Governor Carney Signs Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act

New law will limit access to firearms for those considered a danger to themselves or others

NEWARK, Del. – On Monday, Governor John Carney signed the Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act alongside Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, Ashley Biden, Representative David Bentz, legislators, and gun safety advocates at the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware.

The Beau Biden Act, passed unanimously by the General Assembly, will help restrict access to firearms for those who mental health professionals believe present a danger to themselves or others. The Act, which takes effect six months after its signing, mirrors legislation championed by former Attorney General Beau Biden in 2013.

“I am honored to sign this legislation, and to help carry on Beau’s legacy and his commitment to protecting Delawareans,” said Governor Carney. “The Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act is important, common sense legislation – and one piece in a package of comprehensive gun safety reform that will help make our state safer. This law will ensure that law enforcement and health professionals are working more closely together to confront the issue of gun violence and mental health. And it will help keep firearms away from those who may pose a danger to themselves or others, while protecting due process rights, and ensuring continued access to important mental health services.”

“My son Beau always believed that there was room for common sense gun safety legislation. It is something he supported and worked for his whole professional career, including championing a nearly identical bill as Attorney General,” said Vice President Joe Biden. “While that bill came up short of passage before we lost Beau, he was always confident that we would move in the right direction. This bill will make the state of Delaware safer while safeguarding every Delawarean’s rights to due process. It is a fitting tribute to Beau’s legacy.”

“Delaware has taken a substantial step forward in addressing mental health and gun safety with this thoughtful, consensus-driven piece of legislation. The Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act balances due process and public safety in the ultimate effort to prevent senseless gun violence by keeping guns out of the hands of those who present a danger to themselves or others,” said Representative David Bentz. “It was an honor to stand with Vice President Joe Biden as Governor Carney signed legislation addressing an issue that meant so much to the Vice President’s son. I hope this legislation serves as a model for other states as they work through gun safety policies.”

“Delaware has a responsibility to take action on the gun violence epidemic. Today, we’re upholding that responsibility,” said Senate Majority Leader Margaret Rose Henry. “As policymakers, we have to have a good faith conversation about mental health and gun safety, but we also need to make sure that we protect due process and that we don’t perpetuate the harmful, stigmatizing myth that people with mental illness are dangerous. Two unanimous votes show that Representative Bentz struck that balance. His work on gun safety will save lives, and he deserves real praise for that.”

“The Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence is grateful to those legislators on both sides of the aisle who were willing to work together to craft this important piece of legislation. This was a bipartisan effort that will protect people in our state who might pose a threat to themselves or others,” said Dennis Greenhouse, Chairman of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence. “The fight against gun violence is not a partisan issue, and it does not stop here. As we continue into the final months of this session, we are optimistic that legislators will approach other common-sense gun violence bills before them with a similar commitment to action and willingness to work together to get things done.”


The Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act adds the following individuals to the list of persons prohibited from owning a firearm:

  • Any person who has been committed to a hospital for treatment of a mental condition.
  • Perpetrators of violent crimes who have been found:
    • Not guilty by reason of insanity;
    • Guilty but mentally ill;
    • Mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Those individuals have not been prohibited from owning firearms under Delaware law. The new law also requires health professionals to report to law enforcement anyone they believe presents a danger to themselves or others. Appropriate law enforcement agencies must then investigate – and may seek a court order to require individuals to relinquish firearms, if they are found to present a danger. The law, which takes effect six months after its signing, also allows affected individuals to appeal orders to the Supreme Court, and petition to have their firearms returned.

Click here to learn more about Governor Carney’s call for comprehensive gun safety reform.

Click here to watch the bill signing.

Click here for photos from the bill signing.



New Director Appointed to the Division of Revenue

Delaware Department of Finance Secretary Rick Geisenberger has announced the appointment of Jennifer Noel, Esq. as the new Director for the Division of Revenue, effective October 1, 2017.

Ms. Noel has represented the Department of Finance, the Division of Revenue, and the Division of Accounting as a Deputy Attorney General since 2012. In this role, she helped draft major legislation reforming corporate income tax laws (the Delaware Competes Act) as well as updates to tobacco, alcohol, personal income, and estate tax laws. She has worked with taxpayers and their representatives to ensure cases are managed fairly and transparently, while working with the Department in diverse matters, including statutory interpretation, audit management, and contractual obligations.

“Jenn is well known to tax practitioners throughout the State,” said Secretary Geisenberger. “With two and half decades of experience in tax law – mostly as an advocate for taxpayers, but also as the Division of Revenue’s lawyer – she is uniquely equipped to fairly administer Delaware’s tax system while driving forward the Carney Administration’s efforts to continuously improve customer service to our citizens and businesses.” Ms. Noel will also serve as Delaware’s State Escheator, with responsibility for unclaimed property administration.

Prior to joining state government, Ms. Noel was a tax attorney in private practice for 12 years at one of Wilmington’s largest law firms, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP. While completing her undergraduate and law degrees, she worked as a law clerk, tax paralegal and legal assistant. Ms. Noel earned her J.D. and B.S. degrees from Widener University, and is currently pursuing an LLM in Tax from Georgetown University, with a certificate in state and local tax. She is active in the Delaware tax community, having chaired the Delaware State Bar Association’s Tax Section and served on the planning committee for the Delaware Tax Institute.

“I look forward to the opportunity to continue working with the outstanding team at the Division of Revenue to serve the taxpayers of the State of Delaware. Customer service will be a priority as we look for ways to improve our effectiveness and create greater efficiencies in our processes,” said Director Noel.

Lt. Governor & Advocates Announce New Rights for Kids with Disabilities

WILMINGTON, Del. – Today, Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn was joined by disabilities advocates, legislative leaders, and educators to address the rights to reading interventions that students with disabilities gained under a new law passed in June. The new law requires that schools provide young students with dyslexia and decoding disabilities and other disabilities with early, intensive, evidence-based assistance in order to better help those students learn to read.

Senate Bill 229 requires that IEPs for any child with a disability – who is not beginning to read by the age of seven – document the evidence-based interventions the school is using to build the child’s ability to read or document why such interventions are inappropriate. The law also requires the school to provide the interventions through extended school year or summer services, regardless of whether the child would otherwise qualify for those services.

For children who have struggled to read – and their families – this new law presents an opportunity to ensure those students are receiving the instruction most likely to make them readers who are able to access many more opportunities for learning and growth. Because any intervention may deem itself “evidence-based,” the Lt. Governor has a guidance document, included at the end of this post, for parents on how they can determine that their child is receiving interventions in compliance with the law.

The purpose of today’s announcement was to inform parents of eligible children that their children are entitled to this assistance, so they can specifically ask their schools for it.

“Reading is the foundation of education,” said Lieutenant Governor Denn. “When children are exposed to best practices in reading instruction, learning becomes a more positive experience. These practices have the potential to improve lives by giving these kids paths to information and imagination.”

Lieutenant Governor Denn was joined at today’s press conference at the Bear Library by Sen. Nicole Poore, House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, and parent Kim Hamstead.

Sen. Poore noted that when children have difficulty reading, they may also develop social and emotional problems that can affect their learning and peer relationships. “A child who sees they are not meeting expectations – their own, their teacher’s, their family’s – are known to be more at risk for anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, and they don’t always have the language to relieve those feelings through appropriate self-expression.”

“The fact that support will be available throughout the year is a major step forward for these students,” Rep. Longhurst said. “A lot of kids lose some ground over the summer and if you’re already falling behind, it’s even harder to get caught up with everyone else without that extra time for learning and practice.”

“With help from my son’s school, I found a reading specialist that used a specific curriculum and teaching methods that had proven effective for children with reading challenges,” said Ms. Hamstead. “My son followed this program for over 2 years and now he is a very confident reader and likes to volunteer to read in front of his class. The key to his success was early intervention and following an evidence-based reading program.”

Reading Interventions FAQ for Parents

Early Teacher Hiring Now Permanent

Pilot Program Dramatically Reduced Late Hiring of Teachers and Improved Schools’ Ability to Compete With Surrounding States for Quality New Teachers

DOVER, DE– This afternoon, Governor Jack A. Markell signed H.B. 259 into law, which passed both the House and the Senate unanimously this week.

House Bill 259 makes permanent the pilot program originally created in 2011, which required the state’s Department of Education to estimate each school district’s enrollment for the following school year in May, and guarantee state funds to each district sufficient to cover 98% of the state’s share of hiring the teachers justified by that enrollment estimate.

The pilot program, created through legislation implementing the recommendations of a task force chaired by Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn and State Senator David Sokola, demonstrated extraordinary success in allowing Delaware school districts to better compete with surrounding states for new teachers and adequately train those new teachers before the start of the school year. Before this legislation, school districts were losing teaching candidates to other states that were making firm offers earlier in the year because districts couldn’t risk getting less state money than they expected and the state didn’t guarantee any funds until September 30th, when final student counts were done.

Under the pilot program, the state started estimating districts’ student population in May and guaranteeing the districts 98% of the state funds for the upcoming school year that would be generated by that estimated number of students. The change was dramatic – a 44% increase in the proportion of teachers hired before August.

“This bill improves our public schools,” said Lt. Governor Denn. “We are always trying to hire the best and brightest to teach our children and now we will hopefully be able to do more of that in a timely fashion. This is a win for students and teachers alike.”

Governor Markell said, “I’d like to thank Lt. Governor Denn, Senator Sokola, and Representative Scott for their work on getting this important piece of legislation passed. This will allow us to offer attractive jobs to new teachers on par with our surrounding states and supports our ongoing effort to recruit and retain talented educators.”

The University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration, in its ninth annual Delaware Teacher and Administrator Supply and Demand Survey Analysis Report, quantified the change in early teacher hiring caused by the pilot program: the percentage of school district teachers who were hired after July 31st dropped from 64.3% in the 2010-2011 school year, to 48.6% in 2011-2012 and 46.5% in 2012-2013 (Delaware Teacher and Administrator Supply and Demand Survey Analysis Report, June 2013, at p. 12). The report can be found online at

This significant drop in the percentage of late-hired teachers was directly attributed by the University of Delaware to the pilot early teacher hiring program:

What has led to the reduction in later teacher hiring in Delaware? The most obvious answer is Senate Bill 164 with House Amendment 1, the extension of SB 16. SB 16 requires that projections of enrollment be made by April 15 and that the State will guarantee that school districts receive funds equivalent to 98 percent of these projections. This bill was aimed at decreasing late teacher hiring, and it appears to have had the desired effect. (Delaware Teacher and Administrator Supply and Demand Survey Analysis Report at p. 50).

State Representative Darryl Scott, prime sponsor of House Bill 259 and one of the original sponsors of the 2011 pilot program, said, “We want to hire the very best teachers and make sure they’re ready to start strong on the first day of school. We’ve seen conclusive evidence that tells us early unit counts are helping our districts achieve that goal, and I am glad we have now made that policy permanent.”

Senator Sokola, the Senate sponsor of House Bill 259 and the original sponsor Senate Bill 16, added, “In my work, I understand the importance of testing and validating data. I’m pleased that the data have validated this experiment in giving our schools more flexibility in hiring top-quality teachers and that it is permanent.”

Other original sponsors of Senate Bill 16 who co-sponsored the legislation making it permanent are Representative Debra Heffernan and Representative Earl Jaques.