Governor Announces Two Judicial Nominations

Robert H. Surles nominated for appointment and Judge Charles W. Welch III nominated for reappointment to Court of Common Pleas

WILMINGTON – Governor Jack Markell today announced his nominations of two dedicated public servants for judicial positions on the Court of Common Pleas.

Markell announced he will nominate Robert H. Surles of Wilmington for appointment and Judge Charles W. Welch III of Dover for reappointment to the Court.  Both are Republicans.  Mr. Surles will be nominated to fill the vacancy created by the expiration of the term of Judge Joseph F. Flickinger, III, who did not seek reappointment.

“Judge Welch and Rob Surles are dedicated public servants and distinguished members of the Bar,” said Markell. “Judge Welch has been a member the Court of Common Pleas for the last 12 years, and he has served that court and the citizens of our state ably in that capacity.  Rob Surles has been an outstanding lawyer at the Department of Justice for more than two decades, and has served his country with distinction as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard.  If confirmed, I believe they will both serve our judiciary and our state well.”

A 22-year veteran of the Delaware Department of Justice, Mr. Surles currently serves as a Senior Trial Attorney in the New Castle County Trial Unit.  In that capacity he prosecutes homicides, arsons and firearms cases.  Among other duties, he previously served as Unit Head for the Department of Justice’s Felony Screening and Drug Units for more than 12 years and as a line prosecutor for almost 10 years.

Mr. Surles is also a Major in the Delaware Army National Guard, where he serves as Military Judge.  In that capacity, he acts as the judicial officer in court-martial proceedings and the presiding judge in administrative hearings.  An Iraqi War Veteran, Mr. Surles served with the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York National Guard in Tikrit, Iraq in 2005.  He is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Duquesne University School of Law.

“It is a tremendous honor to be nominated by the Governor,” said Surles. “As someone who has argued cases in our state’s courts for more than two decades, I believe that Delaware has the finest judiciary in the nation.  If I am confirmed by the Senate, I promise to work my hardest to continue this tradition of excellence.”

Judge Welch has served as a judge on the Court of Common Pleas since 2000.  From 1996-2000, he was an attorney at Brown, Shiels & Chasanov, where he litigated contract and personal injury claims.  From 1994 to 1996, he was a partner at Blade, Jones & Welch.  In addition, from 1994 to 2000, Judge Welch served as State Representative for the 29th District in the Delaware House of Representatives.

Judge Welch is a graduate of William Penn High School, the University of Delaware and Villanova University School of Law.

“I have been privileged to serve on the Court of Common Pleas for the last 12 years, and I am honored that Gov. Markell has nominated me to serve for a second term,” said Judge Welch.  “If I am confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to continuing my service to the citizens of our state as a member of Delaware’s world-class judiciary.”


Governor’s Weekly Message: Responding to Sandy Hook Tragedy


Wilmington –  In his weekly message, the Governor talks about issues raised following the tragedy in Connecticut.

“In living rooms and kitchens, as well as at the highest levels of government, we are having conversations about what we need to do,” said Governor Markell. “We share a family and social responsibility to promote activities that value, not devalue, human life and we have a civic responsibility to act, given what has taken place.  We will be discussing what more we can do here in Delaware, as citizens and as a state, to keep us moving forward.”

At noon every Friday, the Governor’s office releases a new Weekly Message in video, audio, and transcript form.  The message is available on:

YouTube: http://youtu.be/k9lxW4j8ODc
Delaware.Gov: http://governor.delaware.gov/information/podcast_video.shtml
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Transcript of the Governor’s Weekly Message: Responding to Sandy Hook Tragedy.


Governor’s Weekly Message Transcript: Responding to Sandy Hook Tragedy


Like so many others in Delaware and around the country this week, I have spent a lot of time last few days thinking about the issues raised by the awful tragedy in Connecticut.   In living rooms and kitchens, as well as at the highest levels of government, we are having conversations about what we need to do.  Our President has asked Vice-President Biden to lead a group to look at gun laws with a report due in January.

What’s clear to me is  we have a culture of violence in this country. We as a society continue to fail adolescents struggling with mental illness.   I think we need to focus our time and attention on three areas in moving forward.

First is mental health.  We must work to remove more of the stigma associated with mental illness and recognize it for the disease that it is.  Access to treatment is critical, and we are preparing plans to expand that access, especially for children and teens.

Second is school safety.  This year,  we created a new statewide protocol for comprehensive school safety plans in every public school.  Working with the Department of Safety and Homeland Security and with local emergency responders, schools are now in the process of creating those plans.   We need to make sure that we complete the effort.

Third – gun laws.   In 2011, I proposed, and the General Assembly passed, bills designed to strengthen enforcement around existing gun laws, including legislation to make sure Delaware does its part to keep those with disqualifying mental illnesses from obtaining guns. I am on the record as supporting  a ban on assault weapons with large magazines. As we move forward, I believe there are measures that reasonable gun owners can agree with.

Lastly, as a parent, I know the easy attraction of movies, shows, videos and games that depict violence… in many cases, too much violence.  We share a family and social responsibility to promote activities that value, not devalue, human life.  We have a civic responsibility to act given what has taken place.  We will be discussing what more we can do here in Delaware, as citizens and as a state, to help keep us moving forward


Biden Names Veteran Leaders to Senior Positions

Wilmington – Attorney General Beau Biden announced today that he has appointed two veteran Department of Justice attorneys to the positions of Chief Deputy Attorney General and State Solicitor.

 

Biden named Ian McConnel, who currently serves as State Solicitor, to the position of Chief Deputy Attorney General.  The Chief Deputy Attorney General has supervisory responsibility over the Criminal, Civil, Family, and Fraud and Consumer Protection Divisions and maintains an appellate responsibility in certain Freedom of Information Act disputes.  McConnel, who has served as State Solicitor since earlier this year, previously led the Attorney General’s Fraud and Consumer Protection Division, where he directed Delaware’s response to the foreclosure crisis, including sitting on the Executive Committee of the 50-state investigation of mortgage servicing violations, establishing Delaware’s mandatory foreclosure mediation program, and leading the Attorney General’s investigation of the national private electronic mortgage registry known as MERS. Prior to heading that Division, McConnel directed the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit, where he established and led the department’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force and spearheaded successful legislative efforts to strengthen Delaware’s consumer protection laws.

 

Before joining the Department of Justice in 2008, McConnel practiced law at the Wilmington firm of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell. He has also worked as an investment adviser and licensed stock broker for a private mutual fund company, and served as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps.  McConnel serves on the Delaware State Bar Ethics Committee and Nominating Committee for the Executive Committee.

 

Biden also named Deputy Attorney General Allison Reardon to succeed McConnel as State Solicitor.  As the head of the Department’s Civil Division, the State Solicitor oversees several key functions of the office, including evaluating Freedom of Information Act requests, providing legal representation to hundreds of State boards and commissions, and reviewing and drafting complex transactional agreements.  Reardon has served the Department of Justice for 20 years in a variety of positions in the Civil Division.  Most recently, since 2007 she has led the Administrative Law and Education Group which provides advice and counsel to the Division of Professional Regulation and its many boards and commissions, the Department of Education, and the Public Service Commission.  Allison previously led the Government Services Unit and over several years has supervised deputies with a wide range of responsibilities in the Division.

 

“Ian and Allison are proven leaders who bring valuable experience and dedication to their new posts,” Biden said.  “I will rely on them both, along with the rest of my capable leadership team, attorneys, and staff, to build upon our efforts to make our State safer and stronger by preventing crime and enforcing the law.”

 

McConnel and Reardon will immediately transition into their new responsibilities.  McConnel succeeds Superior Court Judge Charles Butler, who served as Chief Deputy Attorney General from 2010 until his confirmation to a seat on the Court earlier this month.

 

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Delaware Becomes First State to Receive Conditional Approval on State Partnership Health Insurance Exchange

Delaware one of three states getting approval on health exchanges

In a step toward expanding access to healthcare for Delawareans, Delaware today became the first state to receive conditional approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a State Partnership Health Insurance Exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

An exchange is an online marketplace in which consumers will be able to choose and sign up for health care coverage beginning in January 2014. The State Partnership Exchange model is an option provided to states that want to manage part of the exchange in 2014, taking advantage of the federal infrastructure while maintaining control of key decisions and tailoring the marketplace to address local needs and market conditions.

The conditional approval provided to Delaware today is the first of its kind and shows the progress Delaware has made ahead of the February 15, 2013 deadline to apply to operate a State Partnership Exchange.

U. S. Health and Human Services Secretary  Kathleen Sebelius recognized this significant milestone on the path to establishing an exchange for the people of Delaware.

“States across the country are working to implement the health care law and build a marketplace that works for their residents,” said Secretary Sebelius. “In ten months, consumers in all fifty states will have access to a new marketplace where they will be able to easily purchase quality health insurance plans.”

“We appreciate that Secretary Sebelius and her staff recognize Delaware’s commitment and leadership in its state health policy,” Governor Markell said. “Partnering with the federal government provides us with the ability to address the needs of Delaware’s health care consumers, including small businesses, and providers in a fiscally responsible way as we work together to ensure access to quality affordable health care for Delawareans.”

Through the State Departments of Health and Social Services and Insurance and the Delaware Health Care Commission, Delaware pursued a State Partnership Exchange instead of a state-based exchange because of Delaware’s small population and costs associated with a state-based exchange.  Delaware expects to serve about 35,000 people through the Exchange.  The state will retain control of plan management, including state requirements for qualified health plans, as well as the consumer assistance function.

“Health care reform is providing the impetus for even greater collaboration in Delaware among providers, insurers, consumers, businesses, educators and government,” said Rita Landgraf, Secretary of the State Department of Health and Social Services. “The exchange is another step that will allow us to bring coverage to the uninsured, focus on patient outcomes and measureable standards, and deliver quality care at a price that families and taxpayers can afford. In return, we also have expectations for the people who are insured. We will encourage people to take responsibility for making healthy choices for their own sake and to reduce the cost of care overall.”

Because of the Affordable Care Act, consumers and small businesses in every state will have access to a new marketplace starting in 2014 where they can access quality, affordable private health insurance.

In October 2013, Delaware will begin enrolling clients in its health insurance exchange for coverage effective on January 1, 2014.

To stay updated on Delaware’s exchange activities, visit the Delaware Health Care Commission website at http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dhcc/

 

See text of U.S. Health and Human Services release below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced that three more states are on track to implement the health care law and establish health insurance marketplaces, or Exchanges, in their states. HHS issued the first conditional approval of a State Partnership Exchange to Delaware and Minnesota and Rhode Island are conditionally approved today to operate a State-based Exchange.

Today’s conditional approvals follow those issued last week to Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon, and Washington to operate State-based Exchanges.

The conditional approval provided to Delaware today is the first of its kind and shows the progress Delaware has made ahead of the Feb. 15, 2013, deadline to apply to operate a State Partnership Exchange.   The State Partnership Exchange model is an option provided to states that want to manage part of the Exchange in 2014. A Partnership Exchange allows states to make key decisions and tailor the marketplace to local needs and market conditions. In addition to Delaware, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, and North Carolina have also expressed early interest in establishing a State Partnership Exchange.

“States across the country are working to implement the health care law and build a marketplace that works for their residents,” said Secretary Sebelius. “In ten months, consumers in all fifty states will have access to a new marketplace where they will be able to easily purchase quality health insurance plans.”

Because of the Affordable Care Act, consumers and small businesses in every state will have access to a new marketplace starting in 2014 where they can access quality, affordable private health insurance. These are similar to those choices that will be offered to members of Congress.

Consumers in every state will be able to buy insurance from qualified health plans directly through these marketplaces and may be eligible for tax credits to help pay for their health insurance.

To learn more about Exchange conditional approvals, visit: http://cciio.cms.gov/resources/factsheets/state-marketplaces.html

To view Exchange letters from states, visit:
http://www.healthcare.gov/law/resources/letters/index.html

For more information on Exchanges, visit:
http://www.healthcare.gov/exchanges