Gov. Carney, Lt. Gov. Hall-Long, Sen. Carper, Rep. Blunt Rochester Announce $110M Universal Broadband Investment  

Delaware aims to be first state to reach every home and business with high-speed, wired broadband service 

Broadband infrastructure investment is funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), signed into law by President Joe Biden 

BRIDGEVILLE, Del. – Governor John Carney, Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, U.S. Senator Tom Carper, U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, members of the General Assembly, and the Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI) on Thursday announced a $110 million investment to cover every “last mile” of Delaware with high-speed, wireline broadband internet service.  

The broadband infrastructure investment – funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was signed into law on March 11 by President Joe Biden – aims to make Delaware the first state to provide wireline broadband access to every Delaware home and business.  

“Delawareans rely on stable internet connections to apply for jobs, help their children do homework, work from home, or continue their education online,” said Governor Carney. “This significant investment will recognize that reality, and make sure all Delaware families have access to high-speed broadband service. We know that’s more important than ever after the lessons we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to thank Delaware’s federal delegation for voting to approve the American Rescue Plan Act, and President Joe Biden for signing this important legislation into law.” 

Currently, about 11,600 Delaware homes and businesses lack access to high-speed, wireline broadband service. The broadband infrastructure project announced on Thursday will target investments to areas currently unserved or underserved, lacking a wireline connection, and will prioritize projects that achieve “last mile” connections to households and businesses. 

Click here to view maps of areas most in need of expanded of broadband networks across Delaware

 

“Access to broadband is infrastructure. Just like when our roads, bridges, and railways are broken we fix them and we need to do the same for our access to broadband and close these gaps,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “This critical investment from our federal government is a once in a generation opportunity for us to make a real difference and deliver meaningful investments. I’m excited about the opportunity to really put our state in a position of strength to meet the challenges of tomorrow.”   

“The coronavirus pandemic has shown just how much Americans rely on the Internet for school, running a business, or simply getting health care. Unfortunately, too many people across the First State do not have access to a reliable Internet connection,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “When our Congressional delegation was working on the American Rescue Plan, we knew we needed to provide robust and flexible funding for states to address their own unique needs. I’m so glad the state is using funds from the American Rescue Plan to address this digital divide, and I applaud Governor Carney’s leadership in combatting this pandemic and moving Delaware forward.” 

“Reliable access to high-speed internet is becoming more and more critical for success in the 21st century,” said U.S. Senator Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Today’s news will connect thousands in Delaware to broadband services. With the current challenges of COVID-19, we have particularly felt the strain associated with unreliable internet across our state. Whether it’s connecting kids to schools, seniors to doctors, or rural farmers to state-of-the-art agricultural data, this $110-million investment of federal funds will expand broadband availability, increase internet speeds, and make Delaware one of the most connected states in America.” 

“Access to affordable and reliable broadband has been an issue for students, families and businesses throughout Delaware for years, especially for those in the most rural and urban areas of the state,” said U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the critical need for high-speed broadband service as Delawareans found themselves learning, working and educating from home now more than ever. With $110 million secured through the American Rescue Plan that I voted to pass in March, Delaware will now be able to invest in major updates to our broadband infrastructure in the areas that need it most.” 

“Many of the local officials have long said that additional investment must be made in broadband connectivity,” said State Senator Brian Pettyjohn. “As the events of the past year have painfully shown, the infrastructure required to support business, remote learning, and other activities vital in the modern world are simply not in place. This investment will make our communities more competitive in a global economy, allow our students to have equal access to information for learning, and provide health, safety, and security enhancements to even the most remote areas in our state.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has driven home just how integral broadband is for modern life,” said State Senator Nicole Poore, chair of the Joint Capital Improvement Committee. “Delawareans logged on for work, school, doctor’s visits and just to spend a few minutes with their loved ones. Others turned to the high-speed internet to keep their businesses going. Here in the 21st century, we can’t afford for whole towns and communities to be without this vital service, and I applaud Governor John Carney for keeping his promise to close the last remaining gaps in broadband service for our rural communities.” 

“Building upon our prior investments in fiber and wireless broadband, it is our goal to be the first state to provide a wired internet connection to every Delaware residence and business,” said CIO Jason Clarke. “Working with our state internet service providers to deliver a reliable and scalable solution will position Delaware to meet current and future broadband demands.” 

Photos from today’s event can be found here.

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Lt. Governor Hall-Long & Former U.S Rep. Patrick Kennedy lead a Discussion on Social and Emotional Behavioral Health

Innovation Center, William Penn High School. – On Tuesday, Lt. Governor Hall-Long joined Patrick and Amy Kennedy and leaders in behavioral health from around Delaware for a round table discussion aimed at improving student mental health. Patrick Kennedy is one of the world’s leading voices on mental health and addiction. He is best known as the lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. Amy Kennedy has over 15 years of experience working in public schools. She has seen firsthand how a child’s mental health can impact their ability to learn and grow. Her experiences have shaped her advocacy efforts around social-emotional learning and mental wellness for children and adolescents.  

“Too many children suffer in silence due to the stinging stigma our culture has placed on mental health. As a result, kids and families do not get the help that they need. For their future and for their wellbeing we can no longer afford to fail to provide support and resources for kids who are battling mental illness. Our schools and communities can be a safe haven and conduit for help, and I am committed that we as a state provide the resources to achieve this goal,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long.  

Highlighted in the discussion was the topic of how increased investment, at the federal, community, and state-level in mental health services for young people from elementary school through college is critical to the overall emotional health of students.  

“For far too long, we’ve neglected to acknowledge mental health as an essential health,” said former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum. “And we’ve watched rates of overdoses and suicides soar to historic levels—even before the pandemic. The only way to truly confront the gravity of this crisis is to empower our youth with the mental health literacy and cognitive skills they need to face life’s challenges head-on. We have to walk the walk for prevention.” 

Even before the pandemic hit, many students, here in Delaware and around the country, were suffering from mental health conditions, which are only compounded for those who experience trauma from racial disparities, poverty, food insecurity, abuse, and more. I am inspired by the commitment Governor Carney and Lt. Governor Hall-Long are making to ensuring that Delaware’s youth have access to the mental health supports and services they need,” said Amy Kennedy, Education Director of The Kennedy Forum.  “We cannot allow the mental health of our youth to become a secondary priority.   Investing in behavioral health programs, social emotional learning, suicide prevention efforts, and other mental health services will give our young people the tools they need to succeed in school and throughout their lives.” 

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. SEL can improve student academic performance, well-being, and lifelong skills, while decreasing students’ anxiety, behavior problems, and substance use.  

In addition to Secretary of Education Susan Bunting, members from the Department of Education outlined how funds from the American Rescue Plan will be utilized to support social emotional learning, multi-tiered systems of support, and increase access to behavioral health services for all students in order to help implement and ensure equitable education for a stronger and healthier Delaware.  

“Our educators, school counselors and school staff members know first-hand how important this work is. They see how what is happening in our communities affects our students and know that our children need their emotional and mental health needs met to be able to focus on academic content. I’m grateful for the support of public and private partners who recognize this and are collaborating to provide these supports and to raise awareness, so these needs always remain in the forefront of our policies, programming and resource allocation,” said Secretary Susan Bunting. 

“We know that meaningful, positive connections can make all the difference in a child’s life. Together, we can foster those connections and support the behavioral health and social emotional learning of children and youth across Delaware. By investing in our children’s well-being, we invest in Delaware’s future,” said Josette Manning, Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. “I want to thank Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long for her leadership and passion on this topic, and applaud our stakeholders in the Department of Education and former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy and Amy Kennedy for their continued advocacy. Discussions such as these elevate child and family well-being and promote innovation and collaboration.”   

There were several other speakers throughout the day with impressive experiences and backgrounds in behavioral health including Pro Tempore Sen. David Sokola, Sen. Nicole Poore, Sen. Sarah McBride, Sen. Marie Pinkney, Rep. Kendra Johnson and Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown; Dr. Jeffrey Menzer (Superintendent of Colonial School District), Jon Cooper (Director of Behavioral Health for Colonial School District), Forrest Watson III and Norwood Coleman (Life Health Center), Khayree Bey (Colonial School District’s 2021 Teacher of the Year and a Lt. Governor’s Challenge 2020 winner), the DOE team (Christine Alois, Susan Haberstroh, Michael Rodriguez and Teri Lawler), and DSCYF Secretary Josette Manning. 

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Useful links can be found here:  


Governor Carney, Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long Announce Virtual Inauguration for January 19, 2021

State of the State Address scheduled for January 26; Governor to present Fiscal Year 2022 Budget on January 28

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long have announced plans for a virtual inauguration ceremony on Tuesday, January 19. The 74th Governor of the State of Delaware and 26th Lieutenant Governor will be sworn in for their second terms at 10 a.m. at Legislative Hall in Dover.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, the inaugural ceremony will be livestreamed at de.gov/inauguration.

“For the past two decades, Delawareans have trusted me with the responsibility and privilege of representing them as Lieutenant Governor, in the U.S. Congress and now as Governor,” said Governor Carney. “In a second term, I promise to continue working hard, every single day, on the issues that are important to the people of our state. Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Governor.”

“I am thankful for the honor to serve as your Lt. Governor for another term,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “2020 was a challenge for our nation, state, communities, and families. I look to 2021 with hope, confidence and optimism knowing we will face the challenges that confront us by working together to build a safer, healthier and stronger Delaware.”

Governor Carney will deliver his 2021 State of the State Address at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26 from the Senate Chamber at Legislative Hall. The Governor will present his recommended Fiscal Year 2022 budget at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 28.

Additional information will follow about the State of the State Address and annual budget presentation. Both events will be held virtually, without an audience. They will be livestreamed at de.gov/live and livestream.com/stateofdelaware.

 

 

 

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First $700,000 in Opioid Impact Fee Funding Allocated for Treatment of Substance Use Disorder

DOVER – Revenue from a new opioid impact fee created by the Delaware General Assembly in 2019 will be used to prevent overdose deaths and provide new services to those seeking treatment for their substance use disorder, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and Sen. Stephanie Hansen announced Wednesday.

DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik this week detailed the department’s plan to spend the first $700,000 raised by the fee as of the third quarter of 2020, as required by Senate Bill 34.

Those funds will be used to bolster Delaware’s supply of naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose; support the expansion of Bridge Clinic services to 24 hours a day in all three counties; and provide grants to people in treatment or recovery for such needs as transportation, housing, or education.

“As we work to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our state continues to respond to an opioid epidemic that is costing the lives of far too many Delawareans,” DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik said. “The opioid impact fee created by Sen. Stephanie Hansen last year is proving to be a powerful tool in that fight. These funds are helping us to expand our services and reach the people most in need of that support.”

Signed into law by Governor John Carney in June 2019, Delaware’s first-in-the-nation opioid impact fee requires some of the nation’s largest drug makers to address the costs of the opioid crisis they helped to create.

Manufacturers are now charged one penny for every morphine milligram equivalent (MME) of any brand-name opioid dispensed in Delaware and one-quarter of a cent for every MME of their generic opioids sold here. Companies that refuse to pay the fee can be charged a penalty of up to $100 a day or 10 percent of the total impact fee, whichever is greater.

Proceeds from the fee are then held in a special Prescription Opioid Impact Fund that can be used only for the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder. According to the law, the fund is administered by DHSS with input from the Behavioral Health Consortium, the Addiction Action Committee, and the Overdose System of Care Committee.

“When we started down this road, we heard from countless naysayers who falsely claimed either that this legislation would hurt pharmacies, negatively impact consumers or fail to make a difference,” said Sen. Stephanie Hansen, the lead architect and driving force behind Senate Bill 34, along with House prime sponsor Rep. David Bentz. “Fears such as these prevent progress and have allowed this crisis to go on so long. This announcement today proves we can hold drug makers accountable. We can bring innovative, new tools to bear to confront addiction in our communities. And we can do more to break the cycle of abuse, addiction and death that has touched so many families in our state.”

Delaware is one of the top 20 states in opioid prescriptions per capita and currently leads the nation when it comes to the prescription rate for high-dose opioids. Delaware also ranks in the top five for most overdose deaths per capita. Every year since 2009, more Delawareans have died from drug overdoses than motor vehicle crashes, including 431 in 2019 alone – a record likely to be broken this year.

“The status quo simply will not suffice if we are going to get Delaware’s opioid crisis under control,” said Alexis Teitelbaum, acting director for the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. “Revenue from the opioid impact fee will support our efforts to build out Delaware’s treatment infrastructure and continue our efforts to reach more people in new ways.”

Funds from the Opioid Impact Fee will be targeted for four main purposes in the coming year:

  • $300,000 will be combined with federal grant funding to help fill a critical gap in the existing system of care for people struggling with addiction issues. Interventions immediately following an overdose or other hospitalization present an effective opportunity to enroll patients in treatment programs. Currently, people discharged from the hospital are brought to a Bridge Clinic, located in each county, for screening and referrals to these programs. However, Bridge Clinics do not operate 24/7. DSAMH is currently working to address this issue through the addition of Stabilization Centers that can house and counsel clients during off-hours and weekends. Funding from the Opioid Impact Fee will help cover capital start-up costs, while the State Opioid Response federal grant will be used to fund programmatic and treatment expenses.
  • $250,000 will be used to help people struggling with addiction issues fill gaps in the social determinants that often present roadblocks in their efforts to enter, continue and complete the treatment and recovery process. These funds will provide DSAMH with the ability to assist clients with transportation costs and transitional housing while they seek treatment, as well as additional supports for people in recovery.   
  • $100,000 will be reserved to cover the Department of State’s administrative expenses associated with the collection of the fee.
  • $50,000 will be used to purchase 925 additional naloxone kits that DSAMH will make available to various community groups. Organizations can acquire these life-saving kits by contacting DSAMH. During the first three quarters of 2020, the Delaware Division of Public Health’s Office of Health Crisis Response distributed nearly 6,300 naloxone kits statewide through its community partners.

“There are no easy solutions when it comes to treating people struggling with substance use disorder,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who chairs the Delaware Behavioral Health Consortium. “To be successful, we must take a truly holistic approach. This means supporting both the individual and their family as we attempt to remove the social determinant barriers that hinder an individual on a path to recovery,” she said. “The Opioid Impact Fee is helping Delaware to build that behavioral health system infrastructure. This legislation is doing more than just generating revenue. It will help us to save lives, rebuild families, and restore communities torn apart by addiction. Sen. Hansen, Rep. Bentz, the community advocates, and DHSS deserve a lot of credit for the plan being put forward today.”


[VIDEO] Governor Carney Receives Pandemic Resurgence Advisory Committee Report

 

 

Learn more about the Pandemic Resurgence Advisory Committee and their recommendations: de.gov/prac