Legislative Update - February 24, 2021

 Two primary bills to bring to your attention.  The first one is House Bill 25, AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 15 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO ELECTIONS.  This bill provides for election day registration for presidential primary, primary, special and general elections, whereas currently the deadline is the fourth Saturday prior to the date of the election.  Moreover, same day registration at polling places will be permitted with submission of all the following documents:  an application, a copy of current valid government issued photo identification and a current document displaying the name and address of that person.  The effective date is January 1, 2022. 

Mail applications postmarked on or before the deadline shall be considered to be on-time and shall be immediately processed by the departments of elections.

Notwithstanding any other provision in this title, the Department may process registration applications that change a registrants’ address or name until the day prior to a primary or general election. 

Comment.  Numerous letters from Republicans voicing their concern about this bill and possible amendments that will allow mail-in ballots in the future.  They are all concerned that until the voter’s rolls are purged, and a chain of custody is validated, we will have the same issues that makes us all think our voting privilege is compromised. 

Senator Richardson is on top of these issues and will vote against both same day registration as well as mail-in ballots.

The second House Bill is HR 127.   To provide for the licensing of firearm and ammunition possession and the registration of firearms and to prohibit the possession of certain ammunition. 

The attorney General through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, shall establish a system for licensing the possession of firearms or ammunition in the US and for the registration with the Bureau of each firearm present in the US.

Prior to issuing a license, the individual has to be 21 years of age

Undergoes a criminal background check

Undergoes a psychological evaluation

Successfully completes a training course in the safe use, storage of firearms

Requires an individual to have an insurance policy

Pays to the Attorney General a $800 fee

 

Senate Concurrent resolution No 8.    Declaring gun violence, a public health crisis.  This will be a pre-cursor to more legislation to eliminating gun ownership.

Senate Bill 65.  Senator Pettyjohn introduced Senate Bill 65, on Focus on Alternative Skill training Program (otherwise known as FAST) that legislation will provide up to $9,000 in tuition to Delaware residents who have obtained a HS Diploma, GED or alternative achievement standards.  The aim is to help students who have an interest in pursuing a technical career, but who may have a financial barrier preventing them from attending a trade or vocational classes.  Delaware has a huge need for blue collar workers, who want high-paying jobs.  Goal is to increase qualified tradespeople. 

A few other bills recently introduced -

HB 101, designates the official reptile of the state of Delaware.  Designates the Green Turtle as state reptile.

HB 102 Amend Title 29 relating to the Freedom of Information Act.  Removes the broad exemption in the FOIA for the University of Delaware……still researching what that means.

HB 103  Amend Title 6 of the DE code relating to auto repair fraud prevention and prohibited trade practices.  Bill clarifies definition relating to airbags, counterfeit supplemental restraint system components, nonfunctional airbags, and prohibited trade practices.

HB 104 an act to amend Title 14 of the DE code relating to teen dating violence and sexual assault.  Act moves the date by which the Department of Education shall submit in annual report.

HB 107  Act to amend Title 14 of the Delaware code relating to the first amendment rights of public school students.  Based on 1943 decision of WV State Board of ED v Barnette.  In this case, the Supreme Court held that a public school requirement that students salute the flag or face punishment violated the 1st Amendment right of the Constitution because it compelled students to declare a belief.  Under Barnette and similar decisions, current Delaware law, which requires teaches and students to salute and pledge allegiance to the American flag every morning is unconstitutional because it is coercive. State law requires teachers and students to salute and pledge allegiance to the flag and imposes a criminal penalty on a principal or teacher who fails to require students to participate in the salute and pledge of allegiance.  A New Hampshire law requiring that time be provided during the school day to recite the pledge of allegiance and which specifically provides that students not participating in the recitation of the pledge may silently stand or remain seated while respecting the rights of students participating was found constitutional.  The ACT preserved the requirement that students have the opportunity to salute and recite the pledge each school day but revises the code so that the requirement complies with the 1st amendment.  This act repeals the penalties imposed on a principal or teacher for failure to comply.  basically saying, that if you don’t want to recite the pledge, you must still respect those who do.

 

A point of interest

HB 37  Early release program of about 800 inmates prior to the completion of their sentences. This Bill has no safeguards in place to ensure the release of only nonviolent offenders who are within a certain time period for parole eligibility.  While incarcerated, an inmate has to earn good time credit for completing milestones in their rehabilitation.  Under HB 37, inmates would automatically receive a public health emergency credit.  To reward an inmate with automatic release only diminishes the achievement of earned good behavior.

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Announced merger with Leftward Delaware to form the Delaware Working Families Party (WFP).

 

Leftward Delaware launched in January 2019 and has since worked closely with WFP and a coalition of Delaware community organizations and activists.

 

The Working Families Party is the grassroots political party of the multiracial working class. The WFP has been supporting progressive candidates in Delaware since 2018, starting with Kerri Evelyn Harris’ bid for U.S. Senate. This year the WFP presented a progressive slate of state legislators, including Black, LGBTQ, and Muslim candidates who ousted five white male members of the Delaware Legislature.

 

"After the success of our primary slate this year, we're excited to bring the progressive movement to Dover and help win a $15 minimum wage and build a powerful progressive base," said Vanessa Clifford, mid-Atlantic Political Director at the Working Families Party. "Working families in Delaware deserve representatives who will fight for their interests instead of protecting corporate bottom lines. We’re excited to continue to support Working Families Democrats who will challenge the existing ‘Delaware way’ of corporate-dominated politics.”

 

“With the support of WFP, four of us beat some of the longest-serving corporate-backed incumbents to change the course of politics in Delaware’s General Assembly,” said Delaware Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton, D-Newark. “The launch of the Delaware WFP marks an important step toward building the infrastructure to make every election cycle like 2020’s. Working families deserve a seat at the table, and the issues that we face deserve to be on the agenda. I’m excited to see how Delaware WFP will change our state for the better.”

 

 

We ask you all to send letters to our state and federal representatives to voice your opposition to these bills. 

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