Cape Gazette
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Legislative Wrap

Jul 02, 2014

Legislation closes gun law loophole

Legislation introduced April 14 would close a loophole that allows persons prohibited to buy a gun if a requested background check has not been processed by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System within three business days.

Rep. Ed Osienski, D-Newark, and House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, introduced House Bill 325, which requires a person to pass a background check before a transaction can be completed.

HB 325 allows 30 days for a background check to be completed before a firearm could be transferred. However, federal rules require that after 30 days, a person must resubmit a background check to purchase a firearm.

According to NICS, in Delaware from 2013-15, 40 individuals successfully purchased firearms and were later determined to be prohibited from possessing a gun. In each case, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had to deploy officers to retrieve the weapons.

At least 18 states have addressed this delayed transaction loophole in a manner that reduces the number of prohibited people who are able to purchase firearms.

HB 325 has been assigned to the House Administration Committee.

Bill increases texting fines

A bill introduced April 6, by House Minority Whip Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, would increase the penalties associated with texting and talking on a cell phone while driving.

House Bill 302 would increase the civil penalty for a first offense from $50 to $100 and for subsequent offenses is increased to $200 up to $300. Additionally, points will be assessed for second or subsequent offenses. This bill is supported by Delaware AAA.

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

Resolution introduced to clarify JFC powers

Legislators introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 63 April 14, requesting the opinion of the Delaware Supreme Court on actions recently taken by the Joint Finance Committee and the Attorney General to spend the Bank of America/Citibank settlement monies.

In a series of votes, the Joint Finance Committee approved settlement funds held by the Attorney General to be spent on a number of initiatives in the communities affected by the mortgage crisis.

In a prepared statement, Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, said there are concerns that the way the money was distributed was unconstitutional and sets a terrible precedent because the committee distributed the money without an act of the General Assembly.

The bipartisan resolution, sponsored by 22 members of the General Assembly, asks four questions of the Justices – does the term treasury include money paid to the state in settlement of a complaint filed in a civil action by the State?; does the state constitution forbid settlement money paid to the state from being dispersed without being appropriated by an act of the General Assembly?; does the Attorney General have the authority to disperse the settlement money referenced in this resolution without an act of the General Assembly?; and does a vote by the Joint Finance Committee meet the requirement for an act of the General Assembly under the Delaware constitution.

Bills reform Delaware’s autism services

Two bi-partisan pieces of legislation improving and streamlining Delaware’s resources for students and adults with autism spectrum disorders passed the Senate April 14.

Senate Bills 92 and 93, sponsored by Sens. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington, and Catherine Cloutier, R-Heatherbrooke, and Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, provide for the expansion of support services for students, adults, and families of individuals with ASDs.

SB 92 updates the Delaware Autism Program to make better use of local district and school programs and resources for students. The bill addresses these problems by reforming DAP’s service delivery model to provide local schools and districts with the evidence-based training, technical expertise and resources they need to expand their existing ASD support services. It also expands parental input in the state’s autism programs by creating a Parent Advisory Committee.

SB 93 establishes the Interagency Committee on Autism and the Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism. These groups will support and help foster stronger collaboration between public agencies and nonprofits that provide support services to individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

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