2015 Update—June 7th to 20th

On Monday the 8th I joined a conference call for the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, on whose board I serve. That afternoon I spoke with a reporter regarding HB 152, my librarians in public schools bill. On Tuesday I joined some colleagues to discuss budget issues, I joined a reception by the American Turkish Friends Association, I participated in the bill signing of HB 70, the midwifery licensure bill that has taken two years to become law. After a bipartisan colleague meeting that followed Tuesday’s session, I drove to Newark and attended a portion of the Christina School District board meeting, and fielded some questions from the board regarding HB 152.

On Wednesday the 9th I headed to Dover early, joined in a Habitat for Humanity build on the Green, stopped by a luncheon sponsored by Common Cause, attended a meeting of the House Housing committee, later attended a meeting of the Economic Development committee. After session I attended two receptions—one in Dover and one in Wilmington. On Thursday I attended the kids caucus, and a meeting to discuss legislation calling for a single state-wide policy on police body-worn cameras. After session, several of my colleagues met with leadership to discuss next year’s revenues and expenses. On Saturday I spent several hours at the New Night Downtown event in Newark, at the 23rd RD Committee booth.

On Monday the 15th in the morning I toured the new compassion center which will begin dispensing medical marijuana on the 26th. In the evening I attended a annual BBQ for the Committee of 100. On Tuesday morning I attended the start of the Delaware Community Reinvestment Summit in Wilmington. At Dover I attended a reception with the state realtors at mid-day, and after session met with colleagues to discuss coming issues.

On Wednesday the 17th I chaired a meeting of the House Manufactured Housing Committee, and after session I attended a (long) meeting called by the Friends of the Christina School District, with district leadership. I attended several bill signings this past week, including the signing of SB 33, the recommendations from the IEP task force, and HB 39 which decriminalizes adult possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Yesterday I taped two segments with Comcast Newsmakers, then joined Rep Gerald Brady at the STAR Campus to meet with Dr Stanhope and others from the Bader Consortium, to learn about the incredible research and advances happening in 3D Printing technology, especially in the area of prosthetics and orthotics. We also had a quick visit at the Go Baby Go clinic (see the TedTalk, http://tedmed.com/talks/show?id=292991, to learn more). After that visit, Rep Brady and I went to Sovereign Air, which is the east coast leader of bringing additive manufacturing to companies, enabling them to bring products to market faster, and to deliver small and medium-sized production faster and more inexpensively than can be done overseas. Our heads were spinning at the end of the second tour of the day.

Email Update

As usual, it was a busy two weeks with email. There were many emails regarding the state’s budgetary challenges, with members of the administration, colleagues, and members of the public.

I have several ‘last minute pieces of legislation,’ including one on renewable energy, and I have spent quite some time getting it ready for release. I continue to struggle with whether I can propose a task force by June 30th to explore end-of-life best practices—I fear that I am running out of time on this issue this month. I am hopeful that HB 120, my bill to establish an Indian Heritage Commission, will have time to pass both houses by June 30th. I am working on another bill to add the Food Bank and Habitat to Humanity to the Delaware personal income tax return for filers to optionally direct some of their refund to one of these two charities.

We are also working on legislation to address timely recording of deeds after sheriff sales, to assist counties in maintaining accurate records, however this effort will likely not yield a bill until January.

There was much preparation for the committee hearing for HB 152, the school librarian bill.

I worked to introduce HB 188, a manufacturing housing bill, and to get it through the committee. The bill addresses weaknesses in the Rent Justification Law that were noted by a Delaware judge during an appeal of a rent justification case.

I continue to monitor the efforts on draft legislation to improve reporting of campus sexual assaults.

I am working on an effort to provide relief to school districts such as Christina which suffer two failed referendums, to avoid unnecessary additional teacher layoffs and dangerously higher student:teacher ratios.

I regularly review and report the status of potholes in the district, and I am preparing to explore the best use of limited CTF, Community Transportation Funds, to repave district roads in the coming fiscal year.

I have worked with the Governor’s office, related to the appointment of members of two boards that I am involved in.

I am planning to attend a meeting with several legislators and members of the Treasurers office next month to explore best practices for the state’s 403b and 457 retirement plans.

I have tried to help one resident with an issue of contractor abuse, and another with a request for out-of-state travel for their child who is under court oversight. I have also reached out to DHSS to identify the resources available for a friend of mine who has serious medical issues.

Legislative Actions

On the 9th the Senate passed HB 75, which improves the process for individuals to have their juvenile criminal record expunged. The House passed HB 148, which establishes the WEIC, Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.

On the 11th the Senate passed HB 5, which adds e-cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Air Act. It also passed SB 112 which calls for improved reporting by DEDO, the DE Economic Development Office, and it passed SB 122, which directs the state Board of Education to hold public meetings to prepare to redraw the school district boundaries, based on the work of the WEIC and WEAC, Wilmington Education commissions.

On the 16h I introduced HB 188, a manufactured housing bill, and HS 1 to HB 152, my school librarian bill. The Senate passed SS 1 for SB 101, to improve state regulation of APRNs, including scope of practice.

On the 17th the Senate passed HB 50, the opt-out bill, with 2 additional amendments. The House Manufactured Housing committee released my HB 188 bill. The House Education committee released HB 152, my school librarian bill, and SB 122 mentioned earlier. The House Revenue and Finance Committee released three revenue bills—HB 149 from Rep Ramone to eliminate the state estate tax, and HBs 181 and 196, two bills from Rep Kowalko to raise revenues from the personal income tax system. Several votes were bipartisan, reflecting the committee’s view that all ideas need to be considered in order to properly address the budget gap of roughly $30 million.

On the 18th the Senate passed HB 39, which decriminalizes adult possession of small amounts of marijuana, and HB 148 (establishing the WEIC), and SB 135, which forbids unnecessary idling of locomotives in Delaware. The House passed SB 122 (school boundaries in Wilmington).