House OKs custody changes

The state House voted unanimously yesterday in favor of a set of changes to Pennsylvania's child-custody procedures that would prevent judges from assuming that one parent should get custody based on gender.

The prime sponsor, Rep. Kathy Manderino, D-Phila., said the goal was to make the process fairer. Courts would have to factor in, among other things, the likelihood of maintaining frequent contact with the other parent, stability and continuity for the child's schooling and community life and access to other family members.

The measure now goes to the state Senate.

Jury picked in Scouts case

A jury was chosen in U.S. District Court to hear a suit from the Boy Scouts' Cradle of Liberty Council, which is fighting the city's directive that the local group renounce the national organization's ban on gay Scouts or face eviction from its city-owned headquarters.

The Scouts' lawsuit contends that the ultimatum violates the First Amendment. The scout council has been occupying the 1928 Beaux Arts building at 22nd and Winter streets, near the Parkway, paying $1 a year.

2 accused in Camden killing

Two Camden men have been arrested in the May 30 slaying of Eric Laws, 31, outside the Crestbury Apartments in Camden. Tyquan Burrel, 18, was arrested Friday and ordered held on $800,000 bail by Superior Court Judge Samuel Natal. Rakeem Williams, 21, was arrested yesterday. Both men are charged with murder.

Bill for adoptee info OK'd

The state Assembly Human Services Committee has approved legislation that would allow adoptees to find out about their medical history or why they were given up by their birth parents.

The Senate has passed the bill four times since 2004. Yesterday was its first hearing in the Assembly. If the bill becomes law, parents who surrendered their children for adoption would have one year to shield their identities. After that, an adopted adult or adoptive parent would be able to request a copy of the adoptee's birth certificate.

A fee for summer school?

Parents would have to pay for summer school for their children in certain cash-strapped school districts in the state if a law being considered by the Assembly becomes law. The bill was released unanimously by the Assembly Education Committee yesterday.

- Staff and wire reports