Delaware Legislative Update for the Fourth week of April 2023

The first in a new regular series summarizing the current business of Delaware’s General Assembly

 ·   · April 25, 2023

Another attempt to require a permit to purchase a handgun is underway. Legislation that would mandate a handgun qualified purchaser permit is set to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday at 1 p.m. This should generate a lot of attention and rile up the usual crowd, so having folks who can speak in favor of what should be a common-sense measure to reduce gun violence is of paramount importance. The bill’s main sponsor is Senate Majority Whip Tizzy Lockman.

Senate Bill 3 is the first leg of a constitutional amendment to pave the way for no-excuse absentee voting by removing the rules that regulate absentee voting in favor of language simply stating “The General Assembly may enact general laws providing the circumstances, rules, and procedures by which a qualified voter may vote by absentee ballot.” The bill needs two Republican votes in the House to hit the two-thirds supermajority required for constitutional changes. A prior attempt at this failed in 2022 after successfully passing with GOP support in 2019-20. This bill is set to be heard in the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday at 3 p.m.

A bill that would ban styrofoam containers, single-service plastic straws, and single-use food/drink picks is set for a House committee hearing this week. The measure, which has already passed the Senate, will be heard in the House Health and Human Development Committee Wednesday at 11 a.m. The measure is intended to protect the environment by reducing harmful plastics and styrofoam. It does contain a number of exceptions, including ones for hospitals, fire companies, and nonprofit organizations.

Legislation was introduced Friday that would create a new top tax bracket for income. Currently, the state taxes all personal income above $60,000 at 6.6%. House Bill 128 would create a new top threshold of greater than $100,000, taxing it at 6.9%. It would also lower rates on amounts of no more than $10,000. The bill has the House minority leader as a cosponsor, along with a solid mix of progressive legislators. It’s in the House Revenue and Finance Committee, for which no meeting has currently been scheduled.

Committee Agenda Report

For the sake of length and clarity, we will only be sharing notable bills in these reports. Click on the committee name under the Committee Meeting Info column for a link to the meeting agenda, in-person or virtual public comment info, and livestream link.

You can also check here for the full list of committee meetings and click “view” next to each meeting for the full agenda and additional information.

Bills coming up the week of 4/24/23

Bill #SponsorSummary/DescriptionCommittee Meeting InfoDateTime
HB 119DukesOpen container law: bans open containers of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles and provides a civil penalty for an offense. This is concerning because 1. more fines are counter to equity/criminal justice reform efforts 2. This could put people living in their vehicles but not intending to drink and drive at risk of police encounters/fines 3. DUI/DWI is already a crime 4.Could discourage people from giving someone else a ride if they are drinking 5. Could incentivize police to pull more cars over for passengers drinking anything (for example, a canned soda)House Public SafetyWed. April 2611:00 AM
HB 94OsienskiEstablishes the installation and use of electronic speed monitoring systems involving radar, cameras, and a written citation procedure in residential areas and work zones. While speeding and safety is an issue, some concerns that this could lead to inequity and additional fines & fees for minor speeding violations. House Public SafetyWed. April 2611:00 AM
SB 51ParadeeProhibits food establishments from providing consumers with ready-to-eat food or beverages in polystyrene foam containers or with single-service plastic coffee stirrers, cocktail picks, or sandwich picks. It also prohibits food establishments from providing single-service plastic straws, unless requested by a consumer. There are some exemptions for healthcare facilities, etc. to accommodate needs of people with disabilities House HealthWed. April 2611:00 AM
SB 52PinkneyEliminates exchange requirements from sterile needle/syringe programs so sterile needles/syringes can be provided to those who need them.House HealthWed. April 2611:00 AM
HB 112ChukwuochaProhibits the criminal prosecution of children under the age of 12, and limits delinquency proceedings for children under 12 to a small set of very serious crimes. This Act clarifies that children under 12 may not be arrested or placed in a detention facility pending adjudication, except where the alleged crime is one of the enumerated exceptionsHouse JudiciaryWed. April 2612:00 PM
HB 135LynnRequires that of the five Justices appointed to the Supreme Court, at least one is a resident of Kent County, at least one is a resident of Sussex County and at least two are residents of New Castle County.House JudiciaryWed. April 2612:00 PM
HB 62Wilson-AntonRequires property assessments every 5 years. Codifies the findings of the various lawsuits that required Delaware’s counties to begin first in decades reassessments to increase equity in school funding.House HousingWed. April 263:00 PM
HB 127BaumbachProvides each county with the ability to impose fire protection fees by ordinance. Intended to increase funding for fire protection services, which are severely underfunded currently.House HousingWed. April 263:00 PM
HB 93ShupeGets rid of municipal voter registration requirements so people don’t have to register with both the state and the municipality to vote in municipal elections.House AdministrationWed. April 2612:00 PM
SB 26RichardsonSecond leg of a constitutional amendment to formally update the minimum voting age in the Delaware Constitution from 21 to 18. This would make the Delaware Constitution in line with the US Constitution (26th Amendment, ratified in 1971) Requires 2/3 vote. There is currently a bill to allow 16 & 17 year olds to vote in school board elections, so questions might arise on whether this would prevent that.House AdministrationWed. April 2612:00 PM
SB 80McBrideEnsures immigrants have access to professional licenses, such as nurses, etc. by codifying the current practice in Delaware of not requiring proof of citizenship or a specific immigration status on an application for a professional license.Senate HealthWed. April 2610:00 AM
SB 3BrownFirst leg of constitutional amendment aimed at making more widespread absentee voting permissible. Constitutional amendments require a ⅔ vote and have to pass two consecutive General Assemblies.Senate ExecutiveWed. April 263:00 PM
HB 89BaumbachIncreases the standard deduction and earned income tax credit.Senate ExecutiveWed. April 263:00 PM
SB 83BrownCreates the Delaware Community Investment Venture Fund to develop opportunities for banking organizations and credit unions doing business in Delaware to better serve the needs of low to moderate income tracts in DelawareSenate BankingWed. April 2611:00 AM
SS1/SB46BrownUpdates missing child laws to increase responsiveness and coordination.Senate JudiciaryWed. April 261:00 PM
SB 2LockmanRequires a permit to purchase a firearm.Senate JudiciaryWed. April 261:00 PM

New Bills Introduced:

Bill #SponsorSummary/Description
HB 128BaumbachCreates 1 new tax bracket at 6.9% for income over $100k. Also lowers rates on some of the lower tax brackets.
HB 121D. ShortWould allow the City of Seaford to authorize artificial entities, limited liability corporations’ partnerships and trusts to vote in Seaford municipal elections.
HB 125MooreRequires all schools to offer all students free breakfast and lunch every school day.
HB 130LonghurstEnables state casual/seasonal employees to enroll in pension/retirement savings plan.
HB 115K. WilliamsCivil asset forfeiture reform that establishes guidelines protecting citizens from having cash and property seized by law enforcement.
HB 123RamoneRequires the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to obtain the consent of the General Assembly before promulgating any regulations restricting the sale of fuel-powered cars, trucks, and SUVs in Delaware.
SB 96PettyjohnProhibits the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control from promulgating rules and regulations restricting the sale of fuel-powered cars, trucks, and SUVs in Delaware.
SB 85LawsonGets rid of concealed carry permit requirement.
SB 91GayExpands Dept. of Justice wiretapping authority to Divisions investigating sensitive fraud, public corruption, white collar, civil rights and hate crimes. While they have to apply to the Superior Court for approval, some questions/concerns on if this could lead to broad surveillance of state employees.
SB 92WalshExpands the Delaware Public Employment Relations Act to employers with less than 100 employees and as few as 25 employees.
SB 88HuxtableAlters the State realty transfer tax credit offered to first-time home buyers to make it more equitable. Currently, there is a 0.50% reduction in the State realty transfer tax for first-time home buyers for the first $400,000 of value of the property. This Act completely exempts the first $250,000 of value of property purchased by a first-time home buyer from their portion of the State realty transfer tax and removes the first-time homebuyer tax credit for property valued at $1,000,000 or more.

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