Delaware Senate Approves Some Relief to Federal Workers, Scuttle - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Senate Approves Some Relief to Federal Workers, Scuttles Loan Opportunities

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DOVER, Del.- Delaware's Senate on Wednesday approved legislation allowing judges to postpone federal workers' payments for rent on mortgages during the partial shutdown of the U.S. government, but also defeated legislation that would offer those same employees low-interest, state-backed loans.

That means only one of two proposals to offer relief for furloughed or unpaid federal workers that was introduced and hastily passed in the House on Tuesday will head to Gov. John Carney's desk for his signature.

House Bill 3 would have allowed Delaware to work with financial institutions to offer low-interest loans to federal workers who live in the state and are furloughed or working without pay during the government shutdown.

The legislation was backed by Carney, a Democrat, but needed five Republican votes alongside the entire Democratic majority. It failed to get the three-quarters majority needed for approval in the Senate, falling short in a 15-6 decision.

Jonathan Starkey, a Carney spokesman, said in a statement that Carney was pleased to see the legislature pass some relief for federal workers but expressed disappointment that Senate Republicans would block the loan bill.

"These workers have families, need to buy groceries, pay their mortgages and their medical bills. We ought to do what we can to help as this shutdown continues," he said.

Unlike the loan bill, House Bill 2, passed in the Senate by a margin of 15-6. It allows federal workers in Delaware who are furloughed or being forced to work without pay to apply for a stay or postponement on rent and mortgage payments, insurance premiums, or other liabilities and civil proceedings.

"I don't think anyone who has a job, who's forced to work without pay or anyone who's not allowed to show up for work because they're not going to get paid should lose their house or lose their car," said House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) on Tuesday.

According to the bill, a court or administrative agency "may grant such relief if it finds that the ability of the federal worker to pay such obligation has been materially affected by the shutdown."

The length of stay could be extended for the period of the shutdown and 90 days thereafter.

But some Republicans remained unconvinced that either of the bills should be passed.

Sen. Colin Bonini (R-Dover South) said he worries the actions taken to benefit federal workers set a bad precedent.

"The next time a private sector company has to lay people off, are we going to create a new program for them?," he said. "The answer is 'Yes, of course.' They're going to come to us and say 'You did it for federal employees, why don't you do it for us?'"

 

 

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