Cape Gazette
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Legislative Wrap

Jul 02, 2014

Bill increases suicide prevention awareness

House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, introduced a bill April 16 that would require all public school employees to receive 90 minutes of training each year on suicide prevention.

The bill now awaits the governor's signature after passing through the Senate May 13.

House Bill 90 also requires all public schools to establish a suicide prevention committee and all local education agencies to create a suicide prevention policy.

The bill was voted out of the House Education Committee April 22, passed by the House April 28 and voted out of the Senate Education Committee May 6.

Bill increases homeowner awareness

A bill introduced April 22 by Rep. Kevin Hensley, R-Middletown, Townsend, Odessa, Port Penn, would require homeowners associations to mail correspondence to the billing address on file with the local county tax office.

House Bill 95 was introduced to try and increase the chance that homeowners with a second home or investment property in a neighborhood with a homeowners association are receiving the required notices.

The bill was voted out of the House Housing and Community Affairs Committee May 6.

Bill allows aftermarket safety products

A bill introduced April 28 by Rep. Daniel Short, R-Seaford, allows for the installation of aftermarket brake lights that flash up to five times on motorcycles, Mopeds and motorized scooters.

House Bill 114 has been voted through the House and been assigned to the Senate Public Safety Committee.

Bill creates Indian Heritage and Culture Commission

A bill introduced April 28 by Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, would create the Delaware Commission on Indian Heritage and Culture.

House Bill 120 would establish, maintain, and develop cultural ties between Indians and Indian-Americans; foster a special interest in the historical and cultural backgrounds of both groups, as well as in the economic, political, social, and artistic life of the countries involved; and help study, establish, or promote programs or events that will provide appropriate awareness of the culture, history, heritage, and language of Indians and Indian-Americans.

The bill voted out of the House House Administration Committee May 14.

Bill gives state employees paid maternity leave

A bill introduced April 28 by Rep. Debra Heffernan, D-Brandywine Hundred South, provides full-time employees of the state, who have been employed for at least one year, 12 weeks of paid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child 6 years of age or younger.

Under House Bill 125, both parents would be eligible for such leave. Employees shall continue to have the right, as they do under current law, to use accrued sick leave for maternity and paternity purposes.

This legislation leaves intact the rights of persons adopting a child over 6 years of age to take unpaid leave. The bill has been assigned to the House House Administration Committee.

Governor signs legislation providing moratorium on charter schools

Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill May 5 that provides a moratorium on all new charter schools in Delaware until June 30, 2018 or until the State Board of Education develops a strategic plan for the number of charter, district, and vocational-technical schools in the state.

House Bill 56 was introduced March 24 by Rep. Charles Potter, D-Wilmington North.

Bill lessons reciprocity requirements for beauticians

A bill introduced May 5 by Rep. James Johnson, D-New Castle, revises the statutory provisions relating to reciprocity requirements for barbers, cosmetologists, and aestheticians.

Currently an applicant from a state with licensure standards less stringent than those of Delaware must show 5 continuous years of practice in the other state immediately preceding application to Delaware, in order to receive a Delaware license under reciprocity provisions.

Under House Bill 123, the applicant is required to show work in the other jurisdiction for 3 out of the last 5 years.

The bill has been assigned to the House Sunset Committee.

Bill makes $10 million allocation to farmland preservation fund binding

A bill introduced May 5 by Rep. David Wilson, R-Bridgeville, would make the current funding to the Delaware Farmland Preservation Fund binding.

The fund was created under the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Act in order to conserve, protect, and encourage improvement of agricultural lands within the State. The legislature has previously expressed its desire that $10 million in receipts from the state’s Realty Transfer Tax be allocated annually to this fund in order to accomplish its goals.

House Bill 124 is the first leg of a constitutional amendment that makes this allocation binding on all future administrations and General Assemblies.

The bill was voted out of the House Agricultural Committee May 13.

Bill raises age of responsibility in juvenile prosecutions

Rep. Michael Barbieri, D-Newark, introduced legislation May 5 that establishes the age of 10 as the minimum age of responsibility in juvenile prosecutions.

As an alternative, House Bill 126 suggests children under 10 may be required to participate in any pre arrest diversionary program administered by the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services.

The bill also says that any child believed to be abused, neglected, dependent or in need of mental health services may be referred to the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health, the Division of Family Services or any other appropriate state agency. HB126 does not otherwise alter the procedures for determining competency of minors.

The bill also strikes a provision of the statute requiring the transfer to adult court of any child who turns 18 while their case is pending in the Family Court.

The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

Bill raises campaign contribution limits

A bill introduced May 5 by Rep. Earl Jaques raises campaign contribution limits.

Specifically, House Bill 128, raises the individual limit for a statewide election from $1,200 to $2,000, and for a non-statewide election from $600 to $1,000.

HB128 also raises the limit of contributions from a party to a House of Representatives candidate from $3,000 to $5,000, equal to the State Senate.

Finally, the bill raises the individual contribution to a party from $20,000 to $30,000.

The bill has been assigned to the House House Administration Committee.

Bill reimburses for snow plowing during smaller storms

A bill introduced May 5 by Rep. Sean Matthews, D-Talleyville/Claymont, lowers the amount of snow needed for reimbursement to community associations that plow roads leading to neighborhood schools.

House Bill 129 would allow these communities to be reimbursed for plowing these “feeder roads” leading to the schools if the snowfall is between two and four inches.

Current law allows communities participating in the Delaware Department of Transportation’s snow removal program to get reimbursed for plowing roads when snow events are equal to or greater than four inches.

HB 129 was voted out of the House Transportation, Land Use & Infrastructure Committee May 13.

Bill strengthens laws relating to domestic violence

A bill introduced May 5 by Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington East, makes several changes to state code relating to domestic violence.

First, Senate Bill 83 amends the procedures related to the disposition of firearms in the possession of a respondent.

Second, the bill immediately prevents a person prohibited from purchasing or owning a gun because of a protection from abuse order.

Third, this Act expands the definition of the term “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” to include substantive dating relationships and people who have cohabited at the time of the offense or within 5 years prior to the offense.

Finally, this bill requires the court indicate on the record of conviction of certain, specified offenses whether the offense was a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.”

This bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Bill excuses breast feeding women from jury duty

Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington East, introduced a bill May 5 that would require breastfeeding women be excused from jury service in the courts of the State of Delaware.

Senate Bill 84 was voted out the Senate Judiciary Committee May 13 and then passed by the full Senate May 14.

Bill extends protection from abuse petitions

A bill introduced May 6 by Rep. Michael Barbieri, D-Newark, clarifies that regardless of whether parental rights have been terminated, a petition for protection from abuse may be filed on behalf of a child against a former parent whose conduct constitutes abuse.

House Bill 132 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

Bill requires price estimate on new homes

Rep. Edward Osienski, D-Newark, introduced a bill May 6 that requires builders of new, one- or two-family residential dwellings that are three stories or less to provide to the purchasers a cost estimate from the builder for an automatic sprinkler system.

House Bill 133 also requires the inclusion of information from the State Fire Marshal’s Office about the benefits of such a system.

The bill was voted out of the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee May 13.

Bill allows shipments of wine

Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, introduced a bill May 6 that would permit wine producers holding a valid license in Delaware or another state to obtain a license and ship wine directly to Delaware consumers so long as it is done through a common carrier with a “Carrier Permit”.

House Bill 134 requires the payment of taxes and obtaining the signature of a person 21 years of age or older before delivery of the wine.

The bill has been assigned to the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance/Commerce Committee.

Bill removes legislator’s immunity

A bill introduced May 6 by Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, removes a legislator’s immunity from arrest in going to and returning from a session of their respective Houses.

House Bill 135 is the first leg of a constitutional amendment and has been assigned to the House House Administration Committee.

Bill encourages international insurance business

A bill introduced May 6 by Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover/Central Kent, creates a Port-of-Entry chapter for the Delaware Insurance Code.

Senate Bill 87 will allow international insurance companies to use Delaware as its “Port-of-Entry” state into the U.S. market. The bill gives the insurance commissioner the authority to regulate these entities and sets up the requirements and other regulatory framework for them to come to Delaware.

The bill was voted out of the Senate Insurance and Telecommunications Committee May 14.

Bill allows augmentation of funding

A bill introduced May 6 by Sen. Catherine Cloutier, R-Heatherbrooke, authorizes DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation to augment the funding it receives from the state budget thru proactive endeavors.

Senate Bill 88 would allow and encourage the division to solicit donations, sponsorships and sell advertisements to support park operations, help maintain park facilities and support park programs.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Control Committee.

Bill updates family support act

A bill introduced May 7 by Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, D-Middletown, updates the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which improves the enforcement of United States child support orders abroad and ensure children residing in the United States will receive the financial support due from parents wherever those parents may reside.

Senate Bill 85 would adopt the most recent version of the act, which was done in 2008. Currently the state is using the 2001 version of the act.

The bill was voted out of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee May 13 and then passed by the full Senate May 14.

Bill removes requirement for food protection manager

Sen. Bruce Ennis, D-Smyrna, introduced a bill May 7 that would exempt charitable and fraternal organizations from having a certified food protection manager.

State code currently requires all food establishments to be permitted by the state’s Department of Health and Social Services as having a certified food protection manager.

Senate Bill 89 has been assigned to the Senate Health and Social Services Committee.

Bill raises prevailing wage

A bill introduced May 8 by Rep. Michael Mulrooney, D–Pennwood, raises the prevailing wage rate contract threshold amount from $100,000 to $500,000 for new construction and from $15,000 to $45,000 for alterations, repairs and renovations.

House Bill 145 establishes a set prevailing wage rate and eliminates the need for an annual survey in certain situations. It also deletes the Prevailing Wage Advisory Council from the Delaware Code, which has not had a meeting in nearly 10 years.

Finally, the bill established a Prevailing Wage Advisory Committee that is tasked with advising the General Assembly as to how the prevailing wage survey can be improved or whether the survey should be eliminated. The committee is to provide a report to the General Assembly by January 20, 2016.

The bill has been assigned to the House Labor Committee.

Bills update state’s autism program

Two bills introduced May 13 by Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington East, update and change the Delaware Autism Program.

Senate Bill 92 would realign the state’s educational model for students diagnosed with autism by adding services allowing them to be educated in their home schools. The legislation also would create a panel to monitor the latest developments in educating students with autism spectrum disorders and craft policy reflecting those changes.

Senate Bill 93 would set up a network of autism spectrum specialists that would go into schools to assist students with autism while providing training and support to local educators, and establish an interagency committee on autism and the Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism Education.

The bills are the product of the Autism Education Task Force, co-chaired by Henry and Jaques, which was charged with strengthening and modernizing the state’s approach to educating students with autism.

The bills have been assigned to the Senate Education Committee.

Bill gives county residents say in school board

A bill introduced May 13 by Rep. Timothy Dukes, R-Laurel, would change Sussex Tech’s School Board from a governor-appointed board to one voted on by county residents.

Under House Bill 138 there will be one board member elected from each public school district within the Sussex County.

The bill keeps the same number of members, seven, but changes term lengths from seven years to four years. The elections will be staggered and occurring on even numbered years, with the first elected terms to begin on July 1, 2016.

HB138 has been assigned to the House Education Committee.

Bill requires DNA sample before conviction

A bill introduced May 13 by Rep. Joseph E. Miro, R-Pike Creek Valley, would require a person who is arrested for a crime under the section of state code identifying sexual offenses or offenses relating to children to submit to DNA testing.

Current law requires a person to give a DNA sample if convicted of one of those crimes.

House Bill 141 would also require testing of any individual who is currently incarcerated and convicted of a violent felony.

The bill has been assigned to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

Bill creates special license plate

Rep. William R. Outten, R-Harrington, introduced a bill May 13 that creates a special license plate for retired professional firefighters.

House Bill 142 has been assigned to the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee.

Resolution creates task force on financial literacy

Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, introduced legislation May 13 that would create a task force to study and make findings concerning financial literacy education in Delaware.

The task force created by House Joint Resolution 4 would also make policy and program recommendations that will help increase the financial literacy of our students.

The bill has been assigned to the House Education Committee.

Bill sets minimum amount of transportation funding

A bill introduced May 14 by Rep. Joseph E. Miro, R-Pike Creek Valley, codifies the annual funding of transportation of students of nonpublic, nonprofit elementary and high schools.

House Bill 144 would require the state to annually appropriate a minimum of $127 per family to fund nonpublic, nonprofit elementary and high school transportation.

The bill has been assigned to the House Education Committee.

Bill creates tax on potential educators

Rep. Kimberly Williams, D-Newport, Stanton, introduced a bill May 14 that establishes a $100 fee for new education licenses.

House Bill 146 is expected to reduce the process burden and allow the licensure office to better serve the needs of Delaware’s educators.

According the bill’s synopsis, because of reciprocity agreements and the lack of license fees in our state, the Department of Education processes approximately one to two thousand applications per year from applicants outside of the State of Delaware who do not become employed here.

The bill has been assigned to the House Education Committee.

Bill stiffens penalty of false reporting

A bill introduced May 14 by David Lawson, R-Marydel, makes clear that it is a class A misdemeanor when a person, knowing the information reported is false or baseless, reports to a law-enforcement officer that a Protection from Abuse Order has been violated.

Senate Bill 99 has been introduced to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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