2014 Update—May 28th to June 7th

Despite being less than two weeks since the last update, a lot has been going on in my work as your State Representative.

I visited Bloom Energy’s plant on Wednesday the 28th, and then went to a meeting in West Branch to discuss ‘Phase II of the Upper Christina Stream Restoration Project.’  Senator David Sokola joined us, as did members of the city’s staff, and a few homeowners.  On Thursday evening I met with FOCSD, the Friends Of Christina School District, reviewing the past year and discussing the upcoming events and issues.  On Friday the 30th I met Newark Mayor Polly Sierer for breakfast, and attended the Memorial Day Service at the Memorial War Plaza near the Delaware Memorial Bridge.  On Saturday I attended the UD Graduation, with Rep Dennis Williams, Mayor Sierer, and Newark City Councilperson Stu Markham.  Vice President Joe Biden gave a very inspiring speech to the graduates.  On Saturday and Sunday I door knocked, primarily at the neighborhoods along Old Paper Mill Road.

On Monday the 2nd I attended a meeting on the streambank restoration project, requested by residents of Timber Creek.  In addition to city staff, we were joined by representatives of DNREC and the Conservation District.  We all learned a LOT about the science of stream water and storm water quality, and stream bed management.  We were in session in Dover on Tuesday through Thursday, in the afternoons (and evening in the case of Thursday).  On Tuesday I met for over an hour with one of the state-wide manufactured homeowner organizations to hear their concerns with HB 234, one of my bills.  We delayed its consideration until Thursday to see if they could provide a change which would address their concerns without hampering the bill’s ability to pass the House.  This did not occur, and so we passed the bill Thursday in the evening.  During Tuesday’s session I introduced ‘House Substitute 1 to House Bill 319’, this is a rewrite of my midwifery bill, a rewrite that incorporates a large amount of input from the doctors, Division of Public Health (DPH), and Division of Professional Regulation (DPR).  Tuesday after session I attended a meeting on the Smarter Balanced testing system and its implementation at the State Department of Education, and afterwards stopped by a reception for retired state employees.  I hosted my monthly coffee on Wednesday morning.  My afternoon was dominated by the House Health committee’s consideration of HB 319 (midwifery).  After much testimony ‘for and against,’ we came up one vote short of release, and instead the committee agreed to table the bill for a week.  More on that in a bit.  That evening I went to the Bob Carpenter Center to enjoy the 121st Graduation Ceremony of Newark High School—Go Yellow Jackets!  Special points to the Senior Class President to linking the recent honeybee release to NHS’s yellow jackets (she noted the critical difference—the honeybees were released into Newark, the yellow jackets were released from Newark).  On Thursday I met with about ten OB/GYNs who shared their thoughts on HB 319 (midwifery)—we identified three points which they would like addressed in order for it to reach a point where they could support it.  I later met with representatives of DPH and DPR, to identify their limited number of points which, if resolved, could lead them to support the bill.  Guess what I’m doing this weekend?  Last night I attended the 48th annual graduation ceremony of the James H Groves High School, which provides high school education for adults.  The stories of the graduates are so inspiring, stories of those who are almost always swimming upstream, but due to the presence of programs such as Groves, are able to better themselves, their lives, and their families’ lives.

Legislatively, on Tuesday the Senate passed SB 219, to expand the use of Naloxone to help those who overdose on heroin and opioids, and the House passed SB 209, which requires the state Department of Education to establish rules to better consider impact statements while reviewing applications of new charter schools.  This bill was surprisingly prime sponsored by education-leading legislators who often disagree on all charter school matters, and provides our state hope that we can move forward, even on difficult education matters.  On Wednesday the House’s committees were very busy considering legislation, and hearing from the public on these bills.  On Thursday, the Senate passed my manufactured housing bill, HB 106, which extends the time during which a homeowner community’s offer will be considered by a community owner looking to sell.  The House on Thursday had a LONG day, with a very long agenda.  We passed many bills, including HB 299 (sale of alcohol in movie theaters), HB 309 (banning e-cigarette use in public places where smoking is prohibited), HB 337 (aligning dates for school choice decisions to be made, to help families making their decisions), HB 234 (my manufactured housing bill mentioned earlier), and SB 197, the human trafficking bill which helps Delaware lead the country in clamping down on this global concern, and which we can no longer ignore.

There were hundreds of emails in the past week and a half.  They dealt with a broad array of issues, in addition to the two standards—manufactured housing and midwifery.  I agreed to cosponsor HB 371, which decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana.  I reached out to colleagues on bills such as HB 319 (permitting school districts to increase the school taxes to cover annual inflation).  There were emails on the budget, the streambed restoration project, Cash Management Policy Board, Joint Finance Committee, reducing gun violence, arranging a robocall to alert residents to the bridge closure along Wedgewood Road, asking the UD to participate in the food recovery project, following up on items I learn about during weekend door knocking, concerns with HB 333 (which restricts municipalities’ right to assess taxes without General Assembly approval), city street traffic and pothole concerns, reaching out to the county on two land use issues raised to me by a resident, and HB 359, related to revising the Physical Therapy Act).

The rest of the month is going to be VERY fast-paced.  I know that I am already failing to keep up on all of my emails.  If you send something to me and don’t hear back within a day or two, please 1) understand, and 2) resend the email.  Also, PLEASE include your mailing address in emails to me.  I put a priority on responding to emails from residents of the 23rd Representative District, especially during a crazy period such as June.  Again, thank you for understanding!