2015 Update—June 21st to July 5th

On Sunday the 21st I attended the Sunday service of the Pilgrim Baptist church, and address the congregation, sharing my deep concern over the tragedy at the Emmanuel AME church in Charleston. On Tuesday the 23rd I attended a luncheon in Dover hosted by local research firm Fraunhofer.

On Wednesday the 24th I presented SB 125 to the House Administration Committee, which released the bill, for which I am a prime-sponsor. After session I went to Woodburn, the Governor’s residence, for a reception, and afterwards I went to the Western Y to meet with and address the Youth in Government students who would be shortly leaving for CONA, the Conference on National Affairs, where I was joined by US Senator Carper and DE Senator Townsend. On Thursday I hosted a reception for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Youth African Leaders on their Dover visit, and afterwards participated in the House Economic Development committee.

On Saturday the 27th I went to Rehobeth to attend the annual event of the Barbara Gittings Delaware Stonewall Democrats organization.

On Monday the 29th I delivered a tribute to Roberta Gealt, who has worked at UD for many years, and has performed incredible work exploring trends in youth drug and alcohol use in Delaware. On Tuesday the 30th I participated in a staff position candidate interview process in Dover before session. The session went until a bit after 5am on July 1st. On Saturday the 4th of July I marched in the Hockessin Parade, and also attended the Liberty Day celebration and fireworks near the UD football stadium.

Legislative Update

On Tuesday the 23rd I introduced HB 206, which introduces charity checkboxes to the personal income tax return, for the Food Bank of Delaware and for Habitat for Humanity. The bill cleared the House Revenue & Finance Committee, but was not heard by the House, and so awaits January for action. On Tuesday the House passed HB 50, the standardized testing opt-out bill. The Senate passed the bill on Thursday the 25th.

On Wednesday the 24th the Governor signed SB 90, which expanded the medical marijuana law to oils which may be used for minors. On Wednesday I introduced HCR 47, which encourages the Public Service Commission to reserve energy credits for new energy facilities which ONLY use renewable energy. The bill is assigned to the House Energy Committee, and awaits January action. The Senate passed HCR 46, which I helped create. It calls for a single, state-wide policy for body-worn cameras for law-enforcement.

On Thursday the 25th SB 58 passed with an amendment I added. The bill calls for a group to codify a Newborn Screening Program. As it affects midwives, I offered an amendment which includes a midwife representative to the group.

On Monday the 29th the bond bill was released, SB 160. After midnight on June 30th it was subsequently replaced by a Senate Substitute, SS 1 to SB 160. Many, many bills were passed on June 30th and July 1st. None of my four ‘ready list’ bills were heard by the House.

HB 140, the DMV fee bill, which helps to enable DelDOT to maintain our roads and bridges, passed the Senate before midnight, as part of the ‘infrastructure deal.’

The budget, HS 1 for HB 225, passed the House with 30 yes votes and 9 no votes (including mine). The bond & capital improvements act, SS 1 for SB 160, passed, as did the Grant-in-Aid bill, HB 230. The Bond Bill, in section 135, provided $3.00 million of settlement money to the Farmland Preservation program. The Grant-in-Aid bill provided money for the Newark Senior Center and the Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder Company, but failed to provide any money for the Newark Area Welfare Committee, the Hope Dining Room, or the Newark Day Nursery, despite their applications. Section 36 on page 26 of HB 230 details the $8.58 million taken from the financial settlements, with, among other items, $1.2 million to pay for the Sussex County Police Agreement.

Email Update

In the weeks leading up to June 30th I worked on several initiatives. One was a change which provides financial flexibility to school districts which have two filed referenda in the past one year. The one-year flexibility is NOT additional money, NOT a bailout. Rather it provides flexibility to existing state money that is due to the district’s students, but which otherwise would be lost to the students as the district makes expense cuts caused by the failed referenda. Unfortunately, the Joint Finance Committee chose to not adopt the suggestion.

I also worked on legislation which was introduced in June, the House Concurrent Resolution on renewable energy, and the bill to add the Food Bank and Habitat to the charity-checkoff program on tax return forms.

There was a feverish level of emails from people (within and beyond my Representative District) on specific legislation. Emails opposed HB 186 (ensuring the charter school funds are properly audited)), supported HB 178 (the trap-neuter-return bill), supported SB 83 (adding restrictions on firearm possession while Protection from Abuse orders are in place and in process), supported and opposed SB 68 (permitting city/county buildings to be identified as weapon-free zones), supporting SB 156 (banning possession of ivory and rhinoceros horn), supporting HB 140 (DMV fee increases to pay for our crumbling roads and bridges), supporting SB 59 (driver privilege cards), questioning HB 157 (freestanding emergency facilities)

There were also appeals from residents for changes to the budget, including requests to reverse the proposed reduction in the reimbursement to families with children in private schools, and a proposed reduction in the state spending on nurses in private schools, and to restore the full half of the realty transfer tax that goes to the county/municipalities.

I worked with heads of Newark non-profits, Newark elected officials, members of the Controller General’s Office and of the Joint Finance Committee, to strive to ensure proper funding for some of our great non-profits. I read through the budget multiple times the weekend of the 27th, and passed on several questions to OMB Secretary Visalli, and reviewed the responses she provided on Monday the 29th.

I have been involved reviewing an AG’s opinion regarding the operations of the DEMHRA (the relocation trust authority), and in requesting a swift appointment of a chair to CEMHRA.

I have addressed repaving and drainage issues in the district. I have reached out to the DMV director to learn more about what is required for inspection success for fire police volunteers’ vehicles.

I have explained, through many methods, the fact that I voted against the budget, and the reasons for this vote. I have received an overwhelming amount of supportive comments, however the reception from my legislative colleagues has been less warm.