HARRISBURG - She traded quips about Keno gambling, shared stories about puppy love, and soaked up compliments, even from Republican lawmakers, on her controversial decision to kill Gov. Corbett's contract with a British firm to run the state lottery.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane, making her first appearance on the legislative stage since taking office last month, got a warm welcome Wednesday from her fellow Democrats and Republicans alike on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Kane testified before the committee while seeking an additional $12 million in the 2013-14 budget to stave off layoffs and district office closures, and expand violent-crime enforcement.
"If we don't have money to fight child predators and Mexican drug cartels, they will take over," said Kane, adding that she is not an alarmist by nature but concerns about drug violence keep her awake at night.
She told lawmakers that the Attorney General's Office has been flat-funded in recent years while pension and inflation costs have risen, leaving fewer dollars to spend on law enforcement.
Corbett, in his budget address, proposed $78 million for the Office of the Attorney General, the same amount as it received last year. Kane said she needed $6 million more to cover inflationary costs and wanted additional funding to fill vacancies and create a mobile unit to combat violent crime.
For two hours, Kane fielded friendly questions from lawmakers on subjects as varied as agricultural law and the United-Delta airline merger.
Judiciary Chairman Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R., Montgomery) thanked her for helping him review his bill to improve the state's "puppy lemon law," which allows consumers to recover some costs if a dog they purchase is sick or defective.
"I'm a dog lover, as you are," said Kane.
Republicans queried her extensively on her decision last week to reject the contract with Camelot Global to run the Pennsylvania Lottery. Kane said it violated legislative authority over gaming operations, particularly the planned expansion into Keno and online gaming.
One Republican, Sen. Randy Vulakovich of Allegheny County, wondered aloud about how video Keno worked, saying he had not played it.
"Me either," said Kane, drawing chuckles.
Her decision on the contract won her praise from one Republican on the panel.
"Any expansion of gaming into the Internet would be the duty of the legislature," said Sen. Robert Tomlinson (R., Bucks), who worked on the 2004 gaming control act. "I agree with your opinion."
The coziness with Senate Republicans stood in contrast with Kane's combative relationship with the GOP governor, which developed during her campaign last year.
Corbett said Wednesday that he would decide this week on whether he would challenge Kane's decision on the lottery privatization contract.
That move struck a blow to a deal the administration had worked on for months and which had come to be viewed as a test of the governor's mettle in pushing through major initiatives.
Corbett, speaking at Penn State-Hershey Children's Hospital at an event to push his budget-related health-care initiatives, would not say whether Camelot was losing patience with the hurdles that have been placed in the path of the privatization deal.
Several Democrats at the hearing praised Kane for acting swiftly on another campaign promise: closing the so-called Florida loophole that police say has allowed Pennsylvania residents rejected for permits here to obtain concealed carry licenses.
Kane also said she supported legislation to require mandatory reporting of lost and stolen weapons as a route to address illegal gun transfers.