A Kent County senator has formally asked a Senate committee to take action on a bill that would establish term limits for elected officials.
In April, Sen. Eric Buckson, R-Magnolia, introduced Senate Bill 79, which would amend the Delaware Constitution and create term limits for legislators and elected statewide officials. Under the bill, a state senator would be limited to four terms and a state representative to seven.
Statewide elected officials such as attorney general, insurance commissioner, auditor of accounts and treasurer would be limited to two terms.
On Sept. 19, Buckson formally asked the Senate Executive Committee to take action on SB 79 so it can be brought to the full Senate for a vote when the legislative session resumes in January.
“Adding term limits for members of the Legislature, attorney general, auditor and more was not simply a campaign promise, but rather is a move that must be made,” he wrote in a press release. “Our system was not designed with the idea that individuals would make elected public service a career. To make the best decisions for the constituents one represents, you must be of the people, not above them. This isn’t a radical new idea, but rather my bill is the latest of many attempts by members of the Delaware General Assembly to place term limits either in Delaware code or the Delaware Constitution.”
The constitutional amendment is the first of two legs that is required to be approved by a two-thirds General Assembly vote by two successive sessions to become law. A legislative session covers two years.
- House Bill 258, sponsored by Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, was introduced July 7 and would remove the position of domestic service worker from the definition of employee pertaining to minimum wage. Under the bill, a domestic service worker who qualifies as an employee would be entitled to minimum wage by law. The bill would provide overtime pay of at least one-and-a-half times their regular pay when they exceed eight hours for a day's work, or 40 hours in one week. Those workers would also be entitled to workers’ compensation under the bill. HB 258 awaits action in the House Labor Committee.
- House Bill 256, sponsored by Rep. Rich Collins, R-Millsboro, would limit the repair waiver expenditure required by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to a uniform statewide amount of $450. The bill was introduced July 7 and assigned to the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
- House Bill 257, sponsored by Rep. Krista Griffith, D-Fairfax, was introduced July 7 and would direct the insurance commissioner, in collaboration with the Department of Labor, Department of Health and Social Services and Department of Finance to develop the Delaware Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program. Under this program, individuals filing state tax forms or unemployment compensation applications will be able to check off on the form whether they have health insurance and whether they would like assistance in determining their eligibility or their dependents for any of the following: Medicaid, Delaware Healthy Children Program or affordability assistance in an Affordable Care Act Exchange plan. The goal of the program is to maximize enrollment of eligible individuals in healthcare programs to improve access and reduce insurance costs for all residents of Delaware. The bill was assigned to the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee.
- House Bill 259, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Spiegelman, R-Clayton, was introduced July 7 and would allow interstate and intrastate shipping and delivery of alcoholic liquors. Under the bill, direct shipping of wine, beer, spirits, mead or cider to state residents would be allowed if the alcoholic liquor is manufactured by a person licensed as a farm winery, microbrewery or craft distillery in this state or would quality if out of state. A direct shipper would be required to be licensed by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner, and the bill establishes a yearly limit on the amount of wine, beer, spirits, mead or cider that may be shipped directly for a consumer’s personal use. A similar bill introduced the same day, House Bill 262 by Rep. Michael Smith, R-Pike Creek, addresses only direct shipping of wines. Both bills are in the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee.
- House Bill 261, introduced July 7 by Smith, establishes the Office of Legislative Ethics for the General Assembly to ensure that potential violations of Delaware’s laws or allegations of conflict of interest by the members of the General Assembly are fully investigated. Under the bill, the board of the Office of Legislative Ethics would be made up of five respected volunteer members of the community with expertise in law and legislative ethics. The Office of Legislative Ethics will be headed by an executive director who would also serve as the lead investigator. Any member of the public will be able to file a complaint or request the Office of Legislative Ethics to commence an investigation and can do so anonymously. The act would add the Office of Legislative Ethics to Delaware’s whistleblower statute, ensuring that public employees who make a complaint to the Office of Legislative Ethics are afforded the same protections as employees reporting suspected violations to other reporting bodies. The bill would also remove the Office of Legislative Ethics and the Office of Legislative Ethics Board from the meaning of public body within Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act. The bill awaits action in the House Administration Committee.
- House Bill 265, sponsored by Smith, and introduced Sept. 1 would require a commercial entity that knowingly or intentionally provides pornography and other materials defined as harmful to minors to verify the age of individuals accessing the material. Civil liability and a civil penalty are imposed on commercial entities that fail to comply with verification requirements. Additionally, an internet provider or user of an interactive computer service on the internet is not subject to liability. This act is modeled after similar laws in Virginia, Utah and Louisiana. The bill awaits action in the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee.
- Senate Bill 197, sponsored by Sen. Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown, was introduced Sept. 13 and assigned to the Senate Environment, Energy & Transportation Committee. The bill would revise state procurement rules requiring state agencies purchase only native plants, including cultivars and hybrids of native plants, in the development of new landscaped areas and in the rehabilitation of existing landscaped areas. Under the bill, beginning Jan. 1, 2025, the Department of Agriculture, with the advice of DNREC and the Delaware Native Species Commission, must maintain a list of native plants that are generally available and appropriate for the needs of agencies. Exceptions to the requirement would be allowed if the plant is not invasive and is being used for land purchased and managed as a historic property; an appropriate habitat for zoo animals; agriculture; areas maintained as grass or turf such as athletic fields, golf courses, lawns and a right-of-way along a road; botanical gardens; ecological research; flowering annuals within landscape beds; or with the approval of DNREC or the Department of Agriculture, wildlife plantings, land where a native species cannot thrive, and when necessary for trees. The bill would also make the Delaware Native Species Commission permanent.