Del. Legislature Back in Session Tuesday - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Legislature Back in Session Tuesday

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Gun sales, minimum wage hike and death penalty. Three issues on legislators' minds as they gavel back into session Tuesday. (Photo: WBOC) Gun sales, minimum wage hike and death penalty. Three issues on legislators' minds as they gavel back into session Tuesday. (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del.- The Delaware General Assembly will gavel back into session Tuesday and take up some controversial issues from limiting gun sales to raising the minimum wage. 

A minimum wage increase bill has already passed the Senate and is sitting in committee in the House. The bill says it would raise the minimum wage gradually over the next four years. 

It would increase from $8.25 per hour, where it currently sits, to $10.25, according to the bill. That's an annual 50 cent increase. 

Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst announced in a February letter to Delaware's congressional delegation her intentions to file legislation that would close what she calls a federal criminal background check loophole. 

According to her letter, current regulations allow a gun salesman to sell a firearm if a requested background check has not been processed by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System within three business days. She says this gets firearms into the hands of people that are not eligible to purchase one.

Longhurst said it is essential for public safety in Delaware.

"This loophole has allowed firearm transactions that otherwise would be denied to proceed, resulting in potentially dangerous individuals 'legally' purchasing guns on a technicality," she said. 

Some view these debates as not just constitutional ones but moral debates, especially those individuals arguing for the repeal of the death penalty. 

SB 40, the death penalty repeal bill, could make its way back to the House floor depending on the outcome of a Delaware Supreme Court hearing. The bill's sponsors said Monday they will hold off on any legislative action, because they are waiting to see what happens in court.

The bill was defeated in the House by five votes in January. 

The court agreed to accept and answer questions submitted by a Superior Court judge on the constitutionality of Delaware's death penalty statute in light of two U.S. Supreme Court rulings in January. 

The court's opinion could completely strike down the death penalty in Delaware so there would be no need for legislative action. 

On another issue, there are legislators thinking about bringing forth a proposal to temporarily raise the gas tax in Delaware by 10 cents per gallon. They says they would use the money to pay for improvements to roads and bridges across Delaware. 

Another bill ready for a vote is SB 60, co-sponsored by Rep. Sean Lynn of Dover. The bill would prohibit Delaware law enforcement agencies from stopping, searching or detaining any individual solely on the basis of their citizenship or immigration status.

Legislative records describe it as a bill intended to enhance trust immigrants and law enforcement agencies. It also says its purpose is to encourage immigrants to report crimes and contribute to public safety in Delaware. 

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