Del. 2013 Legislative Session Ends - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. 2013 Legislative Session Ends, Social Change Highlights Six Months of Work

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Delaware lawmakers worked into the wee hours of the morning Monday as the 2013 legislative session came to an end.

It was a landmark year on a number of issues. Highlights of the session included major social legislation. Those were big wins for some. But others say lawmakers took their eyes off the most important ball.

Gov. Jack Markell praised lawmakers' work as he signed Delaware's three major spending bills into law around 2 AM Monday.

"Legislators produced tremendous results this session, proving that we can make substantial progress on factors important to our state's economic growth, improve our education system, and make Delaware a more welcoming place," he said.

But Republican lawmakers disagree on that first item, saying the legislature didn't pay enough attention to the economy - in favor of social change.

"We didn't focus on that at all," said Senate Minority Leader Sen. Gary Simpson, R-Milford. "Instead we raised taxes, and we did not look at the economic benefits of coming to Delaware."

"Dealing with those sort of things took us away from what our focus should have been - the economy and jobs," House Minority Leader Rep. Danny Short, R-Seaford.

Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth, says items like worker's compensation reform show there was attention paid to the economy. And he says the social items tackled were important.

"They were issues that have been lingering for a very long time," he said. "Sen. Blevins and I very early on decided we would tackle these issues and give them the fair shot that they had been denied for so long."

That included legalizing same-sex marriage, prohibiting discrimination against transgender people and gun control laws, like expanded background checks, in the wake of the massacre at sandy hook elementary school. Multiple gun control proposals, however, did not reach passage, like bans on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons. And lawmakers were also unable to move through bills repealing the state's death penalty and adding new casinos in New castle and Sussex Counties.

Earlier this year Delaware lawmakers did make permanent a series of once-temporary tax increases.

The legislature is off until January of next year. When members come back, they can act on bills that were still on the table when the clock ran out on 2013's session.

On their last day, Delaware lawmakers gave approval to a permanent plan to allow video gambling at veterans and fraternal lodges, passed a bill to put stricter regulations on abortion clinics and approved some non-controversial bills to increase penalties for gun crimes in Delaware.

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