Delaware Senate passes bills for schools, unemployed, to-go alcohol, more

By Rachel Sawicki
Posted 1/28/22

DOVER — The Delaware Senate passed legislation on Thursday releasing funds for capital improvement projects and wrapping up the FY2022 budget, distributing the rest of the fund allocations. It …

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Delaware Senate passes bills for schools, unemployed, to-go alcohol, more

Posted

DOVER — The Delaware Senate passed legislation on Thursday releasing funds for capital improvement projects and wrapping up the FY2022 budget, distributing the rest of the fund allocations. It did not authorize any new funding.

HB310 includes a contingency fund for school districts struggling with market pressure from new school development. Those districts are Appoquinimink, Cape Henlopen, Christina and Indian River.

It also authorized land acquisition for the north Wilmington Library and authorized local school bonds for Appoquinimink School District for roofing and HVAC projects at Middletown High School. Funds will be reallocated for the Riverfront Development Corporation to conduct an assessment of Frawley Stadium and procure services to ensure it will meet league baseball facility standards. Lastly, it authorizes certain reimbursements from the Community Transportation Fund.

Anyone who received unemployment benefits during the continuation of the pandemic into 2021 will not have to pay taxes on them this year with the passing of HB285. The legislation passed the Senate and provides COVID-19 related relief to both claimants receiving unemployment benefits and employers who are assessed unemployment taxes. This exemption was previously granted for 2020 state taxes as well.

Legislation permanently allowing take-out alcohol services is also ready for the governor’s signature. HB 289 allows liquor stores, farm wineries, brewery-pubs, microbreweries, craft distilleries and wine auctions to provide curbside service, so long as it is in accordance with other rules of alcohol sales like not selling to intoxicated individuals or minors.

Senate Bill 211 drummed up some concerns in session, which Sen. Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, said is an “anti-small business” bill, but ultimately, the measure passed 16-5.

“I started a business 50 years ago,” he said. “And there is no way anybody could do what I did, starting a business on the kind of shoestring we had back then, and most of it is because of government intrusion, government regulations, government bills, government laws, and this is just another one of them.”

The bill prohibits employers from requesting or requiring that an applicant disclose their age, date of birth, or dates of attendance or graduation from an educational institution in an initial application for employment, unless the employer is requesting the information because of a bona fide occupational qualification or to comply with state or federal law.

Sen. Spiros Mantzainos, D-Elsmere, bill sponsor, said that even in the midst of a worker shortage, some of the most experienced citizens are still having a hard time finding employment.

“Far too many older people are struggling simply because they can’t get their foot in the door,” he said. “No one should be out of work simply because they reach a certain age and this bill will help level the playing field for older Delawareans.”

Sen. Colin Bonini, R-Dover, said this bill is geared to combat “discrimination by algorithm.” Employers with automated application scanning systems often receive qualified applications, but miss out on potentially good employees when the algorithm throws them out based on certain criteria like age.

Along with Sen. Hocker, Marydel Republican Sen. Dave Lawson, Georgetown Republican Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, Seaford Republican Sen. Bryant Richardson, and Lincoln Republican Sen. Dave Wilson also voted “no.”

HB268 passed, amending the Charter of the City of Newark by changing the timeline for special elections from no less than 30 and no more than 60 days after a vacancy occurs to no less than 60 and no more than 90 days after a vacancy. In addition, the bill sets the filing deadline for special elections at 29 days prior to the election.

HB269 also passed, amending the Town of Townsend Charter to provide the town with some flexibility in scheduling its meetings.

The Senate also passed a slew of Concurrent Resolutions, recognizing February as Seasonal Affective Disorder Awareness Month, designating the week of Jan. 23-29 as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists Week, recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Middletown area Chamber of Commerce, and designating Feb. 28 as Rare Disease Day.