What You Need to Know:

The following summary consists of bills we've highlighted that are specific to our focus, expertise, and interests, or made it to our watch list.

Green = We SUPPORT the bill Red = We OPPOSE the bill Blue = We have NO OFFICIAL Stance

 Bill statuses will be listed as follows: 

Bill Status: In COMMITTEE

Those who give towards campaigns, often seek to do so anonymously. HB 291 requires that employer information and job title also be included alongside donations.

This information won’t be discoverable as a public record, but is similar to current requirements by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). It serves to stand as a barrier to prevent large corporations from making donations to a campaign by way of their employees. 

With the rise in popularity of social credit scores, this is something to keep an eye on. Even systems created for good reasons can be corrupted. 

Bill Status: In COMMITTEE

During the 2022 election, there were several Delaware voters who were turned away from their polling place for lack of materials. While HB 148 has been introduced to take care of that issue, HB 293 focuses on the accessibility of polling locations for those with disabilities.

All potential polling places will have to be surveyed to ensure they have accommodations available. 

Bill Status: In House COMMITTEE

There is currently no direct procedure to ‘investigate potential violations of the Delaware Constitution, statutes, or regulations or allegations of conflict of interest by the members of the General Assembly.’  

Complaints of ethic violations can be made anonymously by any member of the public. There is also whistleblower protection for public employees.

A major basis of limiting the  possibility of a tyrannical government power is to hold them accountable to the Constitution they swear to uphold and protect. 

Bill Status: In House COMMITTEE

During the last couple of weeks of Session, you can feel the frenzy in the building as some bills don’t seem like they get the appropriate amount of consideration.

HB 269  would limit when bills that pass one chamber can be moved to the other chamber and still be included in that year’s session. 

Limited Government

Bill Status: In Senate COMMITTEE

Governor Carney issued a mandate to completely end the the sale and registration of fuel-powered cars in Delaware over the next several years. This move was a complete copy of a regulation issued in California through Governor Newsom. Delawareans in all three counties have been upset and actively working to push against the tyrannical mandate.

HB 123, would require the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to actually consult with the General Assembly and gain their consent to promulgate regulations that would be restrict the sale of fuel-powered vehicles. It attempts to return the government to the proper system of checks and balances on such issues. 

Plenty of hoops had to be jumped through to even get HB 123 to its current stage in the process. It was initially held in a committee where it did not receive enough votes to be released. Given the nature of the bill itself, it was reassigned to the Administration committee on the last day of session. That same day, the House Rules were suspended in order to bring the bill straight to the Floor for a full vote. It was an extremely tight vote. With all Republicans voting in favor and only 6 Democrats, HB 123 passed 21/20.

In order to pass and make its way to the Governor’s office, HB 123 still has to pass its Senate committee hearing and then the Senate Floor vote. Because of the Governor’s mandate and his stance on the matter, it is foreseeable that he chooses to either allow the bill to be passed without his approving signature, or to even go as far as to veto it altogether.

If HB 123 passes and is then vetoed, getting through the General Assembly a second time may prove to be even more difficult. If it does not pass, the General Assembly is consequently responsible for giving more power to the Executive branch and a state agency than they ought to have. It is always easy to give the government more power; it is lessening that power that is more difficult and often the most necessary to do‼️

Bill Status: In COMMITTEE

The invention of electronic devices have caused unexpected nuances in much of our legal system. One such nuance is the ability of the government to obtain location data as well as information of keyword searches from a variety of individuals, regardless of rather there was already probably cause for any of those individuals specifically. This leads to what law enforcement refers to as a ‘keyword warrant.’

With a keyword warrant, law enforcement is able to make a search engine like Google tell them who searched for a particular phrase or location that they are searching. They will then look into the IP address of each of those searches and investigate the individuals further from there. 

The problem with such a warrant is that it falls under the sort of mass surveillance that has been proven unconstitutional outside of technology based on the 4th Amendment.

Though such reverse keyword searches have been successful in the past, how many people have had their privacy violated unconstitutionally? How could the government use of the keyword warrant be abused later down the road? Such power for mass surveillance would make purposeful censorship and wrongful tracking extremely easy. 

Bill Status: In Appropriations COMMITTEE

HB 150 claims to be a way to provide medical insurance to low-income children in Delaware. In order to qualify for the provisions of HB 150, the child must reside in Delaware and their family must be at or below the income guidelines for Medicaid’s health insurance.

There was a question through the hearings that proponents for HB 150 couldn’t answer: If the child qualifies for Medicaid based on their family’s income, why would they have need for a different form of insurance from Medicaid?

The answer to that question lies later within the bill where it is noted that this new healthcare program will be applicable regardless of immigration status. In other words, HB 150 is a bill to provide tax-payer funded healthcare for immigrant children and pregnant women.

Regardless of how you feel about immigration, illegal or otherwise, the intention of the bill should be presented upfront. Starting a program to cover “all” is the foundation for thoughts towards universal healthcare. Universal healthcare is gross overreach of government power; any steps in that direction shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is also worth noting how problematic attempts to move towards universal healthcare have made the insurance system, as evidence through Obamacare.

Bill Status: SIGNED

As the world becomes more technological, personal data has become commodified to the point that some businesses deal exclusively in buying and selling data. Within HB 154, Rep. Griffith is attempting to grant the consumers the right to opt out of their data being used, edited, or even to request it be removed. This is similar to an earlier version of this bill dealing directly with a consumer data registry (HB 262, 2022).

As much as HB 154 seems like a good way to go, points were made by Rep. Ramone and Rep. Shupe that are valid to consider. All of the restrictions on  obtaining consumer data, is limited to private businesses. There is no such registry or restriction placed on government entities that utilize consumer data for profit, such as DMV.

If the DMV sells our data, who else in the government benefits by doing so? When Rep. Shupe asked this question, the bill sponsor, Rep. Griffith, simply said “I don’t know.” The two representatives stood at an impasse with Rep. Shupe trying to have someone answer the question and Rep. Griffith offering an emphatic “I don’t know” repetitively.  That same sentiment was then expressed by the then Speaker of the House, Rep. Schwartzkopf.

If there is a question that is foundational to the nature of a bill that cannot be answer by the bill sponsor themselves, is it then responsible to still vote in favor for it?  

Bill Status: In COMMITTEE

The current makeup of the Delaware Family Court is a total of 17 judges. One of those judges is to be the Chief Judge, whom can reside in any Delaware county. 10 judges must be from New Castle County and Kent and Sussex are to have 3 judges each.

HB 213 does a couple of things to the current Family Court makeup.

  1. Firstly, the current provisions for the Family Court makeup is found in Title X of DelCode. Rather than editing that place within code, HB 237 would add the new court makeup directly within Delaware’s Constitution. By making it a constitutional provision, it raises the requirement for what’s need to initially pass; it must pass two consecutive sessions with a 2/3 majority vote. Potentially more difficult to pass to begin with and even more difficult to change in future, which is the entire point of a constitutional amendment. As a foundational document, the constitution should never be an easy thing to amend. If it were easy to amend, it wouldn’t be a very solid foundation.
  2. Secondly, it would add one judge to each Kent and Sussex counties. The negative connotation that can surround adding numbers to the court, is usually reserved for the Supreme Court. Their decisions are far reaching and the potential for them to favor one side of a political ideology verses another becomes greater when their numbers are altered. In this instance, the requirement that ‘no more than a majority of 1 judge shall be members of the same political party’ has not been lifted. With no clear majority in either direction, there would seem to not be an issue with a potential expansion. 

Whenever government adds to itself, no matter the area, it is a reason to pause and look. In this case, the expansion is to the Family Court. If nothing else, it should be of concern that the state of the family unit in Delaware is in a place where the need of additional judges is even a question. Rather this is a harmless situation of court expansion or not, thinking critical about government’s attempt to expand is necessary. 

Bill Status: On READY LIST

HB 237 will change a few things about the Delaware Supreme Court’s current makeup.

  1.   There are 5 members, 4 of whom are all New Castle County residents. The one non-NCC resident is from Sussex. HB 237 will expand the court to be 7 members. 

Bill Status: In COMMITTEE

The three branches of government were established with the intention to bring checks and balances to one another.  During the 2020 shutdowns, however, we saw many leaders within the executive branch taking advantage of their power to make so-called emergency decisions well beyond the time of any actual emergency.

It is quite possible that the legislative branch may have agreed with Governor Carney’s decision to shutdown the state, but they were never given the opportunity to weigh in. Many legislators gathered with protestors to speak out  against the unrealistic, unnecessary, and unconstitutional shutdown measures.

HB 245 is an attempt to ensure that the checks and balances between the branches remains in place. If the emergency lasts more than 180 days, the Legislature will have to approve any extensions of an emergency order. If they are unable to meet, either in person or virtually, the Governor would still be able to move forward with the emergency order; this ensure that the use of an emergency order can legitimately be used in the event of an actual emergency. Any new, non-weather related emergency order that is issued within a 6 month period of the previous order, will not be considered valid without the approval of the Legislature. 

Bill Status: SIGNED

Current criminal law allows for negotiation of a lessened charge under certain circumstances, such as insanity. Such defenses allow the court system to determine the sentence that is appropriate for each case.

HB 142 alters that judicial discretion and gives the legislative branch the authority to make a blanket rule in these types of cases. HB 142 says that an individual accused of a crime cannot use the shock of having discovered a person’s sexual orientation/gender identity – for example, in a dating relationship – as a defense.

The importance of this bill is that it is an example of one branch of government – the legislative branch – encroaching on the jurisdiction of the judicial branch. We have three separate branches for a reason – to provide checks and balances, and to prevent power from being concentrated and thus abused.

Bill Status: In COMMITTEE

The average person doesn’t focus heavily on elected offices outside of the presidency. That’s evidenced by the low voter turnout in elections that are not presidential.

With little attention given to other races, regardless of their value, incumbents often get voted in repeatedly based on their name recognition alone. When there are no term limitations, those incumbents are able to fully take advantage of their name recognition and remain in office as long as they continue to run.

The effectiveness of an elected official who is able to rely on the safety of their name recognition to remain in office is arguable. Term limits are often argued as an adequate answer on how best to motivate elected officials to focus on the promises to their constituents and to recognize that they are not invincible at the polls.

SB 79 is a constitutional amendment, requiring a 2/3 majority vote in two consecutive sessions. The proposed term limits would ensure State Representatives are not able to be elected more than 7 times, State Senators more than 4, and Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Auditor of Accounts, and State Treasurer no more than 2 times. 

Bill Status: In COMMITTEE

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has the authority to create rules and regulations as it pertains to natural resources and the environment, as evidenced in the name. SB 96 refines the scope of that authority so as not to include issuing any rules and regulations that would limit the sale of motor vehicles. 

This is a direct response to DNREC’s assistance in issuing regulation to prohibit the sale and registration of vehicles that are not zero-emission. 

Bill Status: PASSED 

The focus in elections tends to go towards larger spaces in government, like the presidency. However, it is important to recognize the great value that the local government provides to citizens in their everyday lives.

Though SCR 18 is not an actual law, but rather a statement agreed upon by both chambers, its intent is to send the message to value local government.

An example of this value could be seen as the Seaford mayor, a member of their local government, stood strong to uphold the dignity of the preborn with the Fetal Remains Ordinance. No, abortion cannot be ended at the local level, but other measures to recognize the inherent value of life can be taken. It is moments like these that we need to take into account and stand behind those within areas of local government. 

Bill Status: PASSED 

The First Amendment’s to the US and Delaware Constitution protect the right of free speech. That right is not limited to a timeframe or area. SCR 66 recognizes the importance of free speech and also mention the other value within other aspects of the First Amendment, freedom of religion and freedom of the press. October 16-22 have been dubbed, “Free Speech Week,” to take time to recognize free speech.

Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation, must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech.” – Benjamin Franklin

Let’s keep this reality at the forefront of our minds as we see efforts to eliminate and limit free speech. 

Election Integrity

Bill Status: In Senate COMMITTEE

Delaware became the first state that allowed an LLC to vote in a municipal race. It was not a statewide change, however. HB 121 opens up the opportunity to the Seaford municipality as well.

Bill Status: SIGNED

Candidates must pay for a criminal background check no later than the filing deadline. They are considered a ‘provisional’ candidate until qualified with a passing background check. The information obtained in the background check is not considered public record, but only used for qualifying purposes.

Bill Status: SIGNED 

During the 2022 election, there were polling sites that literally turned voters away because they were out of ballots. When you consider the fact polls don’t see all of the registered voters come out,  that is absolutely unacceptable! 

What if every registered voter did turn out, or even a majority? Why are they prepareing for such small numbers?

HB 148 requires that polling locations have a sufficient number of supplies and that the Commissioner prepares a report within 30 days after the election to confirm the conditions were met.

Every voter ought to be able to cast their ballot without worry. Legitimate election integrity is multifaceted. Sufficient polling supplies is just a part of that process. 

Bill Status: In COMMITTEE 

The Governor currently selects judicial candidates through a Nominating Committee. HB 166 codifies that process into Delaware’s Constitution.

As a constitutional amendment, it requires a 2/3 majority vote to pass. It must also pass during the second half of one legislative year (2024) and the first half of the following session (2025). 

Bill Status: In COMMITTEE 

In 2023, Seaford joined a small number of municipalities that allow for corporations to vote. The bill (HS 1 for HB 121) received a lot of pushback prior to passage. The day before the 2023 Session ended, the bill was defeated only to be restored the very next day and passed. House Republicans threatened to hold out on the budget bill if Democrats refused to support HS 1 for HB 121. 

Rep. Dorsey Walker, filed HB 189 to stop any municipality from allowing corporations to vote in elections. If passed, it would reverse last year’s decision for Seaford as well as stop other cities like Rehoboth from this ability.

Bill Status: DEFEATED

The primary for state elections is September 1st, while the presidential primary is April 1st. HB 215 would move the state election primary up to be the same as the presidential election.

Historically, presidential elections have the highest voter turnout. Putting state primary elections at the same time as the presidential would capitalize on that fact. 

Bill Status: In COMMITTEE 

Constitutional amendment to require that the Chancery Court have at least 1 member represented from Kent and Sussex counties.

Bill Status: In Finance COMMITTEE 

Would allow Department of Correction (parole, probation, and correctional officers) to make written requests for their personal information to remain confidential. Any government agency with said officer’s information must take it down within 72 hours after receiving the request.

Public display of officer’s information is also prohibited for individual persons through SB 164. Civil and/or criminal penalties may be asses if violated.

SB 164 also extends to the officer’s family. 

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