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We just finished up the first leg of the 147th General Assembly, which was a packed, productive session. A host of important issues were on the docket and many of the resulting pieces of legislation will help improve the quality of life for Delawareans of diverse backgrounds – such as marriage equality, reducing gun violence and charter school reform. Marriage equality, reducing gun violence and charter school reform are extremely important issues, however there are also issues from the 10th District that require attention.


As the house prime sponsor of Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 33 I am currently engaged in the dialoug surrounding its implementation. Around the state manufactured housing communities are discussing how the new law effects them. In order to address the questions arising from these discussions community meetings have been organized. I will be attending two upcoming meetings in order to hear feedback and answer questions about the legislation.

In the early morning of July 1st, the first session of the 147th General Assembly came to a close. Shortly afterwards, Governor Jack Markell signed the fiscal 2014 budget into law.

We recently finished up the first leg of the 147th General Assembly, which was a packed, productive session. My colleagues and I tackled many difficult issues, and I am happy to say that we were able to improve the quality of life for our citizens. While marriage equality, reducing gun violence and charter school reform received extensive media coverage, those issues barely scratch the surface of what we accomplished this year.

 

Joint Finance Committee co-chair Rep. Melanie George Smith introduced the proposed fiscal 2014 operating budget on Tuesday, the fourth consecutive year that the spending plan has been introduced at least a week before the end of session, providing the public with more than a week to review the document.

A bipartisan group of 22 state legislators sent a petition Thursday to the Public Service Commission to require Delmarva Power to show more detail in its monthly billing statements.

Legislation aimed at improving the law governing Delaware charter schools cleared the House Tuesday, representing the first major overhaul to the charter school system since its creation 18 years ago.

As a freshman legislator filling the seat occupied by Rep. Bob Gilligan for the last 40 years, this session has been a tremendous opportunity to learn the ropes down in Legislative Hall. Rep. Gilligan served our district and state tirelessly for his entire career, and I could not be more proud to be serving the 19th District.

School choice allows students to apply to public, charter or vocational technical schools throughout the state without regard to where they live. In the current school year, 28 percent of students utilize some form of school choice within or outside the bounds of their home district.

Flanked by liquor store and Delaware craft brewery owners at Fordham & Old Dominion Brewing companies in Dover Thursday, Governor Jack Markell signed into law House Bill 31, which allows Delaware liquor stores to fill and sell growlers of draught beer on site.

Joined by legislators and community advocates on the steps inside Legislative Hall, Governor Jack Markell signed legislation Tuesday to allow same-sex couples to marry, making Delaware the 11th state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.

Hundreds of police officers, legislators and residents gathered Wednesday afternoon on Legislative Mall for the annual ceremony remembering officers who have died in the line of duty. House Speaker Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, a retired state trooper, spoke during the ceremony.

The House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday that would make Delaware the 11th state to establish marriage equality.

 

Legislation closing a loophole by expanding background checks to virtually all firearm purchases passed the Senate Thursday and is headed to Governor Jack Markell for his signature.

Dozens of lawmakers, officials and advocates gathered Thursday at Freedom Plaza in Wilmington to unveil legislation that would make Delaware the 10th state to establish marriage equality.

The Delaware AMBER (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert Program will now be supplemented by the utilization of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system to send AMBER alert notifications to WEA compliant cell phones Statewide. Previously, AMBER alerts were only received on cell phones if the user visited a website and chose to participate. That no longer applies.

 

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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.

HB 10, which passed by a 32-9 bipartisan vote, is the second leg of a constitutional amendment, with the first leg passing last year in the 146th General Assembly. The bill would nix the five-year waiting period that begins after felons have been released from prison, completed parole and paid restitution, which Rep. Keeley said takes on average three to five years after finishing their prison sentence. Felons who commit violent crimes or sex offenses still would not be eligible to vote. The bill moves to the Senate for consideration.

Grant funding is now available for local and state governments and non-profit organizations to increase Delaware’s coastal resiliency through sea level rise adaptation planning and research. The grant program, through DNREC’s Delaware Coastal Programs, provides funding to plan for and reduce the impacts of coastal hazards related to sea level rise, coastal storms and climate change.

This week, two volunteer firefighters were hospitalized after sustaining injuries battling a fire in Brandywine Hundred and will likely miss work due to those injuries. Under current law, emergency responders in similar situations could be discliplined or even fired for missing work.

The House passed legislation this week to outright reject the Compensation Commission’s report, which included a 6-percent raise for members of the Judiciary and raises ranging from 2.336 percent to 9 percent for selected Cabinet members. The bipartisan legislation was sponsored by more than 50 legislators from both chambers and passed the House unanimously.

Happy New Year and thank you for your interest in the Delaware House of Representatives. I would like to first thank the residents of the 14th District for electing me to my sixth term. I also am privileged that my colleagues elected me Speaker of the House for the 147th General Assembly. I have tremendous respect for the institution and I am looking forward to leading the House of Representatives for the next two years.

 

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