Legislative wrap

January 27, 2021
Senate passes Equal Rights Amendment

The Delaware Senate unanimously passed an Equal Rights Amendment to the Delaware Constitution Jan. 21 – the first bill to clear the chamber in 151st General Assembly and one of eight proposals included in the Justice For All Agenda laid out by the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus. 

“Once again, all members of this elective body made clear that equality of rights will not be denied to any Delawarean on account of their race, color, or national origin,” said Sen. Ernesto B. Lopez, R-Lewes, a co-prime sponsor of SB 31. “To my fellow senators, I say in my native Spanish: Gracias y sigamos avanzando unidos con humildad y respeto por todos.”

Senate Bill 31 specifically seeks to add “race, color and national origin” to the equal rights clause of Delaware’s Constitution first created by the 150th General Assembly in January 2019. 

SB 31 represents the second leg of a constitutional amendment that would explicitly make protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin a fundamental right in Delaware.

Proposed amendments to the Delaware Constitution must be passed by two consecutive General Assemblies – and two-thirds of the members in each chamber – before becoming law. The first leg of the same constitutional amendment unanimously passed both chambers of the General Assembly in 2020.

SB 31 now heads to the House of Representatives for final passage.

Absentee voting bill moves forward

The second leg of a constitutional amendment that would allow no-excuse absentee voting moved out of the House Administration Committee Jan. 21.

The bill eliminates limitations to determine whether an individual can vote using absentee ballot. The first leg of the constitutional amendment was passed Jan. 16, 2020, by the Senate; the House had passed the bill in April 2019.

Delawareans were allowed to vote in the 2020 election by absentee ballot without giving one of the previous qualifying reasons, but the provision expired in 2021.

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