During the 2023 legislative session, YWCA Delaware provided public comment in support of the bills below, which will need continued support next year since each General Assembly consists of two years, and these can still move forward. If you would like to join us in our advocacy efforts next year by contacting your legislators or making public comments in support, please sign up for our Action Alert Emails. Learn more about our advocacy positions here.
IN THE WORKS
SB180 – Voting Rights for Returning Citizens
Status: Out of Senate Committee and on ready list for a floor vote before moving on to the House
Summary: This bill restores voting rights to all Delawareans who have completed a prison sentence on felony charges, removes a literacy test requirement in the Constitution that is prohibited by federal law, adds language prohibiting the restoration of voting rights from being contingent on monetary payment in keeping with Senate Bill 242, which was signed into law in 2016; sets 18 as the minimum age at which a person can vote, in keeping with the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and removes durational residency requirements ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972.
Note: Delaware is currently one of only 10 states in the nation that permanently disenfranchises people who have been convicted of specific crimes. Only Virginia disenfranchises all people convicted of a felony.
HB 191 – Rent Escrow Bill
Status: Out of House Committee on the ready list for House floor vote before moving on to the Senate.
Summary: This bill would give renters options to end their lease early in the case of the life, health, or safety of the tenant or a member of the tenant’s household if issues are not promptly addressed. Or they can have their money put into an escrow account in which landlords must do their due diligence before receiving the money.
SB 99: Prohibits Municipalities from requiring eviction for criminal records.
Status: Passed in Senate, on the House ready list for a floor vote.
Summary: This Act prohibits municipal ordinances that require the eviction of tenants for criminal activity by a tenant, member of the tenant’s household, or a guest.
SB 4 – Probation Reform Bill
Status: This bill was voted out of the Senate Corrections and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, June 28, and now awaits a full Senate vote at the start of the legislative session in January.
Summary: This probation reform bill aims to eliminate systemic barriers that prevent those recently released from prison from successfully rejoining society. Over 10,000 Delawareans are subject to the extreme obstacles that the state’s current probation system presents. Achieving the basic stability of safe housing and a steady job are often insurmountable challenges for those who have been released from Delaware’s prisons. This bill would end incarceration for technical violations, enable the customization of probation conditions to individual needs, require the collection and publication of data on probation and people on probation, invest in community-based reentry programs, limit probation terms for most crimes to one year, and eliminate probation for minor convictions.
We provided support for the following bills which have passed and are just waiting on the Governor’s signature.
Status: Passed, Waiting for Governor’s Signature
Summary: This bill adds the intentional restriction of another adult’s access to economic resources resulting in a loss of financial autonomy to the definition of abuse for protection from abuse proceedings. This Act also specifies that tangible property of the petitioner includes legal documents belonging to the petitioner. In addition, this Act codifies the existing practice of Family Court to allow relief by ordering respondents to return specific legal documents. This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.
HB 82 – Mailing Voters More Voting Information
Status: Passed, Waiting for Governor’s Signature
Summary: This Act requires the Department of Elections to biennially mail a notice to all registered voters informing the registrant of their polling place and containing the following additional information: a brief description of all available methods of voting; the dates and times on which the general and any primary election will be held; deadlines for voter registration for each election and for party changes before a primary; and a brief outline of procedures and requirements and polling places and early voting sites. If the notice is returned as undeliverable the Department is directed to follow a procedure already set forth in Code for attempting to update and verify voting registration records. The notice is to be mailed not later than 30 days before the state primary election.
SB 1 – Right to Representation for Eviction Defense
Status: Passed and signed by Governor John Carney on Tuesday, July 25, 2023