delaware

Don Rush

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials project the cost of handling elections this year will reach $3 million.
    
Media outlets report that much of that money is spent on personnel and transporting voting machines.
    
Officials say the job is never easy or cheap despite the fact that Delaware has only three counties.
    
Besides the general election in November, Delaware held its presidential primary in April. A statewide primary is scheduled for Sept. 13. There are other local contests as well.
    

Women in Politics

Jul 25, 2016
Don Rush

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland has been among leading states in electing women to political offices for decades, but the state could have its first all-male congressional delegation in more than 40 years unless at least one of two Republicans or a third-party candidate wins in November in the heavily Democratic state.

Don Rush

There is a proposal backed by the Delaware Department of Transportation to substitute a mileage tax for the current gas tax to fund road construction and repair.

Delaware along with four other states on the East Coast have suggested that motorist pay a fee based on the distance that they drive.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the proposal is a response to a request by federal transportation authorities to come up with alternative ways to pay for road construction.

The request comes in the wake of stagnant funding form the current gas and diesel tax.

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The population of Delaware could reach a million by the next presidential election in 2020.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that it’s fastest growing state in the region.

In 2015 there were nearly 950-thousand residents in the First State up from nearly 890-thousand in 2010.

That’s an increase of 5.3 percent.

Officials expect the population to grow by 10-thousand a year.

Daniel Blevins is with the Wilmington Area Planning Council which oversees transportation in New Castle, Delaware and Cecil County, Maryland.

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There is a move in the Delaware General Assembly to put an equal protection clause into the state constitution.

The protected classes not only include such categories as race, age, religion creed and color but also sexual orientation and gender identity.

State Senator Karen Peterson a sponsor of the amendment told the Wilmington News Journal that this sentence would make a statement about Delaware’s values.

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SANDY HOOK, N.J. (AP) - Federal regulators are considering requests from four companies to look for oil and natural gas in the mid-and south Atlantic Ocean by blasting the sea bed with sound waves.

It's an efficient way to look for energy deposits, but environmental groups fear it could harm marine mammals including whales, dolphins and turtles.

The proposed surveying would range from Delaware to Florida.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - State Rep. Bryon Short has dropped out of the crowded race for Delaware's lone congressional seat, citing fundraising problems.

The Highland Woods Democrat released a statement Monday saying he couldn't keep up with the fundraising demands to replace U.S. Congressman John Carney, a Democrat running for governor, ahead of September's primary.

Don Rush

Virginia got White House approval for a declaration of disaster which will provide supplemental aid to the state.

January’s snow storm struck the commonwealth hard and the federal funds will go toward repairing and replacing infrastructure.

WBOC reports that twenty counties and five cities were particularly hard hit by the storm.

Meanwhile, Maryland got approval for a disaster declaration last week while Delaware is still awaiting a response to its request.

Bethany Beach website

There were more than 8 million tourists who came to Delaware in 2014.

That’s up from 7.5 million in 2013.

A new study found that they contributed $3 billion to the state’s gross domestic product or around 5 percent.

At the beaches the boom saw the rental market pass the $1 billion mark for Sussex County.

Statewide rental revenue went up by 8.8 percent between 2013 and 2014.

Linda Parkowski, director of the Delaware Tourism Office, called tourism an economic engine and a growth industry.

Weather Channel

With the oncoming snow storm Maryland and Virginia have declared a state of emergency as Delaware Governor Jack Markell urges residents to prepare for the winter blast.

Delaware is expected to be hit the hardest on Delmarva with up to 8 inches in Sussex County while in Salisbury the snow is expected to be 2 to 4 inches deep.

Delaware

The National Weather Service has declared a blizzard watch for New Castle and Kent counties, while Sussex County is under a winter storm watch.

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There has been an uptick in short-term hospitalizations for mental health patients in Delaware.

And that, says a court-appointed monitor, has raised the issue of whether treatment has suffered.

The evaluation is part of a settlement between the First State and the federal authorities.

In moving away from institutionalized care to community services the latest report says that Delaware is making progress.

But, the Wilmington News Journal says that the report found there was an increase for inpatient hospitalizations.

Farming the Oyster

Nov 25, 2015
Don Rush

With the depletion of the oyster in the Chesapeake Bay a new industry has grown up in the region. It's called aquaculture where oysters are raised to produce this iconic creature. WYPR's Joel McCord took a look at the growth of this industry in the region.

BGE

BALTIMORE (AP) - Maryland's Public Service Commission has ordered BGE to cut in half its monthly fee to customers who opt out of having smart meters installed in their homes or small businesses.

The monthly opt out rate will be reduced to $5.50, from $11, beginning in January, the commission said Tuesday in a news release.

The PSC said it held a hearing earlier this month because about 4 percent of BGE's customers in central Maryland are choosing not to have smart meters installed. The commission said a 1 percent opt-out rate was expected when it set the fees in 2014.

christina12.org

The Superintendent of the Christina School District will be retiring in February.

Freeman Williams has been in his job for the last three years and he went on a leave of absence in August.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the school board is now exploring a time line in the search for a new superintendent.

The paper reports that the change in leadership comes after the state Board of Education came into conflict with the district over how to improve three Priority Schools in Wilmington.

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Congressman John Carney pulled in more than $200-thousand at a fundraiser in Wilmington this week as he takes aim at the governor’s race.

The Delaware Democrat’s one night event at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington included two major Democratic notables Governor Jack Markell and Attorney General Matt Denn.

In addition the First State’s two Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons were also on hand.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the big money and big Democratic names are expected to scare off any Democratic challengers.

DelDOT

It will cost $9.3 million for the longest stretch of a 4.5 mile project on U.S. 301 toll road in Delaware.

State highway officials say they are pleased with the low bid from a Maryland company despite the estimates by state officials of $88 million.

Construction on the 14 mile roadway is expected to start early next year.

The Wilmington News Journal notes that the bids still need to be validated, the bond terms secured and an okay gotten from Delaware lawmakers as well as the administration.

Leo Strine, courts.delaware.gov

The Access to Justice Commission’s Committee on Fairness will be hold a series of public hearings this year looking for way to deal with racial disparity of the criminal justice system in Delaware.  

Chief Justice Leo Strine told the Wilmington News Journal that the goal is to find common sense solutions.

The paper notes that while 22 percent of Delaware’s state population is African American nearly 60 percent of the prison population is black.  

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A Maryland board has revised the state's revenue estimates up by $212 million for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

The Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates approved the estimates Monday. The estimates went up $80.6 million for fiscal year 2016, which began in July. Revenue estimates increased $131.6 million for fiscal year 2017.

The revisions come after Maryland ended fiscal year 2015 with a fund balance of $295 million.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Officials in Delaware say seven students have graduated from a new employment training program that prepares them to become certified nursing assistants.

The students graduated from the eight-week program, called Generation, on Tuesday. Gov. Jack Markell gave the keynote address at the ceremony.

Jasleen Kaur / creative commons

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials have decided not to develop the state's own health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act and instead will keep the current state-federal partnership model.

Delaware was granted nonbinding approval in June to develop a supported state-based health insurance marketplace, but Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf said Thursday that the state will not move forward with the plan.

dmv.de.gov

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell is set to sign legislation targeting the driving privileges of motorists with unpaid traffic fines.

The bill to be signed Monday changes the procedures for the suspension, nonrenewal, or nonduplication of driver's licenses or driving privileges for the failure to resolve motor vehicle charges.

The new law says driver's licenses will not be renewed or duplicate licenses issued if there are outstanding fines or fees for minor traffic offenses subject to voluntary assessment until the fees are paid by the license applicant.

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Governor Jack Markell gave high praise to his former political rival congressman John Carney adding that the Delaware Democrat would make a terrific gubernatorial candidate next year.

The semi-endorsement came through a spokesman for the governor this past weekend.

Carney has not indicated if he will make a run for the governorship.

Markell beat Carney in the 2008 gubernatorial primary.

Meanwhile, Carper worked for then Governor Tom Carper during the mid-1990’s.

Markell will leave office next year after his two term limit is up. 

DelDOT website

When undocumented immigrants apply for driving privilege cards in Delaware they must submit their finger prints that go to law enforcement for a criminal background check.

That requirement was a compromise reached with law enforcement when the legislation was approved this year.

State Senator Bryan Townsend who sponsored the legislation and is co-chair of a panel that will review the law next year fears finger printing could keep people from signing up for a license.

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The avian flu has hit the poultry industry with a vengeance leaving 48 million chickens and turkey dead since last December.

The U.S. Agriculture Department has been moving quickly to round of the birds as quickly as possible and killing them before it spreads.

In the Mid-West the pandemic appears to have slowed.

But during a senate committee hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill Delaware Democrat Tom Carper warned of becoming too complacent.

An Apology for Slavery?

Jul 8, 2015
Historical drawing

There could be an apology for slavery in Delaware.

Governor Jack Markell received a request for such a proclamation last week from Harmon Carey, founder and executive director of the Afro-American Historical Society in Wilmington.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that he wrote that there was a “moral imperative”0 to acknowledge the inhumanity of slavery and the unjust prosecution of Abolitionists.

Carey says he believes an apology would heal the wounds still being felt to this day.

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More motorists are expected to hit the roads this July 4th holiday.

Triple AAA Mid-Atlantic says in Delaware 97-thousand are expected to be on the highways out of 112-thousand expected to be traveling this year.

That’s up .9 percent over last year.

Meanwhile, in Maryland 870-thousand residents are expected to be traveling with 754-thousand hitting the roadways.

That’s an increase of 2.3 percent over last year.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Members of the legislature's budget-writing committee have caved to pressure from local governments and will reverse a decision to give the state a larger share of real estate transfer taxes.

Currently, the 3 percent tax is split evenly between state and county governments, each getting 1.5 percent.

Members of the Joint Finance Committee agreed last week that the state should start taking 2 percent of the tax starting July 1, 2016, to help close an expected revenue gap of more than $160 million in fiscal 2017.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A House committee is set to consider a Democratic proposal to raise income taxes for wealthy Delawareans.

The bill would hike the tax rate to 7.1 percent for families making between $125,000 and $250,000. For families making more than $250,000, the rate would be 7.85 percent.

The current top tax rate is 6.6 percent for income above $60,000.

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Delaware is in mourning this week after receiving news of the death of Beau Biden from brain cancer at the age of 46. Top state and national officials offered their condolences to Vice President Joe Biden and his family at their loss. Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush takes a look at the politician and man who was such a rising star in the Democratic Party.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Officials are eyeing changes to Delaware's conch fishing rules to keep commercial fishermen on equal footing with their New Jersey counterparts.

Officials planned to hold a hearing Thursday evening on lowering the minimum size limits for licensed knobbed conch dredgers.

Currently, Delaware requires a six-inch minimum size limit, while New Jersey has a five-inch minimum. Officials say that poses a potential economic disadvantage to Delaware conch harvesters fishing the shared waters of the Delaware Bay.

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