Meetings—In addition to door knocking during the weekends, in the past week I have attended five meetings. On Monday I went to Sussex County for the monthly meeting of the DE Manufactured Home Owners Association (DMHOA), to discuss the rent justification law, and field all questions. On Tuesday I helped organize a community meeting with staff from the city’s storm water management department, and from the ‘County Conservation District’ which is also concerned with storm water. We had good turnout, from throughout the city. On Wednesday I joined a meeting called by Representative Valerie Longhurst and Senator Nicole Poore, with residents of Hunters Run and other area manufactured housing communities, to address the rent justification law, and a recent mailing from the community owner providing multi-year rent options. On Thursday I headed to Harrington for the DE State Fair, for Governor’s Day. During dinner I sat with Senators Ennis and Bushweller (and Brian’s wife Rocky). Before and after dinner, I wandered the fairgrounds, including meeting the Cook family which owns a farm south of Newark. On Friday I attended a meeting of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA). At this meeting we discussed fair taxation, especially regarding US corporations which shelter their profits offshore, and what can be done about it.
I also worked with my aide David Meluskey on following up on issues raised while door knocking. Additionally, I continued to work on several outstanding issues.
New Power Plant in Newark—I am exploring the preliminary plans to build a large power plant on the STAR campus (the old Chrysler auto plant). While there are no formal proposals yet, the plans for a 248MW natural gas power plant are solid enough to justify a discussion of whether the positives outweigh the negatives of this development, and to identify the requires steps to approve such a project.
Midwives—Due to the passage of House Bill 194, I am working with the Department of Public Health, and certificated midwives, to improve our laws and regulations to include more of our midwives into our system.
Education—I was named to serve on the Promoting Charter-District Collaboration Task Force, however no meetings have yet been called. I am looking forward to identifying those techniques which are successful in our charter schools, and introducing them to our traditional public schools.
Creek Road—I continue to explore choices for the section of Creek Road between Wedgewood Road and Hopkins Road, which has been shut down to traffic for several years.
CVS—I continue to monitor the status of preliminary plans to replace Whiteman’s Garage (Paper Mill and Corner Ketch Roads) with a CVS. Community members are working with the developers to identify issues which they would like resolved before such a project is approved.
Events in Dover slowed down for me this past week, as the bulk of the manufactured housing legislation is behind me. That said, it was not a quiet week.
On Sunday I attended the service at Pilgrim Baptist Church on Barksdale Road, which was celebrating its 100th anniversary. Later on Sunday I attended the Juneteenth celebration at the George Wilson Center. On Monday I attended the Newark City Council meeting to present a tribute to Sgt. Michael Van Campen, for his part is stopping drugs coming into Delaware. I also spent time on flooding in Barksdale Estates, road maintenance for Covered Bridge Farms, road maintenance and sign maintenance in Nonantum Mills, development plans in the New London Road area.
I spent time understanding the ‘$8 million casino bailout.’ I don’t consider this really to be a bailout. The casinos pay over $200 million annually to the state, not on their profits, but on their sales. This is a critical source of the state’s income, and due to several factors, including the substantial competition from MD and PA, the casinos are having a tough time. The $8 million payment that the Governor has proposed comes from one-time money, and buys us time to find a long-term solution. This $8 million was part of the ‘bond bill’, which describes all bond-funded spending, for items such as highways and schools, and casinos. The House passed it this week. The House also passed the annual budget for FY14 (fiscal year 2014). There is still a ‘grant in aid’ bill, which directs dollars to state non-profits, which I understand will come up tomorrow night.
I also spent time on HB194, the midwife bill. I was able to initiate an amendment to soften the language, and to get a commitment to a dialog aimed at bringing the state’s “non-nurse midwives” into the system. Almost all currently work outside the system due to very high demands of the system, and I am hopeful that the dialog will enable us to find a workable solution.
I unsuccessfully tried to get HB194 to pass, permitting the sale of raw milk (which is permitted in Pennsylvania but not in DE). While there are some health concerns with raw milk, they are very low, and likely are less likely than from raw seafood, and deli meat. Regardless, the bill failed to pass the House.
I worked with Senator Townsend on Senate Bills 174 and 175, which are designed to improve our state’s schools. One directs the Department of Education to annually review the successes in our public charter schools, and identify steps which can be introduced to our traditional public schools to improve them. The second directs the Department of Education to regularly post information on competitive grants, with criteria, successful applications, etc. These two bills are supported by the Governor, passed the Senate easily, and I hope shall pass the House late tomorrow. Since I am a prime sponsor of these bills, I have worked this week to ‘ensure’ that they get voted on by the House tomorrow—no simple feat (and no guarantee yet).
The House overwhelmingly passed SB35, the Specialty Tier Drug bill, which makes specialty prescription medication more affordable for families. We were visited by Cole and his mother Kim, and their presence helped all of the Representatives get behind this bill.
I worked with DHSS (the Department of Health and Social Services) to better understand SB119, which identifies the process that hospices in Delaware dispose of unused prescription drugs. I had learned of concerns with the initial draft, but discovered that these concerns had been addressed by the final version of the bill.
I sorted through concerns with the farm trailer bill, concerns which were partially caused by confusion between the farm trailer bill and the farm vehicle bill—don’t ask.
I have three bills which the House passed overwhelmingly, but which await Senate action. Two relate to manufactured Housing (HBs 106 & 107), and one with state pensions (HB 137). To get them to a Senate vote this year, they must be on the ‘must list.’ I have spent a bit of time this week working towards this. I still don’t know what will make it, but I believe that HB137 will be voted on, and HB 107 might. It sounds like HB 106 will have to wait until January 2014.
Tomorrow we begin our last session for the day at 5pm (although the big bill signing for the rent justification bill, SB33) begins at 4pm in the Governor’s office. We should be heading home a little after midnight.