Markell Signs Bill Declassifying and Increasing Fines For Enviro - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Markell Signs Bill Declassifying and Increasing Fines For Environmental Offenses

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DOVER, Del. - A bill signed into law by Governor Jack Markell decriminalizes some environmental offenses while raising the minimum fines associated with them.

Sponsored by Sen. David McBride and co-sponsored by Rep. Debra Heffernan, Senate Bill 258 declassifies a number of less severe offenses associated with wildlife, hunting, trapping, fishing and boating by changing them from Class C and D environmental misdemeanors to environmental violations.

Examples of these offenses include hunting, fishing or trapping without a license, trespassing to hunt, fish or trap and improper marking of commercial crab or lobster pots.

The bill also stipulates that these environmental violations will not be reported on criminal history records kept by the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System.

Under the new legislation, the minimum fine for Class C environmental violations is raised from $50 to $100 for first offenses and the Class D environmental violations from $25 to $50 for first offenses.

DNREC Secretary David S. Small and Delaware Chief Justice Leo Strine watched Markell sign the bill Tuesday at Wilmington's DuPont Environmental Education Center and offered their support.

"Senate Bill 258 effectively modernizes and updates Delaware law to help support the work that DNREC's Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Section's Natural Resources Police does to protect and conserve Delaware's fish, wildlife and habitat, and to provide for safe boating,” Small said. “It also reflects our commitment to achieve compliance with Delaware's conservation and boating laws through education and necessary enforcement actions.”

“It's important to constantly be alert to opportunities to use taxpayer dollars more wisely and to make our laws more just,” Strine added. “This bill does both, by striking a much better balance, which will enable our environmental laws to be enforced more effectively and, as important, with less burden on DNREC, the courts, and Board of Pardons. Meanwhile, justice is better served by not placing obstacles to employment in front of people who commit minor environmental offenses.”

The new legislation addresses more than three dozen offenses.

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