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Legislative Wrap-up »

May 30, 2014
Bill adds animals to game animal statute

A bill sponsored by Rep. W. Charles Paradee, D-Cheswold, amends the existing statute by classifying gray foxes, skunks and weasels as game animals to allow the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to establish seasons and regulations for these species.

House Bill 98 enables the man­agement of these species as is currently allowed for similar spe­cies classified as game animals and to legalize the incidental take of these species by licensed trap­pers pursuing other regulated game animal species.

Additionally, the bill clarifies that the bullfrog is the only game frog, and the reference to the Bryant fox squirrel is removed as antiquated nomenclature for the Eastern fox squirrel, which was not historically and is not currently present in Delaware.

This bill was introduced April 30, 2013 and finished passing through both the House and the Senate April 30, 2014.

Bill would permit electronic insurance ID

Rep. Bryon Short, D–Brandy­wine Hundred, has introduced a bill that would allow Delaware drivers to show their proof of in­surance using their cell phones.

House Bill 258 would permit drivers to take advantage of new electronic ID cards services be­ing offered by major insurance companies, which now make proof­of­insurance information available to clients via mobile apps and web­based portals.

The bill awaits the governor’s signature, having passed through both the Senate and the House.

Legislation would change FOIA laws

Democratic lawmakers filed four pieces of legislation May 6 designed to increase transparen­cy in government and strengthen the state’s FOIA laws. The mea­sures would address posting of meeting minutes, mailed FOIA requests, publishing of annual reports and education of FOIA coordinators.

House Bill 323, sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski, D­Newark, would require that annual or biennial reports published by various executive branch public bodies be posted online on one central website. This bill was re­ported out of committee May 14.

House Bill 320, sponsored by Rep. Kim Williams, D­Marshall­ton, would require public bodies that meet four or fewer times per year to post draft meet­ing minutes online within 10 working days of the end of the meeting. This bill was passed by the House May 15.

House Bill 322, sponsored by Rep. Quinn Johnson, D-Middletown, would correct an error from a previous FOIA bill. Passed in 2012, Senate Bill 231 re­moved U.S. mail as an acceptable way to file a FOIA request. As a result, people submitting FOIA requests via mail could and have had their requests denied. This bill was passed by the House May 15.

House Bill 321, sponsored by Rep. John Atkins, D­Millsboro, would add an educational com­ponent to Delaware’s FOIA law, requiring the Attorney General’s Office to publish a manual and hold an annual training seminar for FOIA coordinators. This bill was reported out of committee May 14.

Bill requires special election to fill seat

Delaware Senate and House Republican leaders said May 8 they are introducing legislation to require any vacancy in the lieutenant governor’s office be filled by special election.

The issue came to the forefront last month when Lt. Gov. Matt Denn announced that he would run for attorney general just days after incumbent Beau Biden dis­closed he would not seek another term in this fall’s elections.

State law provides no provi­sion for dealing with a situation where the lieutenant governor leaves office before the end of his or her four­year term.

A constitutional amendment requires the approval of two con­secutive General Assemblies, but does not require the signature of the governor. If approved by the 147th General Assembly be­fore June 30, and the new 148th General Assembly next January, a special election for lieutenant governor could occur as soon as March.

Bill would require DUI interlock devices

A House committee released legislation May 7 that would require all people convicted of driving under the influence to install ignition interlock devices in the vehicles they drive.

Sponsored by Reps. Helene M. Keeley, D­Wilmington South, and Steve Smyk, R­Milton, and Senate Majority Leader Sen. David McBride, D­Hawk’s Nest, House Substitute 1 for House Bill 212 builds on a 2011 law that increased penalties for multiple DUIs and required ignition in­terlock devices for all offenders with a blood alcohol concentra­tion of 0.15 or more.

The new bill would require all DUI offenders to install devices in their vehicles.

It also requires the use of the devise for a minimum of four months for a first offense.

Legislation clarifies dangerous dog laws

Legislation that clarifies an existing law and helps protect com­munities from dangerous dogs that chase or attack people was released from a House committee May 7.

Rep. Dennis E. Williams, D-Talleyville, introduced House Substitute 1 for House Bill 297.

Under current state law, a dog can be seized and declared dan­gerous if it chases a person on two separate occasions in a year, kills or injures a person and kills or injures a domestic animal.

HS 1 for HB 297 would make it clear that any – not all – of the defined instances could constitute grounds for impounding a dog.

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