Leg Hall Insider - May 9


Remembering the Fallen

Lawmakers joined law enforcement officers on Legislative Mall this week to pay homage to officers who have died in the line of duty. The annual memorial serves as a reminder to everyone that when officers put their uniforms on each day, they are willingly putting themselves in harm’s way to protect us. House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, a retired 25-year Delaware State Police captain, offered remarks during the ceremony, thanking the police in attendance and noting that they are a special group of people. View more photos from this event on our Facebook page.

Delaware ‘Bans the Box’

Governor Jack Markell signed legislation Thursday sponsored by Reps. J.J. Johnson and Helene Keeley and Sen. Bryan Townsend to prohibit public employers from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal record before their first interview. Known as “ban the box,” House Bill 167 is designed to curb recidivism by giving people with a criminal conviction in their past a “foot in the door” when applying for public sector jobs.

The new law will prevent most public agencies in Delaware from requiring job applicants to disclose criminal history information when moving through the early steps of the hiring process. The bill does not impact private employers and does not eliminate an agency’s ability to look into an applicant’s criminal history – employers would retain every right to ask about an applicant’s criminal record, even perform a criminal background check, just not until after that applicant has sat down for an interview.

HB 167 was approved by bipartisan margins of 31-8 in the House and 15-5 in the Senate.

Down Syndrome Bill Signed

Gov. Jack Markell signed House Bill 214 into law this week, joined by sponsorsRep. Melanie George Smith and Sen. Nicole Poore, as well as parents, kids and advocates from the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware.

HB 214 requires hospitals, physicians and other health professionals to provide information about Down Syndrome and Down Syndrome resources and support groups to parents who have received a prenatal or postnatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome.

Dems File FOIA Bills

Democratic lawmakers filed four pieces of legislation Tuesday designed to increase transparency in government and strengthen Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act.

The measures would address posting of meeting minutes, mailed FOIA requests, publishing of annual reports and education of FOIA coordinators. Reps. John Atkins, Quinn Johnson, Ed Osienski and Kim Williams sponsored the four bills, which are all scheduled for committee hearings next week.

Rep. Osienski said that the bills collectively will strengthen the First State’s FOIA statute and improve citizen access to public information. His House Bill 323 would require that annual or biennial reports published by various Executive Branch public bodies be posted online on one central website. 

To read more about these proposals, please visit our website.

Video Wrap-Up: Rep. Ed Osienski

This week, Newark-area Rep. Ed Osienski chats about some of the bills introduced and passed in the House of Representatives.

Legislative Round-Up

The following bills were released from committee this week:

HS 1 for HB 212 (Keeley) – Requires all people convicted of driving under the influence to install ignition interlock devices in the vehicles they drive.
Status: On House Ready List

HS 1 for HB 297 (D.E. Williams) – Clarifies an existing law and helps protect communities from dangerous dogs that chase or attack people. Make it clear that any – not all – of the defined instances a dog can be seized and declared dangerous could constitute grounds for impounding a dog.
Status: On House Agenda for May 13

HB 305 (Scott) – Establishes an annual registration fee for lobbyists, which would be used to fund the investigatory functions of the PIC. Delaware is one of only nine states that do not require lobbyists to pay annual fees. Unpaid, volunteer lobbyists would not be required to pay the fee.
Status: On House Ready List