Leg. Hall Insider, July 3, 2014

Video Wrap: The 147th General Assembly

Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst and Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf recap the major policy accomplishments of the two-year legislative session in our final weekly video of the year.

The 148th General Assembly will convene in January 2015, following this year's elections. 

Signed, sealed, delivered

Gov. Jack Markell signed the FY 2015 budget bills into law around 4 a.m. July 1 after the customary late-night legislative marathon that carries the General Assembly into a special session, which it can reconvene at any time before Election Day, if it so chooses.

The $3.809 billion budget is a 2.46-percent increase from last year’s spending plan. This is the second-smallest budget growth in more than six years.

A significant chunk of the $91 million increase (more than $80 million) from the fiscal 2014 budget comes from increased costs to items the state is required to fund, such as Medicaid ($24 million) and teacher unit counts ($19 million). Another $8.4 million would go toward debt service, $9.2 million to step increases, $4.8 million for the senior property tax credit, and $2 million for primary and general elections.

Responsible business bills await signature

A package of House bills designed to “level the playing field” and promote responsible practices across the business and construction communities is ready for the governor’s signature following favorable votes in the Senate today.

The measures, which range from cracking down on contractors who do not have Delaware business licenses to allowing for anonymous reporting of license violations, are designed to root out “bad actors” in business and construction industries and ensure that all entities are playing by the rules.

The bills were drafted with support and cooperation from the Associated Builders and Contractors Delaware chapter and the Delaware Building and Construction Trades Council

“We’re happy to have been able to help reward the firms who follow the business practice rules we have in Delaware by holding accountable those businesses that try skirt those rules, and have gotten away with it in the past,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, who sponsored one of the bills in the package.

Read more about this package of bills on our caucus website..

Human trafficking bill becomes law

On June 30 Gov. Markell signed legislation combating human trafficking crafted by Senate President Pro Tempore Patricia M. Blevins and Rep. Helene Keeley, in cooperation with Attorney General Beau Biden's office.

Senate Bill 197 increases criminal penalties for those that engage in human trafficking and provide greater protections for its victims.

'Revenge porn' ready for enactment

Legislation that would make it a crime to disseminate video or photos of a person who is naked or engaged in sexual acts without his or her consent passed the Senate June 30 and is now ready for the governor's signature.

Sponsored by Rep. Andria Bennett, House Bill 260 addresses the cyber trend of posting sexual images or videos of a person taken under circumstances when the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. This also is known as “revenge porn” because it often involves the willful humiliation of a former intimate partner. This legislation would expand the existing crime of violation of privacy to include revenge porn or intimate partner harassment.

According to the bill, a person who disseminates a visual depiction of a nude or partially nude person or a person who is engaging in a sexual act would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. That charge can be increased to a Class G felony if the photo or video was originally obtained without the victim’s consent, is distributed for profit or is paired with information identifying the person.

Burning the midnight oil 

Check out our Facebook photo album from the last night of session!

Click here for the session activity reports from the final hours of the 147th General Assembly. These reports list all the bills that were passed by the House and Senate on June 30 and July 1.