Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Legislative Update - Jan. 28, 2016

Senate lawmakers Wednesday passed the latest proposal to raise Delaware’s minimum wage to $10.25 an hour by the year 2020 – just under three years after a bill doing the same was signed into law.


If passed by the House, it’ll come in the form of annual 50-cent increases beginning in 2017.


Sen. Robert Marshall (D-Wilmington West), the bill’s chief sponsor, abandoned a provision linking Delaware’s minimum wage to the same cost of living index used by Social Security analysts to secure the one vote he needed to pass it.


Marshall made a similar move two years ago to shepherd the most recent minimum wage hike through the General Assembly.


During the debate, backers of the proposal told opponents that they didn’t understand how hard it is for many people in Delaware to support a family or themselves off of low wages.


But Sen. Dave Lawson (R-Marydel) countered that supporters in the chamber haven’t had to run businesses themselves.


“We have a lot of people taking votes and making votes here today who have never had to make a payroll, who have never had to see the downside and see what happens whenever [government] continues to cut in, cut in, cut in and use business as some kind of profanity,” said Lawson.


Lawson and others repeated what business interests testified to, noting that now is not the time to raise the minimum wage.


That incensed Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Stanton).


“For 40 years we’ve heard this same argument. For 40 years, it’s never been true and probably for the next 40 years it won’t be true,”said Peterson.


Over two days, debate over the bill lasted more than two and a half hours, eventually ending with its passage.


Despite no cues from key House lawmakers as to how it’ll be received, Marshall says he’s confident it’ll pass there as well.


“The state Senate had 11 votes and we sent it over. We had the public debate. Likely that same debate and same issues may come up over in the House, but my hope and my prayer is that the House considers the bill,” said Marshall.


Gov. Jack Markell (D-Delaware) has also sidestepped answering whether he would sign the bill as it now stands.


What is known is House lawmakers will take up a bill to repeal Delaware’s death penalty Thursday.


It’s been one of the biggest surprises to come out of Legislative Hall this year, as Rep. Larry Mitchell changed his vote in committee to let the bill go to the floor.


Repeal supporters rallied in the House chambers Wednesday, reiterating what they’ve testified to for the past three years: that it disproportionately affects minorities and is a fallible system.


“When it comes to communities of color, we investigate too much, we arrest too much, we prosecute too much, we incarcerate too much, and in Delaware, we execute too many,”  said Rev. Donald Morton, who led other community activists in the hour-long discussion.


Those who want to keep capital punishment in Delaware have begun building up their campaign as well, though not as public as repeal supporters.


Law enforcement groups see it as a way to help deter the most horrific crimes and predict more violence should it be abolished.


Debate is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.


Also, Gov. Markell officially signed into law a corporate income tax cut that will cost the state nearly $50 million over the next three years to implement.


The new law will also even out income tax payments for small businesses. They’ll now pay quarterly estimates instead of 70 percent upfront by the summer.


Related Content