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Delaware Senate Democrats

Delaware Senate Passes Nine Coronavirus-Related Bills

June 23, 2020

Delaware State Senate Majority Caucus
Contact: Scott Goss (302) 744-4180, or
Dylan McDowell (302) 744-4282

The Delaware Senate passed nine bills on Tuesday that seek to codify several provisions established in Governor John Carney’s COVID-19 State of Emergency modifications or otherwise assist Delaware residents through the pandemic.

The legislative package includes measures that would maintain consumer protections against price gouging, help the restaurant industry recover financially and allow some key state services to continue utilizing teleconferencing services.

“Our lives have changed dramatically since the first COVID-19 case was reported here in mid-March and we need our laws to reflect this new reality that many of our residents are still grappling with,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride. “For their health and well-being, as well as for the sake of our ongoing economic recovery, several of the protections Governor Carney put in place will need to continue even after his State of Emergency is lifted, while other measures need to be put in place. I am grateful to my colleagues for advancing legislation today that will help to make that happen.”

The Senate on Tuesday passed House Bill 349, House Bill 347 and House Bill 345, sending all three to Governor Carney for his signature.

House Bill 349, sponsored by Rep. Quinn Johnson and Sen. Trey Paradee, would assist the Delaware restaurant industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing food and drink establishments with valid on-premise alcohol licenses to continue selling those beverages to take-out, curbside or drive-through customers, among other changes. The bill would extend those provisions through March 31, 2021.

House Bill 347, sponsored by Rep. Earl Jaques and Sen. Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, would allow the Office of Management and Budget to extend the period pertaining to procurement of goods and services by State agencies for up to 15 days, permit bids and proposals to be submitted electronically, and allows for electronic execution of documents. This would be extended until March 31, 2021.

House Bill 345, sponsored by Rep. Larry Mitchell and Sen. Nicole Poore, would extend the deadlines for several legislative task forces and committees, many of which have not been able to meet or had their work severely curtailed by COVID-19. Most task forces are created by resolutions, which expire with the end of each General Assembly. The 150th General Assembly ends on November 3.

Legislation passed by the Senate and sent to the House for final consideration include:

Senate Bill 253, which would extend provisions protecting consumers against price gouging for an extra 60 days beyond the lifting of the State of Emergency. Sponsored by Sen. Bruce Ennis, the bill also allows the Governor flexibility to ratchet down those protections through future executive orders.

Senate Bill 251, which would extend State of Emergency provisions that allow couples applying for marriage licenses to appear together before an issuing officer through video conferencing and allows that issuing officer to witness the couple’s signatures on their marriage license application virtually. Sponsored by Sen. Laura Sturgeon, these changes will remain in effect until June 30, 2021.

Senate Bill 248, which would extend State of Emergency modifications related to the disability insurance program for state employees. Sponsored by Sen. David Sokola, the bill would extend those provisions until Dec. 30, 2020.

Senate Bill 247, which would extend State of Emergency modifications that allow remote notarization and witnessing by Delaware attorneys through video conferencing. Sponsored by Sen. Stephanie Hansen, the bill would continue those provisions until June 30, 2021.

Senate Bill 246, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Poore, is aimed at helping hospital patients who are unable to make decisions about transition home or to long-term care facilities and do not have family members available to help. This legislation seeks to address this serious situation, which can leave COVID-19 patients in hospitals far longer than medically necessary, by allowing hospitals to petition the courts to appoint a patient guardian if no other family or other surrogates can be reached.

Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 239 amends the Delaware Contractor Registration Act signed into law in 2019 by postponing the date of implementation from October 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021. Senator Jack Walsh is the prime sponsor of this bill, as well as the original legislation.