Leg. Hall Insider - Session Preview, 148th General Assembly

Toasting Small Restaurants

 

Customers of smaller restaurants might soon have reason to raise a glass in celebration if a bill from Rep. Paul Baumbach and Sen. David Sokola becomes law. House Bill 16 would allow smaller restaurants, those with seating for at least 12 individuals, to apply for a license to sell alcoholic liquors (or offer BYOB) in connection with the sale of complete meals. The law currently requires seating for at least 35.

Rep. Baumbach was contacted about the issue by Donna Papanicolas, who owns Newark restaurant Mediterranean Grille with her husband Akillas (pictured above). Ms. Papanicolas said that being able to offer a glass of wine with their Italian and Greek dishes would help increase business, particularly on the weekends.

View more photos in read more about this bill here.

Jaques Bills Would Improve School Safety

Legislation aimed at making Delaware’s public schools safer by requiring new door locks for all schools and mandating various safety features for new public schools was introduced this week.

Sponsored by Rep. Earl G. Jaques, House Bill 14 would require that any door to a classroom must have a lock that can be locked from either side of the door. A previous version of the bill stalled in committee last session. House Bill 13 would require all new school construction or major renovation to include the following features: an intruder alarm, bulletproof glass in entrance areas and interior doors and windows, and doors lockable with keys on both sides.

“The issue of school safety is one we cannot forget. While providing a quality education is our top priority for schoolchildren, we also have to make sure they are safe in their learning environment,” said Rep. Jaques, D-Glasgow. “These measures are not cure-alls, but they will help provide just a little more safety, security and peace of mind for teachers, students and their parents.”

Read more about the bills here.

Video: 148th General Assembly Preview

In this week’s video, House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf talks about some of the issues facing the state as the new General Assembly session gets ready to begin. Rep. Schwartzkopf talks about the importance of growing the middle class by fostering quality jobs and protecting Delaware’s most vulnerable residents.

How to Follow the House

The 148th General Assembly will begin on Tuesday, January 13 at 2 p.m. with the swearing-in of all 41 Representatives (the Senate held a special session and swearing-in in December). During session, those who are interested can track legislation, keep up to date on meetings and session agendas and listen to House proceedings here.

You can also stay informed of what is happening in Legislative Hall and follow what our caucus members are doing by following our Facebook page or Twitter account, or check our YouTube page for periodic videos from the caucus.

Q&A: Rep. Quinn Johnson Named to
DEFAC Revenue Task Force

Last month the panel responsible for calculating the state’s budget projections announced the creation of a task force that will conduct a thorough review of the various revenue streams that fund state government. Click here to read more about the task force in this report from WDDE news.

The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council, commonly referred to as DEFAC, structured the task force to include members from throughout state government, including members of the General Assembly. Middletown-area Rep. Quinn Johnson, who chairs the Legislature’s joint capital budget committee, was selected to represent the House Majority Caucus on the task force.

The task force is scheduled to have its first meeting this month and produce a final report in the spring.

 

Q: Why is this new DEFAC task force necessary?

A: Over the last decade it’s become more and more apparent that the revenues our state relies on to pay for our schools, roads and police officers are coming from sources that can be unpredictable and sometimes unstable. It’s time for us to really take a look at where our money comes from, and make sure these sources of funding are balanced and reliable.

Q: What specific revenue sources is the task force most concerned about?

A: I want the task force to look at everything, from the personal income tax to the taxes paid by big corporations. One of the areas where we’ve seen the most volatility in our revenues is our abandoned property collections; those can swing far in either direction from year to year, which makes it very hard to plan for the long term and make the best decisions about the future.

Q: What do you think needs to happen to make state revenue sources more stable?

A: The bottom line is our state’s revenues need to be able to grow with the state’s economy in good times and maintain the crucial services we need in lean times. Right now, job growth in Delaware is above the national average and our local economy is gaining strength. However, we’re not seeing that economic growth reflected in our state revenues – it’s lagging very far behind. Our state revenue policies need to be aligned with our core economic drivers.