Legislative wrap-up 2/12/19

February 12, 2019
Minimum wage bill criticized

A bill that would raise the minimum wage for youth and employees in training has Sussex County legislators crying foul.

House Bill 47 was introduced Jan. 24 by Rep. Kimberly Williams, D-Marshallton, to amend a minimum wage bill passed July 1. The bill increased the state's minimum wage to $9.25, but Republicans only approved it after a training wage and youth wage for employees under 18 was included. Both wages allowed trainees and youth to earn 50 cents less an hour, or $8.75.

“The elimination of the training and youth wages hurts young people and the unemployed,” said Senate Minority Leader Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View. “It has been proven that higher government-mandated wages reduce the opportunities for young people to secure their all-important first jobs, which position them for future employment. For the Democrats to do this, especially going back on their word, is unacceptable.”

No Republican is listed as a sponsor or co-sponsor of the bill. House Minority Leader Danny Short, R-Seaford, agreed that the bill is a breach of trust. “They already broke faith last year when they tried to ram their minimum wage bill through the Legislature in the middle of the night while most of the state slept,” he said. “Reneging on the reasonable compromise we struck to end that impasse will destroy their credibility with us.”

The bill awaits action in the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance and Commerce Committee.

Constitutional amendment seeks to set term limits

A bill that would set term limits through a Constitutional amendment was introduced Jan. 4.

Representatives Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, Tim Dukes, R-Laurel, and Ron Gray, R-Selbyville, are co-sponsors of the bill sponsored by Rep. Michael Ramone, R-Newark.

The Constitutional Amendment would establish a 20-year term limit for representatives and senators beginning in the 2022 general election. Once a legislator has served 20 years in office, they would be ineligible to run in the next, consecutive election. Once they sit out one election cycle, they would be again eligible, the bill states. The bill awaits action in the House Administration committee.

As a Constitutional Amendment, it would need two-thirds vote of both chambers in two legislative sessions separated by a general election. The bill would amend the Constitution if it receives the required votes; the governor's signature is not needed.

Bill would raise taxes for DelTech

A bill that would Delaware Technical Community College to raise property taxes to pay for capital improvements and to purchase equipment and technology awaits action in the Senate.

Senate Bill 50 - co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Smyk, R-Milton - was voted out of committee Jan. 23. It now awaits action by the full Senate. “This Act adopts the county Vo-Tech structure to finance the fund by authorizing the college's board of trustees to collect a local property tax, subject to a cap,” the bill reads.

Vocational high schools are able to raise property taxes without a public referendum; the bill would allow the board of trustees of the Delaware Technical Community to College to levy property taxes.