Volume 5, Issue 2: January 20, 2012

General Assembly Week Two: Governor Jack Markell delivered the State of the State continuing his emphasis on economic development; bringing in new business and assisting local business. Other priorities included more hiking and bike trails, lowering health care costs, transparency in government and improving our public schools. Look for more information next week when the Governor delivers his annual budget address outlining his FY 2013 Recommended Budget. 

Sea Level Rise:  Secretary O'Mara and DNREC staff gave a progress report to the House Natural Resources Committee on the work of the Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee of which Immediate Past President Bill Lucks is a member.  The Committee has been working to define the problem. They intend to highlight the potential impact of sea level rise on Delaware's resources and then move to adaptation options of accommodate, protect, and/or managed retreat.  For more information please visit DNREC's website.

First-Time Homebuyers:  DAR continues to work to advance, HB 166, legislation to exempt first-time homebuyers from the state share of the Real Estate Transfer Tax. DAR continues to work with a very committed group of legislators to advance the legislative.  In addition, DAR commissioned a study by the University of Delaware to outline housing's impact on the economy and the benefits to the state of enabling more first-time homebuyers to enter the market. The study is expected at the end of the month and results will be shared with the Governor and members of the General Assembly.  The Delaware State Housing Authority will appear before the House Housing and Community Affairs Committee next week to outline two housing incentive programs.   

Universal Design Legislation In House Committee:  HB 227 is scheduled for consideration by the House Housing and Community Affairs Committee next week. The bill requires that bids for all newly constructed dwelling units using public financial assistance indicate the extent of the universal design standards in the proposal.  In selecting the bid, the extent of universal designs use may form a basis to award the contract based on the best value, rather than lowest bidder.

DREC Education Exemption for Certain REALTORS®:  Look for legislation to exempt any licensee who has held a Real Estate License for a continuous period of at least 40 years to be exempt from completing any continuing education hours.  

Municipal Zoning Boards of Adjustment:  HB 241 passed both the House Housing and Community Affairs Committee and House this week.  The bill amends provisions of Section 322(a), Title 22 of the Delaware Code to permit any of the following members of the zoning board of adjustment to delegate their duties to their authorized agents: 1) the chief engineer of the street and sewer department or the public works commissioner, 2) the city solicitor and 3) the mayor. Presently, only the mayor may delegate such duties to an authorized agent. 

Manufactured Housing Bill Tabled: HB 167 which clarifies the rights of the Relations Trust Authority to recover delinquent assessments, interest, court costs and reasonable attorney's fees and expenses related to enforcement of payment by landlord of required assessments was tabled in the Senate Community and County Affairs Committee.  On a related note, there may be efforts to move rent control legislation this session.

City of Dover General Assessment:  SB 166 was introduced, passed the Senate Community and County Affairs Committee and is presently on the Senate Agenda for next week.  The bill would remove the requirement that the valuation and assessment of real property be conducted every three years.  Senate Amendment 1 was introduced and placed with the bill.  The amendment allows the reassessment to be done by a consortium of appraisers and clarifies that the appraisers employed to do the reassessments must be licensed by the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation.

Transportation and Development: DAR Public Policy Chairman Vince D'Anna and a work-group from Delawareans for Economic and Environmental Development of which DAR is a member will be meeting with DelDOT Secretary Bhatt to discuss problems with the administration of DelDOT programs as they affect development in the state.

New Stormwater Regulations Final Public Hearing: The Public Hearing for Revisions to the Delaware Sediment and Stormwater Regulations has been scheduled for Thursday, March 1 at 6:00 p.m. at DNREC Auditorium, 89 Kings Highway, Dover. To view the final draft regulations may be viewed online click here.  For more information, please contact Elaine Webb at DNREC at Elaine.Webb@state.de.us.

Delaware Automatic Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program:  Starting January 19th, the Attorney General with other agencies and organizations, has initiated a mortgage foreclosure mediation program to give homeowners a voice in the foreclosure process.  For more information on the program, click here or call 1-800-220-5424 for free assistance.

"Just because you do not take an interest in politics, doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you." Pericles (430 BC)

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