Bill protecting Delawareans serving in the National Guard, U.S. military wins final approval in the General Assembly

Dover – Legislation that will provide important consumer protections to members of the United States military and the Delaware National Guard passed the state House on Monday night and is one step from becoming law.
Senate Bill 206, developed by Attorney General Beau Biden’s office and sponsored by Sen. Bryan Townsend and Rep. Earl Jaques, creates a state-level version of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Establishing a Delaware version of the federal SCRA gives Attorney General Biden’s office the authority to enforce the new law in state courts. Biden is an Iraq War veteran, Townsend, D-Newark is the chair of the Senate Banking Committee and a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and Jaques, D-Glasgow is the chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and retired from the Delaware National Guard as a 1-star general after more than 36 years of service.
The federal SCRA dates back to the Civil War and protects members of the military from having to defend themselves against most civil proceedings, such as foreclosure, while they are serving their country on active duty or are forced to move because of their military service. The federal SCRA also protects servicemembers who have to break leases or contracts due to military deployment.
“We have a duty to protect those who protect us,” Biden said. “The men and women who put their safety at risk to serve our state and country should be focused on their mission, not defending themselves at home. Senate Bill 206 strengthens the protections that military members receive by giving my office a greater ability to prosecute those who violate the SCRA.” 
SB 206 incorporates these protections into a state law and also expands the SCRA by extending relief to members of the Delaware National Guard who are called into active military service for the State of Delaware for a period of more than 30 consecutive days. These Guard members are not covered under the current federal SCRA.
            “Military members, including our guardsmen, put their lives on hold and sacrifice to serve our state and country,” said Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, a retired Delaware Air National Guard brigadier general, after tonight’s vote. “They deserve the protections they receive from the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and this will make those protections even stronger. The Delaware National Guard, our civilian military, deserve the same protections as other military members, and they soon will receive them.”
By putting the federal protections into state law, Attorney General Biden’s office will have the authority to enforce the law and protect members of the Delaware National Guard and military men and women who reside in Delaware. Attorney General Biden’s office would have the authority to prosecute violations of the state law. Right now, it cannot prosecute violators because the protections are only in federal law, not the Delaware Code.
Examples of provisions of the federal SCRA include:
·         Servicemembers cannot have default judgments entered against them because there are on active duty and civil proceedings must be stayed.
·         Military men and women (who live off base) cannot have their homes foreclosed on while they’re deployed on active duty and their mortgage interest rate, if higher than 6 percent, must be lowered to 6 percent.
·         The SCRA requires the stay or vacation of execution of judgments, attachments and garnishments for deployed military members.
·         Military personal cannot be being charged penalties, such as fines and fees, incurred under contracts due to military service.
This bill is the latest effort from Attorney General Biden to strengthen the financial protections given to military personnel and to ensure the laws providing those protections are followed. Biden’s office secured stronger consumer protections for military members and their families in a February 2012 national settlement with five of the largest mortgage-servicing banks, has held outreach events for military personnel with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Delaware National Guard, and is preparing to hold a military consumer protection event in July.
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Delaware acts to fight human trafficking

Dover – Legislation championed by Attorney General Biden, national authorities on the law, and state legislative leaders which strengthens the fight against human trafficking was enacted in a signing ceremony this afternoon in Legislative Hall.


Senate Bill 197, crafted by Senate President Pro Tempore Patricia M. Blevins, D-Elsmere, and Rep. Helene Keeley, D-Wilmington South, in cooperation with Attorney General Beau Biden’s office and the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), increases criminal penalties for those that engage in human trafficking and provide greater protections for its victims.  The bill passed the State House and Senate unanimously earlier this spring.


“We’ve taken an important step to better protect the vulnerable and voiceless victims of human trafficking,” Attorney General Biden said.  “It ensures that resources are made available to victims of this unconscionable crime to help them heal and move forward with their lives, and it expands penalties to punish the perpetrators and those who benefit from trafficking.  I want to specially recognize Senator Blevins and Representative Keeley for their leadership in crafting and passing this legislation.”


Human trafficking is now the second fastest growing crime in the United States, and the Delaware legislation provides a comprehensive approach in the fight against human trafficking.  The bill:

  • Sharpens the state’s provisions that penalize the criminal conduct at the core of human trafficking and punishes those who knowingly benefit by using human-trafficking victims.
  • Empowers Courts to order that traffickers forfeit property used in or gained by trafficking.
  • Provides the protections and remedies that victims need to recover and rebuild their lives.
  • Creates a Human Trafficking Coordinating Council to develop a comprehensive anti-human-trafficking plan, evaluate data, effectuate interagency cooperation, and other important tasks.


“With Gov. Markell signing this Uniform Act into law, Delaware leads the nation in the fight against modern slavery,” said Delaware Uniform Law Commissioner and ULC Immediate Past-President Michael Houghton.  “Attorney General Biden, Sen. Blevins and Rep. Keeley have been exceptional partners in the fight to punish traffickers and provide resources and dignity to the survivors of trafficking–there is much left to do, but Delaware is leading the way.”


“Many of us don’t realize how frequently people of all ages fall victim to human trafficking right here in the United States, including Delaware, or understand the lasting and damaging impact that it has on individuals and their families,” Sen. Blevins said. “Not only does this bill strengthen our ability to penalize those who carry out these crimes, but it provides protections for victims, so that they are not criminalized for acts which they were forced to commit. Also, through the Council established under this bill, Delaware will continue to coordinate and develop rehabilitative services to help victims cope mentally and physically after their abuse, and get them back on their feet.”


“It is unthinkable that in 2014 we are talking about 2 million people annually being bought and sold around the world. While that number is much smaller in the United States, we must do everything in our power to put an end to this inhuman practice,” said Rep. Helene M. Keeley, D-Wilmington South, the bill’s chief House sponsor. “In Delaware, vulnerable boys, girls and women are being coerced into prostitution and are victimized and abused. No person should be treated like this and we as a society can’t tolerate it. This is a comprehensive approach, toughening penalties on those who commit and profit from the crime while protecting the victims whose lives are shattered by this act.”


Delaware’s Human Trafficking legislation is based in part on the Uniform Act on the Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking.  The Uniform Act was drafted and approved by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) in 2013 and endorsed by the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates in August 2013.  The Uniform Act has been the basis for anti-human trafficking legislation in numerous states this year, including Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Virginia.  More information on this nation-wide effort can be found at


A broad coalition of organizations joined the ULC in creating the Uniform Act, including the ABA, the ABA Center for Human Rights, the National Association of Attorneys General, the Polaris Project, LexisNexis, the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and other organizations committed to eradicating human trafficking.


The Uniform Law Commission is comprised of more than 350 practicing lawyers, government lawyers, judges, law professors, and lawyer-legislators who are appointed by each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to research, draft, and promote enactment of uniform state laws in areas of law where uniformity is desirable and practical.  Since 1892, the ULC has served the states and their citizens by creating uniform state laws that help families, businesses, property owners, service members, and many more


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Newark man arrested for distributing child pornography

Newark – The latest investigation by the Delaware Child Predator Task Force into the online distribution of child pornography has a led to the arrest of a Newark man, Attorney General Beau Biden announced today.


“Thanks to the constant vigilance of our Child Predator Task Force we’re taking those who would harm our kids off the streets,” Biden said.


During its investigation the Task Force traced the distribution of child pornography to a residence in the unit block of Shields Lane in Newark.  Yesterday, 50 year-old Robert M. Metzger, the sole occupant of the residence, was taken into custody and was transported to DSP Troop #2 and the Child Predator Task Force, along with a uniformed Trooper from Troop #2, executed a search warrant at his residence.  During the search, investigators seized one laptop computer and additional digital media devices.


An initial forensic examination of the evidence seized during the search revealed multiple images and videos of child pornography.  As a result of the investigation Metzger was arrested yesterday and charged with 25 counts of Dealing in Child Pornography.  He was arraigned via video phone by JP Court #2 and was taken to James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in lieu of $500,000 secured bail


The Child Predator Task Force investigation continues.  A booking image of Metzger is attached.

Booking image Metzger

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Governor’s Weekly Message: Expanding Broadband Access to Strengthen Our Economy

DOVER – In his weekly message, Governor Markell highlights efforts to expand broadband access throughout Delaware and the positive impact it has on our overall economy.

“I’m proud of Delaware’s consistent ranking as one of the best broadband states, but we also face a challenge seen across the nation,” said Governor Markell. “Americans in rural areas are significantly less likely to have access. By expanding the benefits of broadband, we’ll create economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for our people, and we’ll keep Delaware moving forward.”

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

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Transcript of the Governor’s Weekly Message: Expanding Broadband Access to Strengthen Our Economy

Governor’s Weekly Message Transcript: Expanding Broadband Access to Strengthen Our Economy

The internet has created countless possibilities that touch nearly every aspect of our lives. Rapidly developing broadband technology has led to incredible opportunities for businesses to expand, while improving the ability of teachers to serve students, doctors to serve patients and first responders to protect our public safety. To give everyone a fair shot to reach their potential, we must ensure everyone can learn about and take advantage of up-to-date online technology.

I’m proud of Delaware’s consistent ranking as one of the best broadband states, but we also face a challenge seen across the nation. Americans in rural areas are significantly less likely to have access. So we’ve made rural expansion of high-speed broadband a priority. We just announced the completion of a fiber line that runs through Sussex County to Georgetown. And we’re building on that by making a grant available to private companies to use the new line to deliver better technology to key sites in Sussex County. This will significantly increase internet speeds at schools, libraries, health care facilities and locations that provide vital government services. We’ll also create jobs in the construction phase and businesses, farms and homes throughout the area will see their connections improve. We announced the grant at La Red Health Center, where CEO Brian Olson highlighted the benefits that they’ve already realized through telemedicine. And he described how improved broadband service means better care for patients and families who no longer have to drive hours to see a certain specialist.

By expanding the benefits of broadband, we’ll create economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for our people, and we’ll keep Delaware moving forward.