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State
Minner: Cleanups, HB 99, ID Theft on Agenda
By SUSSEX COUNTY ONLINE
Mar 24, 2004, 18:24

Taxpayer protection from future industrial cleanups, increased penalties for identity theft, passage of House Bill 99 and a $500 bonus for state employess are among the items Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner will pursue during the 2004 legislative session.

In releasing her legislative agenda on Wednesday, March 24, 2004, the governor said she would focus on the following:

  • Requiring industrial facilities to disclose hazardous materials on-site when they are sold and make plans to clean the materials up. Legislation would also allow liens to be placed on industrial property in order to pay the cost of any required cleanup;

  • Increasing the penalty for people accused of identity theft, especially when a victim has suffered considerable financial loss as a result;

  • Passing House Bill 99, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation;

  • A $500 bonus for all state employees;

  • Rewriting building codes to require technology that will provide emergency radio coverage inside shopping centers, apartments, offices and other large buildings;

  • Requiring that all diesel fuel sold in the state be at least 2 percent bio-diesel;

  • Providing preference in state contracting for firms that do not outsource a portion of the work to another country;

  • Providing consumer protections for those who obtain “title loans”;

  • Lowering the blood alcohol limit while driving in Delaware to .08.

“Along with our legislative successes of the past three years and our proposed budget for the next year, these items contribute to the betterment of life in Delaware and help bring about the new era of opportunity that I foresee for our state,” Gov. Minner said.

The agenda also includes measures to support military service personnel and their families, including a tax check-off fund for military families suggested by Lt. Gov. John C. Carney, Jr.

“Taking care of the men and women in the Guard who serve their country is important,” Lt. Gov. Carney said. “Preserving their health benefits and providing financial assistance to their families are two of the best ways we can support them while they are on active duty."

Governor Ruth Ann Minner’s 2004 Legislative Agenda

Protecting Delaware’s Environment

  • Disclosure Requirements For Industrial Property Transfers. The Governor’s Task Force on Responsible Management of Facilities Handling Hazardous Products, formed in the wake of the closure of the Metachem Delaware City facility, has recommended legislation requiring certifications and clean up plans any time ownership changes for a facility handling hazardous materials. Gov. Minner will pursue legislation to ensure that whenever a potentially hazardous site changes hands, the state is given notice of potential environmental hazards, together with plans for addressing such hazards.

  • Liens For Cleanup Of Hazardous Sites. The Governor’s Metachem Task Force also recommended placing liens on property held by companies owning potential hazardous establishments. Such liens will help ensure that persons responsible for hazardous conditions will be held accountable, and the value of property they own can be used to defray clean-up and response costs.

Enhancing Public Safety

  • Identity Theft. The crime of identity theft is on the rise. The Governor will recommend legislation to protect citizens from this crime. The bill will enhance penalties for persons whose crime has great financial consequences and assist victims in restoring their financial well-being.

  • Ensuring In-Building Coverage For Emergency Communications Systems. Gov. Minner has made improving Delaware’s 800-megahertz emergency radio system a priority. The Governor will support legislation to require building codes for new large buildings, such as shopping centers, apartments and office buildings, to meet standards for better in-building emergency communication.

  • Hoax Devices And Threats. In the wake of an anthrax scare two years ago, the General Assembly amended the law to expand the crime of terroristic threatening. The Governor proposes legislation that goes a step further, establishing a crime for creating and trafficking in devices, such as hoax bombs, intended to create fear and alarm.

  • Blood Alcohol Content. Delaware is now one of only three states in the nation to have not lowered the blood alcohol limit for driving under the influence from .1 to .08 percent. The governor maintains that this legislation will save lives and should be passed.

  • Open Container. House Bill 18 would prohibit the carrying of open containers in passenger cars.

Livable Delaware

  • School Siting. New schools often become the center of development in an area, so it is in the state’s interest to work with school districts to ensure that new schools do not contribute to sprawl, the governor said. Gov. Minner will support legislation to ensure that school sites are complementary to the state’s land use plans.

  • Streamlining The Brownfields Process. The Governor has long been a supporter of responsible “brownfields” redevelopment and reinvestment. Brownfields are industrial and other sites that may require hazardous substance remediation. Gov. Minner will support legislation to reorganize the state’s brownfields provisions into a single unified program in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. This legislation will also permit brownfields certifications for a particular property to be broken up into divisible units.

  • Increasing The Breeders Fund. Along with Delaware’s standardbred racing community, Gov. Minner supports Senate Bill 201. The bill adds $1 million in revenue to the Delaware Standardbred Breeding Program. Enhancing the purse structure for racehorses bred and raised in Delaware provides a boost to Delaware’s horse farmers, and thereby helps preserve farms in the face of development pressure, Gov. Minner said.

Supporting Our Armed Services And Their Families

  • Tax Check-Off To Support Military Families. Delaware has used its tax forms to allow taxpayers to support a number of causes. Gov. Minner supports legislation to allow taxpayers to use their tax return forms to contribute to a fund to support the families of reservists and National Guard personnel called to active duty during the current mobilizations. This proposal was suggested by Lt. Gov. John Carney, and is an initiative that has received the support of lieutenant governors in several states.

  • Protecting Servicepersons’ Health Care. Under current Delaware law, enrollment in the state health plan for state employees called to active duty service is limited to six months. While the U.S. military may offer alternative health care, the current system requires dependents to change coverage after six months, which may require changing providers. Gov. Minner supports legislation to extend the coverage period for state employees and their dependents to two years.

Promoting Clean Energy and Energy Conservation

  • Mandating Bio-diesel Fuel. In September 2003, the Governor’s Energy Task Force issued a comprehensive report to preserve and protect our state’s energy resources. Following the recommendation of the task force, Gov. Minner will support legislation to require all diesel fuel sold in the state to be a 2 percent bio-diesel blend. Bio-diesel fuel burns cleaner, thus reducing air pollution, the governor said.

  • Incorporating Energy Savings Into State Procurement. Following a recommendation of the Governor’s Energy Task Force, Gov. Minner supports bills requiring the state to implement life-cycle analysis in its procurement decisions and encouraging the use of certified energy-saving products.

  • Energy Cabinet Committee. Per the Energy Task Force, Gov. Minner will support legislation to provide for an ongoing cabinet committee and energy council to follow through with task force recommendations and advise decision makers on key energy issues.

Protecting The Rights Of Citizens And Consumers

  • Non-Discrimination Legislation. Gov. Minner said it is time for Delaware to join other states in protecting basic civil rights of people who face discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Governor urges the General Assembly to pass House Bill 99.

  • Protecting Consumers From Unfair Lending Practices. Last year, Governor Minner supported legislation to protect consumers who get short-term “pay-day” loans. Delaware should add strong legislation to reign in some practices in the “title loan” industry as well, she said. The Governor will support legislation to protect consumers borrowing on their car titles, by ensuring adequate disclosure and by preventing lenders from reselling claimed autos without proper protections for borrowers.

  • Protecting Residents In Public Housing. Governor Minner will pursue legislation to improve protections of persons in public housing, by assuring that the Delaware State Housing Authority can seek and obtain expedited court proceedings on behalf of tenants where housing conditions are unsafe. The Governor will also support legislation to allow private citizens and groups to contribute to the Delaware Housing Fund.

Strengthening Delaware Businesses

  • Encouraging Use Of Firms That Perform Work In The United States. The dramatic increase in off-shore “outsourcing” has become a prominent concern, the governor said. Delaware alone cannot prevent businesses from moving employees and resources to non-U.S. locations; however, the state should do business with firms who will keep work and workers in the United States, she said. Gov. Minner will support legislation to ensure that state procurement procedures recognize and reward firms that keep work in this country.

  • Ensuring Fair Treatment Of In-State Contractors. The Governor will support two pieces of legislation to protect Delaware’s local contracting community. First, the Governor will pursue legislation to provide reciprocal treatment in state procurement; that is, where in-state and out-of-state firms compete for state businesses, Delaware firms will enjoy whatever preference or advantage in Delaware that the out-of-state contractor would get in its home state. Second, the Governor will work to assure that out-of-state foreign contractors make necessary payment of withholding taxes here, as Delaware contractors are required to do when performing work in neighboring states.

Good Government

  • State Employee Bonus. The Minner Administration in January proposed a one-time salary bonus of $500 for employees to recognize exemplary service during the recent economic downturn.

  • Campaign Finance Reform. Gov. Minner continues to urge action on Senate Bill 114. This bill is intended to regulate the use of political attack ads by ensuring that the people and groups financing such ads disclose their true identities to the public. SB114 closes loopholes that currently allow anonymous negative attack advertising to proliferate while other forms of political advertising appropriately require fair disclosure to the voters.



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