Rep. Ed Osienski E-newsletter

Dear Neighbor,

Earlier this summer, we wrapped up a busy, yet productive, legislative session that saw us tackle numerous issues across a wide spectrum. We worked diligently to pass legislation that will help improve the quality of life for all Delawareans, whether it is through public safety, anti-discrimination, education or employment. We passed bills aimed at reducing gun violence in our communities, including harsher sentencing for gun crimes and mental health improvements. We passed legislation making Delaware the 12th state to establish marriage equality for same-sex couples and approved a measure to prevent discrimination based on gender identity. We also combated child identity theft by passing legislation that enables parents and guardians to freeze their children’s credit until they are 16 years old.

On a personal level, I have been appointed to serve on the Council of State Governments’ Eastern Regional Conference’s Transportation Committee for the upcoming year. I am hoping to use this as a networking opportunity and can hopefully bring some good ideas and practices to Delaware since I’m also the vice chair of the ‎Delaware House Transportation/Land Use & Infrastructure Committee.

Lastly, I am retiring at the end of this month from my position as business agent for Sprinkler Fitters U.A. LU 669. This retirement means that I will be able to devote more time and energy into serving you as a full-time legislator. I look forward to being out in the community even more and meeting with as many residents as possible.

Below are some additional updates that I hope you will find interesting and useful. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if you need anything.

Best,

Edward Osienski

Newark Legislative Update

One of the biggest bills that would directly affect Newark was introduced before session ended. House Bill 169 would add the city of Newark to the state’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) Program. Currently under the program, the three county seats (Wilmington, Dover and Georgetown) receive state funds to partially offset the large amount of tax-exempt property in each municipality.

However, a larger portion of Newark’s landmass – 46 percent – is tax-exempt, largely due to the University of Delaware. This cuts down on the amount of property taxes that the city can collect and can lead to tough fiscal decisions. By including Newark in the PILOT Program, the city would receive much-needed and much-deserved funds. I am hopeful that we will get the bill heard in committee and through the House shortly after returning to session.

I also co-sponsored a House resolution creating a task force that will study and make recommendations regarding the Delaware School for the Deaf and statewide programs for the deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind. The group is due to submit a report to the House during session next year, and I look forward to their suggestions to improve programs for our deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

It’s worth noting that Delaware’s spending bills allocate funds to various programs and initiatives throughout the state. Our $477 million bond bill funds school and road construction projects, while the $44.8 million grant-in-aid bill provides funds to various fire companies, senior centers and nonprofit groups throughout Delaware. Local recipients include:

  • Newark Senior Center - $426,076
  • Food Bank of Delaware - $205,620
  • Aetna Hook, Hose & Ladder (operations, substations, ambulance) - $85,000
  • Newark Area Welfare Committee - $6,120
  • Newark Children’s Center - $2,000

Volunteering for a Good Cause

With the Food Bank of Delaware just down the road, I make it a point to organize volunteering opportunities for legislators and our staff. It’s a great hands-on experience for everyone, and the Food Bank can use the help. Our most recent volunteering effort was earlier this month, with Newark-area Reps. Paul Baumbach, Earl Jaques and John Kowalko lending a hand.

During my three years in office, we’ve volunteered several times, sorting and boxing thousands of canned goods and preparing and distributing hundreds of boxed meals at Thanksgiving.

Putting Delawareans Back to Work

One of the biggest overall issues we have faced since I was first elected is putting Delawareans back to work as we continue to recover from the worst recession in generations. During this past session, we passed several bills that will help create jobs and improve our economy, whether it is through reforming our workers’ compensation law, shoring up our Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund or modifying or deleting more than 140 state regulations to cut through red tape.

We provided $300 million of funding for school and transportation construction projects throughout the state, which puts construction workers back to work. We funded mental health professionals in middle schools, additional Delaware State Police troopers and court security personnel. We also allocated nearly $45 million for various volunteer fire companies, senior centers and nonprofit groups throughout Delaware.

And recognizing the hard-hit construction and manufacturing sectors of our workforce, we have created a Blue Collar Task Force to recommend ways to grow this important segment of our workforce.

All of these actions – along with other initiatives such as establishing shellfish aqua farming – together help improve our economy. There is no one single solution to the problem, but these and other efforts help address the problem.