Bill adds cooking wine to exempted liquids
Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, introduced a bill May 9 that adds cooking wine to the list of exempted liquids from the alcohol regulation. House Bill 167 says Delaware Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement may investigate allegations of misuse and refer the matter to the Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner for a hearing if the manufacturer or seller disagrees with DATE's determination. The bill passed through the House May 16 and was then passed by the Senate June 8.
Bill increases firearm penalty
Rep. John Mitchell, D-Elsmere, introduced a bill May 16 that raises the first offense of purchasing or obtaining a firearm for someone not legally qualified to own, possess or purchase one from a Class F to a Class E Felony. House Bill 174 was reported out of the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee June 14.
Bill increases voter registration access
Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, introduced a bill May 10 allowing qualified persons to register to vote at any office of the Department of Elections regardless of the county of their actual residence. House Bill 168 also eliminates provisions relating to mobile registration. The bill passed through the House June 27 and the Senate July 1.
Donated leave policies for workers improved
Two bills were signed into law Sept. 28, expanding Delaware's donated leave program to help new parents as they navigate the birth or adoption of a child. House Bill 258, introduced in June by Rep. John Mitchell, D-Elsmere, allows state workers to donate either sick leave or vacation time without having to donate both in equal amounts. State law previously required a person wanting to donate leave to give up both sick and annual leave – for example, two weeks of sick time and two weeks of vacation.
House Bill 255, introduced in June by Rep. Debra Heffernan, D-Bellefonte, amends the state's donated leave policy so that state workers, including school district employees, would be eligible for up to 12 weeks of donated sick and annual leave upon the birth of a child or adoption of a child under 6 years of age. That eligibility would expire six months after the birth or adoption.
Customer-friendly legislation made law
Two bills enhancing the customer service experience for Delaware drivers were signed into law Sept. 21. House Bill 146, introduced in April by Rep. Edward Osienski, D-Newark, removes the requirement for signatures to be in pen and ink when provided for driver license, identification card, or registration application processes. As a result of this law, the division will be implementing the capability for customers to renew their driver's license online by the end of 2017.
House Bill 246, introduced in June by Osienski, increases the exemption from inspection from five years to seven years for all new vehicles, applying to all new vehicles purchased after Jan. 1, 2012. Currently, vehicles in the five newest model years are exempt from inspection. DMV has a biennial inspection for vehicles under 8,500 pounds.
DelDOT vehicles can now use shoulders
Senate Bill 97, which allows Delaware Department of Transportation authorized vehicles to use the shoulder of the road when responding to emergencies, was signed into law Sept. 21. By allowing the use of the shoulder of the road, DelDOT will be able to respond in a timely manner when responding to emergencies along the road to assist police, fire and paramedics with fire control.
Carney appoints board of partnership
Last month, Gov. John Carney signed House Bill 226, creating the Delaware Prosperity Partnership and a new division within the Department of State to support small business growth. According to a press release, the public-private partnership will lead business marketing efforts for the state, with a focus on attracting early-stage and technology-focused businesses, recruitment of large employers, and expansion of international business opportunities for Delaware companies. The state will jointly fund the partnership's operations with private business.
Carney announced Sept. 22 appointments to the board, which represents a cross-section of representatives from Delaware's financial industry, leading corporations, the nonprofit sector, higher education, and the legal community. Carney will co-chair the partnership's board alongside Rod Ward, president of Wilmington-based Corporation Service Company.