As the legislative session winds down this week, several important bills have already been approved and others are awaiting final action in the Senate.
Delaware Becomes the First State in the Nation to Ban Marriage for Those Under 18
Gov. John Carney this week signed into law legislation prohibiting marriage for anyone under the age of 18. The bill narrowly passed the House of Representatives in May garnering 23 “yes” votes in the 41-member chamber.
Unchained At Last, a nonprofit organization which aims to end child marriage in all 50 states, called the legislation a “huge victory” for girls and women in Delaware. New Jersey followed suit this month, becoming the second state in the country to pass the law.
Bill to Improve School Security Heads to Senate
Legislation to help public schools pay for upgraded security cleared the House of Representatives this week.
Sponsored by State Reps. Danny Short, R-Seaford & Kevin Hensley, R-Townsend, Odessa, Port Penn, House Substitute 1 for House Bill 335 (as amended) would earmark $5 million to create the Delaware School Safety and Security Fund. The fund would issue one-time state grants to school districts, vocational schools, and charter schools to pay for specified projects or training intended to better protect facilities from intruders.
The fund would be administered by the Department of Education and be distributed to the schools proportionally.
The House approved the measure on a unanimous vote, sending it to the Senate for consideration.
State Workers, Teachers to Get 12-Weeks of Paid Parental Leave
Delaware is poised to offer teachers and state workers the most generous parental leave benefit in the nation.
The Senate this week sent to Gov. Carney a measure to grant state and public school employees 12 weeks of paid parental that could be used by both parents upon the birth of a child or the adoption of a child (six years of age or younger).
According to an analysis by the Office of the Controller General, the proposal would initially cost taxpayers more than $5.1 million annually, with local school districts picking up about a quarter of the expense.
Advocates, including Gov. Carney, maintain the benefit would be a potent employee recruitment tool, would enhance the health of the child, and result in stronger family bonds.
While debating the bill in the House earlier this month, State Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, said the proposal sharply contrasts with other states offering parental leave. Unlike those programs, she noted that Delaware employees would not be required to help finance the benefit through payroll deductions; would receive 100 percent of their salary while on leave, and could claim the leave after only one year on the job.