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House passes hospital budget bill for last time

Governor has said he will sign into law
May 21, 2024

The Delaware House of Representatives passed a bill May 21 to allow a state-appointed and -paid board to approve hospital budgets, but not before questions were raised as to whether a two-thirds majority vote was needed.

House Bill 350 with a Senate amendment passed by a simple majority vote 24-16 with one absent. Both Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, and Rep. Stell Parker Selby, D-Milton, voted yes.

Rep. Lyndon Yearick, R-Woodside, questioned whether state law requires a two-thirds vote when a state board overrides the decision of a corporate board of directors. House attorney Ron Smith said Delaware statutes read that a law to override a board of directors can be passed with a simple majority vote, but if it is appealed in court, the court will not enforce it.

“We’re in a dilemma. I do believe we’re overriding the board of directors, and it will be overturned by the court if it goes to court,” Smith said.

The bill had earlier passed the House, but returned after the Senate passed an amendment to remove penalties and change the metrics that can be used to set a hospital budget.

The amendment removes a penalty that would have allowed the state to take excess revenue above the set benchmark limit. It also allows growth based on the consumer price index instead of limiting hospital charges to 250% of Medicare costs in calendar year 2025. For 2025 and 2026, the amendment allows either 2% growth over the previous year or the Core Consumer Price Index plus 1% over rates from the previous year, whichever is higher. 

Gov. John Carney has said he intends to sign the bill into law.

Bill proposes changes to Sussex County Board of Assessment review

HB 403 with HA 1 and HA 2, sponsored by Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, and supported by Sen. Russ Huxtable, D-Lewes, would change the Sussex County Board of Assessment review from five members to five regular members and three alternate members. The bill permits Sussex County Council to provide for the term, residency requirement, compensation and procedure for filling vacancies. It also authorizes the appointment of a representative called a referee or a panel of three members of the board to hear assessment appeals; removes the requirement in Sussex County that the written assessment must state whether unimproved land is timberland, swamp or marsh, and the number of acres. 

In all counties, the bill provides that each board of assessment or Department or Office of Finance shall publish notices of the place, and the website if made available electronically, where the annual and supplemental assessment roll may be inspected, together with a notice of the time and place of the sittings to hear appeals. The bill also changes the publication requirements for such notices in the case of Kent and Sussex counties to one time in at least two newspapers.

 

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