Governor Carney Signs Multiple Pieces of Legislation Related to Maternal and Infant Health

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor Carney signed multiple pieces of legislation on Monday related to maternal and infant health aimed at decreasing infant and maternal mortality and expanding services to communities across the state. The series of legislation will improve health outcomes for families and infants throughout Delaware.

“This package of legislation is important for our community,” said Governor Carney. “Every child deserves a first chance to succeed and every mother and family should feel supported throughout and after a pregnancy. These bills will help address infant and maternal mortality in our community and expand services to families across the state. Thank you to Representative Minor-Brown, Senator Pinkney and other members of the General Assembly for their leadership on these pieces of legislation. Thank you to the health care providers and the advocates for the work they do every day.”

The United States has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality among high-income countries and wide disparities by race that have been documented since rates separated by race were first published in 1935.

“As a nurse and a Black woman, I am extremely aware of the maternal and infant health issues affecting Delaware families, particularly Black mothers and babies. I personally experienced preventable complications during both of my pregnancies, as an 18-year-old and as a 30-year-old registered nurse,” said Representative Melissa Minor-Brown, who was the lead House sponsor of all six bills. “Black women made up one of every four women giving birth in Delaware between 2011 and 2018, but they made up half of the mothers who died in childbirth. These are more than statistics; they are mothers and children who leave behind loved ones. These new laws are designed to help all Delaware mothers and infants, to improve their outcomes and increase their chances for a successful and healthy pregnancy, birthing process and postpartum. Taken together, these laws will make a huge impact on Delaware families across the state by breaking down barriers to vital healthcare treatment and removing other obstacles that mothers and families have faced.”

“I am incredibly proud of this package of legislation, both as a Black woman and as a social worker. All too often, I see patients without adequate insurance who can’t afford to keep up with their recommended care plans once they are discharged,” said Senator Marie Pinkney. “I have seen patients who have been discriminated against based on their race, their gender identity and their substance use. I have seen the difference in outcomes between birthing mothers who had access to a doula and those who did not. As lawmakers, we must do everything in our power to make it easier for new mothers to focus on birthing healthy children and then to advocate for their prenatal and postpartum needs. These bills will remove barriers and reduce disparities for all future generations of Delaware mothers.”

House Bill 340 revamps the Child Death Review Commission to include more focus on maternal concerns. The commission will be renamed the Maternal and Child Death Review Commission to reflect its existing dual focus. The definition of “maternal death” will also be updated and the Commission would reflect diverse membership that would include a midwife and one maternal and one child advocate from statewide non-profit organizations. In an effort to be transparent, the group will be required to publicly post its draft report and accept written public comment.

“The Child Death Review Commission is a critical function of our state’s judiciary,” said Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend. “By expanding its scope to focus on maternal issues, we may better understand some of the social determinants of health that affect pregnancy and the following months of postpartum recovery.”

House Bill 344(S) requires the Delaware Perinatal Quality Collaborative to establish a subcommittee to develop bias and cultural competency training for healthcare employees. The subcommittee will develop training guidelines designed for use in all healthcare fields and shall release the initial guidelines by July 1, 2023. The subcommittee will review data every year thereafter and revise the guidelines as necessary.

“Delaware has world class health care providers, but they are also human. The only way to build a health care system that works for everyone is to ensure that our providers are provided the opportunity to grow, to fill knowledge gaps, and to address biases that they may not even be aware they hold,” said Senator Sarah McBride. “I’m proud to have supported the entire Momnibus package, but I’m particularly thrilled to have joined with Rep. Minor-Brown on HB 344 to empower more providers with the information and resources they need to alleviate patient fears and offer the best possible care to every patient no matter their background.”

House Bill 342 expands existing restrictions on the use of restraints on women who are giving birth or in labor to include pregnant women and those in the 13-week post-partum period.

House Bill 345 ensures pregnant women or women who have given birth within the past six weeks who are subject to the custody of the Department of Corrections at Level IV or V have access to midwifery and doula services by requiring the department to make reasonable accommodations for provision of available midwifery or doula services.

House Bill 343 requires the Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance to present a plan to the General Assembly by November 1 for coverage of doula services by Medicaid providers. The services will be provided by a trained doula designed to provide physical, emotional, and educational support to pregnant and birthing persons before, during, and after childbirth. This will include support and assistance during labor and childbirth, prenatal and postpartum support and education, breastfeeding assistance, and parenting education.

House Bill 234 requires the Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months from the end of pregnancy through the state plan amendment option created by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.


Report Finds Gender Disparity in Auto Insurance Premiums, Women Charged More for Same Coverage

Legislative effort to end rating practice announced

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) today released Gender Disparities in Auto Insurance Pricing, a new report that shows many women are being charged more by auto insurers based solely on their gender. Data shows that many Delaware women pay more per year in premiums, even when all other factors are the same, with several major companies’ differentials around 8-9%. While there are more female drivers on the road, state data shows that men are involved in more accidents. The Commissioner is working with the General Assembly to end the rating practice.

“Today’s report will be eye-opening for many consumers as they see major insurers charging higher premiums based on gender. We’re making progress towards gender equity, but systemic disparities continue to be found in unexpected areas of our lives,” said Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro. “The good news is that we can fix this – several other states have already removed gender as a pricing factor. It’s time we do the same.”

The report outlines the economic necessity of auto insurance, the heightened financial disadvantage of individuals experiencing cost disparities, and identifies gender’s inadequate correlation to risk. Six states—California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania—have already eliminated the potential for gender-based pricing disparities.

“Despite the concerning data in this report, now is not the time to call your agent and change insurers – now is the time to call your legislator. We must solve this issue for every person, and your advocacy can help make that happen,” explained Commissioner Navarro. “I am grateful that two of our state’s strongest advocates for gender equality, Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst and Senator Kyle Evans Gay will lead the effort to end this pricing practice through the General Assembly. Their successes in the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and leadership in the new Legislative Women’s Caucus, combined with public support, will put us on the path to progress.”

Legislation to remove sex, gender, and gender identity from the personal auto insurance rating process will be filed this week as Senate Bill 231. The bill’s announcement coincides with the beginning of Women’s History Month.

“Having a method of transportation is key to much of our daily lives, whether it’s getting to and from work, or being able to shop for necessities. Residents are required to purchase auto insurance both to drive legally, and to access our economy,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst. “It’s critical that the system by which consumers’ premiums are set does not create different outcomes based on gender identity, especially when so many people already face persistent systemic and financial disadvantages, including the wage gap. This legislation is a no-brainer, and I urge my colleagues in the General Assembly to support it.”

“Most Delawareans would be surprised to learn that gender factors have any bearing on premium pricing, which should be based in data and accident records,” said Sen. Kyle Evans Gay, prime sponsor of the legislation. “I recently worked with advocates on a related issue to allow for gender to be accurately reflected on driver’s licenses. Gender equality is foundational to the laws of our state, and we must enforce it at every opportunity — particularly when it comes to commodities so ubiquitous as driver’s licenses and auto insurance.”

“Many auto insurers are charging women with perfect driving records higher premiums simply because of their gender,” said Douglas Heller, Director of Insurance at CFA. “While most people think auto insurance pricing favors women, our research confirms other recent studies demonstrating that, on average, women pay more. Delaware requires that every driver buy insurance, so lawmakers should act to prohibit the gender surcharge many companies impose on their female customers. ”

CFA acquired data on auto insurance premiums charged by carriers from Quadrant Information Services, LLC, which in part informs the report.

“Pricing for auto insurance should be based on your motor vehicle record and other factors related to your driving, not based on your gender,” agreed Michael DeLong, CFA’s Research and Advocacy Associate. “We commend Commissioner Navarro, Majority Leader Longhurst, and Senator Gay for standing up to the insurance lobby and fighting for what is right.”

View the Gender Disparities in Auto Insurance Pricing Report

Governor Carney Signs Criminal Justice Reform Bills into Law

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Monday signed into law eight pieces of legislation designed to restore public trust in Delaware’s criminal justice system, protect minors from facing lifelong consequences for their juvenile mistakes, and expand second chance opportunities for adults who have turned their lives around.

The bill signed today will expand the mandatory reviews of police use-of-force incidents mandate the recording of custodial interrogations, prohibit the publication of juvenile mugshotsend the prosecution of children under 12, and expand Delaware’s adult expungement law.

“I’ve said before that talk is cheap, and it’s on us to make progress,” said Governor Carney. “This has been an incredibly productive session for the General Assembly on making meaningful change to criminal justice reforms. Thank you to the members of the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus for leading the Justice for All Agenda, to the members of the General Assembly, and to the many advocates who worked on these important pieces of legislation.”

House Bill 115, sponsored by Rep. Nnamdi Chukwuocha, ends the prosecution of children under 12, except for the most serious charges, and bars transferring juveniles under 16 to Superior Court.

Scientific research has determined that youths’ brains are still developing well into adulthood, and HB 115 would take that into account by setting a minimum age of prosecution. Children in Delaware have minimum ages set for many things: getting a driver’s license, enlisting in the military, applying for a loan or opening a credit card, using a tanning bed, drinking alcohol, and buying tickets to an R-rated movie. 

“Adolescents’ brains aren’t fully developed until they’re in their mid-20s, so charging 10-year-olds with crimes only damages the child’s future. Too many lives have been sent down a dark path because of a youthful mistake,” said Rep. Chukwuocha, D-Wilmington North. “There are better ways to hold young children accountable for minor incidents without causing lifelong problems by putting them into the criminal justice system at such a young age.”

Under HB 115, juveniles under 12 could only be criminally charged with serious offenses such as murder, first- or second-degree rape or using a firearm. Juveniles under 12 who otherwise would be charged with less serious offenses would be referred to the Juvenile Offender Civil Citation Program.

House Bill 215, sponsored by Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, requires law enforcement to electronically record custodial interrogations when they relate to a crime allegedly committed by an adult or a delinquent act allegedly committed by a child. The recording may include audio or video and audio, depending on the equipment available at the time of the interrogation.

“Interrogations are a critical component of the law enforcement process, but too often, there are questions about what actually was said or what happened in that room,” said Rep. Minor-Brown, D-New Castle South. “Much like body cameras, taping interrogations will provide an accurate record of what happened. It will increase transparency and accountability, but it will also provide protection for both the person being questioned and the officers conducting the interrogation. It will reduce false accusations and help restore trust in the process.”

Under HB 215, law enforcement officers would be required to record audio and video in most circumstances, including through the use of body-worn cameras. Interrogation subjects could refuse to participate in recordings at any time and such refusals would have to be recorded in writing or on video. The bill also directs the Council on Police Training to adopt standards and rules regarding the use of recording devices and the chain of custody that must be followed. HB 215 goes into effect nine months from signature.

House Bill 162, also sponsored by Rep. Minor-Brown, establishes a new fund for competitive grants for the targeted provision of services that have been proven effective in helping juveniles avoid contact with the criminal justice system. The new law also allocates $500,000 to the fund for cognitive behavioral therapy services and vocational training services.

“More than 80% of Delaware’s young offenders who pass through the criminal justice system reoffend within an 18-month period,” said Rep. Minor-Brown. “To address this head on, HB 162 creates competitive grants through the Kids Department supporting effective services to help reduce the recidivism rate among juveniles by keeping youth out of the criminal justice system in the first place.”

House Bill 243, sponsored by Rep. Franklin Cooke, ends the practice of disseminating mugshots of juveniles charged with minor crimes. The new law prohibits law enforcement agencies from releasing or publishing any image depicting a juvenile, including displaying an image on any publicly maintained social media page or website. The bill includes an exception for situations where a juvenile is charged with a violent felony, and release or publication of the photograph is necessary to protect the public’s safety.

Last year, Governor John Carney issued an executive order prohibiting executive branch law enforcement agencies, including the Delaware State Police and Capitol Police, from releasing juvenile mugshots, but there is no universal policy among Delaware’s 40-plus police agencies regarding publication of mugshots of minors.

“As we know, information that is posted on the internet lives on forever and can follow a person around for years. In that way, a mistake someone made as a teenager can come back to haunt them in adulthood, hurting their job prospects, even if they have managed to put their life on the right track,” said Rep. Cooke, D-New Castle North. “Worse, posting a mugshot of a juvenile online when they are simply charged with or sought in connection with a crime associates them with that offense, even if the charges are dropped, or if they’re found not responsible. Ending this practice will reduce the problems that follow people around for the rest of their lives.”

Senate Bill 148, sponsored by Senator Marie Pinkney, expands the power of the Delaware Department of Justice’s Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust to review police use-of force incidents that result in serious physical injury in addition to the office’s existing mandate to review all deadly-force incidents.

To help Delaware better track whether force is applied differently when it comes to race, SB 148 also would require the division to report the race of individuals involved in use-of-force cases and specify whether race played a factor in how force was applied.

“Senate Bill 148 is a companion bill to legislation I sponsored, and Governor Carney signed on June 30, to create the first objective use-of-force standard in Delaware,” said Senator Pinkney, D- New Castle. “Taken together, these measures will allow us to finally hold police officers accountable in a court of law when excessive force is used on a member of the public, and allow us to better track who is being physically injured by the men and women sworn to protect us.”

Governor Carney on Monday also signed three restorative justice bills sponsored by Senator Darius Brown that will further expand second-chance opportunities for Delawareans who have paid their debt to society.

Senate Bill 111, also known as the Clean Slate Act, will automate Delaware’s existing expungement process for thousands of adults and juveniles by eliminating the need for them to first file a petition with the State Bureau of Identification. Initial estimates indicate more than 290,000 adults could benefit immediately from the Clean Slate Act once it is fully implemented.

Senate Bill 112 will expand eligibility for mandatory expungements, while Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 38 includes a number of technical revisions to the original Adult Expungement Reform Act passed by Senator Brown in 2019.

“Delawareans with a criminal record for even the lowest level crimes face barriers to employment, housing and an education – a lasting punishment that can haunt them long after their sentence is complete,” said Senator Brown, D-Wilmington. “We created a path to redemption for many of our formerly justice-involved neighbors two years ago, but only a fraction of people eligible for an expungement have obtained this important relief because the petition-based system currently in place can be expensive and time-consuming for the very people who need it the most. The Clean Slate Act represents a major step forward in our advancement of restorative justice that will ensure these hurdles never again stand in the way of another Delawarean obtaining a second chance at life.”

“The bills signed by Governor Carney today reflect what stakeholders have always known: our legal system works best when it is transparent, fair, and recognizes that one-sized-fits all justice is not justice at all,” said Lisa Minutola, Chief of Legal Services for the Office of Defense Services. “With these bills, Delaware is sending a message that it will make every effort to divert young children from the legal system and provide second chances so that all Delaware citizens can lead productive lives.”

“We are thrilled that Governor Carney has signed these important pieces of legislation. We remain committed to giving people a second chance,” said Tom Horne, Market Leader for JPMorgan Chase in Delaware. “With a local workforce of more than 11,000 in Delaware, JPMorgan Chase will continue to support policies that will broaden access to job opportunities and drive inclusive economic growth and to make our community a better place to live.”

Several of these bills are part of the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus’ Justice for All Agenda, a series of legislative priorities to address systemic racial injustice and police brutality unveiled in June 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and other prominent deaths involving Black Americans. Lawmakers pledged to support a wide array of reforms, including the establishment of two task forces to address law enforcement accountability and systemic issues affecting Black residents.


Governor Carney Signs Legislation to Raise the Minimum Wage to $15

WILMINGTON, Del. – Alongside labor leaders, advocates and members of the General Assembly on Monday, Governor John Carney signed legislation to gradually increase Delaware’s minimum wage to $15.

“Delawareans who go to work full time shouldn’t be living in poverty,” said Governor Carney. “I am proud to sign Senate Bill 15 today, gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15. Thank you to Senator Walsh and Representative Brady for their leadership, other members of the General Assembly, Union advocates, and everyone else striving to make Delaware the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

“For the American economy to work for everyone, one thing must be true: that if you work hard day-in and day-out, you’ll be able to earn enough to live with dignity,” said Senator Jack Walsh, the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 15. “Today, Delaware’s workers are a monumental step closer to that reality. Our grocery store clerks, supply chain workers, janitors and long-term care workers showed up to keep our economy open during the pandemic. With Senate Bill 15, we are showing how much we value them with more than platitudes, but with the kind of living wage they’ve earned with their hard work.”

“Raising the minimum wage will help ensure that working people share in Delaware’s post-pandemic economic recovery. A higher minimum wage will put more money in the pockets of the very same customers that small businesses rely on, and it will reduce strain on the social safety net and state spending on programs to aid people who don’t earn enough to live on,” said Representative Gerald Brady, the prime House sponsor of Senate Bill 15. “This legislation is also a major step toward restoring the promise that a job brings with it a fundamental level of dignity and peace of mind for every Delawarean. Thank you to Governor Carney for signing this bill into law and helping to bolster economic security for so many Delaware families.”

“Today is a reason to celebrate. On behalf of the Delaware AFL-CIO, we congratulate Governor Carney signing SB 15, increasing the minimum wage for Delaware’s working families,” said James Maravelias, President of Delaware AFL-CIO. “The labor movement has long advocated that working people share in the wealth we help create and our incomes should rise with increased productivity. Increasing the state minimum wage is a positive step in that direction that it benefits all Delawareans.”

“This is a great day for Delaware and small businesses across the state who advocated raising the minimum wage to boost the economy,” said Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “Workers will be able to spend more at local businesses and fairer pay will bring lower employee turnover and increased productivity. Raising Delaware’s minimum wage will help businesses and communities thrive.”

“Raising the minimum wage will promote a more robust economic recovery from the pandemic for working people and businesses,” said Kristen Deptula, owner of the Canalside Inn, in Rehoboth Beach. “And more businesses will experience the positive connection between better pay, better employee retention, and better customer retention.”

Photos from today’s bill signing can be found here.


Delaware Captive Insurance Legislation Signed by Governor

State’s dormancy laws now offer greater flexibility

With the Governor’s recent signature, Delaware’s Captive Insurance Division is celebrating increased flexibility in its offerings to captive insurance companies. Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 36 allows captives to be classified as registered series, offers clarity to provisions regarding insuring a parent company, and allows for a captive to enter dormancy after 12 consecutive months of inactivity, rather than requiring a calendar year of inactivity.

“We continue to work to streamline processes to maintain our status as one of the most attractive captive domiciles,” shared Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro. “In the past, if a company stopped writing insurance business mid-year, they would need to wait 18 months to file for dormancy in order to satisfy the calendar year provision and become eligible, and requiring the captive to pay premium taxes and continue to submit statements to the department during that period. Prior to this change, it may have been easier for captives to dissolve than elect dormancy and later return to the market.”

SB 1 for SB 36, sponsored by Senator Trey Paradee and Representative Bill Bush, is the result of a multi-year effort, after legislation did not proceed during 2020’s truncated session due to COVID-19. The Department of Insurance convenes stakeholder groups to discuss legislative proposals, and had many conversations with the DCIA, Delaware’s Captive Insurance Association, about the bill.

“The DCIA thanks Governor Carney, the sponsors of the bill, and Insurance Commissioner Navarro for their support of the captive insurance industry,” Joanne Shaver, President of the DCIA, said. “The DCIA believes these changes are beneficial to captive owners, especially with respect to Delaware’s dormancy statute. The change to a continuous 12-month period allows a captive to enter dormancy status sooner than it would have been able to previously. This change will make it more favorable for captive owners to elect dormancy status over dissolution of the captive, especially when the owner isn’t 100% sure they want to dissolve their captive immediately.”

In 2020, Delaware’s robust captive insurance program contributed $2.9 million to the state’s General Fund and $1 million to the City of Wilmington. The division licensed 70 new captives last year, which may be the most reported by a U.S. domicile.

The success of the Captive division continues to earn international recognition. Delaware was recently named a finalist for Non-Asian Domicile of the Year by leading industry magazine Captive Review and was a finalist for 2020 International Insurance Domicile of the Year.

Captive insurance companies, which are owned by the entities that they insure, are usually formed by businesses that wish to better manage the cost and administration of their insurance coverage. Delaware is the world’s fifth largest and the third largest U.S. captive domicile, with 783 active captives and $5.4 billion in gross written premiums. It is one of four domiciles in the world recognized by the International Center for Captive Insurance Education as ICCIE Trained. To learn more, visit