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Delaware legislature set to cover an array of bills

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March 15, 2013

By Jennifer Springer

Delaware

DOVER, Delaware: Legislators in Delaware went back into session on March 12, ending its six week hiatus.[1] However, before even going back into session, the legislature already had a number of bills pre-filed.[1]

Delaware's state house had 15 bills pre-filed, ranging from gun control and school safety to gay marriage and rent-justification.[1][2]

One of the main issues being discussed by the legislature in this session will be House Bill 35, which is part of Gov. Jack Markell's package of gun-control control measures, announced in January.[3] Background checks are already required when a licensed dealer sells a gun and when a private party asks a dealer to perform a background check.[3]

The bill would make background checks mandatory for the private sale or transfer of firearms, and gun dealers could charge up to $50 to perform the check.[3] HB 35 includes exceptions for transfers between immediate family members, the sale of antique, pre-1899, firearms, law enforcement officers licensed to carry firearms and when a pawnbroker returns a firearm to its seller.[3][1]

After a filled to capacity March 13 House Judiciary Committee hearing, a decision was made after some testimony to table the bill, and resume the hearing again on March 20.[3]

Other bills being brought forth this session include:

  • House Bill 33, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Miro (R), which requires each public school district to equip their schools with a silent alarm system — panic buttons — that immediately alert local law enforcement of security threats. The bill was placed in the House Education Committee.[1]
  • House Bill 34, sponsored by House Minority Leader Rep. Daniel Short (R), which would establish the Delaware School Safety and Security Fund for public schools to compete for grant awards, administered by the Department of Education and limited to a maximum of $50,000 per school to fund projects intended to improve school safety and security. The act would also create a five-member committee with representatives from the state’s Department of Education, Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Office of Management and Budget, the Governor’s Office and the Delaware Association of School Administrators. The bill was placed in the House Education Committee.[1]
  • House Bill 36, sponsored by Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R), increases certain minimum sentences required for the use of firearms by persons prohibited. For example, the bill increases the one-year sentence for a person previously convicted of a violent felony to two years and a 10-year sentence if the person has been convicted on more than two separate occasions of a violent felony to 15 years. The bill has been placed in the House Judiciary Committee.[1]
  • House Bill 37, sponsored by Deborah Hudson (R), amends the code relating to penalties for possession of a firearm during a felony. As the law currently stands, there is no differentiation between punishments for individuals with a firearm in their possession during a felony and those who use the firearm during a felony. The act enhances penalties for those utilizing a firearm during the felony increasing penalties for those who have been convicted of a felony in Delaware or elsewhere more than once. The bill also has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.[1]

Other issues that will be discussed during the session, but have yet to have formal legislation introduced, include a host of varying social issues.[1] These issues range from gay marriage to video lottery machines to the death penalty and the issue of rent justification.[1]

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