Delaware lawmaker accused of plagiarism

Delaware State Sen. Michael Katz (D-Centerville) is asking the House Ethics Committee to investigate a claim that Rep. Bryon Short (D-Highland Woods) plagiarized a piece of Katz’s legislation.

Katz’s Senate Bill 90 gives the Department of Health and Social Services the authority to develop accreditation rules for medical facilities that perform invasive medical procedures and to require that facilities performing those procedures be accredited. The bill also bans licensed medical personnel from working in a facility that isn’t accredited. The bill was assigned its number, filed and released on May 12. Katz claims Short copied the bill and introduced it May 26.

Katz said that language in Short’s bill, House Bill 144, dealing with the accreditation process and its restrictions on medical personnel is virtually a word-for-word copy of his measure.

“Plagiarism by an elected official is a serious breach of our values and obligations,” Katz wrote in a letter to House Majority Leader Peter Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach). “There exists no justification or excuse for plagiarism.”

Short says his legislation is a collection of ideas that included input from the Medical Society of Delaware, Department of Health and Social Services, other medical stakeholders and legislators.

“When I stood on the House floor in March, I said that I was working on a bill to address the issue of accreditation for medical facilities and would bring it to the General Assembly,” Short said. “This bill, House Bill 144, is the fulfillment of that pledge.”

You can read both bills for yourself on the state’s website, click here for SB 90 and here for HB 144.

House passes needle exchange

The Delaware State House has approved a bill that would continue a needle exchange program in Wilmington aimed at reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS.The bill, which authorizes the continuation of a five-year pilot program that was approved in 2006, has already cleared the Senate and only needs the signature of Gov. Jack Markell to become law.

The program allows injection drug users living in Wilmington to exchange used needles and syringes for clean ones provided by the Division of Public Health to help prevent the spread of AIDS and other diseases. The program also offers HIV testing, health counseling and information on substance abuse treatment.

Supporters of the program say it saves lives. During the pilot phase, 16 people were newly diagnosed with HIV and 28.6 percent of clients reported reduced needle sharing. Supporters say it also saves money.

“It is estimated that HIV costs an average of more than $600,000 per person over the lifetime of the client,” said Joe Scarborough of the Delaware HIV Consortium. “So every needle that gets exchanged and somebody doesn’t get HIV because of it saves $600,000.”

Gun buyback bill introduced

Legislation has been introduced in Dover that would allow local, county and state police departments to operate gun buyback programs.

Although local police would be able to set the exchange rate for guns, the state’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security would set the program’s overall rules.

Safety and Homeland Security Secretary Lou Schiliro says the measure would make Delaware safer.

“What we’re seeing is that keeping these guns out of the hands of children, out of the hands of young adults really goes a long way to reducing the incidents of either accidental shootings or having the guns burglarized,” he said. “So this is a bill that we think is going to go a long way in the state to getting the unwanted, unused weapons off the street.”

The legislation calls for the state’s projected budget surplus to pay for the one-year pilot program.

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