Newark Alderman’s Court—Senate Bill 42 (SB42), from Tony DeLuca, at first glance appears well-intentioned—let defendants from Newark’s Alderman’s Court have the right to be heard at Wilmington’s Court of Common Pleas. Why do folks (including myself) oppose SB42? Newark and Newark Alderman’s court is unique in the state—and it works. We are the only Delaware city with a college that doubles our population for a majority of the year, and our Alderman’s Court is the only one in the state with a lawyer who serves (with senate approval) as chief alderman. Newark therefore gets a boatload of minor noise, disturbing the peace, and traffic violations (thousands a year), which we deal with right in Newark. Defendants avoid the need (and expense) to go to Wilmington, and so do our police officers. Moving this caseload to Wilmington is wasteful (reducing our police officers’ time on the streets, and further overburdening the Wilmington courts). Defendants already have the right to appeal all judgments of more than $100 to Wilmington courts. Note that the sponsors do not have constituents in downtown Newark—it is the moral equivalent of having Newark’s Senator Liane Sorenson sponsor a bill to double the parking meters in Rehobeth. SB42 appears to be retaliation by DeLuca for the city’s resolution favoring open government in the General Assembly, a direction that DeLuca detests. Let your senator and representative know that Newark’s Alderman’s court works just fine, and don’t break it—oppose SB42.
Equality in Newark—There are proposed changes to Newark’s policies to prohibit discrimination. At the first hearing, support for these changes amongst the citizens was overwhelming. Some council members appear to be less supportive. Council member David Athey has asked his constituents what they think, and in the process shares his reservations. If you support equality for city employees, please let your Newark city council member and Mayor Vance Funk know. When the people lead, the leaders will follow! Go to http://www.cityofnewarkde.us/index.asp?NID=475 to see the council member listing.
Equality in Delaware—There are several pieces of legislation (SB--senate bills and HB—house bills). SB27, the Marriage Constitutional Amendment sponsored by Senator Venables suffered a quick, well-deserved death in the Senate.
HB5 is the energizer bunny, coming back year after year as the Delaware Senate refuses to exit the Dark Ages. HB5 would make housing, employment, and insurance discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal in Delaware. It is currently stuck in the Senate Executive Committee (chair Thurman Adams, members Patty Blevins, Nancy Cook, Tony DeLuca, Gary Simpson, and Liane Sorenson). If one of these six is your senator, ask them to give this bill a prompt hearing, and to vote to get this bill onto the full Senate. See http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/LIS145.nsf/vwLegislation/HB+10?Opendocument for updated information.
HB10 would provide the same rights to domestic partners of state employees/pensioners as spouses. Again, a simple matter of equality. This bill is currently in the House Appropriations Committee (chair DP Williams, and members Joseph Booth, JJ Johnson, Joseph Miro, John Mitchell, and Melanie George Marshall). If one of these is your rep, ask them to approve the bill through committee, onto the full House. Once it is out of committee, it should get a quick House vote, so let your rep know of your support. See http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/LIS145.nsf/vwLegislation/HB+10?Opendocument for current information.
HB112 would permit patients (hospitals and nursing facilities) to direct who can visit them. Again, seems pretty obvious. Partners of same-sex couples, however, have been refused this right many times in the past. This bill passed the House on Thursday, and awaits assignment to a Senate Committee. Keep an ear open for the next steps in the Senate. http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/LIS145.nsf/vwLegislation/HB+112?Opendocument has current information on this bill.