Ban the Box passes! HB 167( J. J. Johnson), which would ‘prohibit a public employer from inquiring into or considering the criminal record, criminal history or credit history or score of an applicant before it makes a conditional offer to the applicant‘, passed the Senate 15-5 on Thursday. As we’ve previously mentioned, the bill does:
specif(y) that once a background check is conducted an employer shall only consider felonies for 10 years from the completion of sentence, and misdemeanors for 5 years from the completion of sentence. Further, employers are required to consider several enumerated factors when deciding whether to revoke a conditional offer based on the results of a background check.
HB 167 does not apply to those positions where a criminal background check is statutorily mandated (law enforcement, the courts), but it does apply to contractors with state agencies. Sen. Greg Lavelle was the only R to vote yes. Credit where credit’s due. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk. BTW, Rep. J. J. Johnson is one of our most effective legislators. He is low-key, doesn’t call attention to himself, but he quietly gets things done. Apropos of nothing, he’s also a serious jazz buff. He deserves to be better-known.
SB 177(Henry) unanimously passed the House and heads to the Governor. SB 177 seeks to deter the intimidation of witnesses by increasing the punishments for ‘those convicted of the existing crimes of Act of Intimidation and Aggravated Act of Intimidation’. I hope it helps, I doubt it will.
I’m thrilled to see SB 197(Blevins) on today’s Senate Agenda. This bill addresses human trafficking in the state, is truly a model of what such a bill should be, and deserves unanimous passage. I would also like to know who helped in the drafting of this bill. They deserve particular credit. HB 229(Baumbach) ‘allows for a conditional license for the purpose of attending school or job training for anyone who has had their license revoked for conviction of a drug offense’. An excellent bill that unanimously passed the House. Here’s the full Senate Agenda.
…creates a procedure under which a person who has obtained a judgment in any court of the State of Delaware may have the Department of Finance intercept tax refunds and lottery winnings to satisfy such judgment. The bill also requires any person who has a wage attachment entered against them for an unsatisfied judgment to change their employment information if incorrect. The bill also requires a person who has a wage attachment against them to inform an employer and ensure a wage attachment is occurring with the correct employer.
Before discussing this week’s committee meetings, I want to address a bill that was on last week’s committee agenda, was not worked, and is not scheduled this week. There is a strong smell coming out of Delaware City, and it’s not the refinery. The more I look at Rep. Longhurst’s HB 310, the more I’m convinced that something unethical may well be going on. We’ll start with what should be a relatively easy one. I’m gonna need the lawyers on the board for this one, because we’re talking annexation and two seemingly incompatible methods. The current Town Charter of Delaware City lays out a clear process for annexation:
Sec. 1-03. Annexation.
The City of Delaware City shall have the power to annex, by ordinance, any territory contiguous to the City of Delaware City whenever, pursuant to a Special Election, the property owners within the territory to be annexed and the qualified voters of the City (as defined in this Charter) determine, by majority vote, that such annexation is appropriate and thereby approved.
Before any additional territory shall be annexed to the City, the Mayor and Council shall pass a resolution describing and defining accurately the territory proposed to be annexed, shall provide for zoning of the annexed territory and shall give at least twenty (20) days’ notice for the Special Election by posting a copy of the Resolution and Notice of Special Election in at least five (5) public places in the City, one of which shall include the City Hall.
At the Special Election, every qualified voter shall have one (1) vote. Every property owner of the territory to be annexed, whether an individual, partnership, or corporation, shall also have one (1) vote. The books and records of the Board of Assessment and/or the Department of Elections of New Castle County shall be conclusive evidence of the right of any qualified voter or property owner of the territory to be annexed to vote at the Special Election.
Following the Special Election, the annexation shall not be effective unless and until the City Council approves the annexation by ordinance. Annexations shall satisfy all requirements of state law for annexation, including, but not limited to, Del. Code Ann. tit. 22, § 101 (as may be amended from time to time).
Got that? Now here’s the less clear language in Longhurst’s bill:
§ 4721. Annexation.
Within twelve (12) months of the adoption of this Act, the City of Delaware City may amend its Comprehensive Plan to allow for the mixed use redevelopment of the Fort DuPont Complex by the Corporation. If the City of Delaware City amends its Comprehensive Plan to include the lands of the Fort DuPont Complex for the anticipated redevelopment, and certification of the revised Comprehensive Plan is received as contemplated by Title 29, Chapter 91 of the Delaware Code within twelve (12) months of the adoption of this Act, and annexation is thereafter approved pursuant to the voting procedure set forth in the Section 1-03 of the Charter of the City of Delaware City, the lands of the Fort DuPont Complex shall be deemed automatically annexed into the City of Delaware City notwithstanding any provision of State or local law to the contrary, including but not limited to, Title 22, Section 101 of the Delaware Code, or annexation provisions contained within the Code of the City of Delaware City. Upon annexation, the Fort DuPont Complex shall be subject to all laws, rules, and regulations established by the City of Delaware City.
On one hand, it appears that voter approval is required in the bill, yet the section provides procedures for bypassing Delaware City’s annexation provisions. Also, HB 310 would bypass this state statute. Why does the bill have language that would effectively enable the ‘Corporation’ to supersede municipal and state code? What do the barristers say? This is the first of many questions I have regarding this project. Some including what appears to be the equivalent of ‘insider trading’. Lotsa buddies who stand to make out well here. Including Friends of Val and Friends of Dick (Cathcart). More to come. Any journalists who happen to read this, please feel free to practice journalism.
But, I digress.
We’ll start with the House committees this week.
The House Health & Human Development Committee considers legislation pertaining to…animals. Well, one could argue, since humans still commit acts of unspeakable cruelty towards animals, that consideration by that committee of HB 311(Jaques) is appropriate. HB 311 implements recommendations of the Animal Welfare Task Force. It specifically provides for standardized training for Animal Control Officers and Animal Cruelty Agents. Hard to believe that they don’t receive specialized training already, but training is not currently required. Good bill, strong bipartisan support.
The House Business Lapdog Committee considers Rep. Quin Johnson’s ‘beer and a movie’ bill. See, there’s a big movie multiplex in Middletown and, well, beer would likely make the enterprise more profitable. While I have little problem with the bill, the biennial licensing fee of $1500 seems pretty chintzy to me. The state should rake in more than that, IMHO. BTW, the bill applies to all eligible theatres, not just Middletown.
Here’s an interesting bill in the Housing & Community Affairs Committee . HB 308(M. Smith) creates an Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman within the Department of Justice. The synopsis describes the bill’s intent better than I can:
In Delaware, county and municipal governments have required that land developers create common interest communities to administer, maintain, or improve common elements in the community such as pools, community centers, stormwater management systems, or other common space or infrastructure. These communities are created by legal documents drafted by the developer and are intended to be managed by those living in these communities. This system can create difficulties for those living in these communities, especially when disputes arise.
This bill would create an Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman. The bill would then empower the Ombudsman to assist common interest communities to understand their rights and responsibilities and to resolve disputes without recourse to the judicial system.
HB 312(Bolden), in the House Judiciary Committee, removes yet one more ill-advised vestige of Delaware’s disastrous ‘War on Drugs’. The bill ‘restores judicial discretion to permit the imposition of either concurrent or consecutive sentences, bringing Delaware in line with the other 49 states and the federal government’.
SB 187(Marshall) legalizes a practice that has been the subject of controversy pertaining to election contributions. The bill enables recipients of ‘prohibited campaign and suspected prohibited campaign contributions’ to donate them to charities enumerated in the Delaware Code. Seems fair to me. Better that the funds go to charity than back to the contributors who knew, or should have known, that they might be breaking the law. In Senate Administrative Services/Elections Committee.
Sen. Bryan Townsend once again seeks to address the issue of how charter schools are choking public education. SB 209 ‘requires the Department of Education to promulgate regulations to further define the meaning and process for consideration of impact in the charter school application review process, to be considered and approved by the State Board no later than its October 2014 meeting. It also clarifies the conditions that an authorizer may place on an approved application, and provides that the State Board of Education may place or modify conditions to address considerations of impact.’
Under current law, the impact on other schools, public schools, cannot be considered in the granting of charters. All that’s required is that charters meet the specified criteria. No doubt, the corporate charter propaganda machine will scream loudly about this one. Which is why it should pass. A very important bill. In the Senate Education Committee.
I like SB 195(McDowell), which would ‘allow injured persons of motor vehicle collisions to maximize their personal injury protection benefits by allowing injured persons to direct the way in which personal injury protection benefits are to be administered’. In the Senate Insurance Committee.
Wow, I’ve got nothing left in the tank. If I missed something, please let me know. Be back in a few days with our oldest daughter, who’s finishing up her college junior year, in tow. Our daughter, hopefully not our car.