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State Senate approves bills expanding scholarship programs, expengement opportunities

Joe Irizarry
Delaware Public Media

The State Senate passes legislation aimed at strengthening Delaware’s workforce and expanding higher education opportunities.

State senators approved Senate Bill 12 Tuesday.  It expands the Student Excellence Equals Degree or SEED scholarship program to provide financial assistance to hundreds of working class adults seeking skills training at Delaware Tech and the University of Delaware.

The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Nicole Poore (D-New Castle) details some of the things SEED+ will do.

"The bill will eliminate the provisions requiring students to enroll in college immediately after high school in order to receive the SEED Scholarship," said Poore. "This legislation expands scholarship eligibility to include individuals previously convicted of non-violent felonies and solely drug-related violent felonies."

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 95 which expands the Inspire Scholarship to help hundreds of in-state high school graduates attend Delaware State University and enter the workforce debt free.

State Senator Trey Paradee (D-Dover) is that bill’s sponsor.

“What this bill changes is it does allow the full amount of the Delaware State University tuition - which is $7,038 a year - to be covered by the scholarship award in full," said Paradee.

Meanwhile, the State Senate also passed legislation to increase expungement eligibility.

Senate Bill 112 expands eligibility to the adult and juvenile expungement process for Delawareans convicted of low-level charges by making their opportunity for a second chance mandatory under state law.

It also expands the eligibility of mandatory expungements filed with the State Bureau of Investigations for certain convictions, regardless of someone’s prior or subsequent criminal record.

The bill’s sponsor State Senator Darius Brown (D-Wilmington) explains the type of offenses included.

"Offenses of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia," said Brown. "I do want to emphasize that the time frame is not going to be reduced for when you qualify to be eligible for expungement, but it just allows these offenses to be expanded in the negatory."

Currently, a person can obtain an expungement for those convictions only if they have no other criminal record.

The low-level felony convictions like drug possession convictions would be eligible after 5 years and specific non-violent felonies would be eligible after 10 years if a person has no prior or subsequent convictions.

All three bills now go to the House.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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