The Leg Hall Insider: January 18, 2013

Legislators Back Gun Control Proposals

Rep. Mike Barbieri, Rep. Charles Potter, Jr., Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst, Speaker Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, Rep. Darryl Scott, Rep. Mike Ramone and Rep. Stephanie Bolden (not pictured) joined Governor Jack Markell, Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn and Attorney General Beau Biden to introduce proposals for gun control legislation this week.

The proposals, which are being drafted into legislation, would touch on several areas of gun control, including background checks, reporting stolen or lost firearms and banning assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazine clips. For more information about these proposals, please read the full release here.

House Rejects Compensation Commission Salary Recommendations

The House passed legislation this week to outright reject the Compensation Commission’s report, which included a 6-percent raise for members of the Judiciary and raises ranging from 2.336 percent to 9 percent for selected Cabinet members. The bipartisan legislation was sponsored by more than 50 legislators from both chambers and passed the House unanimously.

House Speaker Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf and Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst said although the Compensation Commission did a good job reviewing salaries, the state's financial future is too uncertain to approve pay raises three years out. They also noted that because the legislature might have to consider extending tax increases set to expire this year, it would be fiscally irresponsible to approve these future raises.

For more information, read the full release here.

House Participates in the Developmental Disabilities Council Legislative Day

House Speaker Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf welcomed 6-year-old Kayla Kosmalski to the dais to help him run the legislative session during the Developmental Disabilities Council legislative day. Kayla was the DFRC Blue All Star Buddy of 2012. Her parents, Rick and Amy Kosmalski, are active members of the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware. The Kosmalskis are constituents of Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst, who invited them to join her on the House floor.

Lawmakers Introduce 'No-Excuse' Absentee Voting Bill

Calling voting a right and privilege that should be afforded to every Delawarean, Democratic Reps. Earl Jaques, John Kowalko and Dennis E. Williams introduced legislation this week designed to increase participation in elections.

Rep. Jaques said the bill would allow more Delawareans to exercise their right to vote. Although circumstances may prohibit someone from being able to go to the polls on Election Day, that individual's case might not warrant access to an absentee ballot. All Delawareans deserve an equal opportunity to make their voice heard.

House Bill 20 would extend absentee voting to all eligible Delaware voters by removing several requirements limiting when a person can vote by absentee ballot. Under current law, absentee voting is limited to eight situations, such as: in the Armed Forces, sick or physically disabled, on vacation or religious reasons.

For more information, read the full release here.

From the Desk of the Majority Leader

Thank you for your interest in the Delaware House of Representatives. We had a busy week hearing legislation on the floor for the first time since the House came back in session on January 8th. We also celebrated the Governor's inauguration and heard his State of the State address.

As one of more than 50 legislators sponsoring bipartisan legislation to reject the Compensation Commission’s salary recommendations, I am proud to report the House unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 2 this week. We could not support pay raises for judges and certain cabinet secretaries three years out while our financial future is so uncertain at this time.

This week was also our first week of committee meetings. Eight committees met and seven bills were released for the full House to consider.

I also want to personally welcome back Rep. Larry Mitchell, who unfortunately was unable to attend several days of session due to a serious fire in his townhouse complex. The fire displaced him from his home and tragically took the life of his neighbor. Upon his return this week, Larry thanked his fellow legislators for their support during this difficult time and our first responders for their brave efforts. We are fortunate that he and his family are safe.

-Valerie Longhurst

Legislative Wrap-Up

The following bills were introduced in the House this week:

HB 10 (Keeley) -- Restores voting rights to eligible felons who have completed their sentences instead of forcing them to wait an additional five years.
Read the full release here.
Status: Assigned to House Administration Committee

The following bills were passed in the House this week:

HB 2 (Schwartzkopf) -- Creates additional incentives for holders of abandoned property to report such property to the state and promptly resolve such claims.
Read the full release here.
Status: Goes to Senate

HB 9 (Jaques) -- Clarifies the law on immunity as regards the process to detain or not detain a person for an involuntary mental health evaluation.
Status: Goes to Senate

HB 16 (Carson) -- Allows the host and promoter of a large event to share the proceeds from alcohol sales.
Status: Goes to Senate

For a list of the activity in the General Assembly this week, click here.