Cape Gazette

Legislative Wrap

Jul 02, 2014

Bill removes $10 license plate fee

House Bill 21 removes the $10 administrative fee for applicants requesting the Gold Star family special license plate. The plate is in recognition of a close relative’s death while serving in the military.

The bill was introduced Jan. 14 by Rep. Sean Matthews, D-Talleyville, passed by the House on Jan. 20 and then voted out of the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee on Jan. 28.

Bill changes distribution of controlled substances

A bill introduced Jan. 14 would allow veterinarians and methadone clinics to dispense more than 72 hours of a controlled substance.

Senate Bill 8, introduced by Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, D-Middletown, would close the loophole created with the passage of Senate Bill 119 during the 147th General Assembly. The bill passed through the Senate on Jan. 22 and was then voted out of the House Health and Human Developement Committee on Jan. 28.

Bill prorates funding for charter school transfers

Rep. Kimberly Williams, D-Stanton, has introduced legislation that says if a student transfers from a charter school to a school district after September 30, funds will be prorated between the charter school and the school district where the student is then enrolled.

Currently if there is no agreement with the a school district, charter schools are currently to retain any funding received for the fiscal year for a student who transfers mid-year from the charter school to a school district.

House Bill 28 was introduced Jan. 22 and has been assigned to the House Education Committee.

Resolution examines digital drivers licenses

David McBribe, D-Hawk's Nest, has asked the state's Division of Motor Vehicles to study and consider issuing optional digital driver's licenses for Delaware motorists.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 4, introduced Jan. 22, asks for an examination of the possibility because the option could improve quality of life and reduce costs. The resolution passed through the Senate unanimously and was assigned to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on Jan. 28.

Bills focus on public safety

Sen. Robert Marshall, D-Wilmington West, introduced two bills Jan. 27 that are focused on public safety.

Senate Bill 18 would allow judges to deny bail for a range of violent offenders for up to 120 days. The bill was assigned to the Senate Executive Committee.

He is also going re-introduction Senate Bill 19, which allows local police to operate gun buyback programs and use proceeds to help fund undercover operations to break up illegal gun sales. Marshall’s 2011 gun buyback program resulted in more than 2,000 guns being taken out of circulation.

Bill repeals estate tax

Sen. Gary Simpson, R-Milford, introduced Senate Bill 17 on Jan. 27 that would permanently abolish the state’s estate tax.

The tax, which currently applies to estates valued at more than $5.12 million, was reinstated in 2009 as part of a massive tax package pushed by the governor’s administration to help close an $850 million budget deficit. The tax was scheduled to expire four years later, but citing another budget shortfall, the governor proposed keeping the estate tax – and other sun setting taxes – in place.

The Delaware Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC), the panel that sets the state's official revenue projections, estimated the tax would generate $25 million the first full year after it was reinstated. According to numbers provided by the state’s Controller General Office, revenue generated in Fiscal Year 2011 was $16.2 million and fell to $1.3 million in Fiscal Year 2014.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.

Bill closes gap in special education funding

Three New Castle legislators have introduced a bill Jan. 28 that would provide assistance to special education students, kindergarten to third grade.

The Delaware education system classifies special education students into three categories: basic, intensive and complex. The state currently funds additional teacher units for intensive and complex special education from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The state only funds basic special education from fourth through 12th grade, leaving a gap in support for kindergarten through third-grade classrooms.

House Bill 30, sponsored by Rep. Kim Williams, D-Marshallton, and Sens. Harris McDowell, D-Wilmington North, and Nicole Poore, D-New Castle, would extend state funding for basic special education to kindergarten through third grade.

The bill has been assigned to the House Education Committee.

Task force on education spending

Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, has introduced a resolution to form a task force that will examine and study all Department of Education K-12 spending in Delaware, as it exists across all forms of education.

House Concurrent Resolution 5 will be able to use that information to make recommendations that will create and promote an equitable distribution among all children receiving an education in Delaware.

The bill was assigned to the House Education Committee.

Bill places cap on special event liability insurance

Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, has introduced a bill Jan. 27 intended to promote the development of annual special events hosted by non-profit organizations by placing a liability cap on non-economic damages awarded for personal injury or wrongful death.

Senate Bill 14 does not place any limitations on economic damages and there is no limitation where gross negligence or intentional actions cause the damages.

The bill states the cap on non-economic damages begins at $1,000,000 and increases each calendar year by 1.5 percent except that multiple claimants under a wrongful death action may be awarded a total of 250 percent of that cap.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Executive Committee.

Bill gives demolition credits to damage caused by natural disaster

Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman, R-Kenton, introduced a bill Jan. 28 that creates a tax credit for demolition permit fees if the demolition is needed as a result of damage caused by a natural disaster.

House Bill 35, known as Barbara Smith-Morlock and Robert Dolga Act, has bee assigned to the House Revenue and Finance Committee.

Bill allows school districts to delay changes

Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman, R-Kenton, introduced a bill Jan. 28 that allows a local school district board to delay new or changed rules, regulations, or administrative procedures from becoming effective during a school year once the school year has started.

House Bill 34 will allow the rules, regulations, and procedures to be consistent for the whole school year. The bill has been assigned to the House Education Committee.


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