Darryl Scott

145th General Assembly Wrap up

 

Savings House Democrats Initiated After Taking Over the House

  • Cut staffing by 20 percent (7 full-time and 4 part-time employees), saving $525,000 annually
  • Suspended all travel reimbursements, saving $70,000 annually
  • Ended practice of “Speaker Holidays,” in which former Speaker Terry Spence would give House staff unofficial holidays (Easter Monday, days around Thanksgiving and Christmas), saving $40,000
  • Limited in-house state-funded mailings from legislators to their districts, saving at least $70,000 annually
  • Eliminated gold stamping for letterhead and business cards, saving $40,000

Open Government Initiatives House Democrats Championed

  • Opened the General Assembly to the public by placing the Legislature under the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This allows the public to have full access to the legislative process and to see how their money is being spent.
  • Closed a loophole that required the Attorney General’s office to defend agencies that are violating FOIA against the public. The new law closes that loophole and would prevent the AG from representing an agency in court if it is violating FOIA.
  • Placed the Legislature’s expenditures online through the state’s Online Checkbook, giving Delaware taxpayers a clear and more complete view of how their money is being spent.
  • House Democrats made several chamber-wide staff positions nonpartisan, holding an open hiring process rather than continuing the practice of making them political appointees.
  • House Speaker Bob Gilligan pushed to have the fiscal 2011 budget introduced a full week before it was voted on.

Healthcare Legislation

  • Prohibited the practice of “post-claim underwriting” by insurance companies, protecting residents from losing their insurance and preventing medical discount plans from being misrepresented as insurance. Previously, when a person filed a claim, an insurance company could revisit a person’s policy through post-claim underwriting and cancel the policy for something even unrelated to the claim. (House Bill 420 – Signed August 30, 2010)
  • Required private health insurers to cover developmental screenings for infants and toddlers. These screenings already are covered for children in the state’s Medicaid program. (House Bill 199 – Signed August 27, 2009)
  • Expanded Delaware’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to include reduced-cost health insurance coverage for children in low-income households with personal incomes above 200% of the federal poverty level. This cost-sharing program has no additional cost to the state but covers more children. (House Bill 139 – Signed August 27, 2009)
  • Expanded Delaware’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to include reduced-cost health insurance coverage for children in low-income households with personal incomes above 200% of the federal poverty level. This cost-sharing program has no additional cost to the state but covers more children. (House Bill 139 – Signed August 27, 2009)
  • Expanded patients’ rights to allow competent adults to receive visits in a hospital, nursing home or nursing facility from any person they choose. The law does not overrule a facility’s visitation policies that are based on the patient’s medical condition, visitation hours or a court order. (House Bill 112 – Signed June 16, 2009)

Legislation Passed in the 145th GA That Had Lingered

  • Equal Rights (Senate Bill 121) – Staunch opposition finally gave way to a decade of growing support in 2009 when the GA passed a law making it illegal to discriminate against someone in housing, insurance, public accommodations or employment because of their sexual orientation. State law already protects these basic human rights for several other groups, including age, religion, gender, race, marital status and physical handicap.
  • Curbside Recycling (Senate Bill 234) – After several false starts and arguments on both sides, the General Assembly passed universal curbside recycling that is both voluntary and cost-neutral for Delawareans. The program converts the 25-year-old 5-cent bottle deposit into a temporary 4-cent fee to fund the recycling efforts, which will begin in September 2011.
  • Hands-Free Cell Phones (HS 1 for HB 229) – Past attempts in the Republican-controlled House fell short, but in 2010, both chambers passed legislation requiring drivers to use a hands-free device to talk on their cell phones while driving. The all-encompassing bill also prohibits texting and checking e-mail while driving.
  • FOIA (House Bill 1) – Numerous attempts during the past decade ended up locked up in committee. But in 2009, HB 1 placed the General Assembly under the state’s open meeting laws, subjecting the Legislature to the same rules as all other governmental and public bodies. The law gives the public unprecedented access to the state’s budget and committee process and the GA’s records.
  • Eminent Domain (Senate Bill 7) – Legislation protecting property rights was vetoed at the end of the 144th General Assembly, leaving the proposal in limbo until it could be resurrected in 2009. The bill requires state, county or municipal governments or state agencies to use eminent domain only for “public use,” defining the term. It specifically forbids using eminent domain for economic development.

Business-Friendly Legislation

  • Business Finder’s Fee (House Bill 380) – This program allows a company that recruits a new employer to the state and the company that was recruited to share a tax credit of $1,000 for each employee their effort brings to Delaware. If the new business brings 20 jobs to Delaware, the new business and the recruiting business would each get a $10,000 tax credit. The effort also encourages small business growth by keeping the number of employees needed to qualify for the credit small – just 3 employees.
  • Sports Betting and Table Games (HS 1 for House Bill 100 and House Bill 310) – These pieces of legislation were designed to give Delaware’s casinos a competitive edge against gaming facilities in neighboring states. Delaware is one of only four states allowed to have sports betting, and the only east of the Mississippi River. Table games also were aimed at providing new gaming opportunities in the First State.
  • Allowing Microbreweries to Sell Beer for Consumption (House Bill 447) – This bill allows microbreweries to sell beer made on the premises for consumers to drink on site. The law was designed to encourage tourism at licensed microbreweries in Delaware. The signing of this law coincided with the unveiling of the Delaware Wine and Ale Trail, a collection of 12 wineries and breweries throughout the state.

Public Safety Legislation

  • Bradley Bills (9 bills) – Delawareans were horrified by the news that former Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley allegedly molested more than 100 children. This package of bills, many of which were sponsored by Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, was designed to prevent a future breakdown in the system. The bills take several important steps in addressing the problems that both the governor and attorney general’s reviews found.
  • Child Sex Offender Bills (HB 136 and 206) – Rep. Brad Bennett sponsored these bills, which increased penalties against registered sex offenders. HB 136 increased penalties for registered sex offenders who commit a sex offense against a child under 12 years of age. HB 206 increased penalties for the crime of “sex offender unlawful sexual conduct against a child” when the victim is under 18 and has a cognitive disability.
  • Protection From Abuse (HB 336) – Sponsored by Rep. Michael Barbieri, this law allows Family Court to extend the “no contact” provisions of a PFA from its current one-year limit to two years in every case. In cases where aggravating circumstances exist, the bill would give the court discretion to order no contact for as long as deemed necessary.
  • Blue Alert Bill (HB 448) – Rep. Terry Schooley sponsored this bill, which creates a program for the speedy apprehension of persons suspected of killing or seriously injuring law enforcement officers. The Blue Alert would be activated when a suspect in the death or serious injury of a law enforcement officer has not been caught and might be a serious threat to the public.
  • Michelle Smith’s Law (HB 204) – Sponsored by Rep. Earl Jaques, this bill added paramedics, EMTs, fire marshals and fire police officers to a list of first responders whose death can result in a first-degree murder charge. It was named after a Delaware City Fire Co. first responder who was struck and killed by a car while treating an accident victim.
  • Vulnerable Adult Bill (HS 1 for HB 348) – Rep. Valerie Longhurst’s bill created a new criminal offense, Crime Against a Vulnerable Adult, which imposes enhanced penalties in more than 50 criminal offenses (such as fraud, rape, robbery, burglary, identity theft and forgery) if the victim is a vulnerable adult.

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