The following bills were recently filed in the House of Representatives:
House Bill 332:
(State Rep. Ron Gray with Reps. Ruth Briggs King, Rich Collins, Kevin Hensley, Charles Postles, Danny Short, Steve Smyk, Jesse Vanderwende and Lyndon Yearick as co-sponsors.) This act decreases the Contractor Registration Fee from $200 to $100 per year for contractors who do not have a state contract and have 10 or fewer employees.
House Bill 331:
(State Rep. Andria Bennett, with State Reps Mike Smith, Mike Ramone and Rich Collins as co-sponsors.) Stands operated by children that serve or sell lemonade or other beverages on a temporary, occasional basis are a summertime tradition for many children. This act would exempt a stand operated by a child from state, county, and municipal regulations and licensing fees that might otherwise apply.
House Bill 327:
(State Rep. Mike Smith with State Reps. Mike Ramone and Bryan Shupe as co-sponsors.) Under present law, voting in a primary election is limited to voters registered in a political party casting ballots for that party’s candidates. This act seeks to allow Delaware voters who are not affiliated with a political party to vote in a primary election. Currently there are approximately 170,000 registered Delaware voters who are not affiliated with a political party.
House Bill 319:
(State Rep. Charles Postles with State Reps. Ruth Briggs King, Rich Collins, Tim Dukes, Ron Gray, Danny Short and Jesse Vanderwende as co-sponsors.) There are presently at least 30 states that have a statute defining and protecting parental rights, or case law that interprets parental interests as a fundamental right. Delaware has neither. This proposal (the Parental Rights Protection Amendment) is the first leg of a constitutional amendment affirming that parents have a fundamental right to the care, custody and control of their children.
House Bill 312:
(State Rep. Kevin Hensley with State Reps. Rich Collins, Ron Gray, Mike Ramone, Danny Short, Michael Smith
and Lyndon Yearick as co-sponsors.) This bill creates a Delaware personal income tax credit, not to exceed $500 per year per individual, for interest paid on student loans.
House Bill 315
: (State Rep. Debra Heffernan with State Reps. Ruth Briggs King and Mike Ramone as co-sponsors.) This bill would provide state funding assistance for public schools to hire full-time permanent substitute teachers. Additionally, the bill would also provide professional development requirements for those hired into these positions and creates a pathway to teaching to those individuals who meet the requirements for an emergency certificate.
A bill seeking to make recreational marijuana legal in Delaware was defeated in the House of Representatives on Thursday, but the issue may not yet be settled.
House Bill 305
(as amended), also known as the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, was defeated late Thursday afternoon in the House of Representatives by a vote of 23 “yes,” 14 “no,” and four not voting. Because the bill sought to establish new fees, it requires a 60% (three-fifths) super-majority to pass the chamber, falling two votes short of the 25 needed for approval.
The bill lost one supporter right before the vote. State Rep. Mike Smith (R-Pike Creek Valley) had initially indicated he would favor the measure. However, after House Democrats defeated three amendments sponsored by Rep. Smith, on party-line votes, he withdrew his support.
“I came here today to vote for the legalization of marijuana,” Rep. Smith told the chamber prior to the vote. “I went to roll call on those amendments just to prove that you guys do not care about bipartisanship. And this state needs to change. And I hope people remember this moment, because you killed the legalization of marijuana.”
Two of Rep. Smith’s defeated amendments (HA 3 & HA 4) sought to add felony drug crime convictions and felony tax code violations to the list of offenses the Delaware Marijuana Commissioner would need to consider when reviewing an application for a marijuana-related license. The third amendment would have disqualified social equity license applicants if they had been convicted of a marijuana-related offense involving at least 1,500 grams (3.3 pounds) of marijuana.
Social equity licenses are one of the more controversial aspects of the bill because they are intentionally designed to allow people with previous drug convictions entry into the new marijuana industry. These licenses include those that would be needed to operate a marijuana retail store, testing facility, cultivation facility or product manufacturing facility. Qualifications to obtain a social equity license include being “convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for, any marijuana-related offense, except for delivery to a minor.”
Social equity license applicants could also qualify if they resided for at least five of the preceding ten years in a “disproportionately impacted area.” The legislation defines such an area as census tracts “having high rates of arrest, conviction, and incarceration relating to the sale, possession, use, cultivation, manufacture, or transport of marijuana.”
Additionally, the bill seeks to create a Justice Reinvestment Fund that would be financed with a portion of the state’s marijuana tax revenue. According to the authors of the bill, the fund would “be used for projects to improve quality-of-life for communities most impacted by the prohibition of marijuana and ‘War on Drugs’ era policies.”
Under House Rules, House Bill 305 could be voted on again if one of the lawmakers who voted “no” (the prevailing side) makes a motion to restore the bill for consideration.
The only Democrat voting “no” was Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach). Twenty-three of Rep. Schwartzkopf’s 26-member House Democratic Caucus voted in favor of the measure. Two members of the caucus — State Reps. Bill Bush (D-Kent County North) & Stephanie Bolden (D-Wilmington East) — went “not voting” on the bill.
A motion to reconsider House Bill 305 must be made within three legislative days following the initial vote, potentially giving supporters until early in the day on March 22 to make the move.