On Monday the 13th I attended the annual Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. Justice Veasey, who had recently released the investigative report and recommendation on campaign finance, received a lifetime achievement award. On the 14th the Legislature returned to Dover. First I had a meeting with Senator Ennis on manufactured housing, two meetings with the medical community on midwifery, and after session I briefly attended a reception at Woodburn, the Governor’s Dover residence, and then an evening meeting of a homebirth (midwifery) group. On the 15th I attended the meeting of the Elections Task Force, which also included Justice Veasey, and afterwards held a meeting (again with Justice Veasey) on campaign finance reform. After session that day I attended a reception with the DE Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association. On Thursday the 16th I attended the annual luncheon with the State Council for Persons with Disabilities, and then caught the second half of the Small Business Caucus, where the pending minimum wage increase legislation was discussed. After session I attended a reception sponsored by the DE Trial Lawyers Association. On Friday I taped two Comcast Newsmakers segments, one on campaign finance reform, and one on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
On Monday the 20th I had a conference call with members of the Justice Department to discuss pending legislation on guardianship (House Bill 227), and how to improve the court’s role in overseeing assets held in trust for minors (my concern centered around the need for a provision that college funding accounts be included as an option).
I also had a conference call with members of US Representative John Carney’s staff and a member of the national financial planners group, to discuss federal measures for ensuring that the brokerage industry puts clients first, by adopting a fiduciary standard. On Tuesday and Wednesday the Legislature’s sessions were cancelled due to the snow. On Thursday, after session, I attended the public meeting of the policy subcommittee of the working group to review DE’s midwifery community. On Friday I attended a tour of the Fraunhofer Center in Newark, which is a non-profit science facility identifying methods to quickly create safe vaccines for diseases such as Swine Flu, Avian Flu, Anthrax, and others. I also joined some members of the Residents Against the Power Plant for a meeting with the Governor and DNREC Secretary O’Mara.
I have been busy on many policy issues. I have had constructive discussions regarding the need to improve the governance of the Cash Management Policy Board, which a current bill is affecting. I am very pleased that this board is ‘undergoing Joint Sunset Review Committee review’ later this year. There are clear improvements needed.
I am exploring the ‘death with dignity’ issue, and hope to provide a forum in which we can explore the current state of hospice care, and how this affects the necessity of a ‘death with dignity’ program in Delaware. I have had some brief emails with members of the hospice community, and with advocates of ‘death with dignity’ programs, so that I can learn more about the critical policy issues involved. I do not expect to introduce any legislation on this matter in 2014.
As I mentioned, I am working with others to identify the best campaign finance reform that we can achieve this year, to help raise the confidence of everyone in Delaware in our state and local government. I have had phone calls and meetings on House Bill 115, which would introduce a statute of limitations for errors by land surveyors.
Also as I mentioned, I am working hard on bringing safe, legal homebirth midwifery services to Delaware families who seek it. I have been very pleased that there is a growing consensus, even within the medical community, that the current Delaware system is fatally flawed in the area of licensing certified professional midwives who are trained in providing this service.
I am working on the manufactured housing arena, preparing for Senate hearings on two of my bills, House Bills 106 and 107. I have also prepared two further bills (not yet numbered), which impact the manufactured housing community. I have called a House Manufactured Housing Committee meeting for the 29th to begin to explore the bills before us.
As I mentioned, I am working on improving Delaware’s EITC program. I have setup a meeting with UDs Professor Saul Hoffman, who has been researching this issue for years, and I have been discussing this with legislative leaders and members of the Governor’s staff.
I have reviewed the City of Newark’s conditional confirmation of the zoning for the data center/power plant project, and have helped to share the most current information with residents. As I mentioned, I also arranged a meeting to help some residents learn more about the process, and to share their concerns with the Governor and DNREC Secretary O’Mara.
I introduced House Bill 229, which provides a conditional drivers license to those who lose their license for six months due to a (non-driving) drug offense. The law currently provides a conditional license if the person needs it for a job. HB 229 provides a similar conditional license if the person needs a license for schooling or job training.
I have worked with Representative Dennis E Williams on two economic matters, the makeup of the board for the Port of Wilmington, and on improved formula for infrastructure spending. I was pleased that the Governor, in his State of the State speech on Thursday, shared his support for significant boost to infrastructure spending over the next five years.
I have shared the good news that the Newark Housing Authority is opening its waiting list next week, partly in preparation for the redevelopment of the Cleveland Heights community, plans of which were recently approved by the Newark Planning Committee.
Next week will be the last week of session before late March (to give the Joint Finance committee time to work on the budget), and it promises to be lively. We will likely consider the Ban the Box bill and the Minimum Wage bill. I am on a panel on Wednesday morning with the DE Dietician Association, and have a meeting of the District-Charter Collaboration Task force that afternoon, and a kids caucus meeting on Thursday morning, along with several other meetings. January is off to a very brisk start, not just on the temperature front!