This post is part of our Spring 2019 issue of Connection, our quarterly newsletter. To read the whole newsletter, click here.
The 150th General Assembly has officially kicked off the 2019 legislative season. This session the ACLU of Delaware will be advocating for expansion of voting rights and for criminal justice reform. We’ll be fighting against legislation that restricts access to abortion and invades privacy. We’ve already seen a slew of bills introduced on these issues and we anticipate many more to come. Here’s a summary of what’s ahead.
For years, the ACLU, League of Women Voters, Common Cause and others have been pushing expansion of voting rights and access to the ballot box here in Delaware. So we were gratified when Governor Carney announced that he was supporting these reforms as well. Bills to advance same day voter registration (HB39) and early voting (HB38) have already been introduced and are waiting to be heard in committee. Same day registration has already been implemented in 17 states and D.C., and 39 states and D.C. have already given access to early voting.
Legislation we will oppose includes a bill that bans access to abortion after 20 weeks (HB52, SB21) and another that requires a doctor to offer fetal ultrasound images and the sound of a fetal heartbeat to women before performing an abortion (HB 53, SB 19).
ACLU of Delaware staff and other community partners are working closely with Attorney General Kathy Jennings and legislators to pull together a criminal justice reform package. Proposals will include: significantly reducing the use of concurrent sentencing, which results in overly long prison stays; preventing arrest warrants from being issued automatically and drivers licenses from being suspended when fines are not paid to the court; and eliminating “location enhancements” (i.e. more prison time) when drug crimes are committed near a church or school.
We will also work on legislation that expands opportunities to expunge a criminal record and makes it easier to get a professional occupation license with a criminal conviction. Notices of legislative activity are posted on our website, on Facebook and sent by email, so make sure you connect with us electronically. If you want to sign up for our email list or have any questions about our website or social media pages, reach out to Morgan Keller, Communications Manager, at email@example.com.
Finally, congratulations to all the women and men that worked for years to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the Delaware Constitution (HB1). You got it done and we no longer permit discrimination on the basis of sex. What a way to kick off 2019!