By Tyler Micik
As the General Assembly returned to session, so did the public to Legislative Hall. After two years, The State Capitol building reopened its doors so people can attend hearings on session days. Lawmakers and visitors are also no longer required to wear masks or face coverings in the building, although it is strongly recommended where people cannot maintain safe social distancing. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to wear masks at all times when interacting with other people.
However, House and Senate committees will meet via Zoom until further notice. But it’s likely they’ll transition to a hybrid format soon, with the House considering having in-person committee meetings starting next week. You can view the Senate’s memo here and House memo here to learn more.
With the flurry of bills before the General Assembly, two of particular note that were heard were SS2 for SB1, or the Healthy Delaware Families Act, and HB 305, which would legalize recreational marijuana.
The Healthy Delaware Families Act proposes to create a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program. The bill passed the Senate by a 14-7 vote on Tuesday following a two-hour discussion. This latest version of the bill includes a few changes such as the use of PTO, which can be counted towards the total amount of leave; a reduction in the number of weeks an employee can take for parental leave (applies to companies under 25 employees through 2031); and allows for the grandfathering in of private plans in existence at the time of passage that offer comparable or greater benefits through 2030. The bill now heads to the House for consideration. The Delaware State Chamber and Delaware Business Roundtable issued a joint statement on the Healthy Delaware Families Act that can be viewed here.
The recreational marijuana bill was heard in the House on Thursday. The State Chamber advocated for HA 7 to be introduced and placed with the bill and it passed the House by voice vote. The amendment gives businesses the flexibility to keep and maintain their current polices with regards to drugs and alcohol. However, the bill was defeated in the House after receiving a 23-14 vote in favor of the legislation, with 4 lawmakers choosing not to vote. The bill required a three-fifths majority, or 25 votes, because of the new tax it would impose. The bill now remains dead until next year when it can be reintroduced.