On Sunday March 22nd I attended the annual brunch for the Friends of the Newark Free Library. On Monday the 23rd I attended the signing of the Small Restaurant Bill, HB 16, at the Mediterranean Grille in the Newark Shopping Center. Governor Markell not only signed the bill into law, but also had a chat with the marijuana legalization activists who staked out the event. After legislative session on Tuesday the 24th I attended the Newark City Council Candidate Forum at the Newark Senior Center, sponsored by the League of Women Voters—Delaware chapter. Before the legislative session on Wednesday, I chaired the Manufactured Housing committee meeting, at which we discussed ‘community standards,’ and their impact on homeowners on very fixed incomes. On Thursday the 26th before session, I attended the kids caucus. On Friday the 27th I met with University of Delaware staff to discuss my House Bill 6, which affirms the UD’s exemption from zoning for the UD’s future academic development projects, but which affirms our municipalities’ zoning when for future UD commercial development, to level the field with other commercial developers. Afterwards, I joined DNREC and DelDOT staff to determine if there is a safer spot along Hopkins Road for hikers on the Mason Dixon Trail to cross the street. There is some urgency, as the 250th anniversary of the Mason Dixon line is coming in early June. I met with a past city council person on Saturday the 29th to discuss HB 6 (UD zoning exemption), and that evening Pam and I attended the annual awards banquet for the Delaware Civil Air Patrol at Dover Air Force Base.
On Monday the 30th I joined the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence and Sandy Hook’s Team 26 to ride a few miles to an event at the Hockessin PAL Center, where I joined several speakers in discussing past, present, and future efforts to make us all safer. On the 31st I attended a meeting with Comcast, to discuss their efforts to develop a ‘Delaware landing pad’ for online material, with a page likely for each municipality, tabs for items such as restaurants, parks, upcoming events, news, etc, etc. It looks very exciting. I then attended a conference at DelTech’s Terry Campus on manufacturing. Afterward I attended a press event at which many upcoming pieces of legislation addressing women’s issues, including equal pay, protection from sexual assault, and family leave. I hosted my monthly coffee at Panera on Wednesday morning, had three meetings on manufactured housing (including a committee hearing), and after the legislative session, I attended a joint fundraiser with Rep John Kowalko in Dover. On Thursday I had three meetings before the legislative session, and attended three events afterwards, including a reception with Delaware Hospice and with Autism Delaware. This morning I joined Senator David Sokola to explore further the proposed Tri-Valley Trail, in the Big Pond area of the White Clay Creek State Park.
On the 24th we passed House Bill 10, which assures the sustainability of the Stand By Me financial empowerment program. On the 26th I introduced House Bill 70, the midwifery licensure bill, which was assigned to the House Health committee. The House passed several bills on the 26th, including Senate Bill 31, which extended the termination of the Teach for America program from 2015 to 2018. A study is being planned to identify the effectiveness of the program of attracting teachers who stay in our schools, as the program is sometimes criticized for bringing in teachers who rarely stay more than three years.
On the 31st Senate Bill 22 was passed by the Senate—this permits emergency personnel to break into a car/truck during hot or cold days, if they feel that this is necessary to rescue an animal in distress. The House passed HB 64 which provides for a DMOST, Delaware Medical Order for Scope of Treatment, to provide a safeguard to patients in their last months that their medical treatment will follow their wishes—it is more powerful than a Health Care Power of Attorney. The House also passed HB 60, which permits Delaware to utilize the federally-recognized ABLE program, to enable families with individuals with disabilities to save in a tax-efficient manner, to help prepare for the increased costs that addressing these disabilities require. On the 1st the Senate passed SB 31, mentioned in the prior paragraph. The House Health committee heard HB 70 (midwifery) and voted to release the bill to the full House, without any objection. It also heard testimony on House Bill 5, which would add e-cigarettes to the Delaware Clean Indoor Air Act. The committee voted on the 2nd to release HB 5 to the House. On Thursday the 2nd the Senate passed SB 40, which would repeal the death penalty.
In the past two weeks I have had many, many emails. Some have dealt with legislation (midwifery, UD zoning exemption, death with dignity, establishing an Indian American Heritage Commission, and joining a colleague to sponsor legislation to permit school districts to recover past-due taxes from state income tax refunds, permitting DNREC to set rules regarding the gray fox). Some have dealt with manufactured housing matters, including related legislation, and a possible program to assist the low-income manufactured home owner facing eviction due to their inability to adapt their home to increased community standards.
Some dealt with the Tri Valley Trail mentioned earlier, and also with a planned hike through the ‘lower Carpenter’ area of White Clay Creek State Park.
Some dealt with the ever-changing proposals to make changes to the health coverage for state employees and retirees. A short-term compromise was struck last month, but a longer-term resolution will take longer to establish.
I have been striving to help a young resident apply to serve in the National Guard. I have shared resident concerns regarding illegal drug activity in particular areas. I have been working with the city and DelDOT to have potholes addressed, and to address other road issues. I have been exploring adjustments to legislation (minimum wage, votech funding, powderized alcohol).
I have begun to review the Wilmington Education Advisory Council’s 200+ page report. I have also been finalizing the report of the task force which I chair, on social promotion and student retention.
I have worked with residents on an issue in which the city of Newark seeks to have a dock along the Christina Creek removed later this month.
I have reviewed the recent report on short-term consumer loans, and found that interest rates have been as high as 10% a week, and in at least one case, 10% per day!