The Leg Hall insider: September 6, 2013

Protecting the Protectors

Gov. Jack Markell signed companion bills Friday that will protect volunteer emergency responders from employer discrimination or discipline stemming from their volunteer responsibilities. Brandywine Hundred Rep. Debra Heffernan worked with the Delaware Volunteer Firefighter’s Association and her local fire company, Brandywine Hundred Fire Co., in crafting both pieces of legislation.

Pictured are (L-R) Rep. Ed Osienski, Rep. Heffernan, Gov. Markell and Rep. Bill Carson (seated), Sen. Cathy Cloutier (standing) and Sen. Bruce Ennis.

Read more about the bills here.

Longhurst: Coastal Zone Act Should Not Be Changed

The following letter appeared in the August 26 edition of the News Journal.

In 1971, Delaware put itself at the forefront of environmental preservation by passing the Coastal Zone Act, which has helped protect hundreds of thousands of acres along the Delaware River and Bay from industrial development by regulating heavy industrial activities and preventing the offshore bulk transfer of raw materials in the Coastal Zone.

I don’t take the significance of this law or its impact lightly – half of my legislative district is within the Coastal Zone. While we have seen significant improvements in the air, water, and soil quality in recent years, we still see the legacy of damage that companies like Metachem have wrought on our environment. However, recent challenges and conversations about the CZA have highlighted a potential problem: Do we open the door and attempt to amend or further define a landmark 42-year-old law that has helped preserve our state’s natural beauty?

There is too much at risk if we haphazardly open that door legislatively. I am committed to the health of the environment and will not support and or bring to the House floor legislation that will adversely impact the environmental quality we enjoy today in the Coastal Zone.

While it may make sense to review the 15-year old regulations to see if they can be improved, Delaware got the law right in 1971.  We have benefitted from that foresight with a beautiful coastline that today is the envy of other states. We can’t afford to take the risk of going backward.

- Rep. Valerie Longhurst, House Majority Leader

LEGO Tower Sets World Record

Red Clay Consolidated School District broke a Guinness World Records this summer for tallest structure built with interlocking plastic bricks, topping out at 112 feet, 11.75 inches. Rep. Kim Williams, a former Red Clay School Board member, ascended to the top of the tower to place the second-to-last block on the tower.

Johnson: Incinerator Ban Should Apply to Tire Plant

The following letter appeared in the August 23 edition of the News Journal.

If building a tire incinerator a mile from New Castle City – and less than a half-mile from several schools and parks – sounds unbelievable, you’ll understand why I and many of my constituents are angry.

RenewOil Energy has submitted an application to DNREC for an exemption to Delaware’s incinerator ban to build what they describe as a “pyrolysis plant for scrap tire and plastics” on McCullough Drive. Pyrolysis is the technical term for a chemical change brought about by heat – in this case, 300-700°F – in which scrap tires and plastics would be broken down into fuel, oil and scrap steel.

I support the idea of recycling or reusing garbage rather than throwing it into a landfill. However, Delaware has had what essentially is a statewide incinerator ban since 2000. No incinerator can be built within three miles of any residence, school or park. It also must be built in an area zoned for heavy industrial activity. This proposal meets none of those criteria.

RenewOil is trying to get by on a technicality: their DNREC application states that they should be exempt from the incinerator ban because “pyrolysis by definition is a non-combustible process.” I personally don’t care what you call it. If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, then it’s a rat.

The area where I live and represent is one of the “cancer clusters” identified in 2010, and we don’t need a plant producing more harmful chemicals like known carcinogen benzene – no matter how small a quantity.

- Rep. James “J.J.” Johnson

Aqua Farming, Bail, Wineries Among Summer Bill Signings

This summer, Gov. Markell has signed several bills into law, including:

House Bill 130 (Walker) – Requires that pharmacies and retailers selling pseudoephedrine products over the counter submit identifying information of the purchaser to the National Precursor Log Exchange system. (photo below)



House Substitute 1 for House Bill 151 (Keeley) – Reforms Delaware's bail bond statute, designed to curb abuses of the bail bond system, and better serve the citizens and courts of the state of Delaware; Allows the courts to monitor more closely bail agents by requiring them all to be residents of Delaware.

House Bill 160 (Schwartzkopf) – Allows commercial shellfish aqua farming in Delaware’s Inland Bays; Commercial shellfish farmers would be permitted to lease one- to five-acre tracts of shellfish grounds in Delaware’s Inland Bays.

House Bill 180 (J. Johnson) – require vehicles weighing at least 26,001 pounds to be equipped with an audible reverse warning or a backup camera.

House Bill 190 (Schwartzkopf) – Addresses restrictions that had prevented farm wineries, microbreweries and craft distilleries from expanding and from offering a greater variety of products, including beverages that would be made with Delaware farm products. (photo below)


Atkins, Hocker: Support for Chicken Processing Plant

First appeared in the August 23 edition of the Cape Gazette.

When Pinnacle Foods announced it would be closing its Vlasic pickle plant in Millsboro, we shared the concerns of its several hundred employees and local residents who worried about the impact on Sussex County's economy.

That's why we were pleased to learn of Allen Harim Foods' intention to purchase the now-closed Vlasic plant and turn it into a state-of-the-art poultry processing plant - investing $100 million, hiring 700 new employees and improving environmental technology to benefit our air and water.

When completed, this project will be a true Delaware success story - improving our economy and protecting our environment, all in one.

At a time of financial turmoil for many, the effect on Delaware's economy cannot be understated. The 700 new jobs with Allen Harim will all pay above the minimum wage and include benefits. More than 100 of those jobs will be managerial or highly skilled wage positions. These are jobs that are greatly needed in our state today.

Read the full op-ed here.

- Rep. John Atkins and Sen. Gerald Hocker