Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner detailed a 2008 legislative agenda lays she says will improve education, health care, public safety and the environment on Tuesday, April 8, 2008.
Included is legislation to create a health disparities registry, expand the SEED scholarship program and promote energy efficiency.
"I look forward to continuing the successful initiatives that have improved the lives of Delawareans," Gov. Ruth Ann Minner said. "Unfortunately, the current economic crunch is forcing us to cut costs whereever possible and will not leave much room for new programs. But we hope to continue to provide the level of services expected by the people of Delaware while also implementing some new initiatives that will not increase our current spending."
Gov. Minner's legislative agenda calls for passage of a health disparities registry that would collect data for the purpose of determining what health disparities exist based on race, ethnicity, language or level of education, ultimately resulting in better health care for the people of Delaware.
The Governor also supports legislation to regulate the sale of drugs by Internet pharmacies through a requirement that a physician/patient relationship exist before a prescription is obtained.
"We need to prohibit the practice of drugs being prescribed by physicians via the Internet who have not met or talked to the patient receiving the medication," Gov. Minner said.
Gov. Minner also hopes to see passage of legislation that would create a STAR scholarship program, which would reward high-achieving students in the state's SEED (Student Excellence Equals Degree) scholarship program to continue on to a four-year degree. SEED provides free tuition for a two-year degree through Delaware Technical and Community College or the Associate of Arts program at the University of Delaware for students who maintain at least a 2.5 GPA and stay out of trouble. The program has helped more than 1,300 students attend college. The STAR proposal is contingent upon funding through the budget process.
Gov. Minner would like to strengthen Delaware's sex offender registry with legislation requiring all sex offenders from other states who now reside in Delaware and who were required to register in another state to register in Delaware. Currently, sex offenders from other states who were convicted before 1994 do not have to register here.
In an effort to cut energy costs and reduce consumption, Gov. Minner supports legislation promoting energy efficiency in building and development codes throughout the state. In an effort to further protect Delaware's environment, Gov. Minner supports legislation that will redirect transfer taxes on the sale of properties in new subdivisions outside the growth zone. The revenues from these taxes would be placed in the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, as opposed to going to a county or municipality.
Gov. Minner's comprehensive legislative agenda also includes initiatives to:
- Implement a rating system for child care providers;
- Promote the use of solar photovoltaic systems on residences;
- Create a cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide emissions;
- Strengthen responsibility of chemical and hazardous substance establishments;
- Permit overlay districts as planning and land use tools;
- Recognize Regional Master Planning Agreements;
- Redirect transfer taxes for new subdivisions outside the growth zone;
- Implement an electronic notarization statute;
- Create a missing persons alert system for people who are disabled, suicidal or senior citizens;
- Increase the availability of health care information to help with the selection of health care providers;
- Prevent fraud and theft of prescriptions;
- Enact open container legislation;
- Require mandatory alcohol or drug testing after fatal accidents;
- Create an Office of General Counsel;
- Audit volunteer fire companies;
- Implement curbside recycling;
- Enact transfer of development rights legislation;
- Offer domestic partner benefits for state employees;
- Ensure fair and equal treatment of Delawareans regardless of sexual orientation;
- Prohibit price-gouging;
- Require that diesel gasoline sold in the state be a 2 percent biodiesel blend; and
- End unfair lending practices.