Senate bills and votes

Senate sends gun, abortion bills to Carney

Jarek RutzGovernment, Headlines

Senate bills and votes

The Delaware Senate sent bills dealing with guns, abortion, interrogating youth and trucks parking on the side of roads to Carney’s desk. Photo by Charlie Megginson/Delaware LIVE

Delaware’s Democrat-majority Senate on Tuesday sent several controversial bills to Gov. John Carney for his signature.

Most of the topics seemed ripped from headlines.

The gun bill would bar anyone under 21 from buying or owning a gun, as well as controlling a firearm or ammunition.

The abortion bill will increase the number of health professionals who can perform an abortion.

Another would prevent law enforcement from using deceptive methods when questioning minors suspected of a crime.

One will jack up the cost of parking violations and allow DelDOT to post signs telling commercial trucks they cannot park or stop on roadsides in residential areas.

House Bill 451

HB 451 would bar anyone under 21 from purchasing, owning, possessing, or controlling a firearm or ammunition of a firearm. 

Sen. David Sokola, D-Newark, said this bill is directly addressing the recent epidemic of shootings.

It was proposed after the May 24 school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, killed  19 children in third-deadliest school shooting in the nation’s history. 

“You somehow can walk into a sporting goods store on your 18th birthday in Delaware and purchase a far more powerful weapon capable of far greater bloodshed than a handgun,” said Sokola. “This does not make sense. Six of the nine deadliest mass shootings in the United States since 2018 have been perpetrated by people who are 21 or younger.”

The original bill failed, but after introducing an amendment that would permit a child under 18 years of age to possess a firearm under the direct supervision of a person 21 years of age or older, it passed.

It was sent to the House with the amendment, was voted through there and now will head to Carney.

“Just three years ago, Republicans and Democrats came together to raise the legal age of tobacco products from 18 to 21,” said Sokola. “At least tobacco takes years to kill you. We don’t have that kind of time with guns.”

House Bill 455

HB 455 would expand access to abortion in the First State by expanding the categories of medical professionals who can perform abortion procedures.

The bill also prevents providers from disclosing communications and records concerning reproductive health services.

“HB 455 opens the door to non doctors to perform an always risky procedure without regard to the mother’s health,” said Sen. Bryant Richardson, R-Seaford.

He brought religion into the conversation, saying, “The opposition of the church to abortion is well established and widely known and founded in the church’s belief in the sanctity of life.”

Sen. Kyle Evans Gay, D-Ardens, said the bill is more important than ever after the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned Roe vs. Wade and stripped women of the right to have an abortion after five decades. 

“We know that injustice to women and birthing people anywhere is a threat to women everywhere,” said Gay, “and we want to ensure Delawareans that their right to have an abortion is protected here in Delaware.”

House Bill 419

HB 419  would prohibit law enforcement from using deceptive tactics when interrogating a minor.  

Deceptive tactics were defined in the bill as either stating evidence exists knowing that it does not, or communicating promises of leniency in sentencing, charging or pretrial release in order to induce a confession or other incriminating evidence. 

Sen. Marie Pinkney, D-New Castle, said that the bill was the result of collaboration between police chiefs, the Department of Justice, the Office of Defense Services, and the Innocence Project, a nonprofit focused on freeing individuals wrongfully convicted of a crime. 

“This is a statement from our state that we believe that deceptive practices are unethical and unnecessary in good policing and good police work,” she said. 

Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel, pointed out that he spoke with members of Delaware’s Fraternal Order of Police and State Troopers Association, who he said were against the bill. 

House Bill 479

HB 479 would increase the fines associated with parking violations in a bill aimed at commercial vehicles parking on roads in neighborhoods up and down Delaware.

Sen. Nicole Poore, D-Delaware City, said that the bill is the result of e-commerce goods dominating during the COVID-19 lockdown.

More than 72% of all goods in America are shipped by trucks, she said, which has resulted in rising challenges regarding the surveillance of tractor trailers and other commercial trucks in and around the state’s residential neighborhoods. 

“This bill will increase civil penalties by raising the minimum and maximum penalties for violations to restrictions in residential districts,” she said. “It also allows our Secretary of DelDOT to display signs prohibiting and restricting the stopping, standing or parking of any trailers, semi trailer or recreational trailer on the roadways or sections of the roadways.”

The Department of Transportation would also need to provide a list of roadways and sections of roadways to the Division of Safety and Homeland Security for law enforcement agencies. 

“While we don’t want to stop commerce, what we do want is all of our truckers and our companies to be good stewards of our communities and our state,” she said. 

The bill will raise the fines for parking from not less than $10 nor more than $25 to not less than $100 nor more than $500. 

It also raises fines related to size or weight of a vehicle parking on residential districts from not less than $28.75 nor more than $230 to not less than $100 and not more than $500 for a first offense.

The bill passed unanimously.

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