Legislative week in review


• On April 28, state representatives passed a House Bill that would require school districts to eventually align their curricula with state education standards.

“HS 1 for HB 47” sponsor Rep. Stephanie Ulbrich (25th District) said the standards had been in place for 10 years now, and it was a common-sense measure that was long overdue.

Ulbrich said the legislation would leave districts some independence and flexibility. However, if they create their own curricula, rather than the state Department of Education (DOE) model, they will have to submit them to the DOE for review and approval.

The bill passed the House 32-7.

Sussex legislators were split 4-4 on the issue. Locally, Reps. Gerald Hocker (38th District) and Pete Schwartzkopf (14th District) voted aye, Reps. Joe Booth (37th District) and John Atkins (41st District) opposed.

HS 1 for HB 47 was placed in the Senate Education Committee on May 3.

• Another House Bill, HB 99, would extend the state’s line-of-duty death benefit to the families of Delaware National Guard personnel.

Delaware’s National Guard personnel are also covered under existing law, but only when they have been called up by the governor in response to a “state of emergency.”

HB 99 passed the House on a 38-0 vote, and now rests in Senate Finance Committee.

A related bill, Schwartzkopf’s HB 69, would create a life insurance reimbursement fund for National Guardsmen. It’s still in the House Appropriations Committee.

• Legislators also considered a House Resolution (HR 12) that would have required public disclosure of the investigation that cleared Delaware State Police Superintendent Col. L. Aaron Chaffinch for reinstatement.

However, with Chaffinch’s resignation this week, HR 12 (still in committee) has likely become a moot point. Department of Safety and Homeland Security Secretary David Mitchell said Chaffinch had indeed received a stiff punishment.

• Senate Bill 49 — sponsored by legislators from western Sussex (Sen. Thurman Adams, 19th District, and Rep. J. Benjamin Ewing, 35th District) — addresses subdivisions on family farms.

SB 49 would bar the Department of Transportation from requiring property owners to dedicate rights-of-way as a condition of approval for subdivision in two cases — (1) if they’re subdividing into smaller farms and (2) if they’re subdividing for the purpose of transferring land to family members for their use as primary residences.

House action is pending.

• HB 105 would prohibit the sale or distribution of gasoline containing Methyl Tertiary-Butyl Ether (MTBE) in Delaware.

MTBE has proven to be a serious threat to groundwater supplies and forced the abandonment of wells in many states, despite its use being originally mandated by the federal government to reduce air pollution.

House action is pending.

• HB 149 would prohibit bartenders and servers from drinking on duty — violators could have their Server Training Card suspended or revoked.

The violator could also be required to retake the Responsible Alcoholic Beverage Server Training Program. Additionally, the licensee of the establishment in which the offender was working could be subject to disciplinary action.

The bill is still in the House Business, Corporations and Commerce Committee.