Legislation

Debra Heffernan was Prime Sponsor of these bills that passed and became law

Legislation Synopsis
2014-2016 148th General Assembly
HB 405 Recognizing that a criminal charge can dramatically alter a juvenile’s future chances of employment and education, this bill seeks to prevent first-time juvenile offenders charged with certain minor misdemeanors from entering into the system by providing law enforcement with a civil citation procedure as an alternative to arrest.
Section 1 of this Act codifies the Juvenile Offender Civil Citation Program administered by the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services within the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.
Section 2 of this Act mandates that the Civil Citation Coordinator and the Quality Assurance Unit of the Division of Youth and Rehabilitative Services will collect and analyze program data, and make annual recommendations to the Criminal Justice Council/Juvenile Justice Advisory Group and the General Assembly.
Section 3 of this Act states that it shall expire 2 years after its enactment into law unless otherwise provided by a subsequent act of the General Assembly.
HB 404 In 2011, the State adopted concussion protections for youth involved in sports and athletic activities regulated by the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA) codified at Title 14 Del. C. §303(d). However, the DIAA’s jurisdiction only applies to member schools and excludes youth athletic events sponsored by leagues, clubs, and other organizations. This bill is intended to fill this gap by establishing similar concussion protection standards for youth involved in non-DIAA regulated athletic activities.
HB 331 As a State agency, the Division is responsible for providing services and assistance to any individual seeking help. Having the term “enforcement” in the name of the division deters individuals such as non-custodial parents and members of some cultures from reaching out and seeking assistance. This is for fear that there will be ramifications against them as a result of contacting the agency.
The Division in Delaware is moving towards service oriented outreach efforts to underserved populations. The word, “enforcement’ invokes a connotation of a punitive actions rather than serving all populations.
This Bill updates the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement and the Division of Child Support Enforcement in sections of the code to the Division of Child Support Services.
HB 326 This Act makes technical corrections based on the enactment of House Bill No. 360 of the 147th General Assembly (Chapter 424, Volume 79 of the Laws of Delaware) so that the Department of Health and Social Services is named as the responsible agency, to be consistent with the rest of § 122(3)aa. of Title 16.
HB 316 This bill prohibits discrimination in employment based upon an individual’s reproductive health decisions. Delaware laws currently prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex or pregnancy; however, this legislation makes it clear that an employer is expressly prohibited from taking adverse employment action against an individual based on his or her reproductive health care decisions. This bill does not create any new obligations or change any existing obligations related to insurance coverage of reproductive health care. This bill seeks to ensure that all workers should be judged on their performance at work, as opposed to their personal reproductive health care decisions.
HB 300 This Act permits those under 14, with the permission of a parent or one legally standing in the place of a parent, to volunteer or perform work for horse farms and other equine operations, just as those under 14 may do for other types of farms, and thus makes Delaware law consistent with Federal law.
HB 214 In 2010, House Bill No. 344 (“Bill”) was introduced, in part, to add the mayor of a municipal corporation to the list of individuals authorized to solemnize marriages in this State. The Bill was signed by the Governor and became law, see 77 Del. Laws, c. § 272.
This Act clarifies that it is the intention of the General Assembly for the chief executive officer of every incorporated municipality in this State to be able to solemnize marriages within the municipality’s corporate limits, not just those individuals given the title “Mayor” by their respective municipal charter.
Finally, this Act makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the guidelines of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.
HB 184 This bill establishes a mechanism for persons receiving special education services pursuant to an active Individual Education Plan until the age of 21 to receive license to drive.
HB 183 This Act extends the existence of the Water Supply Coordinating Council from January 1, 2016, to January 1, 2022.
HB 180 This Act authorizes the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to manage the eel fishery by regulation in order to adopt limits and sizes that are consistent with the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for American Eel (“Plan”). At present, Delaware’s eel fishing laws are not in compliance with the Plan and Delaware is likely to be subject to enforcement action from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
HB 153 Hunting, trapping, and fishing license and vessel registration sales provide the primary revenues for wildlife and fish species research and management, habitat conservation and management, hunter and angler public access, public boating access facility construction and maintenance, and boating safety compliance and education. These revenues are further matched to leverage and secure federal funds. Hunting, trapping, and fishing license sales are declining in Delaware and there is a need to retain and recruit these users and to sustain a user-pay funding model. Similar to successful efforts in other states, this Act allows for the use of certain hunting, trapping, and fishing license and vessel registration information by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control or selected contractors signing a contractor confidentiality agreement for the purposes of retention or recruitment of hunters, trappers, anglers, or boaters and sustaining and increasing associated license and registration sales.

This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the guidelines of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.

HB 118 This bill expressly identifies that a mandatory reporter of child abuse or neglect cannot rely upon a person with less direct knowledge to call the hotline.
HB 101 This bill amends the Charter of the Town of Bellefonte, which was reincorporated last year. Specifically, the bill removes forfeiture of office by a Commissioner for attendance, as well as the Commission’s ability to vote on such a forfeiture. The bill also removes a provision authorizing the Commission to vote on the existence of a Commissioner’s conflict of interest. Finally, the bill removes a provision that could be interpreted to prohibit Council members to abstain or be absent. Also, the bill corrects the Charter to comport with the Delaware State Constitution regarding the oath of office, as well as to comport with provisions in Title 22, Section 811 of the Delaware Code for home-rule charter amendments.
HB 5 This Act adds electronic smoking devices to the Clean Indoor Air Act and prohibits the use of electronic smoking devices in all public places where smoking is prohibited under current law.
HCR 36 This Concurrent Resolution recognizes the month from May 15th to June 15th as “Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month” in Delaware.
HCR 18 This Concurrent Resolution recognizes April 2015 as “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in Delaware.
HCR 16 This resolution recognizes January 27, 2015, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
HR 33 This Resolution recognizes the month from May 15th to June 15th as “Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month” in Delaware.
2012-2014 147th General Assembly
HB 21 This bill establishes the Volunteer Emergency Responders Job Protection Act. The Act prohibits an employer from terminating or taking any other disciplinary action against an employee who is a volunteer emergency responder if such employee, when acting as a voluntary emergency responder, is absent from his or her place of employment for a Governor-declared State of Emergency lasting up to 7 days or a President-declared National Emergency lasting up to 14 days. The Act further prohibits an employer from terminating or taking any other disciplinary action against an employee who misses work due to injury sustained when acting as a volunteer emergency responder. At the employer’s request, an employee who is a volunteer emergency responder that misses work due to responding to an emergency or having sustained injury from responding to an emergency is required to provide proof of such emergency response or injury to the employer. An employee who is terminated or who is the victim of any other disciplinary action taken in violation of this Act shall be reinstated to his or her former position. An action to enforce this Act may be brought by the employee within one year of the alleged violation.
HB 31 This Act permits off-premises consumption licensees who obtain a Growler Filler permit to purchase kegs or partial kegs from wholesalers and fill and cap containers for the customer to consume off of the premises where sold.
HB 256 This Act will make changes to Delaware’s law prohibiting Sexual Solicitation of a Child to ensure the safety of Delaware’s children from sexual predators, including the persons that promote sexual solicitation of a child and the persons that solicit children. This Act specifies that a person commits the offense of Sexual Solicitation of a Child or Promoting Sexual Solicitation of a Child through any method of electronic communications, in addition to other forms of communication. Further, for the offense of Sexual Solicitation of a Child, the Act defines “child” to include those who represent themselves to be younger than 18 years old and those who the person believes to be younger than 18 years old in addition to those who are, in fact, younger than 18 years old. This will facilitate law enforcement efforts to stop sexual predators before they have harmed a child. Additionally, this Act elevates the offense from a Class C felony to a Class B felony where the solicitor actually meets in person or attempts to meet in person with a child, as defined by the Act, to engage in a prohibited sexual act, or where the promoter actually meets in person or attempts to meet in person with another person and a child for the person to engage in a prohibited sexual act with the child.
HB 267 This bill requires that public middle schools and high schools include information regarding the SEED and Inspire scholarship programs in all printed and electronic communications concerning school activities.
2010-2012 146th General Assembly
HB 91 People First Language (PFL) legislation is part of a national movement to promote dignity and inclusion for people with disabilities. PFL specifies that the order of terms used to describe any individual places the person first, and the description of the person second. For example, when using PFL, outdated terms such as “the disabled” would be phrased as “people with disabilities.” This language emphasizes that individuals are people first, and that their disabilities are secondary.
This bill requires all new state laws and publications, from the effective date of the enactment of this bill into law, to avoid language that is disrespectful and/or offensive to individuals with disabilities. A violation of this bill is not grounds to invalidate any new state law or publication. This bill does not apply to terms required by federal law or regulation or state statute. Nothing in this section shall be construed as changing the application of any provision affected by this section to any person.
HB 163 This Act eliminates the sunset provisions of the Delaware Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act. The Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act was enacted by the General Assembly in 1990 and re-authorized in 2000. During its time, the Act has enabled the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to assist with the clean-up of 21 federal Superfund sites and 204 state-led sites, contribute to the revitalization of 155 Brownfield properties, and close 187 leaking underground storage tank locations. The Act also supports emergency response efforts for hazardous chemical spills.
This Act removes the sunset provisions relating to the Act. The ten-year sunset provisions for the financing of the Hazardous Substance Cleanup Fund would be retained with a new sunset date in 2022. In addition, the exemption for transactions among petroleum wholesalers enacted in 2007, which is currently scheduled to expire on January 1, 2015, would be extended indefinitely.
HB 173 This Act requires that for any residence that the government of New Castle County or any agent or representative thereof in any capacity or form (County) deems that installation of a grinder pump or any other sewage pump or waste management device shall be necessary in conjunction with or in relation to the New Castle County Sewer Rehabilitation Project, the County shall pay any expenses, costs, and fees of any form related to maintenance and/or operation of such pump or device and any replacement thereof in perpetuity
HB 214 People First Language (“PFL”) legislation is part of a national movement to promote dignity and inclusion for people with disabilities. PFL specifies that the order of terms used to describe any individual places the person first, and the description of the person second. For example, when using PFL, outdated terms such as “the disabled” would be phrased as “persons with disabilities.” This language emphasizes that individuals are people first, and that their disabilities are secondary.
In compliance with PFL guidelines, this Act amends current references to persons with disabilities throughout the Code by placing the person first and the disability second. Also pursuant to PFL, this Act removes offensive and/or insensitive language from the Code and replaces that language with respectful language. For example, the Act replaces antiquated and offensive terms such as “mental retardation” and “mental illness” with more appropriate terms like “intellectual disability” and “mental condition,” respectively.
HB 245 House Bill 214 of this General Assembly sought to convert the Delaware Code to the use of People First Language (“PFL”) as part of a national movement to promote dignity and inclusion for people with disabilities. 78 Del. Laws c. 179 (2011). During the pendency of House Bill 214, it became clear that the proposed changes to the Delaware Criminal Code should be further studied. More specifically, there was a concern that certain phrases and language present in the criminal code might have meanings unique to criminal law that had been adopted from the Model Penal Code, settled by prior decisional law or otherwise been defined by practice and custom. It had been, and remains, the purpose of House Bill 214 and this Act to adopt PFL and related changes only for the purpose of removing insensitive and offensive language from the criminal code; not to in any way effect change in the statutory definitions of conditions or circumstances described therein or Delaware’s substantive criminal law. In turn, those House Bill 214 criminal code provisions were amended out, researched and those changes deemed advisable are contained in this Act.
For example, in describing one statutory aggravating circumstance in Delaware’s capital sentencing statute offensive language that labels the victim as “severely handicapped or severely disabled” now appears. This language would be changed to describe the victim instead as “particularly vulnerable due to a severe intellectual, mental or physical disability.” This change in labeling language, however, would affect no definitional or substantive change. Such a victim would, just as now, be deemed a person who suffers from a temporary or permanent physical, intellectual or mental impairment resulting from disease, an injury, a functional disorder, or a congenital condition that renders him or her incapable to adequately provide for his or her own personal care, safety or protection.
So too with the phraseology “severe mental retardation” now found in Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 4209. That phrase, which is unique to Delaware’s criminal statutes, would be updated to “profound intellectual developmental disorder.” While the label of this mitigating circumstance would be changed to this more acceptable form, again, there is absolutely no change to its legal definition, the legal burdens prescribed to prove such, or any other substantive aspect of related Delaware law.
In sum, none of the changes to the labeling language brought about by this Act should be viewed to affect prior Delaware judicial or legal interpretations of the terms or phrases amended.
HB 277 This Act creates the criminal offense of home invasion as a new and separate crime in Delaware’s criminal code. Home invasion occurs when a person enters or remains unlawfully in someone else’s home, engages in or attempts to engage in certain crimes of violence against an occupant of the home, and causes physical injury to an occupant or is armed with a deadly weapon. Home invasion is a class B felony.
This new crime is an offense in part derived from and an aggravated form of Delaware’s current burglary offenses. Thus, in order to assure consistency with the provisions of the Code that define the current burglary offenses with which one would be charged, any provision of the Code that uses the term “burglary” without further specification to define a word, phrase, sentencing aggravator or other provision of the Code that is otherwise applicable to the offense of “burglary” without further specification shall also be applicable to the offense of home invasion as defined in this Act, unless the statute defining such word, phrase, sentencing aggravator or provision or a statute directly related thereto expressly provides that the statute is not applicable to the offense of home invasion.
HB 319 All persons with disabilities, including veterans with service-connected disabilities, have a right to the opportunity for competitive employment. To promote the realization of this right, this bill creates the Employment First Act. The Act requires that state agencies that provide services and support to persons with disabilities shall consider, as their first option, competitive employment in an integrated setting for persons with disabilities. The Act does not require an employer to give preference to hiring persons with disabilities.
The Act requires all state agencies to follow this policy for employment by coordinating and collaborating efforts among agencies. In addition, agencies may share data and information whenever possible across systems in order to track progress. State agencies may adopt rules and regulations to implement the Act.
This Act further establishes an Employment First Oversight Commission as part of the State Council for Persons with Disabilities. The Commission reviews measurable goals and objectives as submitted to it by each relevant state agency to ensure implementation of the Act. The Commission tracks the measurable progress of state agencies in implementing the Act. The Commission prepares an annual report as part of the annual report submitted by the State Council for Persons with Disabilities to the Governor and the General Assembly. The report details progress made toward the goals and objectives as well as strategies and policies to help realize the employment first initiative.