Delaware Legislative Update for the First Week of May 2023

New weekly series summarizing the current business of Delaware’s General Assembly

 ·   · May 2, 2023

House Bill 99, otherwise known as the Climate Change Solutions Act will be in the House Natural Resources Committee this Tuesday. This bill is the most substantive bill concerning environmental issues in several years and would aim to cut greenhouse emissions by 50% by 2030 and would aim to have net-zero emissions by 2050. Similar legislation passed the Senate last year, but was killed in the House amid opposition from the business lobby and the Governor’s administration.  

A bill that would lower the age to vote in School Board Elections from 18 to 16 will be heard in the House Education committee this Wednesday. Advocates for House Bill 96 say that it will increase civic engagement of young people and allow them to be more directly involved with how their education is conducted.

Senate Bill 2, which would require a permit to purchase a handgun will be voted on the Senate Floor Tuesday. It is expected to pass overwhelmingly, largely on party lines.

Senate Bills 100 and 101 will be heard in the Senate Judiciary and Senate Health committees respectively on Wednesday. SB 100 would make the Tier 3 manufacture, delivery, intent, or possession of drugs a violent felony, regardless of whether or not any actual violence is involved. SB 101 would establish quantity tiers for drug offenses involving fentanyl. While possibly well-intentioned, these bills could go against efforts to move towards a treatment-based public health approach to substance use disorder and would instead result in further criminalization. 

Governor Carney recently announced a package of bills aimed at improving road safety and reducing fatalities by vehicles in the state of Delaware. The package includes bills that will update and strengthen child car seat requirements, require motorcycle helmets for new riders, prohibits open alcohol containers while driving, and updates the standard for reckless driving to include driving over 90 miles per hour. While some of these bills seem like common-sense safety measures, concerns have been raised that others, like the open container law, could result in broad authority for police to pull cars over. The open container law was released from the House Public Safety Committee last week, and several of the other bills will be heard this week.

Senate Bill 99, the Crime Free Ordinances Bill, was introduced by Senator Marie Pinkney this past week. This bill would prohibit municipal ordinances that require eviction of tenants for criminal activity by a tenant, member of the tenant’s household, or a guest. The synopsis outlines the following issues with crime-free ordinances: “Crime-free housing ordinances are problematic for the following reasons: 1. The definition of criminal activity is generally vague and open to interpretation, and may include low-level offenses such as trespassing, loitering, and disorderly conduct. 2. The standard for what is considered criminal activity does not require an arrest or conviction, and instead, can consist of merely an allegation or contact with the police. 3. These ordinances penalize victims of crime for seeking help from the police. 4. These ordinances can result in evictions of tenants based upon racially motivated complaints by neighbors.”

A suite of bills aimed at increasing mental health supports, especially in schools, has been introduced in the House by House Majority leader Val Longhurst. 

Committee Agenda Report

While our team reviews every bill that comes up, for the sake of length and clarity, we will only be sharing the most 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 5/1/23

Bill #SponsorSummary/DescriptionCommittee Meeting InfoDateTime
HB 133Dorsey WalkerMakes clear that suicide is a death in the line of duty for Delaware’s first responders, police officers, firefighters, correctional officers and probation officers, and the National Guard. While we absolutely need to do more to support families, concerns that this creates a special class for first responders when it should apply to all state workers.House Public SafetyTues, May 2 12:00 PM
HB 99HeffernanClimate Change Solutions Act. Establishes a statutory target of greenhouse gas emissions reductions over the medium and long term to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.House Natural ResourcesTues. May 212:00 PM
SB 52PinkneyEliminates exchange requirement from sterile needle/syringe program.House HealthWed. May 311:00 AM
HB 96MorrisonLowers the voting age from 18 to 16 for school board elections.House EducationWed. May 33:00 PM
HB 200LonghurstEstablishes a mental health services unit for high schools. This bill will lower ratios of students to counselors and increase access to mental health services for high school students. House EducationWed. May 33:00 PM
SB 101HansenEstablishes quantity tiers specific to drug offenses involving fentanyl.Senate HealthWed. May 310:00 AM
HB 104BushExempts certain development projects from the state’s PLUS pre-application process for land use. Senate HousingWed. May 310:00 AM
SB 72PooreAllows union members to get a tax credit for membership dues up to $500.Senate LaborWed. May 310:45 AM
SB 91GayExpands wiretapping authority to fraud, public corruption, white collar, civil rights and hate crimes. While this has some positive uses, it could also lead to surveillance of state workers in problematic circumstances.Senate JudiciaryWed. May 32:00 PM
SB 100MantzavinosReclassifies Tier 3 (i.e., the highest) Drug Manufacturing/Delivery/Intent and Tier 3 Drug Possession as violent felonies.Senate JudiciaryWed. May 32:00 PM
HB 102BushExpedites the issuance of a temporary entrance permit for commercial and economic development projects. Senate BankingWed. May 33:00 PM

Other New Bills Introduced

Bill #SponsorSummary/Description
SB 99PinkneyCrime-free ordinances bill. Prohibits municipal ordinances that require the eviction of tenants for criminal activity by a tenant, member of the tenant’s household, or a guest.
HB 3LonghurstExcused absences for the mental or behavioral health of a student.
HB 4LonghurstSupports for schools following a traumatic event (death of a student or employee).
HB 5LonghurstCharges DHSS to apply to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a State Plan Amendment that would allow for reimbursement of medically necessary behavioral health services without IEP or IFSP documentation.
HB 6LonghurstMental Health Professional and Mental Health Coordinator position for each district and charter school by the 2024-25 school year.
HB 7LonghurstRequires Delaware Medicaid to provide an enhancement to the acute care per diem rate for psychiatric facilities for hard to place pediatric behavioral health inpatients.

About the Author

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