That’s a Wrap: 151st Del. General Assembly Concludes
The curtain has come down on the 151st Delaware General Assembly.
Members of the House and Senate stayed in session after midnight to meet constitutional requirements to have a special session if it’s necessary.
“We’ve done a lot this legislative session to move the state forward,” Governor John Carney said. “We’ve signed a sustainable budget. We prioritized gun safety. We’ve created a statewide paid family and medical leave plan. And we’ve supported Delawareans during tough financial times. I want to thank the General Assembly for their hard work this session.”
During the session, legislation was approved to make $300 direct payments to Delaware taxpayers and adults and $600 for married couples.
The Governor’s Office provided these highlights of the General Assembly session:
- Governor Carney signed a $5.0 billion Fiscal Year 2023 operating budget for the State of Delaware, a sustainable financial plan that makes investments in Delaware public schools and education programming.
- Governor Carney signed a $378.6 million one-time supplemental appropriation which includes funding for the implementation of paid family leave, funding for the Library Connection program – which will connect school libraries with the Delaware library catalog – and various contingency mechanisms.
- Governor Carney signed a $69.4 million grants-in-aid legislation that will provide funding for volunteer fire companies, public service ambulances and paramedic services and aging-related programs.
- Governor Carney signed a $1.4 billion Capital budget that will benefit transportation systems, increase clean water investments and upgrade libraries, schools, courthouses and state buildings.
- Governor Carney signed a package of legislation featuring six gun safety bills including:
- Legislation that bans the sale of assault weapons
- Legislation that raises the age from 18 to 21 to purchase most firearms
- Legislation that strengthens background checks by reinstituting the Firearm Transaction Approval Program (FTAP)
- Legislation that limits high-capacity magazines
- Legislation that holds gun manufacturers and dealers liable for reckless or negligent actions that lead to gun violence
- Legislation that bans the use of devices that convert handguns into fully automatic weapons
- Governor Carney also signed House Bill 124 that prohibits individuals of a Protection from Abuse Order from possessing or owning a firearm.
Supporting Delaware Families
- Paid Leave for All Delaware Families: Governor Carney signed Senate Substitute 2 for Senate Bill 1 into law to create a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program, offering eligible Delaware workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to address a worker’s own serious health condition; to care for a family member with a serious health condition; to bond and care for a new child; or to address the impact of a family member’s military deployment. Statewide paid family and medical leave will go into effect for workers in Delaware on January 1, 2025.
- $300 Direct Payments to Delawareans: Governor Carney signed House Bill 360 that sent $300 in direct payments to Delaware taxpayers and adults. The bipartisan tax rebate legislation, which will provide a total of $600 for married couples, is intended to help counter the impact of inflation on Delaware families.
- Unemployment Tax Relief: Governor Carney signed House Bill 65 provided unemployment tax relief for Delawareans and businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The legislation waived 2020 state income tax on unemployment benefits collected by Delawareans who lost a job or income over the course of the year.
- Making Jobs a Priority: Governor Carney signed Senate Bill 127 which creates a Site Readiness Fund that will promote economic growth and stability by investing in the development or improvement of commercial and industrial sites to attract job-creating businesses. The Fund will provide grants, loans or other economic assistance to qualified businesses or local governments that invest in constructing, renovating or improving infrastructure for sites that will attract new businesses or expand existing businesses within the State.
- Expanding Opportunity Funding: Governor Carney signed Senate Bill 56 expanding and making permanent Delaware’s Opportunity Funding program. The weighted funding program provides direct, classroom-based support for low-income students and English learners. By Fiscal Year 2025, funding for the program would more than double to $60 million annually.
- Waiving Tuition for Students who Age Out of Foster Care: Governor Carney signed House Bill 123, that creates the Delaware Fostering Independence Through Education Tuition Waiver Program to support students in foster care as they work toward a higher education degree. This new program requires Delaware State University, Delaware Tech Community College and the University of Delaware to waive all tuition and fees, including room and board, for any youth who has aged out or spent at least one year in foster care as a teenager.
- Increasing Funding for Students K-3 Eligible for Basic Special Education Services: Governor Carney signed House Bill 86 which provides increased funding for students kindergarten through third grade identified as eligible for basic special education services.
- Increasing Black History Education in Delaware Public Schools: Governor Carney signed House Bill 198, legislation that requires each school district and charter school serving K-12 students to provide instruction on Black history as part of all educational programming beginning in the 2022-23 academic year.
Prioritizing Delaware’s Health
- Prohibiting Health Discrimination: Governor Carney signed Senate Bill 218 – the Living Donor Protection Act – that prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s status as a living organ or tissue donor in the offering, issuance, cancellation, coverage, price, or other condition of an insurance policy, including a life, health, disability, or long-term care insurance policy.
- Expanding access to Telehealth: Governor Carney signed House Bill 160 which enhances Delawareans’ access to telehealth and telemedicine services and, through the adoption of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, ensures that telehealth services can be provided through qualified medical practitioners in a streamlined and efficient pathway to licensure that meets the health care delivery system needs of the 21st century.
Protecting Delaware’s Environment
- Increasing Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standard: Governor Carney signed Senate Bill 33 that will set Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standard at 40 percent by 2035.
- Clean Water for Delaware Act: Governor Carney signed House Bill 200, the Clean Water for Delaware Act, which creates a new Clean Water Trust to protect Delaware waterways and rebuild Delaware’s drinking water infrastructure with a focus on underserved communities.
- Body Cameras for Law Enforcement: Governor Carney signed House Bill 195 requiring police officers and certain employees of the Department of Correction and the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families to wear and use a body camera. Body cameras will be used to record interactions with members of the public in accordance with the regulations that will be established by the Council on Police Training.