2015 Update—March 8th to 21st

On Sunday the 8th I attended a homecoming and departure ceremony for the DE National Guard.  On Monday the 9th I attended the Education Forum held at the Chase Center, which focused significantly on the challenges facing our Wilmington children.  On Tuesday the 10th I met with homebirth advocates to discuss the recent developments with the midwifery draft legislation.  On Wednesday the 11th I joined colleagues to interview five candidates for a legislative aide position at Legislative Hall.  I then met with DMHOA members, sharing top concerns for owners of manufactured homes.  Afterwards I attended a meeting of the DESS, DE Education Support System Advisory Council.  At this meeting the group, representing senior people from schools up and down the state unanimously recommended that the state Dept of Education include a request for a one-year extension of the time before the new Smarter Balanced standardized test will affect teacher and school accountability, as we will not have had enough time to integrate the related curriculum into the lesson plans.  That evening I attended a screening of The Hunting Ground, a movie about sexual assault on college campuses, held at the University of Delaware.  It is a VERY powerful film.  On Friday morning the 13th I attended a breakfast with New Castle County school district leadership.  Later that day, I met with Rick Deadwyler from UD, to discuss House Bill 6, which removes the zoning exemption from the UD when it is commercially developing property.  On Saturday the 14th I had breakfast with several residents who have concerns with the proposed Tri-Valley Trail proposed for White Clay Creek State Park.

On Sunday I presented two tributes to a couple who was celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.  It was a wonderful experience.  On Monday the 16th I participated in a conference call meeting of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, on whose board I sit.  That afternoon I chaired the last meeting of the education task force on school retention and social promotion.  We finalized our report to the legislature.  On Tuesday I had breakfast with members of the White Clay Creek advisory council, to discuss trails in the ‘lower Carpenter’ section of the park, and I then joined DNREC members and others to walk much of the proposed Tri-Valley Trail.  On Wednesday I attended a meeting of DICH, the Delaware Interagency Council on Homelessness, whose members do tremendous work.  Later I attended the press conference announcing the release of the bill to repeal Delaware’s death penalty, a bill I am co-sponsoring.  On Thursday I attended the monthly meeting of the Small Business Caucus, and heard suggestions from the state’s multiple chambers of commerce on how to improve our regulatory processes.  On Friday I taped two segments for the Comcast Newsmakers program, had a phone call with a member of WEAC, the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee, and last night I enjoyed the annual Spaghetti Dinner and Auction for the 23rd Representative District Democratic Committee.  This morning I attended the annual Easter Seals Volleyball Challenge, featuring a matchup between a team with Democrats and a team with Republicans.  This afternoon I plan to stop by the fundraiser for the Newark Arts Alliance at Caffe’ Gelato.

We were in session this past week.  On Tuesday I introduced and the House passed House Resolution 6, to give my education task force an extension on submitting its report, which was originally due on March 1st.  We passed House Bill 7 which adds strangulation to the list of violent felonies.  We also passed HB 25, which permits DNREC to set rules for hunting the gray fox.  While Wednesday was ‘committee day,’ I introduced and the House passed House Concurrent Resolution, recognizing March 2015 as National Nutrition Month.  The Senate passed Senate Bill 31 (SB 31) which removed a sunset provision for utilizing teachers from the Teach for America program.  On Thursday I presented Senate Concurrent Resolution 9, recognizing March 2015 as Rare Disease Day (see www.rarediseases.org for more information).

There was a lot of emails over the past two weeks.  Many emails were related to the midwifery licensure bill, which I expect to release next week.  There were also emails related to the Death with Dignity bill which I have not finalized yet.

We exchanged emails addressing the many, many potholes which were created during our bitter cold winter.  The city of Newark and DelDOT have done a very good job addressing the worst stretches in the district.  I worked with the city to understand the two 4am phone calls from their alert system, reporting a (fatal) accident on Delaware Avenue.  I reached out to the city to learn more about the proposal to change the current zoning of a parcel on Center Street, to develop a fairly large multi-student housing complex.  I reported neighborhood reports of marijuana use in Handloff (Barksdale) park, near the skate spot.

I have worked with those at the Brennan School and the Board and Dept of Education, to help a family that has a son who is facing extra challenges in his education.

I have been working on legislation to establish a cultural heritage commission for those of Indian descent, as there are for several other nationalities.

I have fielded many emails from people concerned with the proposed elimination of the private school transportation stipend, the reduction in the senior property tax credit, and the proposed sharp increase in premiums and deductibles for participants in the state health care system.

I have had discussions regarding the new minimum wage bill, which I am cosponsoring, exploring the advisability of a ‘training wage,’ which several other states utilize.

I have been working with several agencies to address a drainage issue in the Evergreen community.