The Leg Hall Insider: March 22, 2013

House Celebrates World Down Syndrome Day

In hon
or of World Down Syndrome Day, observed every March 21, the House of Representatives welcomed guests from the Delaware Down Syndrome Association this week and members sported bright, mismatched socks to raise awareness. Guests included Sheila Walsh, Vice President of the Delaware Down Syndrome Association and her daughter Fiona and Kristin Pidgeon from the Delaware Down Syndrome Association and her daughter Aliza, her husband Tom, her son Trevor and her daughters Quinn and Ella. Aliza Pidgeon spoke to the House of Representatives about World Down Syndrome Day and why it matters to her.

The House also recognized one of its pages Jordan Taylor, who was joined by her family. Jordan delivered an emotional speech on the House floor expressing how much she enjoys working at Legislative Hall.

Above: Rep. Andria Bennett joins (from L to R) Quinn, Aliza, Glee, Fiona, Trevor and Ella wearing her colorful socks.

Left: Rep. Trey Paradee and Rep. John Atkins show off their bright socks.

Markell Revenue Bills Pass House

A package of four bills that would modify temporary revenue increases established in 2009 passed the House this week. The package is part of Governor Markell’s fiscal 2014 budget that he introduced in January.

In 2009, Delaware closed an $850 million revenue gap through 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 on schedule, the state will lose $36 million in revenue in fiscal 2014 and more than $180 million in fiscal 2015.

The bills passed would continue to roll back 2009 tax rate increases while closing the projected budget shortfall for next year. In some cases, this would be the second rate reduction – in 2011, lawmakers rolled back part of three tax increases.

The bills would generate $27.9 million in fiscal 2014 and $156.7 million in fiscal 2015:

The bills now move to the Senate for consideration.

Lawmakers Honor Wilmington Soldiers

Rep. Helene Keeley
presented the fifth grade Wilmington Soldiers team with a tribute this week to honor the players for winning the national championship. The Wilmington Soldiers Youth Football & Cheerleading Association, Inc. is a Non-Profit Organization providing positive recreational and educational alternatives for youth ages 6 to 15 in the city of Wilmington and surrounding areas. (From L to R) Rep. Gerald Brady, Rep. Helene Keeley, Rep. J.J. Johnson and Rep. Charles Potter Jr. with the players and coaches.

Background Checks Bill Clears Committee

Legislation requiring background checks for virtually all gun sales was released from the House Judiciary Committee this week.

Sponsored by House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst, House Bill 35 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. The bill includes a few narrow exceptions, including sales or transfers of firearms involving:

  • Immediate family members (parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, spouse or sibling);
  • Law enforcement officers who meet the training and qualification standards required by police agencies to carry firearms;
  • Antique (pre-1899) firearms and certain replicas thereof; and
  • The return of a firearm by a pawnbroker to the person from whom it was received.

Background checks would be performed by licensed dealers, who would be permitted (but not required) to charge up to $50 per background check. (Under existing law, a dealer may charge up to $20 for a background check requested by a private party.) Dealers would be required to maintain records of all background checks in accordance with state and federal law.

The bill is expected to be considered by the full House next week. The House will also consider several amendments to the bill as a result of the testimony heard by the committee.

To read more about the bill, click here.

Legislative Wrap-Up

The following bills were introduced this week:

House Bill 54 (Kowalko) – Addresses the regulation of any potential location of a liquefied natural gas terminal in the State of Delaware. Any such facility would require a permit from DNREC, obtainable only for a location in an area zoned for heavy industrial activity at least three miles from residential communities, churches, parks, schools and hospitals.
Status: House Natural Resources Committee

House Bill 58 (Mitchell) – Prohibits the manufacture, sale, purchase, transfer or delivery of large-capacity magazines, which are defined as ammunition feeding devices with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
Status: House Administration Committee

House Bill 62 (Bolden) – Allows the City of Wilmington to enact laws, ordinances and regulations relating to firearms.
Status: House Administration Committee

The following bills were released from House committees this week:

House Bill 13 (Kowalko) – Prohibits a former member of the General Assembly from acting as a lobbyist for a period of one year after such person’s term of office ends.
Status: Released from Committee