The Leg Hall Insider: Jan. 17, 2014

Pawing Around

Rep. Trey Paradee’s 3-year-old yellow lab, Belle, reaches across the aisle to shake hands with House Minority Leader Rep. Danny Short as House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst looks on. Belle visited Legislative Hall on the first day of session Tuesday and greeted lawmakers and staff as they returned to Dover to complete the 147th General Assembly. No word on whether she’ll return during the “dog days” of session in June.  

 

Ban the Box Legislation Advances

Legislation giving ex-offenders an opportunity to gain employment after their release from prison cleared a House committee Wednesday.

Rep. J.J. Johnson said House Bill 167 is not a “hire ex-felons” bill, but a “foot-in-the-door” bill. He noted that more than two-thirds of the men and women released from prison end up back there within three years, and the lack of a stable job contributes greatly to that recidivism.

HB 167 would prevent most public agencies in Delaware from requiring job applicants to disclose criminal history information when moving through the early steps of the hiring process. Agencies still would be able to ask about an applicant’s criminal record, even perform a criminal background check, before hiring a person. The bill would exempt several state agencies.

Said Rep. Johnson: “If we are serious about curbing recidivism and helping Delawareans who are trying to right their wrongs, then we as a state owe it to them to lead by example.

Ten other states and dozens of local jurisdictions, including Wilmington and Philadelphia, have enacted similar policies. HB 167 was unanimously released from the House Economic Development Committee and awaits action by the full House.  

Bolden Blanket Drive a Success

On the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday Wednesday, Wilmington Rep. Stephanie T. Bolden enlisted the help of Wilmington Councilwoman Hanifa Shabazz, Connections Community Support Programs and Zeta Phi Beta to collect and donate more than 100 blankets to Sunday Breakfast Mission, which provides a shelter for the homeless. Mission president Rev. Thomas Laymon said the blankets would be put to use immediately.

 Just Beachy: State Shell Bill Advances

Delaware could soon gain a new state symbol, joining the ladybug, blue hen, horseshoe crab and peach pie, under legislation that cleared a House committee on Wednesday.

Sponsored by Middletown Rep. Quinn Johnson, House Bill 199 would make the channeled whelk the official shell of the state. The House Administration Committee released the bill and sent it to the full House for consideration. The bill was spurred by Middletown resident Allyson Willis, a sixth grader who wrote Rep. Johnson and Sen. Bethany Hall-Long about the First State needing a state shell.

Channeled whelks, whose shells are commonly referred to as conchs, are found in the warm estuarine waters and sandy sediments of Delaware Bay. Whelks are harvested every year all along the east coast, including thousands of pounds by Delaware watermen, and whelk is exported every year to other countries.

Other states that have state shells include Connecticut (eastern oyster), New Jersey (knobbed whelk), New York (bay scallop), Rhode Island (northern quahog) and Virginia (eastern oyster).  

Verdict is in: Chief Justice Steele Will Be Missed

Reps. Rebecca Walker (left), Melanie George Smith (at podium) and Trey Paradee (right) honored retired Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Myron T. Steele on Thursday, thanking him for his 25 years of service on Delaware courts, the last nine as chief justice, before retiring last year.                         

 

 

Video Message from Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst

 

The House Democratic Caucus is presenting the first in what is expected to be a series of video updates during the legislative session. We hope these videos are informative and offer an insight into what is happening in Legislative Hall.

Legislative Wrap-Up

Senate Bill 21 (Henry, Mitchell) – Would add one member from public employee groups (DSEA, AFSCME, DSTA) to the State Employees Benefits Committee.

 

Status: House amended and passed, to Senate