Underage prostitutes no longer charged

A bill that ends charging people under the age of 18 with prostitution passed both House and Senate and awaits the governor’s signature.

House Bill 60 and its amendment states that a child who engages in prostitution is presumed to be a neglected or abused child in order to receive services from the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families and The Family Court.

Gun storage bill passes House

A bill that requires safe storage of weapons to prevent access by children or prohibited adults passed the House June 4 by a 23-18 vote.

The Senate previously passed the bill 13-8 in April with an amendment that requires law enforcement to prove that a gun owner left a weapon out for a child or prohibited adult to access.

Among the no votes in the House were Sussex County Republicans Ruth Briggs King, Georgetown; Rich Collins, Millsboro; Daniel Short, Seaford; Timothy Dukes, Laurel; Stephen Smyk, Milton; and Jesse Vanderwende, Bridgeville. Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, voted in favor of the measure.

The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

Anti-littering bill introduced

A bill that would fine or require community service for people for littering was introduced June 5.

Under House Bill 179, a first offense for littering would carry a fine of $100 and up to eight hours of community service. For a second offense within two years, a violator could face a fine of $150 and up to 25 hours of community service. 

“The current $50 fine for littering is so low that few people pay attention to it,” said bill sponsor Sen. Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown, vice-chair of the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Committee. “Law enforcement is busy with more serious crimes and it’s clear that such a small penalty is no deterrent as evidenced by the amount of trash we see in our roadways, parks and open spaces. We need to change the culture around littering and I believe raising the fines is an important step.”

Lower healthcare costs sought

A bill to curb the rising healthcare insurance costs aims to stabilize Delaware’s insurance market and provide coverage for individuals who need it.

House Bill 176 would stabilize the individual health insurance market and offer relief to Delawareans struggling with extraordinary healthcare costs. The bill, based on Delaware’s Section 1332 Waiver application, is enabling legislation that establishes and funds a reinsurance program to cover the high cost of premiums for individual market plans.

“The high cost of healthcare is all-consuming, forcing our small business owners, seniors and everyday Delawareans to make difficult decisions with their health. It’s a cycle that will continue, but this legislation lays out an action plan to help consumers. I commend the work of the elected officials, Department of Health and Social Services and Department of Insurance for their leadership on these strategies, and hope that we can approve and pass this important measure,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, chief sponsor of the bill.

“The proposed reinsurance program will help to relieve the burden of high premium costs, many of which have increased by double digits, allowing individuals to better budget their life expenses. Health coverage is critical and it’s imperative to improve access and affordability so people can get the care they need whether it’s an emergency, life-altering diagnosis or routine check-up,” Schwartzkopf said.