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Legislative wrap

April 3, 2021
Clean water bill passes House

The Clean Water for Delaware Act unanimously passed the House April 1 and now moves to the Senate.

HB 200 establishes a framework for planning and projects to improve the quality of the state's water supply and waterways. A Delaware Clean Water Trust account will be created as a funding source for executing projects; it will be overseen by a Clean Water Trust Oversight Committee.

The bill awaits action in the Senate Environment & Energy Committee.

Pledge of Allegiance bill tabled

A bill that would remove criminal penalties for teachers who fail to require students to salute and pledge allegiance to the flag has been tabled in committee.

House Bill 107 would amend Delaware law related to First Amendment rights of public school students. Current Delaware law, which requires teachers and students to salute and pledge allegiance to the American flag every morning, is unconstitutional because it is coercive, the bill states.

This bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, preserves the requirement that students have the opportunity to salute and pledge allegiance to the American flag each school day but revises the code so that the requirement complies with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

It was tabled March 17 in the House Education Committee.

Electric vehicle bill establishes charging fee

A bill that would create a fee for charging electric vehicles at state facilities moved through a House committee March 23 after clearing the Senate 20-1 on Jan. 28.

Senate Bill 21 would amend the Delaware Energy Act by creating more accessible electric vehicle infrastructure, and allow state agencies to charge a fee for public or employee use.

The fees would not exceed the agency's costs, and the bill limits affected sites to state-owned or state-leased properties.

The bill awaits action in the House.

Bill increases tax on highest earners

A bill that would create four income brackets with higher tax rates for the state's wealthiest earners awaits action in committee.

House Bill 64, sponsored by Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, creates four tax brackets for those annually earning $60,000 to $125,000; $125,000 to $250,000; $250,000 to $500,000; and over $500,000.

Those who make $60,000-$125,000 would pay a tax rate of 6.6 percent; $125,000-$250,000 would pay 7.1 percent; $250,000-$500,000 would pay 7.85 percent; and those making more than $500,000 would be taxed at 8.6 percent.

The current top tax rate is 6.6 percent for anyone making more than $60,000 per year.

The bill was introduced in January and awaits action in the House Revenue & Finance Committee.

Hair discrimination targeted in bill

A bill that prohibits discrimination based on a person's hairstyle unanimously passed the House April 1 after passing unanimously in the Senate in January.

Senate Bill 32 protects hairstyles that include braids, locks and twists so anyone with those hairstyles cannot be discriminated against.

State contracts for public works would be required to follow the law, according to the bill.

The bill awaits Gov. John Carney’s signature to become law.

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