Debra Heffernan has had an outsized impact on the issues that affect Delawareans. Among other achievements, she has:
Worked to strengthen our economy, co-sponsoring bills to lower the personal income tax and taxes on small businesses.
Promoted employment opportunities for people with disabilities, sponsoring the Employment First Act, which requires state agencies that provide services to persons with disabilities to consider employment in an integrated setting as their first option. (It does not require employers to give hiring preference to applicants with disabilities.) The bill also establishes an Employment First Oversight Commission to monitor goals and objectives.
Promoted dignity and inclusion for citizens with disabilities by championing legislation that requires the use of People First Language (PFL) in state laws. PFL specifies that the terms used to describe any individual place the person first and the description of the person second, to emphasize that the individual is not defined exclusively or primarily by his or her disability.
Increased public safety by passing legislation that now classifies home invasion as a felony in Delaware and mandates stiffer penalties for criminals.
Sponsored legislation to protect the jobs of emergency responders such as volunteer firefighters who are absent from their regular employment because they are responding to, or injured while responding to, an emergency.
Made it easier for schools to hire top talent by sponsoring a law that enables districts to extend job offers earlier in the year, making Delaware more competitive with surrounding states.
Addressed constituent concerns by working with civic associations to install solar-powered speed-notification signs to reduce speeding in our neighborhoods.
Protects the rights of women because Debra was part of a bipartisan group of legislators who, in the last two years, passed a package of bills crafted to address a host of issues that impact Delaware women every day by focusing on justice and public safety, health care and employment. Debra was prime sponsor of a bill that protects the right to privacy when it comes to health and reproductive care decisions made by employees. The decision to start – or not start – a family is theirs and theirs alone. Debra also sponsored a bipartisan resolution mandating the Department of Justice oversee an audit of all untested and un-submitted sexual assault kits in Delaware. This resolution also establishes a work group tasked with creating systemic changes to ensure proper testing of all sexual assault kits in the future.
Sought to create a safer and healthier learning environment in our schools by co-sponsoring legislation to protect students from bullying.
Improved options for high school graduates by improving the SEED program that provides tuition-free 2 year degrees to any any Delaware student who stays out of serious trouble and maintains a c+ GPA. And Debra's legislation gives students a second chance by allowing first-time juvenile offenders charged with certain minor misdemeanors a way to stay out of the system by providing law enforcement with a civil citation procedure as an alternative to arrest.
Protects our children by strengthening a law protecting them from online predators, increasing rules about reporting neglect and abuse and improving protections related to childhood concussions risks.
Helped reform Delaware’s campaign finance laws by co-sponsoring legislation to increase transparency and strengthen disclosure requirements..