Gun talks pervade Kane hearing

| Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 10:00 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania's new attorney general wound up in the middle of a discussion about gun control Thursday at what was supposed to be a hearing on her office's budget.

In two days of hearings, Attorney General Kathleen Kane had urged the House Appropriations Committee to support a $13 million funding increase to offset payroll costs and finance crackdowns on child predators and an influx of violent drug dealers from Mexico. But on day two, committee members' comments often strayed from the budget's ledger lines.

Rep. Cherelle Parker, D-Philadelphia, applauded Kane's support for certain gun-control measures, including universal background checks for gun purchasers and mandatory reporting of lost or stolen guns.

Parker praised Kane for taking steps to close a loophole allowing Pennsylvanians to get concealed-weapon permits from Florida even if prohibited from doing so back home. Kane said her office is reviewing gun-reciprocity agreements between Pennsylvania and other states to identify any other such loopholes.

Kane's positions “sound like a little bit of heart to me,” Parker said.

Rep. Jeffrey Pyle, an Armstrong County Republican and vocal gun-rights advocate, said he hunts in several states and jokingly asked the Democratic attorney general to identify states whose reciprocity agreements are under review “so I don't break the law.”

Kane replied, “I'm quite ... sure that if you are a law-abiding citizen with a valid gun permit that you and I will never be having another conversation about it again.”

“Oh, I've got a bad feeling we're gonna,” Pyle said, evoking laughter across the room.

One politically hot issue that was not discussed at the hearing was the legal opinion by Kane's office last week that at least temporarily spiked Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to contract out management of the Pennsylvania Lottery to a British company.

The contract with London-based Camelot Global Services, the United Kingdom's official lottery operator, guarantees at least $34 billion in profit to the state over 20 years, money Corbett has said will help the state provide services to a growing senior population.

Rep. William Adolph, the committee's chairman, said at the conclusion of the hearing that he supported the governor's efforts to augment the lottery revenue with “some type of guaranteed income.”

“I hope the contract was legal,” said the Delaware County Republican. “If it's not, it will be proven otherwise.”

Thursday ended the first of three weeks of budget hearings before the House and Senate appropriations committees.

At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Thursday, state Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer told lawmakers that money from the new gas-drilling impact fee will take the place of general tax revenue to finance some state programs.

Krancer cited the so-called Act 13 fee as a source of future funding for such purposes as hazardous-waste cleanups, local conservation districts and flood control.

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