Paid leave bills dealing with bereavement and compassionate leave passed the House.

More paid leave bills, rent increase restrictions pass House

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Government

Paid leave bills dealing with bereavement and compassionate leave passed the House.

Paid leave bills dealing with bereavement and compassionate leave passed the House.

As the General Assembly is in its last week of session this week, the state House went into the late hours of Tuesday night with discussion around several bills addressing paid leave. 

House Bill 65, sponsored by Rep. Debra Heffernan, D-Brandywine Hundred South, provides state employees who suffer a miscarriage, stillbirth or other loss, a maximum of five days of paid bereavement leave. 

“This was an issue that has been brought to me by a longtime state employee that suffered a miscarriage and they were not able to take any compassionate leave,” Heffernan said. “We have leave for experiencing a death in your immediate family. Well, a miscarriage is your immediate family.”

The bill cites data from the Mayo Clinic, including that miscarriages occur in about 20% of all pregnancies, and generally, in the first 12 weeks. 

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 out of every 100 American pregnancies ends in stillbirth,” the bill reads. “Black women have a significantly higher risk of miscarrying— 43% higher when compared to white women. Black mothers are also more than twice as likely to experience stillbirth compared to Hispanic and white mothers.”

House Bill 177, also sponsored by Heffernan, increases the amount of compassionate leave for eligible employees of the state upon the death of an immediate family member.

It bumps the number of days from three to five. 

Teachers and other education staff of schools already get five days, Heffernan pointed out.

“There’s also an allowance in there that if someone passes away who isn’t in the definition, you can talk with your supervisor to see that it would be [okay],” she said.

READ: Buckson calls for accountability, discipline in schools

The bill defines “Immediate family” as an employee’s spouse or domestic partner; parent, stepparent or child of the employee, spouse or domestic partner; employee’s grandparent or grandchild; employee’s sibling; or any minor child for whom the employee has assumed and carried out parental responsibilities.

State employees are considered anyone who is a benefit-eligible full-time or part-time employee of the state hired to work 30 or more hours a week. 

Both bills passed the House and will next be assigned to a Senate committee. 

Lot rents addressed

Also Tuesday, House Bill 212, sponsored by House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, passed and will head to a Senate committee for consideration.

The bill states that a community owner may not increase a tenant’s lot rent by greater than 3% if it was increased by 5% or more during the earlier of 12 months preceding the notice of the rent increase. 

Under the law, community owners are allowed to increase rent to market rent in phases. even if doing so would otherwise violate the prohibition on increasing rent after a 5% or more increase. 

It also allows a greater increase if more than half of the homeowners use the property as a second residence. 

Community owners would be required to annually provide certain information relating to the lot rental assistance program to its homeowners and to certify to its compliance with the program requirements.

“Inflation has been running about 5% a year for the last three years, and that means landowners’ costs went up that much,” Rep. Rich Collins, R-Millsboro, pointed out. “You may think you’re helping folks out by voting for the bill. Watch the headlines in the relatively near future. You will see additional communities close. This has become the absolute worst business to be in in Delaware that could exist.”

He said no one wants to be in the business of being a landlord when they are under constant attack and could face penalties in the middle of state-wide property reassessments. 

House Minority Whip Rep. Lyndon Yearick, R-Camden, said the numbers Longhurst chose were arbitrary and wondered why the cap couldn’t be a different number, like 4% or 7%. 

“There’s no objectivity to it, you said 7% is too high, but 5% is not too high?” he said.

Yes, Longhurst answered. 

“When we have the property reassessment hit, how would you feel about what if, legitimately, the property owners expenses go up greater than 5% or 7%?” Yearick said. “Don’t they have an opportunity to try to recoup some of their investment, trying to provide a safe and secure community for their homeowners?”

HB 12 was voted through the House and will now be assigned to a Senate committee.

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