Governor Carney Signs Vote By Mail Legislation

House Bill 346 creates safe, more direct alternative to in-person voting due to COVID-19

WILMINGTON, Del.  – Governor John Carney on Wednesday signed into law House Bill 346, legislation sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst that allows Delawareans to vote by mail in the 2020 primary, general and special elections. House Bill 346 makes voting by mail an alternative to in-person voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and establishes procedures for voting by mail which mirror the procedures for absentee voting. Voting by mail does not replace in-person voting, which will be available for those not voting by absentee or mail ballot.

Watch video of bill signing on Facebook or YouTube.

“My position on this issue has been simple and consistent. We should make it easier – not harder – for all Delawareans to exercise their fundamental right to vote and participate in our democratic process,” said Governor Carney. “That’s especially important this year as our state and country continue to grapple with the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation will make sure that Delawareans can fairly and securely cast their ballots and have their voices heard.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our lives as we have taken steps to protect residents’ health and reduce the spread of the virus. No resident should have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote, and House Bill 346 will make sure no one has to make that difficult choice,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, the lead sponsor of the bill. “This new law gives every voter the option to cast their ballot by mail. Given the uncertainties of the virus and the steps we have to take to limit its spread, this is a critical option. We’ve done this the right way, using an existing, successful absentee voting system Delaware has used for decades. What we have done today will ensure that the 2020 elections in Delaware are a model for other states, not a ‘what went wrong?’ highlight on TV.”

“No one should ever have to choose between their health and voting in a free and open election,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride. “With another spike of coronavirus cases expected in the fall just as many Delawareans prepare to exercise their fundamental right to vote, we have an obligation to provide our constituents – particularly those with a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 – with safe, secure options for casting their ballots. House Bill 346 does not prevent a single person from voting in person, but it will give voters a choice that will preserve our democracy and could very well save lives.”

 

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Bill Signing Promotes Savings in the First State

Senate Bill 143, signed today by Governor Carney, will increase savings plans education

 

Treasurer Colleen C. Davis, bill sponsors Sen. Trey Paradee and Rep. Krista Griffith, and children from Brilliant Little Minds Learning Academy celebrated today as Governor John Carney signed Senate Bill 143 into law. This legislation allows the Plans Management Board and the Office of the State Treasurer to increase awareness of the benefits of saving through the 529 Education Savings Plan and through ABLE Plans for those with disabilities.

Also joining the event were Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, Secretary of Finance Rick Geisenberger, Rep. Mike Smith, Rep. Bryan Shupe, and members of the Delaware Department of Education and the Plans Management Board. The Governor and legislators talked about their own experiences with the savings plans and discussed the importance of the bill. Treasurer Davis asked the kids from Brilliant Little Minds Learning Academy what they want to be when they grow up. “Whatever you want to be when you grow up, you have to work hard in school and save your money to make it happen. I’m so glad that we could have young people here with us as we take this step towards expanding economic opportunity and educational attainment.”

Senate Bill 143 allows the Board to pursue methods of increasing savings plan enrollments outside of the high-income earning households that traditionally participate by allowing for incentive-based marketing. Possible avenues of promotion include a scholarship program or a match plan, as seen in other states. These options will be explored by the Board at future meetings. Additionally, new promotions aimed at increasing awareness of using 529s for adult educational attainment and for non-college costs, such as apprenticeship programs, will be integrated into future marketing efforts.

“The costs of education are skyrocketing, but national enrollments in 529 plans have gone down,” Treasurer Davis said. “In Delaware, we have worked hard to share the benefits of these plans with our residents and are continuing to see new enrollments. Our nearly 22,000 accounts represent growth of 4% over the last three years, and this bill will allow us to continue to expand. Like these savings plans, Senate Bill 143 is an investment in our future.”

“America is facing a crisis when it comes to saving money for the future,” said Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, who works as a financial advisor. “Right now, 40 percent of U.S. adults don’t have enough savings to cover even a $400 emergency – a brutal fact, which is leaving too many families one missed paycheck from a financial nightmare. We need to be doing all we can to encourage people to take advantage of savings plans, particularly the favorable products offered by our state. This bill is aimed at raising awareness of those products and examining how we can better position them to help working families in need.”

“Given the daunting cost of college education, the state of Delaware needs to do everything it can to promote college savings. Delaware has made great strides in creating accounts for those for disabilities, which will allow them to save money without sacrificing services they depend on,” said Rep. Krista Griffith, D-Fairfax. “This bill will allow Treasurer Davis to increase outreach about Delaware’s 529 plan and make more Delawareans aware of the benefits so they can invest and plan for their futures. I’m always looking to help improve accessibility to these accounts and I look forward to continued efforts in the General Assembly.”

Both tax-advantaged savings plans are available to the public, easy to open, and offer investment options so that savings can grow over time until they are used for associated costs. Learn more about our savings plans at 529.Delaware.Gov and ABLE.Delaware.Gov.


Governor Carney Signs Legislation to Ban Plastic Bags, Reduce Litter in Delaware

New laws will ban single-use plastic bags and create a Litter Investigation and Enforcement Fund

WILMINGTON, Del. –  At the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary on Monday, Governor John Carney joined members of the General Assembly and environmental advocates to sign House Bill 130 and Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 5, two pieces of legislation aimed at confronting litter in Delaware. Both new laws will help protect Delaware communities from litter, and protect Delaware’s environment and wildlife from the harmful effects of discarded waste.  

House Bill 130 will ban the use of single-use plastic bags and encourage a shift to reusable bags in Delaware. Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 5 will address the problem of individuals dumping large quantities of trash on public and private property by increasing penalties for unlawful dumping and creating a Litter Investigation and Enforcement Fund.

“We live in a beautiful state. We should keep it that way,” said Governor Carney. “One of the best ways we can take pride in our communities is to keep them clean. That’s why I was proud to stand with mayors, county executives, and other local leaders recently to announce the Delaware Anti-Litter Alliance – a coalition of public officials committed to keeping our state litter free. And that’s why I was pleased to sign these bills into law on Monday. These new laws will help us protect Delaware communities from litter, protect our environment, and  protect Delaware wildlife. Thank you to members of the General Assembly and Delawareans up and down our state who have pledged to help Keep DE Litter Free.”

A 2018 study from Keep Delaware Beautiful and the State of Delaware identified 6,000 pieces of litter for every mile of Delaware roadway surveyed.

Join the campaign: Keep DE Litter Free

“Limiting the use of plastic bags will go a long way toward preserving our environment for future generations. Our young people and future leaders will be the beneficiaries of our actions, and today we take a step forward in making them proud,” said Representative Gerald Brady, prime sponsor of the plastic bag legislation. “We want our waterways to be clean and vibrant, our wildlife to be healthy and our stormwater systems to be effective. I have to thank my colleagues, Governor Carney and many advocates for their passion and support to move this legislation, which will help our society as a whole.”

“This legislation is not just about protecting our environment but also about protecting our health,” said Senator Trey Paradee. “These single-use bags never fully break down. Instead, they turn into tiny bits of microplastic that end up in our food supply and eventually inside of all of us. I’m extremely proud of my colleagues in the Delaware General Assembly for taking this important first step toward reducing the amount of plastic in our environment. This is a clear demonstration that we can work together to improve our state for everyone and I look forward to continuing that effort next year.”

“Our children and grandchildren deserve to inherit a Delaware free of trash and pollution. But we can’t expect someone else to take care of our natural environment for us,” said Senator Stephanie Hansen. “Preserving our forests, waterways and green spaces requires direct and deliberate action, which is why I am proud to have sponsored Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 5 and co-sponsored House Bill 130. These two bills are vital first steps for reducing the amount of plastic waste that inadvertently ends up in our streams and woodlands and changing the culture around the kind of deliberate littering that damages and disrespects our state and our country.”

“These pieces of legislation are essential steps at curbing hazardous behaviors, litter, and our dependence on single use plastics,” said Ginger North, Director of Conservation at the Delaware Nature Society. “We commend Governor Carney and the members of the General Assembly for taking these steps and limiting the number of plastic bags and other waste that litter our beautiful state and are a hazard to our environment, wildlife, and public health.”

 

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Governor Carney Signs Collective Bargaining Legislation

New law allows 2,000 more state employees to collectively bargain for higher wages

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Thursday signed legislation – Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 8 – that protects public sector unions and allows more state employees to collectively bargain for higher wages.

“State employees protect our communities, teach our children, clear our streets, and provide critical services for Delaware families,” said Governor Carney. “They ought to be paid what they’re worth. Investing in state employees, and our state workplaces, will help us attract and retain quality state employees, and deliver state services more effectively. I was proud to stand alongside union leaders and members of the General Assembly in signing this legislation into law.”

The new law will allow 2,000 additional state employees to collectively bargain for higher wages.

“Allowing more state workers to collectively bargain for better wages is a critical step toward improving the lives of all Delaware families,” said Senator Jack Walsh, the prime sponsor of the legislation. “As the state’s largest employer, we have led the way time and again when it comes to caring for our workers. From paid parental leave and loan forgiveness for public school teachers to cost-of-living wage hikes and stronger labor unions, we are creating a stronger workforce and a brighter future for thousands of our residents.”

“This is a proud moment for our Unions that represent our state workers,” said James Maravelias, President of the Delaware State AFL-CIO. “This shows our constant commitment to their livelihood and our ever-present representation.”

“I want to thank Governor Carney for signing this important legislation,” said Michael Begatto, Executive Director of AFSCME, Council 81. “Without his support, this would not have gotten done.”

“The signing of this legislation marks the beginning of a new way in which the Department of Human Resources operates as it relates to collective bargaining and negotiations,” said Saundra Ross Johnson, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Human Resources. “We look forward to working with the bargaining units to make certain that together, we are providing fair and equitable opportunities for our current employees and those seeking employment.”

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Governor Carney Signs Legislation to Protect Delaware’s Coastal Waters and Economy

Senate Bill 200 and Senate Bill 207 will prohibit and prevent offshore drilling in Delaware’s coastal waters

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. – Governor John Carney on Thursday signed Senate Bill 200 and Senate Bill 207, two pieces of legislation aimed at protecting Delaware’s coasts from offshore drilling. These pieces of legislation will help maintain high-quality coastline waters and protect thousands of jobs supported by Delaware’s coastal tourism industry. Coast-related activities contribute almost $7 billion to Delaware’s economy.

Senate Bill 200 prohibits drilling for oil and natural gas in Delaware’s coastal zone and territorial waters, and precludes DNREC from issuing any permits in connection with the development of offshore drilling infrastructure. Senate Bill 207 opposes drilling off Delaware’s coast and directs certain state officials and agencies to enforce Delaware’s rights relating to offshore drilling under federal and state environmental laws.

“We have a responsibility to care for our coasts, and in turn, protect our state’s environment and economy,” said Governor Carney. “Offshore drilling presents a threat to the health of our coastal communities that we can’t ignore, and these two pieces of legislation will help prevent drilling in our waters. A large part of Delaware’s tourism industry depends on clean coasts, and Delawareans and visitors alike will benefit from these protections signed into law today. Thank you to members of the General Assembly for this bipartisan effort and to advocates for their tireless work to protect Delaware’s coasts, environment and economy.”

“Promoting clean alternative energy development in the Atlantic region, along with the continued conservation of our marine and estuarine habitats, and the success of our coastal economy are of the utmost importance to the citizens of Delaware,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin.

“The state’s beaches are a treasure, which the National Resource Defense Council has consistently rated as the cleanest on the East Coast,” said Liz Keller, Delaware Tourism Director. “They are important for the tourism industry in the state, and it is essential to maintain their good health.”

“Standing against offshore drilling is a no-brainer for Delaware,” said Senator Stephanie Hansen. “Washington, D.C. may have forgotten disasters like those in the Gulf, Alaska and Santa Barbara – but I haven’t, and neither have bipartisan leaders across our state. Delaware’s beaches are some of the cleanest in the country, are home to a unique marine ecosystem, and are vital to our state’s crucial tourism industry. It takes just one accident to change all of that overnight. Our economy, our budget, and our environment can’t afford that mistake.”

“I am proud to be a prime sponsor of this important bipartisan effort,” said Senator Ernesto “Ernie” Lopez. “Defending our beautiful beaches and our unique coastal environment from the potential negative impact of off-shore drilling is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue: It is a Delaware issue and has been of the highest priority for the people of the 6th District and to me as their State Senator.”

“We welcome millions of visitors to Rehoboth and Dewey every year. They come here for our award-winning, pristine beaches and clean air. They contribute billions to our local economy. All of that could be jeopardized by offshore drilling,” said House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf. “Delawareans have to stand together against something that could do so much damage to our community and our state, and that’s exactly what the General Assembly did by overwhelmingly passing these bills.”

“The risks involved with offshore drilling are greater than many people realize. There have been 44 major oil spills off the United States coast since 1969, several with catastrophic effects on the environment and local economy,” said Representative Debra Heffernan. “We can’t allow that to happen to Delaware, and we have to take whatever steps we can to protect our environment.”

“I am thrilled that Delaware is taking this important step, and I am proud to have been a co-sponsor of this bipartisan bill,” said Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle. “Our coastline is a critical natural resource, and the risk of damaging our waterways through a drilling accident far outweighs the benefit of any oil that could be extracted.”

“It means a lot to see and hear leadership at the state level,” said Rehoboth Beach Mayor Paul Kuhns. “It validates our concerns and efforts to maintain a clean and healthy coast that is vital to our economy and families who come to enjoy our beautiful beaches. In publicly opposing offshore drilling activities, Governor Carney is standing with our coastal communities, who have the most to lose and who have overwhelmingly opposed these efforts.”

“The City of Lewes is very pleased that Governor Carney is signing SB 200 and SB 207,” said Lewes Mayor Ted Becker. “Lewes was the first city to adopt a resolution opposing seismic testing – a precursor to offshore drilling – in November 2015. Since then the six other coastal communities, all members of the Association of Coastal Towns (ACT), have adopted similar resolutions as a demonstration of our collective serious concern regarding the potentially devastating impact offshore drilling could have on marine mammals and the extremely important economic contribution of tourism to the economy of our state.”

“The Delaware Coast and its estuaries form essential marine habitat for over 32 species of marine mammals and sea turtles,” said Suzanne Thurman, MERR Institute Executive Director. “Many of these species are endangered, and three large whale species are experiencing an Unusual Mortality Event. These magnificent creatures need to be protected from the devastation of harmful oil and gas drilling, which even in its daily operation will contaminate the marine ecosystem, and in the event of a spill would be catastrophic. MERR is very pleased to see these important bills signed into law today, and for the far reaching protection they will provide for our coastal waters and the welfare of marine species.”

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