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A Democratic perspective–the year in review 2 January, 2010

Posted by stoptaxing in Uncategorized.
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2009 Recap

Despite extremely challenging times — by most accounts the greatest our state has faced in several decades — we were able to pass legislation in 2009 touching nearly every Delawarean in an ongoing effort to improve their quality of life. Ranging from public safety measures, education bills, anti-discrimination legislation, new protections for our seniors and bills honoring our military, when all summed up I believe the 2009 General Assembly session was a success.

An early success of the session was the re-authorization of sports betting. House Substitute 1 for House Bill 100 provided our Racino partners with a competitive advantage and has resulted in adding much-needed funds to the state’s revenue.

The summaries below highlight some of the legislation passed and signed into law this past year.

Public Safety

· Established enhanced penalties for registered sex offenders who commit a sex offense against a child under 12 years of age.

· Added paramedics, EMTs, fire marshals and fire police officers to a list of first responders whose death can result in a first-degree murder charge.

· Increased the penalties for the crime of “sex offender unlawful sexual conduct against a child” when the victim is under 18 and has a cognitive disability.

Education

· Replaced the costly and ineffective DSTP with the new Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) which will provide teachers a better tool and greater flexibility as to when to assess a student’s progress.

· Granted local districts substantially more discretion with respect to expenditure of state education funds and also established a number of safeguards to ensure that those funds are spent in a responsible manner.

· Expanded an existing program allowing Delaware National Guardsmen to receive financial assistance for a master’s degree without allocating any additional funding above the amount already appropriated in the fiscal 2009 budget.

Quality of Life and Seniors

· Prohibited discrimination against a person based on their sexual orientation, whether the orientation is real or perceived in areas of housing, employment, public works contracting, public accommodations or insurance.

· Allowed competent adults to receive visits in a hospital, nursing home or nursing facility from any person they choose. The law does not overrule a facility’s visitation policies that are based on the patient’s medical condition, visitation hours or a court order.

· Gave the public online access to the Adult Abuse Registry so Delawareans seeking to hire someone to help care for their elderly loved one could easily go online and check the job applicant’s name against the registry.

· Increased penalties for repeat drunk drivers.

Government Reform

· Placed the General Assembly under the state’s Freedom of Information Act as a public body, subjecting the legislature to the state’s open meeting laws.

· Prohibited state agencies from granting an unpaid leave of absence to workers while they are incarcerated.

· Restructured the Violent Crimes Compensation Board, a result of the work of the Sunset committee. Reforms include reducing the compensation of board members to a $100 per meeting from an annual salary of $10,000 including pension benefits.

· Amended the Freedom of Information Act to take advantage of current technology by permitting members of certain public bodies to participate in a meeting using video-conferencing under certain conditions.

My recap of the session would not be complete without a couple of comments regarding the budget approved the morning of July 1. Faced with an $800 million deficit meant making some extremely difficult decisions. The budget we approved reflected our commitment to the guiding principles used to direct our effort.

· Fiscal Responsibility – Reductions should real and sustainable. The budget approved included over $300 million in spending cuts, including the elimination of 1,000 positions out of 15,000.

· Keep our core commitments – Ensure the health and safety of our families, foster the growth of our economy and protect the quality of our air and water, give every child an opportunity to succeed, assist our senior citizens when needed and protect the rights of all of our citizens at all times. I believe the budget approved met this principles’ objective.

· Shared sacrifice – No group will bear a disproportionate burden. The budget required sacrifice from all constituencies including our state employees, Delawareans making more than $60,000 per year and corporations doing business in Delaware.

Our focus on maintaining our core commitments and fiscal responsibility will provide Delawareans with sensible solutions while protecting our children’s future, our seniors and those citizens with the greatest needs.

I will remember this session as very challenging yet rewarding – rewarding because I had the opportunity to meet and serve many constituents this past year. I look forward to serving them again in 2010.

Darryl M. Scott
State Representative – 31st District

302.430.7171 office
darryl.scott@state.de.us

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