The Leg Hall Insider: January 25, 2013

Senior Center Named for Former Speaker

Former House Speaker Bob Gilligan was honored on Friday when the Mid-County Senior Center was named after him for his years of dedication and help to the center. Several dignitaries were on hand to help Gilligan celebrate. Pictured (L-R) are Senior Center executive director Sally E. Williams, board chairman Lee D. Margerison, former Rep. Roger Roy, Rep. Mike Ramone, Rep. Kim Williams (who succeeded Gilligan), Bob Gilligan, wife Jeanne Gilligan, daughter Kate Gilligan, First Lady Carla Markell and Delaware National Guard adjutant general Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala.

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Bills Would Protect Emergency Responders' Jobs

This week, two volunteer firefighters were hospitalized after sustaining injuries battling a fire in Brandywine Hundred and will likely miss work due to those injuries. Under current law, emergency responders in similar situations could be discliplined or even fired for missing work.

Rep. Debra Heffernan introduced two pieces of legislation this week to protect firefighters and other volunteer emergency responders from employer discrimination stemming from their volunteer posts. Rep. Heffernan said the bills would protect volunteer responders who risk their lives to keep us safe. They should be exempt from disciplinary action for missing work and should not be overlooked for jobs because of their voluntary commitment.

House Bill 21, known as the Volunteer Emergency Responders Job Protection Act, would prevent an employer from firing or taking disciplinary action against an employee who misses work due to injury sustained when acting as a volunteer emergency responder or if they are called to serve during a governor-declared state of emergency or president-declared national emergency and are absent from work.

A second measure, House Bill 22, would prohibit employers from refusing to hire, firing or discriminating against volunteer firefighters and ambulance crews with respect to their pay, terms or conditions of employment because of their volunteer service.

Both bills have been assigned to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. For more information, read the full release here.

Small Business Caucus Meets for Presentation on Affordable Care Act in Delaware

The Small Business Caucus met this week for a presentation by the administration providing information on the Affordable Care Act in Delaware. Delaware was the first state approved by the federal government to pursue the federal-state partnership model. Co-Chair Bryon Short, Rep. Quinn Johnson and Rep. Paul Baumbach attended the meeting along with Republican colleagues and more than 50 business owners.

Legislators Pass Stopgap Solution to Gaming Issue

Citing the need to pass a measure quickly, the General Assembly approved legislation this week sponsored by Rep. John Atkins to temporarily allow veterans and fraternal organizations to continue operating video lottery machines until a more permanent solution can be crafted.

Last fall, enforcement officials shut down slot machine operations at numerous veterans and fraternal organizations’ clubs, which were in violation of state law. The groups petitioned state officials, noting that the revenue generated from the slots helped fund programs and events that directly benefited veterans, schoolchildren and other residents through various outreach efforts.

Rep. Atkins said it was important to pass something before the House went out of session for six weeks for budget hearings. This bill helps get service organizations back on their feet financially while establishing guidelines for operating the machines.

The bill will sunset on June 30.

For more information, read the full release here.

From the Desk of the Majority Leader

Yesterday marked the end of our first three weeks in session this year. We've already passed some significant pieces of legislation and I'm very proud of the work we've accomplished so far. Some noteworthy legislation passed includes:

  • A bill to create additional incentives for holders of abandoned property to report such property to the state and promptly resolve such claims (HB 2)
  • A bill to allow the host and promoter of a large event, such as the Firefly music festival held in Dover last year, to share the proceeds from alcohol sales (HB 16)
  • A resolution to reject the Delaware Compensation Commission's salary report in its entirety (HJR 2)
  • A resolution establishing a task force to study the workers’ compensation system (HJR 3)

We will now be out of session for six weeks while the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) holds budget hearings. The Governor presented his budget proposals this week and the JFC has the important responsibility of hammering out the details. The public hearings will help the JFC come up with a viable budget to pass in June. JFC members' work continues when we go back in session and mark up the budget before approving it. I appreciate the hard work members of the JFC put in through the month of February and into March to ensure we have a responsible budget that maintains important services for Delawareans.

-Valerie Longhurst

Legislative Wrap-Up

The following bills were passed in the House this week:

HJR 3 (B. Short) -- Creates additional incentives for holders of abandoned property to report such property to the state and promptly resolve such claims.
Status: Goes to Governor.

SB 3 (Marshall, Brady) -- Requires the Diamond State Port Corporation to obtain the approval of a majority of both Houses of the General Assembly and the Governor, through the passage of legislation, before entering into any agreement or transaction with the Port of Wilmington.
Status: Goes to Governor.

HB 11 (J. Johnson) -- Permits employees trained by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to obtain biological samples.
Status: Goes to Senate

HB 15 (Mitchell) -- Designates all three units of Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control law enforcement as “Natural Resources Police Officers”, thereby streamlining the administration of the units.
Status: Goes to Senate

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