Media Contact

Meera Devotta 
Campaign Communications Manager

July 1, 2023

DOVER — As the first leg of the 152nd General Assembly came to an end Friday, June 30, the ACLU of Delaware celebrated the passage and progress of 2023 legislative priorities initially announced during a briefing with state officials in January. Priorities included:

  • Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 1 (SS 1 for SB 1), legislation ensuring low-income renters a right to representation in eviction proceedings, and significant progress;
  • Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 4 (SS1 for SB 4), legislation that eliminates systemic barriers that prevent those serving probation from successfully rejoining society; 
  • House Bill 188 (HB 188), legislation that codifies the Delaware Public Education Ombudsperson Program and ensures its sustainability; and
  • House Bill 110 (HB 110), legislation that ensures that people on Medicaid, private, and state insurance plans are able to access abortion care without financial burden, and Senate Bill 158 (SB 158), legislation that protects the private information of abortion care providers.

The passage of SS 1 for SB 1, sponsored by Sen. Townsend and Rep. Minor-Brown, marked a successful conclusion to a three-year campaign led by a broad coalition of Delaware housing advocates and renters. Delaware now joins four other states—Connecticut, Maryland, Washington, and Minnesota— in providing the right to representation to renters in both public and private housing. “A right to representation gives renters a fighting chance at keeping safe and stable housing long-term — a fundamental human need for every person,” says Javonne Rich, Director of Policy and Advocacy, “This is a housing justice issue, a racial justice issue, and an economic justice issue.” SS 1 for SB 1 now heads to the Governor’s desk for signature. Following the signing, this legislation will be phased in over a three-year period. Housing coalition advocates are now turning attention towards public education efforts throughout the program’s implementation.

SS 1 for SB 4, introduced by Sen. Marie Pinkney, faced a tough battle in the Senate. The bill was voted out of the Senate Corrections and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, June 28, and now awaits a full Senate vote at the start of the legislative session in January. “Over 10,000 Delawareans remain subject to the extreme obstacles that our probation system presents  for many, these obstacles prove insurmountable, fueling Delaware’s staggering recidivism rate. ” said John Reynolds, Deputy Policy and Advocacy Director, “This year’s legislative session may be over, but we’ll be continuing to work with community partners and elected officials throughout the next few months to ensure that 2024 is the year that probation reform becomes reality in Delaware.” Criminal legal system reform advocates are optimistic that this bill remains primed for full passage next year.

In 2020, ACLU-DE was a part of successfully negotiating a historic settlement on behalf of education and community advocates. This settlement required the creation of an independent entity that assists students and families in working with schools to resolve various issues, conflicts, and disputes. HB 188, sponsored by Rep. Moore and Sen. Lockman, codifies the Delaware Public Education Ombudsperson Program and ensures that it is fully funded at the amount that was agreed upon in the settlement. “This community and parent-driven program is the only statewide program solely focused on supporting students, ” said Shannon Griffin, Senior Policy Advocate, “The program will now have the framework and continued funding to support parents and students to address disputes or complaints concerning disparate discipline, inequitable access to school programs, or otherwise different or unfair treatment of students.” HB 188 now heads to the governor’s office for signature. 

This year’s legislative session culminated just a week after the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. This year, Delaware lawmakers missed a critical chance to enhance abortion protection and ensure abortion services are accessible for all who need it by failing to pass HB 110. While Delaware has already been a leader by joining 17 other states in guaranteeing abortion rights in state law,” said Helen Salita, ACLU-DE Campaign Manager, “It’s not nearly enough. Codification does not mean abortion is accessible, especially for low-income people. HB 110 would have taken additional steps to ensure that cost never prevents someone from being able to have full autonomy over their healthcare. We are disappointed to see this bill stall in the House.” Lawmakers did pass SB 158, expanding protections for personal information of care providers. SB 158 takes steps to ensure Delaware remains safe not only for those seeking abortions, but also for those providing care. 

In the midst of an ongoing nationwide reproductive freedom crisis, ACLU-DE is already looking ahead to 2024 and calling on Delaware lawmakers to further demonstrate their commitment to reproductive freedom by funding training programs to ensure abortion care providers are prepared to handle an influx of out-of-state patients and enshrining abortion rights in the state’s constitution.

Additionally, House Bill 62 (HB 62), introduced by Rep. Wilson-Anton, requires each county to reassess the value of real property at regular intervals. HB 62 was precipitated by ACLU-DE’s historic litigation that required all three counties to update outdated property values, which does some of the work to redistribute property tax burdens and provide a more accurate picture of the funding that schools need to achieve greater equity in education. The bill passed the general assembly and now awaits the governor’s signature. 

Looking forward, the ACLU of Delaware encourages members of the public to stay updated about advocacy opportunities and events by signing up for email alerts. More information about the organization’s initiatives can be found online at