Legislative Wrap-up

May 6, 2014
Bills would change Henlopen Acres charter

Two bills that would change the charter of Henlopen Acres relating to town officials and the qualifications of the mayor, com­missioners and voters, are ready for the Gov. Jack Markell’s signa­ture after having passed through the House May 1.

Senate Bills 172 and 173 are sponsored by Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, and Speaker of the House Rep. Peter Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth.

Senate Bill 172 amends provi­sions of the charter relating to the town manager and treasurer.

This bill eliminates the provi­sion requiring the town manger to provide a bond for the faith­ful performance of duties and removes a requirement that the town manager be paid in 12 in­stallments.

This bill would require the treasurer to be a resident com­missioner of the town, permits the treasurer to delegate respon­sibilities, and eliminates the previously enumerated duties of promptly depositing funds, providing monthly reports to the commissioners, and preparing a list of delinquent taxables prior to an election. This bill removes the provision requiring the trea­surer to provide a bond for the faithful performance of duties, as well as the provision requiring all checks to be countersigned by the mayor.

Senate Bill 173 clarifies voting and candidate eligibility. It states that all candidates for town com­missioner and all serving town commissioners must be eligible to vote in the annual municipal election.

This bill modifies the quali­fications for voter eligibility in municipal elections, including reducing from six months to thir­ty days durational requirement for voter eligibility, requiring registration in the town’s Books of Registered Voters, and es­tablishes a requirement of a 50 percent ownership interest in real property for an individual or entity to vote..

Changes for commissioners include increasing from thirty days to one year the requirement for qualification to run as a resi­dent commissioner, allowing a non-resident commissioner to stay as a non-resident commis­sioner after selling property and becoming a resident. If a resident commissioner is no longer a resi­dent, that person can stay on as a non-resident commissioner if they remain a property owner, unless there would no longer be four resident commissioners.

Package of bills to strengthen PIC filed

A five-bill package designed to strengthen the state’s Public Integrity Commission was filed by House Democrats..

The independent state agen­cy is responsible for regulating lobbyists and administering fi­nancial disclosure rules for state officials.

House Bill 303 covers a com­mission authorization document that employers of lobbyists must sign when they hire them.

House Bill 304 would require that financial disclosure reports from public officials be filed electronically. All elected offi­cials and senior state appointees, such as cabinet officers, must file these reports periodically. Currently, the vast majority of filers submit their reports to the PIC electronically, but it is not required.

House Bill 305 would establish an annual registration fee for lob­byists, which would be used to fund the investigatory functions of the commission. Delaware is one of only nine states that do not require lobbyists to pay an­nual fees.

House Bill 306 would charge lobbyists a late fee of $25 when their quarterly expense reports aren’t filed on time with the com­mission, plus $10 a day for each day the report remains late up to a maximum of $100. Current law establishes due dates for these reports, but includes no penalty to encourage compliance.

House Bill 307 would give more teeth to an existing rule requiring candidates for state elected office to submit financial disclosure forms to the commis­ion within 14 days of being added to a ballot. Currently, there is no way to deal with candidates who fail to provide this information.

Bill changes definition of alcoholic liquor

A bill introduced by Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, that exempts solids and confections contain­ing 2 percent or less alcohol by weight from the definition of alcoholic liquor will become law.

Senate Bill 167 was introduced by Lopez in January, passed through the Senate March 28 and was passed by the House April 8.

Bill adds e-cigarettes to clean air act

A bill introduced April 29 would add electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or digital cigarettes, to Delaware’s 2002 Clean Indoor Air Act. The addition to the act effectively bans the smoking of e-cigarettes in restaurants, bars and other indoor public places throughout the state.

House Bill 309 would add a definition of “electronic ciga­rette” to existing law that would cover all types of e-cigarettes and other vaporization devices. The bill would also redefine “smoking” to include the use of e-cigarettes.

The list of locations and set­tings in which the Clean Indoor Air Act currently applies would remain the same. An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that heats a cartridge of liquid, pro­ducing a mist that can be inhaled by the user.

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