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Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation to eliminate Delaware's estate tax effective July 1.

The legislation introduced Thursday aligns with a recommendation by a state panel formed by Democratic Gov. Jack Markell.

The panel, which studied how to make Delaware's revenues more predictable and aligned with economic conditions, noted that the estate tax is volatile and brings in little money - only $1.3 million last year.

Don Rush

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Members of AAA Mid-Atlantic can now get roadside assistance even if they ditch the car and hop on their bicycles.

AAA is announcing Friday that it is extending bicycle coverage at no extra cost to members in Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia and parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

That means if a member's bicycle breaks down, AAA Mid-Atlantic will send a service vehicle to take the member and the bicycle to a nearby bicycle shop, home or other safe location.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from the Republican candidate in last year's recorder of deeds race in Kent County.

The court ruled Thursday that a judge should have dismissed a petition filed by La Mar Gunn challenging the election results, rather than ordering a hand recount. That recount ended in a tie, and Democratic Gov. Jack Markell appointed Democratic incumbent Betty Lou McKenna to the office.


DOVER, Del. (AP) - A House committee is set to hold a pivotal hearing on legislation to abolish Delaware's death penalty.

The bill narrowly cleared the Senate last month. The chief House sponsor of the bill, however, concedes that he probably doesn't have enough votes in the judiciary committee to send the bill to the House floor.

Democratic Rep. Sean Lynn of Dover says he plans to take the politically risky option of trying to suspend rules and bring the bill straight to the floor.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Jack Markell has come out in support of an effort to repeal Delaware's death penalty.

Markell said Thursday that if a bill to abolish capital punishment reaches his desk, he would sign it.

In recent years, Markell has refused to say where he stands on the issue.

But Markell said the recent acknowledgment by the FBI that examiners in its microscopic hair comparison unit gave flawed testimony in more than 250 criminal cases, including death penalty cases, before 2000, helped him reach a decision.

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The Delaware state House of Representatives has given its blessing to a measure that would allow parents to opt out of standardized testing without their children suffering any disciplinary or academic consequences.

The vote was 36 to 3 with two lawmakers absent.    

Governor Jack Markell has said that he opposes the legislation.

Fellow Democrat Representative John Kowalko who sponsored the bill said that this was not meant as any criticism of the governor’s record on education.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill that allows public school students to opt out of state standardized testing.

The bill, which was the subject of a contentious committee hearing last month, was scheduled for a House vote on Thursday.

The legislation allows parents and guardians to have their children skip the annual assessment without any academic or disciplinary repercussions for the students.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Organizers of a conference being held in Wilmington are hoping to bring government agencies, nonprofits, businesses and faith-based groups together in an effort to end hunger in Delaware.

Gov. Jack Markell is among the scheduled speakers at Monday's conference, which is sponsored by The Food Bank of Delaware, Brae's Brown Bags and the Food Research and Action Center.

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The state of Delaware will spend a million dollars to bring a fiber-optic data line that connects Seaford Georgetown and Lewes.

In making his announcement Governor Jack Markell said that he hopes the project could be completed by the end of the year.

The Delaware Democrat said that the aim of the effort is to connect the remaining pockets in the state that do not have access to high-speed data lines.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Fibertech will build the data system for businesses and Internet providers who can then buy access.

Don Rush

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - A panel exploring how to make Delaware's revenue portfolio less unpredictable and more reflective of economic conditions is putting the finishing touches on its report.

The Structural Revenue Review Committee was to meet Friday to discuss the content and dissemination of its report to Gov. Jack Markell and state lawmakers.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Senate is poised to vote on a bill establishing a moratorium on new charter schools in Delaware.

The legislation to be voted on Tuesday creates a moratorium until June 2018 or until the state school board develops a strategic plan for the number of charter, traditional and vocational/technical schools in Delaware.

The legislation also calls for input to be accepted from the mayor and city council of Wilmington before any new charters are approved there.

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There have been a large number of pardons being issued in Delaware.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Governor Jack Markell has issued nearly 16-hundred during his six years in office.

Most of them are for minor offenses.

The governor’s office says that the pardons are important in giving people with criminal records a second chance and not to be stigmatized for the rest of their lives.

But the paper reports that the state does not follow the outcomes of those who have been given a pardon.

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Delaware lawmakers have moved to make Naloxone available to school nurses throughout the state to fight the rising use of heroin.

The drug reverses the effects of an overdose.

The state House of Representatives approved the measure yesterday afternoon.

Representative Mike Barbieri said the legislation would not require schools to keep the drug on hand.

Last year Governor Jack Markell signed a law that made the drug available without a prescription.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - State officials are launching a new campaign aimed at reducing underage and binge drinking in Delaware.

Gov. Jack Markell and first lady Carla Markell planned to join public health officials and educators at Concord High School in Wilmington on Thursday for the launch of the campaign, which is aimed at young people from ages 12 to 25. 

The new campaign is an extension of an existing program targeting underage drinking but will feature separate messaging for prevention.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - State officials are set to announce the first round of grants in a new program aimed to given Delaware high schools specialized training in high-demand career fields.

Gov. Jack Markell was scheduled to join education officials at Appoquinimink High School in Middletown and Polytech High School in Woodside on Wednesday to announce the state's first Pathways to Prosperity grants.

Delaware Revenues Down

Apr 21, 2015
Don Rush

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - Members of the Delaware legislature's budget-writing committee will have to sharpen their pencils again following another decline in projected revenues for the upcoming fiscal year.

The panel that sets the official revenue forecast on Monday lowered its estimate of revenue available for fiscal 2016 by $21.7 million compared to last month, when the estimate fell by $45 million.

The latest revision means revenue estimates have fallen about $67 million since Democratic Gov. Jack Markell proposed a $3.9 billion budget in January.


Delaware’s former medical examiner who is under criminal investigation has received – what one lawmaker called – a golden parachute.

After leaving office Dr. Richard Callery is received not only his state pension, but the Wilmington News Journal reports that he got $75-thousand dollars benefits for hundreds of hours in unused sick and vacation leave.

Callery oversaw the state’s drug lab where evidence went missing and which was eventually overhauled.

He received a salary of nearly $200-thousand making him one of the highest paid officials in the state.

Don Rush

There’s a $780 million funding deficit over the next six years for repairing the roads and bridges in the state of Delaware.

Lawmakers are considering a number of options including hiking fees and taxes.

But Governor Jack Markell and legislators have not been able to see eye to eye on how to pay for new transportation projects.

WBOC reports that last year the governor had sought a 10-cent hike in the gas tax as well as seeking bonds to find money for the $500 million improvements over the next 5 years.

But, on a bipartisan basis that plan was rejected.

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Delaware Governor Jack Markell uses a pseudonym email address to conduct public business.

And that has drawn sharp criticism from Representative John Kowalko and John Flaherty president of the Delaware Coalition for Open Government.

They have sent a Freedom of Information Act request for the alias email that the governor uses.

The two say that the emails sidestep principal of transparency in government.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state House has approved a bill updating regulations regarding Delaware's medical marijuana program.

The legislation passed unanimously with no debate Tuesday. It now goes to the governor, and defines the membership of a nine-member oversight committee that will evaluate and make recommendations regarding implementation of the program.

There will be no new charter schools in Delaware for the moment.

Governor Jack Markell wants to develop a strategic plan that would take into account the student needs.

Markell said the questions to be reviewed might include how to meet the needs of the growing number of students whose second language is English.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that once the review is finished the state can then develop a plan for the school system.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Bowing to pressure from Democratic lawmakers, Gov.  Jack Markell's administration has agreed to delay proposed health care cost increases for state government workers and retirees.

A state panel was set to vote Friday on proposals for new or higher deductibles, and higher copays for drugs, lab tests, outpatient surgeries and hospital stays, aimed at addressing an estimated $60 million deficit in Delaware's state health insurance plan.


DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Delaware Senate has unanimously approved Gov. Jack Markell's nominations to fill vacancies on the state Supreme Court and Superior Court.

Senators on Wednesday confirmed Collins Seitz Jr. to succeed retired Supreme Court Justice Henry DuPont Ridgely. They also approved Jeffrey Clark, a Kent County lawyer, state Public Service Commission member, and former Senate attorney, for a Superior Court judgeship.

The votes came after friendly vettings by the Senate Executive Committee.

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There’s a lot of testing going on in Delaware schools to evaluate how the educational system is doing.

But Education Secretary Mark Murphy says the state will provide money to see if there is some redundancy that could lead to the elimination of some of those tests.

He said that some of the assessment tests may wind up trying to measure the same thing.

Outside of the tests required by the state or federal government, Murphy said that individual districts would be able to determine what redundant tests might be eliminated.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Delaware legislature capital budget committee is wrapping up its series of hearings on state agency requests on funding for construction projects and upgrades.

The committee was to consider funding requests on Monday from several agencies, including the children's department and state economic development office.

Gov. Jack Markell has proposed a $347 million spending plan for construction and road projects for the fiscal year starting July 1.


Governor Larry Hogan is urging Maryland residents to stay off the roads today.

10 inches of snow expected in the northern, central and western parts of the state and up to 3 inches of snow are expected to blanket southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

Meanwhile, Governor Jack Markell warns that roads may have been clear during the morning rush hour but that heavy midday snowfall could mean a tough afternoon drive.

Markell is suggesting that drivers stay off the roads to allow the crews to clear the snow.

Don Rush

DELAWARE CITY, Del. (AP) - A state panel is seeking public input on a report outlining how to prepare for and respond to potential climate change impacts in Delaware.

The Governor's Committee on Climate and Resiliency, which was charged by an executive order from Gov. Jack Markell, issued its report Monday and will accept public comment through May for possible revisions.


Supporters of decriminalizing marijuana rallied this weekend in Wilmington urging the Delaware General Assembly to act.

There were around 40 people who marched along Market Street with curious onlookers – some honking their horns others shouting support from apartment above the street.

Governor Jack Markell says he is willing to look at decriminalization.

But the Delaware Democrat strongly opposed legalization of the weed that has taken place in Colorado and other states.

He said not enough was known about its impact.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell is representing Delaware at a national conference focused on creating more job and career opportunities for young people.

Markell is among the scheduled speakers for Thursday at the 2015 National Opportunity Summit in Washington where Vice President Joe Biden also is scheduled to speak.

The event is hosted by Opportunity Nation, a bipartisan, national coalition of more than 300 businesses, nonprofits groups, educational institutions and community leaders working to expand economic opportunity.


WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell has nominated a longtime Wilmington attorney to fill a vacancy on Delaware's Supreme Court.

Markell's office announced the nomination of Collins Seitz Jr. on Monday. The 57-year-old Seitz is the founding partner of Seitz, Ross, Aronstam & Moritz, specializing in corporate, commercial, and intellectual property cases. He previously was a managing partner of Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz, where he worked for more than three decades.