The Leg Hall Insider: March 15, 2013

 

The House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday that would restore voting rights to eligible felons who have
completed their sentences instead of forcing them to wait an additional five years. House Bill 10, was sponsored by Rep. Helene Keeley (at podium), who was joined last week at a rally for the bill by NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous (center) and fellow Wilmington legislators Reps. Gerald Brady and Stephanie Bolden, Wilmington Mayor Dennis P. Williams and Rep. Charles Potter.

HB 10, which passed by a 32-9 bipartisan vote, is the second leg of a constitutional amendment, with the first leg passing last year in the 146th General Asse
mbly. The bill would nix the five-year waiting period that begins after felons have been released from prison, completed parole and paid restitution, which Rep. Keeley said takes on average three to five years after finishing their prison sentence. Felons who commit violent crimes or sex offenses still would not be eligible to vote. The bill moves to the Senate for consideration.

House Introduces Markell Revenue Bills

House leaders introduced four revenue bills Thursday that continue to roll back 2009 rate increases while closing a projected budget shortfall for next year. The package is part of Governor Markell’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal that he introduced in January.

In 2009, revenue estimates dropped by $850 million, a gap that was closed by a combination of budget cuts, federal stimulus money and revenue increases. Several of those increases included four-year sunset provisions that expire this year. If those bills sunset, the state would lose $36 million in revenue in fiscal 2014 and more than $180 million in fiscal 2015.

The revenue bills introduced Thursday would remove sunset provisions from some of these 2009 increases while decreasing rates. In some cases, this would be the second rate reduction – in 2011, lawmakers rolled back part of three tax increases.

A look at the four bills:

The bills, which would generate $27.9 million in fiscal 2014 and $156.7 million in fiscal 2015, have been assigned to the House Revenue & Finance Committee and are scheduled for a hearing on March 20 at 3 p.m. at Legislative Hall.

Lawmakers Honor Delaware Multiple Sclerosis Society


Reps. Earl Jaques, Dennis E. Williams and Michael Barbieri presented a House tribute to representatives of Delaware’s Multiple Sclerosis Society this week. The presentation coincided with MS Awareness Week, March 11-17. It recognized the hard work the MS Society does on behalf of the 400,000 Americans, including numerous children, who battle this disease every day. In Delaware, 1,600 individuals and their families are support by the efforts of the local MS society chapter. Rep. Williams, whose wife is affected by MS, celebrated the work of the MS Society, thanking them for all they do.

Rep. Jaques participates in the annual MS Walk alongside his constituent, Joan Wheeler, as a member of Ms. Wheeler’s team, the Wheeler Wobblers. He was the Delaware MS Society’s 2011 Legislator of the Year.

Reps. Earl Jaques, Dennis E. Williams and Michael Barbieri presented a House tribute to representatives of Delaware’s Multiple Sclerosis Society this week. The presentation coincided with MS Awareness Week, March 11-17. It recognized the hard work the MS Society does on behalf of the 400,000 Americans, including numerous children, who battle this disease every day. In Delaware, 1,600 individuals and their families are support by the efforts of the local MS society chapter. Rep. Williams, whose wife is affected by MS, celebrated the work of the MS Society, thanking them for all they do.

Rep. Jaques participates in the annual MS Walk alongside his constituent, Joan Wheeler, as a member of Ms. Wheeler’s team, the Wheeler Wobblers. He was the Delaware MS Society’s 2011 Legislator of the Year.

Background Checks Bill Hearing to Be Continued

A House Judiciary Committee hearing that began this week on legislation expanding background checks for firearm purchases will be continued next Wednesday, March 20.

House Bill 35, sponsored by House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst, would require that a background check be performed in connection with the sale or transfer of any firearm, regardless of whether the transaction involves a licensed dealer. That would include gun shows and most private sales.

During a committee hearing Wednesday, several members of the public were unable to comment on the bill due to time constraints. To allot more time to allow residents to comment, the Judiciary Committee meeting will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the House chamber. There will be a sign-up sheet for those wishing to speak, and public comment will be limited to two minutes per person.

To read more about the bill, click here.

Legislative Wrap-Up

The following bills were introduced this week:
Senate Bill 19(Peterson, Scott) Eliminates capital punishment and provides that those sentenced to death will serve life in prison without parole or other reduction.
Status: Senate Executive Committee

House Bill 46(Scott) Authorizes the Department of Education, pending available funds, to offer competitive two-year start-up grants to public schools for the purpose of developing new gifted and talented programs.
Status: House Education Committee

The House passed the following bills this week:
House Bill 31 (Heffernan) Permits liquor stores to obtain a growler filler permit to purchase kegs or partial kegs from wholesalers and fill and cap growlers of beer for the customer to consume off of the premises where sold.
Status: To Senate

House Bill 24 (Barbieri) Implements recommendations from the Truancy Task Force by changing provisions of the Delaware Code regarding compulsory attendance and when a truancy case must be brought to the Truancy Court.
Status: To Senate

The following bills were released from House committees this week:
House Bill 20 (Jaques) First leg of a constitutional amendment that would eliminate from the Delaware Constitution the requirements as to when a person may vote by absentee ballot. This amendment to the Delaware Constitution provides that the General Assembly shall enact general laws providing the circumstances, rules and procedures for absentee voting.
Status: Released from Committee