Bill protecting federal workers in Delaware signed by governor

January 22, 2019

Gov. John Carney signed a bill Jan. 23 that protects federal workers or contractors in Delaware from creditors during a federal shutdown.

House Bill 2 was introduced Jan. 22 by Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, and passed by the House 37-4 the same day. The bill passed the Senate 13-6 on Jan. 23.

The Delaware Federal Employees Civil Relief Act allows the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions in Delaware that could adversely affect the civil rights of federal workers residing in Delaware. The bill allows a federal worker or employee of a federal contractor who is furloughed or required to work without pay during a shutdown to apply to a court or administrative agency for a temporary stay, postponement or suspension of any payment of rent, mortgage, tax, fine, penalty, insurance premium, or other civil obligation or liability. Landlords also would not be permitted to evict federal workers for nonpayment of rent. The bill also would prohibit the lapse or termination of various insurance policies for health, life, disability or motor vehicles during the covered period.

“Regardless of your position on this shutdown, one thing is universal: Federal government employees should not suffer as a result of this impasse. These are our neighbors and our friends, many of whom still get up in the morning to head to the office, knowing they won’t be receiving a paycheck for that day’s work,” said Schwartzkopf. “Delaware needs to stand up for the hundreds of workers and their families who still have bills coming in with less and less money to pay them. No Delawarean should lose their home or insurance due to this federal debacle, which is why we’re taking action to protect our residents.”

There are an estimated 500 federal workers living in Delaware who have been impacted by the federal government shutdown, officials said. This does not include employees of federal contractors. 

A second bill was also introduced and passed by the House Jan. 22, which would provide state-guaranteed, low-interest loans to federal workers to help cover mortgage payments, medical bills, food costs, and other bills facing federal workers who are going without pay during the shutdown. The bill was defeated in the Senate 15-6 because it did not receive the three-quarters vote needed to pass.