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DOVER, Del. (AP) - State lawmakers have given final passage to a bill requiring all people convicted of drunken driving in Delaware to have ignition interlock devices installed on vehicles they drive. 

The Senate passed the measure on a 20-to-1 vote Monday on the final day of the legislative session. The legislation now goes to Gov. Jack Markell for his signature.

Currently, interlock devices are required only for first offenders arrested with a blood-alcohol concentration of .15 or higher or who refuse to take a chemical test, and for repeat drunken drivers. 

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware lawmakers have approved a $421 million capital budget for road and construction projects in the fiscal year starting Tuesday.

The spending package approved unanimously in both chambers early Tuesday is a decrease from the $477 million authorization for fiscal 2014.

The budget includes $155 million for transportation projects and about $200 million in new bond authorizations for school construction and other capital improvements.


DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state House has given final legislative approval to a bill prohibiting former members of the General Assembly from working as paid lobbyists for one year after leaving office.

The bill cleared the House on a 33-to-7 vote Thursday and now goes to Gov. Jack Markell for his signature.

Democratic Rep. John Kowalko of Newark has said his bill is aimed at improving government transparency by stopping the "revolving door" that turns lawmakers into lobbyists. Violating the law would be an unclassified misdemeanor.

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The Office of Chief Medical Examiner is no more in Delaware.

Governor Jack Markell signed legislation yesterday that replaces it with a new crime testing division that comes under the Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

He put his signature on the measure shortly after the state House of Representatives passed the legislation on a 35-to-4 vote.

The law was opposed by trial lawyers and the National Association of Medical Examiners who worried about a conflict of interest because it is being moved over to a law enforcement agency.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A retiring Delaware Supreme Court justice says she's stepping down largely because Gov. Jack Markell didn't consider her a legitimate contender for the chief justice job.

Justice Carolyn Berger is retiring in September with four years left in her term.

She tells The News Journal of Wilmington that she "wasn't taking seriously," adding: "I'm not angry. I'm disappointed."

Firefly Festival Website

The traffic in Dover as the Firefly Music Festival gets underway was not as bad as it was last year.

The Delaware Department of Transportation and festival organizers made a number changes from last year including a longer festival to spread out the arrival times of attendees.

Greg Bostrom, director of the festival told WBOC that for the most part the festival kept traffic off of U.S. Route 13.

Nonetheless even though Thursday went well Delaware officials expect the worst to come on today.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Driving is about to get pricier for Delaware motorists.

State Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt told lawmakers Thursday that the Markell administration plans to raise tolls on Route 1 by a dollar on weekends to raise more revenue for road maintenance.

The current weekend toll of $2 will increase to $3. The weekday toll will remain at $1.

Bhatt also says his agency will increase borrowing by $20 million next year to pay for road maintenance and repairs.

Don Rush

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - The state panel that sets Delaware's official revenue projections has given lawmakers a little more breathing room as they begin wrapping up work on a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council on Monday raised its revenue estimate for the current fiscal year by $16 million compared to last month's estimate.

At the same time, the panel lowered its revenue estimate for the upcoming fiscal year by about $7 million.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley is hosting the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council.

The council is meeting Monday in Annapolis. The council is scheduled to sign an agreement to update a 14-year-old plan to guide restoration and conservation in the bay's six-state watershed.

Among the issues the plan covers is how the states and the federal government will address the impact of climate change on the nation's largest estuary.

A meeting is scheduled in the statehouse. That will be followed by a news conference at the Annapolis City Dock.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Republican legislators in Delaware want to create "education savings accounts" that would allow families to spend some of the tax money that goes to public schools to send their children to private schools.

The lawmakers tell The News Journal of Wilmington that they don't expect the bill creating the accounts to pass this session. But they say it calls attention to the need for parents to have more control in their children's education.

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Revitalization of downtown Dover got a boost yesterday.

Governor Jack Markell signed a law that allows cities to get a portion of the area designated as a Downtown Development District.

The measure provides significant incentives for those investing at least $125-thousand into the district.

WMDT reports that Markell’s office said the specific requirements and benefits for the program will be provided in the coming weeks.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Delaware Board of Education could gain new power to restrict charter schools if they will affect surrounding school districts.

The Wilmington News Journal reports the General Assembly gave final approval to a bill Tuesday night. It would allow the Board of Education to restrict geographic areas, grades and the academic emphasis of charter schools.

The House passed the bill 24-13, despite Republican opposition. The bill awaits Gov. Jack Markell's signature.


DOVER, Del. (AP) - Members of the legislature's budget-writing committee are withholding $3 million from the University of Delaware in hopes of spurring progress on a proposed data center project on university-owned land in Newark.

Supporters of the project, including Gov. Jack Markell, say it would bring hundreds of construction jobs to Delaware, in addition to the data center jobs at the former Chrysler auto plant site.

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Pfizer has decided not to make a takeover offer for AstraZeneca.

And that has state Delaware state officials expressing relief that AstraZeneca’s thousands of jobs in the state will be untouched.

The announcement yesterday came after the AstraZeneca rejected the proposed purchase price of $119 billion from Pfizer, the world’s second largest drug manufacturer.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that under British law Pfizer cannot make another bid for another six months but with one exception -- it can do so as soon as 90 days if AstraZeneca invites another offer.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Members of the Delaware legislature's budget writing committee will be getting back to work after the long holiday weekend as they continue to fashion a spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1.

The Joint Finance Committee is set to reconvene Tuesday as members continue to work through a list of about $37 million in suggested changes to Gov. Jack Markell's proposed budget that administration officials developed amid recent steady revenue declines.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The legislature's budget writing committee has unanimously approved a pay raise for most state employees despite a $41 million gap between projected revenue and Gov. Jack Markell's spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Joint Finance Committee members on Tuesday voted to approve a $500 pay increase for most state employees effective Jan. 1. Overall personnel costs, including increased pension contributions and adjustments to teacher pay, would increase by about $22 million over the current year.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - State lawmakers are getting down to the business of drafting a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Members of the Joint Finance Committee will convene Tuesday to being marking up Gov. Jack Markell's proposed $3.8 billion operating budget, which is about 3 percent higher than this year's spending plan.

But lawmakers have a few hurdles in approving Markell's proposal.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The CEO of drugmaker Pfizer Inc. is telling the governors of Delaware and Maryland that it's premature to speculate about the potential jobs impact of a merger with British rival AstraZeneca PLC.

Govs. Jack Markell of Delaware and Martin O'Malley of Maryland sent a joint letter to Pfizer chief Ian Read last week expressing concerns about the possible acquisition of AstraZeneca. The company employs some 2,600 people in Delaware and 3,100 in Maryland.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The governors of Maryland and Delaware are voicing concern about Pfizer Inc.'s efforts to acquire AstraZeneca PLC.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell sent a letter on Thursday to Ian Read, the chief executive officer of Pfizer

The two governors say they are concerned about the potential impact such a deal could have on jobs in Maryland and Delaware. AstraZeneca employs about 3,100 people in Maryland and about 2,600 in Delaware.

O'Malley and Markell also sent letters to several federal officials in the United States.


DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's environmental secretary, Collin O'Mara, is resigning to become director of the National Wildlife Federation.

Officials with Gov. Jack Markell's administration confirmed Thursday that O'Mara will leave the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control in July to lead the Reston, Virginia-based group.

The 35-year-old O'Mara was tapped by Markell to lead Delaware's environmental agency in 2009, making him the youngest state cabinet official in the nation at the time.

Don Rush

Delaware’s revenue forecasting panel says the state’s budget problems just got worse predicting that it will fall $75 million short of previous estimates.

The new projections by the non-partisan Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council means that the state’s governor and lawmakers may have to consider budget cuts as they head toward the June deadline.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Governor Jack Markell is expected to put $20 million back into the general fund that agencies will not spend this year.

Don Rush

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - The panel that sets Delaware's official financial projections is updating revenue estimates lawmakers will consider as they work on a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council meets Monday, one month after lowering its overall revenue estimate for the current fiscal year by almost $108 million compared to its December forecast. Leading that decline was a $70 million drop in estimated corporate income taxes.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Members of a panel that advises lawmakers and officials on drinking water and wastewater issues in Delaware are concerned that a clean-water initiative proposed by Gov. Jack Markell has failed to win much support in the legislature.

The chairman of Delaware's Water Infrastructure Advisory Council said Tuesday that he is disappointed with how Markell's plan has been received by state lawmakers. He encouraged members to contact legislators and urge them to support the plan.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Fisker Automotive's unsecured creditors will get $35 million in cash and stock under a new bankruptcy settlement.

But the News Journal reports that Gov. Jack Markell's office warned Monday that despite last week's settlement, Delaware won't see much for the $21.5 million in economic development incentives it awarded Fisker in 2010.

Markell spokeswoman Kelly Bachman says in a statement that the state is not expecting a substantial recovery of its investment.

Don Rush

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell says Delaware should be proud of the progress it's made under the federal Race to the Top education reform program.

Markell discussed the state's Race to the Top progress Monday in a speech to the P-20 council, a group formed a decade ago to coordinate and align education efforts across all grade levels.

Markell said the state has used more than $100 million in federal Race to the Top funding to develop a sound foundation for school improvement, but he knows there's much hard work still left to do.

Don Rush

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - State officials are reviewing Delaware's progress in implementing Race to the Top education reforms.

Gov. Jack Markell planned to join education secretary Mark Murphy on Monday to update state Board of Education member on what Delaware has done with the four-year $119 million federal grant it received in 2010.

Monday's discussion will be followed by a visit to Wilmington on Wednesday by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to mark the four-year anniversary of Delaware's selection as one of the first two states to receive Race to the Top funding.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper are joining Delaware's health and social services secretary to encourage state residents to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Open enrollment on Delaware health insurance exchange for coverage this year ends at midnight Monday.

With the deadline fast approaching, Delaware officials planned to gather Friday in Wilmington in a last-minute push to encourage residents to sign up for coverage.


GOP lawmakers in Delaware want to change the way campaign finance laws are carried out.

The legislation would require political action committees to provide information on the employment records of the contributors as well as whistle-blower protection for those who reveal campaign finance violations.

In addition, it would require better detail on political contributions made jointly by more than one person.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state House has delayed a vote on a package of tax increases upon which Gov. Jack Markell is relying to help pay for his spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

The bill increases the annual tax on limited liability companies and business partnerships from $250 to $300. It also increases the minimum annual corporation franchise tax by $100.

With the bill requiring three-fifths vote in the House and Senate, House Democrats postponed a scheduled vote Tuesday, when at least one Democratic lawmaker was absent.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state House is set to vote on a package of tax increases upon which Gov. Jack Markell is relying to help pay for his spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

A bill to be voted on Tuesday increases the annual tax on limited liability companies and business partnerships from $250 to $300. It also increases the minimum annual corporation franchise tax by $100. 

The legislation was sent to the House for a floor vote after being released by the House Administration Committee last week.