Governor Carney Signs 12-Week Paid Parental Leave Into Law

Policy to begin April 1, 2019

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney on Saturday signed House Bill 3 into law surrounded by members of the General Assembly, educators and advocates. This legislation offers state workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child under the age of six. With this legislation, Delaware becomes the sixth state in the nation to offer paid parental leave to public workers.

“Today I was proud to stand beside state workers, members of the General Assembly and advocates to make this a reality for Delaware families,” said Governor John Carney. “Our state employees deserve to spend time with their families when their children are born. It builds strong bonds, and has great health advantages. This benefit will help us maintain and strengthen our workforce, attracting new employees. Thank you to everyone who helped Delaware lead on leave.”

Paid Parental Leave bill signingFull-time state workers, including educators, would be eligible for 12 weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave after one year of employment. Paid parental leave will go into effect for Delaware workers on April 1, 2019.

“I have been committed to this issue for the past three years, and I am so excited to see this become a reality. Paid parental leave is going to be a game-changer for our state employees and our workforce,” said Representative Debra Heffernan. “The research continues to show that paid parental leave is an essential support system. It’s good for parents, good for kids and good for workplaces, promoting morale and job security. I firmly believe that the earliest early childhood education is when children are babies – and they learn from their parents – so I am so happy to see Governor Carney sign House Bill 3 into law.”

“This bill is a big, big deal,” said Senator Nicole Poore. “As a mom of three, I know how important it is to have time at home with a newborn child. Besides the mountain of scientific evidence pointing to the importance of those first few months, I know first-hand that the emotional and physical benefits of having time to recover and be with family are immeasurable. Delaware families deserve that time, and it makes me incredibly proud to be part of the team of lawmakers that delivered that to state employees today.”

“The addition of a new child is a very special time in an employee’s life, and our state recognizes the great benefits for the child and parents resulting from paid parental leave,” said Saundra Ross Johnson, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Human Resources. “Paid parental leave also delivers a competitive edge for attracting, recruiting and retaining talented employees as they recognize that Delaware cares and values families.”

“We are thankful that the General Assembly passed House Bill 3 and that the Governor made it a priority and is signing it into law today,” said Mike Matthews, President, Delaware State Education Association. “This paid parental leave gives our educators and state workers the time at home needed to recover from child birth and to care for and bond with their newborns or newly adopted children. State employees will no longer need to choose between taking care of a new child and being able to put food on the table or paying the bills. And, while this legislation supports new parents it also helps in the recruitment and retention of educators and state workers.”

“House Bill 3 will give state employees the freedom to have families on their own schedule. It gives families the time to bond with their newest member without the worry of financial stress that often comes with not having enough sick or annual leave,” said Michael Begatto, Executive Director of Council 81 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “House Bill 3 will help retain good employees and it is a win for the state and for state employees both.”

Click here for photos from the bill signing.

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Governor Carney Signs Executive Order on Budget Smoothing

Action will create benchmark budgeting mechanism and promote fiscal sustainability

DOVER, Del. Governor John Carney on Saturday signed Executive Order 21 to implement recommendations of the advisory panel to DEFAC to study potential fiscal controls and budget smoothing mechanisms. The Order will create a benchmark budgeting mechanism, and a Budget Stabilization Fund for budget planning, to help the State of Delaware take a more sustainable, long-term approach to annual budgeting.

Governor Carney and Michael Houghton, Chair of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council, issued the following statements on the Order following Saturday’s signing:

“Over the past several decades, we’ve seen Delaware’s budget go through good times and bad times,” said Governor Carney. “As every Delaware family knows, you’re supposed to save some of your money during the good times so you can make it through when money gets tight. This Executive Order holds state government to the same standard. It’ll even things out so when a bad economy comes along, we won’t see massive cuts in services or dramatic tax hikes. This is the responsible thing to do for taxpayers who rightly expect us to manage their money wisely.”

“I’m disappointed that we were not able to structurally improve the budget process like our committee recommended. It would have made life more predictable for nonprofits, fire companies and others relying on State funds and avoided the unhealthy ‘feast or famine’ fiscal cycle we are seeing,” said Michael Houghton, Chair of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council. “As Chair of the Advisory Panel that recommended the changes to the General Assembly, I want to thank Governor Carney for stepping up and initiating changes that more responsibly align State spending with revenues through his Executive Order.”

 

Learn more about the Executive Order on budget smoothing

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Related news:
Governor Carney Signs Fiscal Year 2019 Budget and Supplemental Appropriation
Governor Carney’s Statement on Joint Finance Committee Vote to Limit Spending
Governor Carney, JFC Co-Chairs Release Statements on DEFAC Estimates
Governor Carney’s Statement on Budget Smoothing Report
Governor Carney Presents Fiscal Year 2019 Recommended Budget


Fox in Angola Area Tests Positive for Rabies

Delaware’s Division of Public Health (DPH) is warning Sussex County residents who live in the residential area of Camp Arrowhead Road between Marsh Island Golf Club and Angola Road of a positive case of rabies in a fox that bit a human and a dog earlier this week. The fox was captured and brought to the DPH Lab, where test results on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, confirmed it had rabies. The victim and the victim’s dog were taking a walk in the area when the fox approached them and bit them. The individual has begun treatment for rabies exposure. In addition, the victim’s dog, which was up to date on its rabies vaccinations, is currently under quarantine following exposure.

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock.

Anyone in this area who thinks they might have been bitten, scratched or come in contact with the rabid fox should immediately contact their health care provider or call the DPH Rabies Program at 302-744-4995. An epidemiologist is available 24/7. Anyone who thinks their pet may have been bitten by this fox should call their private veterinarian or the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) at 302-698-4630.

 

Since Jan. 1, 2018, the Division of Public Health (DPH) has performed rabies tests on 68 animals, eight of which were confirmed to be rabid, including two foxes (including this one), two raccoons, one sheep, one cat, and two dogs. In 2017, DPH performed rabies tests on 143 animals, 16 of which were confirmed to be rabid, including five raccoons, six cats, two dogs, two bats and one fox. DPH only announces those rabies cases for which it is possible the animal had unknown contacts with humans and there is a risk of exposure to the community.

Rabies in humans and animals cannot be cured once symptoms appear. If the animal is of unknown origin, or unavailable to be quarantined or tested, DPH recommends that people receive post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment, a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure.

Rabies is an infectious disease affecting the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Infection can occur through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or if saliva from such an animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth, or an opening in the skin.

Fortunately, rabies is also almost completely preventable. DPH recommends that members of the public take the necessary steps to stay clear of exposure to rabies. Rabies prevention begins with the animal owner. Vaccination of pets and livestock is a crucial factor in rabies prevention.

• All dogs, cats, and ferrets 6 months of age and older are required by Delaware law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Consider vaccinating livestock and horses as well. It is recommended to consult with your private veterinarian if you have any questions regarding whether your animal(s) should be vaccinated against rabies.
• Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free.
• Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and, thus, reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
• Do not keep your pet’s food or water outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
• Keep your garbage securely covered.
• Do not touch or otherwise handle unfamiliar animals, including cats and dogs, even if they appear friendly.

For more information on the DPH rabies program, visit http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/rabies.html or call 1-866-972-9705 or 302-744-4995. For more information on rabies, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Wilmington Gang Member Faces Prison for 2015 Murder

Other defendants to serve time for manslaughter, sexual solicitation, and child pornography charges

A member of the Touch Money Gang (TMG) indicted in 2015 for a lengthy list of shootings, murders, and other crimes pled guilty to the February 2015 murder of 17-year-old Deshon Sellers in Wilmington. Alexander Fitzgerald, 21, of Wilmington pled guilty to Murder Second Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, and Illegal Gang Participation. In February 2015, officers answering a call of shots fired found Sellers near the intersection of East 24th and Lamotte Streets suffering from gunshot wounds. Fitzgerald faces 18 years to life in prison for his crimes when sentenced in New Castle County Superior Court later this year. Deputy Attorneys General John Downs, Periann Doko, and Daniel McBride are prosecuting the case. Detective Tom Curley of the Wilmington Police Department served as lead detective. With Fitzgerald’s plea, 12 of the 13 TMG members from the same indictment have pled or been found guilty.

Ternell Henderson, 32, of Wilmington, pled guilty to Manslaughter, stemming from an August 2016 fatal collision on Pennsylvania Avenue that killed a man. Henderson was driving his vehicle over 80 m.p.h. in a 25 m.p.h. hour zone and ran multiple red lights before crashing into Brian James’ vehicle, killing James. After the collision, Henderson got into another vehicle near the scene and fled. Wilmington Police detectives established Henderson as a suspect after interviewing witnesses and collecting items from the vehicle left at the scene linked to him. Henderson will be declared a habitual offender at the time of sentencing in October because of previous drug and weapons convictions in 2010, 2007 and 2006. Deputy Attorneys General Danielle Brennan and William Leonard secured the guilty plea.

A 34-year-old man living in New Jersey was sentenced to 5 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of Sexual Solicitation of a Child. An investigation by the Delaware Child Predator Task Force revealed Donald Beckwith traveled to Delaware to meet an underage child for a sexual encounter in February 2017 after communicating with the child online for several years. A Superior Court judge sentenced Beckwith to 5 years in prison, followed by 6 months of either home confinement or work release, then 5 years of probation. Beckwith must also register as a Tier II sex offender.

Deputy Attorneys General Brian Robertson and Rebecca Song secured a guilty plea for Manslaughter and Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony from a 29-year-old New Castle man for the December 2016 fatal stabbing. Chaz Collazo stabbed Smith in the neck on Market Street in Wilmington and fled the scene. Collazo faces sentencing by a Superior Court judge in September and faces between 4 and 50 years in prison. Special Investigator Brian Daly and Paralegal Jamie Prater assisted in the prosecution.

A 41-year-old Smyrna man faces 2 to 28 years in prison and will have to register as a Tier II sex offender after pleading guilty to Dealing in Child Pornography and Unlawful Sexual Content Second Degree. Between January and February 2018, former First State Military Academy instructor Troy McQueen made unlawful sexual contact with a cadet on school property in Clayton and had nude photographs of the cadet on his cellphone. A Kent County Superior Court judge will sentence McQueen on August 28, 2018. Deputy Attorney General Kathleen Dickerson secured the plea and Lorraine Freese assisted with the case.


Developmental Disabilities Council Special Investigation

State Auditor, R. Thomas Wagner, Jr., has released the Developmental Disabilities Council Special Investigation Report.

In October 2017, the Office of Auditor of Accounts (AOA) received complaints alleging that the Director of the Developmental Disabilities Council (the Council) was violating State procurement and travel policies and procedures.  As a result of these concerns, AOA opened an investigation to review procurement and travel conducted by the Council during Fiscal Years ended June 30, 2015, 2016, and 2017.  Through this investigation, AOA was able to substantiate or partially substantiate nine of ten allegations and conclude that the Council failed to consistently follow State, federal, and internal procurement and travel rules.

For the full results of the special investigation, please see the report available on AOA’s website at auditor.delaware.gov.

For any questions regarding the report please contact State Auditor Wagner at 302-739-5055 or r.thomas.wagner@delaware.gov.