employees was the subject of a closed door meeting yesterday between Governor Jack Markell and a coalition of Delaware leaders from the African American community.

They presented him with a report drawn from testimony by state employees that says there is rampant racism within state government.

The Wilmington News Journal says that the report makes six recommendations on how agencies deal with discrimination in the office.

Last year, the group took testimony from around a 100 state workers across Delaware.

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This coming January 14th the Delaware Parents Teacher Association is planning on holding a rally at Legislative Hall in Dover challenging Governor Jack Markell’s decision to veto a measure that would have allow students to opt out of state standardized tests.

That’s two days after the legislative session begins.

State Representative John Kowalko told the Wilmington News Journal that he is planning on preparing legislation that will override the governor’s decision.

His measure would specifically allow parents to opt their children out of the exams.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware has officially decriminalized possession by adults of small amounts of marijuana.

Just past the stroke of midnight on Friday, a decriminalization law signed in June by Gov. Jack Markell took effect.

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A coalition of groups stood in front of Legislative Hall yesterday to hand over a letter to Governor Jack Markell opposing his decision to allow Syrian refugees into the First State.

Karen Gritton, executive director of the group 9-12 Delaware Patriots said that the FBI cannot guarantee an adequate vetting of those coming from the Middle East if they come through some of the embattled countries.

The Concerned Coalition Alliance of Delaware also includes Faith and Freedom Coalition, Central Delaware NAACP and the Frederick Douglass Foundation of Sussex County.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Gov.  Jack Markell is joining cabinet members and other state officials to announce the appointment of Delaware's 17th poet laureate,

First Lady Carla Markell, Secretary of State Jeff Bullock and Division of the Arts Director Paul Weagraff also will be on hand for Wednesday's ceremony at the Delaware Art Museum.

The current poet laureate, JoAnn Balingit, is retiring after seven years in the post, following her appointment by former Gov. Ruth Ann Minner in 2008.

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The Delaware Senate Majority leader David McBride is being treated for colorectal cancer.

The Democrat from Hawk’s Nest told that he would begin six months of chemotherapy treatment following his surgery in November.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that McBride wrote to supporters that the cancer had been detected during a regular screening leading to prompt treatment.

Despite the treatment he said he would be around for the regular Senate term that begins in January.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - A nonprofit group is suing Delaware officials over the use of bank settlement money to help balance the state budget.

The Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council filed the lawsuit Monday, several months after asking federal officials to oversee distribution of Bank of America settlement funds.

Defendants in the lawsuit are Gov. Jack Markell, the state treasurer, and the legislature's controller general.

Markell's office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell has announced his support for a resolution that condemns and apologizes for slavery.

On the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment, Gov. Markell visited the congregation at Bethel AME Church Sunday morning, saying he joins House representatives in support of a joint resolution that will say Delaware denounces and deplores slavery.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Human Relations Commission voted to urge Gov. Jack Markell and state lawmakers to issue a formal apology for slavery.
 
The Wilmington News Journal reports the 24-member commission voted unanimously during a special meeting Tuesday. The commission is a state panel charged with promoting positive relationships among racial and ethnic groups.
 

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell is joining Delaware education officials to announce the state's second round of Pathways to Prosperity grants.

Monday's announcement involves grants to high schools to offer students the opportunity to gain workplace experience and earn college credit in high-demand fields.

Those fields include finance, health care and information technology.

Markell proposed the initiative in his State of the State address earlier this year as a way to help prepare Delaware's future workforce.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell has nominated a public defender who represents juveniles to be a judge at Family Court.

Markell nominated Natalie J. Haskins on Wednesday, according to a news release from the governor's office. She would fill the vacancy left when Judge Alan Cooper died last month.

Haskins, who lives in Wilmington is a graduate of the University of Delaware and received her law degree from American University. She began her career at a Wilmington law firm and also was deputy attorney general.

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In Salisbury local officials gathered at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center for a ceremony honoring Veterans Day complete with patriotic music played and sung by students from Mardela High School.

The JROTC was on hand for the lowering of the colors.

Vietnam Veteran Donald Fitzgerald told the WBOC that when he returned from overseas it was a different time with little recognition of his service.

Fitzgerald served with is cousin who died in 1966 in Vietnam while serving in the Marine Corp.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Delaware political leaders are taking time out to commemorate Veterans Day.

Gov. Jack Markell planned to join members of Delaware's congressional delegation and other officials Wednesday for the state's annual Veterans Day service.

Delaware National Guard Adjutant General Major General Francis Vavala also is participating in the event,  which will include local high school bands, leaders from religious organizations and community members,

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The president of the state Parent Teacher Association in Delaware Terri Hodges is calling on state officials to replace the Smarter Balanced Assessment tests with the SAT’s for high school juniors.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that she called the SAT a proven reliable test.

She adds that the SAT’s could also be used by students to apply for college.

The proposal comes as the First State has found itself embroiled in a debate over the number of tests that students take and how they should be used in schools.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell is issuing a posthumous pardon for a free black man from Kent County who was convicted almost 170 years ago of helping slaves trying to escape from their owners on the Underground Railroad.

Descendants of Samuel D. Burris planned to join Markell and state lawmakers on Monday for a ceremony at the Old State House in Dover, the same location where Burris's trial was held.

Officials also will dedicate a new historical marker honoring Burris.

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MIDDLETOWN, Del. (AP) - State officials are touting new milestones in the effort to protect Delaware's bayshore region and promote the recreational opportunities it offers.

Gov. Jack Markell plans to join state and federal officials Friday to announce the preservation of a key property at Thousand Acre Marsh. They'll also discuss the launch of a byway, the opening of a new trail and wildlife viewing platform and a new branding design. 

The Delaware Bayshore Initiative promotes the bayshore as a conservation and recreation area.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell has signed an executive order establishing a state cybersecurity advisory council.

Markell says the council will help support efforts by the state Department of Technology & Information to prevent, detect and respond to cyberattacks.

The panel also will help coordinate cybersecurity initiatives among public- and private-sector entities and promote infrastructure security.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Senate has confirmed Gov. Jack Markell's nominations for cabinet secretaries to lead Delaware's education and safety and homeland security departments.

With Wednesday's confirmation votes, former Wilmington public safety director Jim Mosely will succeed retiring Safety and Homeland Security Lewis Schiliro.

Steven Godowsky, a longtime education administrator, will replace Mark Murphy as education secretary.

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Congressman John Carney pulled in more than $200-thousand at a fundraiser in Wilmington this week as he takes aim at the governor’s race.

The Delaware Democrat’s one night event at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington included two major Democratic notables Governor Jack Markell and Attorney General Matt Denn.

In addition the First State’s two Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons were also on hand.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the big money and big Democratic names are expected to scare off any Democratic challengers.

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A free black man convicted of helping slaves escape to freedom in the 19th century is to be posthumously pardoned by Delaware's governor.

Ocea Thomas of Atlanta said in a telephone interview Tuesday that she received a phone call this weekend letting her know that Gov. Jack Markell would pardon Samuel Burris, a free black man and conductor on the Underground Railroad who died in the 1860s and is one of Thomas' ancestors.

Phone and email messages left Tuesday for Markell's spokeswoman, Kelly Bachman, weren't immediately returned.

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The graduation rates are going up in Delaware.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education found that rates rose from 80 percent in the 2012-2013 school years to 87 percent in the last school term.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that’s the largest increase in the nation.

School officials told the paper that this is the result of the efforts in high schools to home in on students having difficulty in school and making sure they get the assistance they require.

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NEWARK, Del. (AP) - Environmentalists, government officials and academics are gathering at the University of Delaware for a two-day meeting to discuss issues involving the Delaware River watershed.

Gov. Jack Markell was scheduled to deliver Monday's keynote address at the Delaware River Watershed Forum gathering.

Congressman John Carney and National Wildlife Federation President Collin O'Mara also were scheduled to attend the third annual event.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell is signing legislation that clarifies how and when authorities can confiscate firearms from and prohibit the purchase of guns by people accused or convicted of domestic violence.

The legislation to be signed Friday also expands the definition of misdemeanor crime of domestic violence to include substantive dating relationships and people who are or were cohabitating.

The bill signing is in conjunction with Markell issuing a proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Delaware's governor and the mayor of Wilmington have expressed their condolences to the family of a man shot and killed by Wilmington police.
 
Gov. Jack Markell and Mayor Dennis Williams joined scores of people at a vigil Thursday evening for Jeremy McDole, who was killed Wednesday afternoon. The crowd prayed for healing, unity and justice. But some also vented their anger while the two elected officials listened quietly.
 

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The state of Delaware is launching a 30-45 day pilot program that puts body cameras on state and municipal police officers.

Governor Jack Markell said he was convinced that this would help protect citizens and officers alike.

The move comes after a major push by the NAACP in Delaware for the devices following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri at the hands of a police officer.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Richard Smith, president of the Delaware NAACP, said he was pleased with the new program but says more needs to be done.

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