Cape Gazette

Legislative Wrap

Jul 02, 2014

Bill increases voter participation

Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, announced Feb. 24, that he will file legislation aimed at increasing voter participation.

The draft measure would extend absentee voting to all eligible Delaware voters by removing a handful of requirements limiting when a person can vote by absentee ballot. Under current state law, absentee voting is limited to only those who are unable to physically make it to their polling place on Election Day. Those reasons are limited to eight situations, such as being in the military, sick or physically disabled, on vacation or religious reasons.

The proposal was first introduced during the 147th General Assembly in 2013, but House Bill 20 failed along party lines. The draft measure would be the first leg of a constitutional amendment. If it passes the General Assembly during this two-year session, an identical version must pass the 149th General Assembly, which begins in 2017.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 27 states and Washington D.C., already have no-excuse absentee voting. Neighboring states New Jersey and Maryland are among those states.

Jaques expects to introduce the measure when the House returns to session in March.

Bill protects paramedics

A bill introduced by Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, clarifies paramedic immunity when consent to render care is unable to be obtained.

House Bill 11 was introduced Jan. 7 and is modeled after similar legislation enacted in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

It was reported out of the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee Jan 21.

Bill requires financial disclosure by Cash Management Policy Board

A bill introduced March 12 by Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, would add members of the state’s Cash Management Board to the definition of “public officers”, which would mean members would be required to meet annual financial disclosure requirements.

House Bill 43 has been assigned to the House Administration Committee.

Minimum wage increase proposed

Delawareans who earn the minimum wage would see their pay go to $10.25 per hour by 2019 under legislation being spearheaded by Sen. Robert Marshall, D-Wilmington West. The senator announced the introduction of the Senate Bill 39 March 17. Under the proposed bill, starting in 2016, the wage would increase in four 25-cent per hour increases to $10.25 by June 2019.

The bill also requires Delaware to match any increase in the federal minimum wage, should one be approved by Congress, and would also require annual adjustments, based on inflation, starting in 2019.

Marshall, who was a co-chairman of the General Assembly’s Low Wage, Service Worker Task Force, said the need to increase the minimum wage came across loud and clear during the task force’s hearings last year.

Under legislation passed last year, Delaware’s minimum wage is set to go to $8.25 per hour in June.

Banning of e-cigarettes inside proposed

Legislation proposed March 17 by Rep. Debra Heffernan, D-Claymont, and Sen. President Pro Tempore Patricia Blevins, D-Elsmere, would expand the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act to include electronic cigarettes.

House Bill 5 would add electronic cigarettes to Delaware’s 2002 Clean Indoor Air Act, which effectively banned smoking in restaurants, bars and other indoor public places throughout the state.

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that heats a cartridge of liquid, producing a mist that can be inhaled by the user.

The bill adds a definition of “electronic cigarette” to existing law that would cover all types of e-cigarettes and other vaporization devices. The bill would also redefine “smoking” to include the use of e-cigarettes. The list of locations and settings in which the Clean Indoor Air Act currently applies would remain the same.

Last session, the Delaware General Assembly passed legislation that would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

The bill has been assigned to the House Health and Human Development Committee.

Bill makes cursive a requirement

House Bill 52, introduced March 17 by House Minority Whip Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, would make the teaching of cursive writing a requirement for all public schools in Delaware.

The bill has been assigned to the House Education Committee.

Bill makes charter schools accountable to Auditor of Accounts

House Bill 53, introduced March 17 by Rep. Kimberly Williams, D-Stanton, adds charter schools to the list of entities for audits through the Auditor of Accounts.

Currently, all school districts, including vocational schools, are subject to the Auditor of Accounts. Edits to the November 2010 Charter School Manual removed instructions for charter schools to go through Auditor of Accounts when contracting for audits.

The bill has been assigned to the House Education Committee.

Bill requires use of helmet on motorcycle

House Bill 54, introduced March 17 by Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, would require the use of helmets by motorcycle drivers and passengers.

Currently every motorcycle rider is required to have a helmet in his or her possession while riding.

Since 2014, of the 15 motorcycle fatalities in Delaware, only 6 were wearing helmets at the time of crash.

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

Bill requires dense breast tissue notification

Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, introduced a bill March 18 that would require a mammography service provider to provide specific notice to a patient if that patient presents with dense breast tissue.

Senate Bill 37 was assigned to the Senate Health and Social Services Committee.

Bill prohibits pointing laser at airplanes

Sen. Bruce Ennis, D-Smyrna, introduced a bill March 18 that gives state law enforcement agencies the ability to prosecute those who aim the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft.

Senate Bill 41 supplements federal prosecution efforts focused on deaths or injuries caused by use of laser pointers by enacting a state law prohibiting aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft that does not result in death or injury.

The bill was assigned to the Senate Public Safety Committee.

Bill gives first responders ability to enter vehicle to save animal

A bill introduced Jan. 27 by Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, allows first responders to use reasonable force to remove an animal confined in motor vehicle under conditions likely to cause suffering, injury or death.

Senate Bill 22 allows a person removing an animal to use reasonable means to contact the owner and if unable to locate the owner, take the animal to an animal shelter. The bill provides for issuance of a fine in an amount no higher than $1,000 for a first offense.

The bill was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 18.

Bill provides moratorium on charter schools

A bill introduced March 24 by Rep. Charles Potter, D-Wilmington North, 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 assigned to the House Education Committee.

Bill allows transfer of special military plates to spouses

The surviving spouse of an owner of a vehicle who qualifies for a special military licence plate will allowed to transfer the plate to a vehicle owned by the spouse of Senate Bill 44 becomes law.

Introduced March 24 by Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Central Kent, the bill would apply to the following military license plates: Former Prisoners of War; Veterans with Disabilities; Veterans Formerly Missing-in-action; Delaware National Guard and Reserves; Purple Heart; Recipients of Medals or Commendations for Valor; Retired Military Personnel; Korean War Veterans; Gold Star Lapel Buttons; Operation Iraqi Freedom; Vietnam War veterans; or Operation Enduring Freedom.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee.

Bill requires general election candidates to pay taxes

A bill introduced March 25 by Rep. Timothy Dukes, R-Laurel, would require all statewide and other candidates that may appear on the general election ballot to disclose whether all their state and federal personal income tax returns are filed and paid, and whether all their property taxes have been paid.

House Bill 67 was assigned to the House House Administration Committee.

Bill allows technicians to drive unregistered vehicles after repair

A bill introduced Feb. 5 by Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Central Kent, will allow DNREC certified repair technicians to issue a temporary tag for the purpose of a test drive.

The repair business must have a valid shopkeeper’s or garagekeeper’s liability insurance policy before operating the customer’s vehicle.

Senate Bill 34 was reported out of the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee on March 25.


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