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Legislative wrap

Clean water bill passes House

The Clean Water for Delaware Act unanimously passed the House April 1 and now moves to the Senate.

HB 200 establishes a framework for planning and projects to imporove the quality of the state’s water supply and waterways. A Delaware Clean Water Trust account is created as a funding source for executing projects, and has oversight by a Clean Water Trust Oversight Committee.

The bill awaits action in the Senate Environment & Energy Committee.

Probation before judgement expands under bill

A bill allowing probation before judgement for more than one charge, and used more than once in a five year period awaits has passed the General Assembly. The House unanimously approved the bill April 1.

Senate Bill 39 would allow probation before judgement for multiple charges stemming from a single arrest. PBJ would also be able to be used more than once in a five-year period as long as the offenses are in different titles of Delaware code. For example, someone given PBJ for speeding in 2017 would qualify for PBJ if charged in 2019 with writing a bad check or underage drinking.

The bill also allows an adjudicated juvenile to be eligible for PBJ.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill March 11. It now awaits action by Gov. John Carney.

Pledge of Allegiance bill tabled

A bill that would remove criminal penalties for teachers who fail to require students to salute and pledge allegiance to the flag has been tabled in committee.

House Bill 107 would amend Delaware law related to First Amendment rights of public school students. Current Delaware law, which requires teachers and students to salute and pledge allegiance to the American flag every morning is unconstitutional because it is coercive, the bill states.

This bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, preserves the requirement that students have the opportunity to salute and pledge allegiance to the American flag each school day but revises the Code so that the requirement complies with the First Amendment of the Constitution.

It was tabled in the House Education Committee on March 17.

Quarantine bill remains in committee

A bill that would require a court order before individuals or a group is quarantined remains in committee.

Senate Bill 58, sponsored by Senators Dave Lawson, R-Marydel, and Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, would remove the state’s authority to forcibly isolate, quarantine, vaccinate, or treat individuals against their will for COVID-19 during a state of emergency relating to COVID-19. A written order from the Superior Court would be required before a public safety authority could isolate or quarantine a group.

The bill was introduced Feb. 12 and assigned to the Senate Executive Committee.

Bill requires legislative approval for extended state of emergencies

A bill that would require the legislature to approve extended state of emergencies awaits action in committee.

House Bill 49, sponsored by Rep. Rich Collins, R-Millsboro, recognizes the governor’s statutory authority to act in the event of an emergency or disaster, but during protracted emergencies and disasters which last more than 30 days, General Assembly approval would be needed for renewal. This approval requirement may be waived only when it is not possible for both houses of the General Assembly to convene a quorum. The governor retains the authority to terminate emergency orders without approval when the emergency or disaster has passed. Any new nonweather related emergency order issued within six months of the termination of a prior order and based upon substantially similar reasons shall be invalid unless approved by the General Assembly. Additionally, any nonweather related emergency order that requires the closure of any business, industry, religious, or nonprofit facility must specifically delineate which type of business or facilities are to be closed.

The bill was introduced Jan. 7 and awaits action in the House Administration Committee.

Bill creates new crimes for untraceable guns

A bill that would establish a new crimes for undetectable guns or those made with a 3-D printer awaits action in the House.

House Bill 125 would create a class E felony for possession of an unfinished firearm, and a class D felony for manufacturing an untraceable firearm or distributing a firearm using a E-D printer.

The bill also makes it a crime to possess a firearm frame or receiver with a removed, obliterated, or altered serial number.

Exceptions are made for certain guns manufactured before 1968, and muzzle loaders that only use black powder, and antique replicas. The bill does not apply to members of the military or police force in this state who are authorized to carry an untraceable firearm, and does not apply to the manufacture or importation for sale to a law-enforcement or military entity in this state.

The bill moved out of the House Administration Committee March 16.

Electric vehicle bill establishes charging fee

A bill that would create a fee for charging electric vehicles at state facilities moved through a House committee March 23 after clearing the Senate 20-1 on Jan. 28.

Senate Bill 21 would amend the Delaware Energy Act by creating more accessible electric vehicle infrastructure, and allow state agencies to charge a fee for public or employee use.

The fees would not exceed the agency’s costs, and limits sites to state-owned or state-leased properties.

The bill awaits action in the House.

Bill increases tax on highest earners

A bill that would create four income brackets with higher tax rates for the state’s wealthiest earners awaits action in committee.

House Bill 64, sponsored by Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, creates four tax brackets for those earning $60,000 to $125,000; $125,000 to $250,000; $250,000 to $500,000; and over $500,000.

Those who make $60,000-$125,000 would pay a tax rate of 6.6 percent; $125,000-$250,000 would pay 7.1 percent; $250,000 to $500,000 would pay 7.85 percent; and those making more than $500,000 would be taxed 8.6 percent.

The current top tax rate is 6.6 percent for anyone making more than $60,000.

The bill was introduced in January and awaits action in the House Revenue & Finance Committee.

Hair discrimination targeted in bill

A bill that prohibits discrimination based on a person’s hairstyle unanimously passed the Senate and awaits action in the House.

Senate Bill 32 protects hairstyles that include braids, locks and twists so anyone with those hairstyles cannot be discriminated against.

State contracts for public works would be required to follow the law, according to the bill.

The bill passed the Senate on Jan. 21, and moved out of the House Administration Committee March 9. It awaits action in the House.