Rep. Quinn Johnson September 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, education or employment. We worked to ensure the long-term viability of the Port of Wilmington and are pleased to note that Dole will continue to base its operations out of the port. We passed bills aimed at reducing gun violence in our communities, including harsher sentencing for gun crimes and mental health improvements. We also combatted child identity theft by passing legislation that enables parents and guardians to freeze their children’s credit until they are 16 years old. We continued to work on disability issues and ensuring that all Delawareans are treated fairly and have an opportunity to be successful.

On a personal level, I have been appointed to serve on two national committees: the Council of State Governments’ Budget and Tax Chairs Committee and the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Budget and Revenue Committee. I am hoping to use this as a networking opportunity and can hopefully bring some good ideas and practices to Delaware since I’m co-chair of the Delaware Joint Bond Bill Committee.

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.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

S. Quinton Johnson, IV

Sea Level Rise Awareness

Earlier this session, I sponsored legislation naming the week of September 14 to 22 as Sea Level Rise Awareness Week. The resolution noted that 3 feet of sea-level rise would impact more than 15,000 homes. A rise of 1.5 meters would put 11 percent of Delaware’s landmass under water.

With that as a backdrop, Governor Markell last week signed an executive order to prepare Delaware for the local effects of global climate change and sea level rise, as a coalition of environmental groups opened a week-long public awareness campaign focused on the issues. Part of that included the launch of a website, www.sosdelaware.org, which includes a lot of vital information and a list of events going on this week.

Delaware has the lowest average elevation of any state – 60 feet – so I encourage everyone to read with an open mind and learn more about this issue and what we can do.

Rehab Hospitals Bill Signed

Earlier this summer, Gov. Jack Markell signed my legislation HB 89, which promotes and facilitates the construction and operation within the State of Delaware of freestanding inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, which generally are capable of providing services to victims of stroke, spinal cord injuries, amputation or other traumas. HealthSouth, an Alabama-based rehabilitation hospital company, is planning to construct a facility in town that would create hundreds of construction jobs and a number of high-paying, long-term jobs in the medical field.


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 and help businesses grow and expand.

As co-chair of the Joint Bond Bill Committee, I worked with colleagues and state officials to provide $300 million of funding for school and transportation construction projects throughout the state, which puts construction workers back to work. Our state budget provided funding for 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.

The Delaware New Jobs Infrastructure Fund, which was established to provide economic assistance to attract new businesses to Delaware or for the expansion of existing Delaware businesses, has helped bring jobs to the Middletown area. By now most everyone knows about Amazon.com and the new 1.2 million square-foot warehouse that opened on the southwest side of town. The company invested more than $90 million in our local community when they built the facility. At full strength, the facility will employee up to 1,200 full-time employees and as many as 2,000 seasonal staff.

The New Jobs Infrastructure Fund provided $4 million to be used for road improvements that ultimately connected Industrial Drive and Merrimac Avenue. Prior to this project, one could not get to the other side of town via Industrial Drive.

All of these actions together help improve our economy. There is no one single solution to the problem, but these and other efforts help address the problem and put us on a path forward.


U.S. 301 Update

DelDOT states that the U.S. 301 project continues to move forward. DelDOT is in the process of acquiring the necessary property/right-of-way, completing final design and working with the utility companies as they proceed with advanced utility relocations. Preparation work is expected to continue through 2013. Advertisement for construction is anticipated to begin in spring of 2014 with construction starting later in 2014.

You can stay on top of the project at DelDOT’s official U.S. 301 project page:http://www.deldot.gov/information/projects/us301/.