Delaware Senate passes bill on outside work disclosure

The state Senate has narrowly approved a bill requiring Delaware lawmakers to disclose information about their outside income and work hours.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Senate president pro tem Anthony DeLuca (D-Varlano), was approved 11-to-9 Wednesday in Dover and now goes to the House.

DeLuca wants all lawmakers, even those with private-sector jobs, to disclose all sources of income from outside the General Assembly, time worked outside the legislature on session days, and whether their outside pay was reduced on those days for time spent in Dover.

Sen. Michael Katz (D-Centerville) said it was ironic and hypocritical for DeLuca to introduce the bill after refusing to disclose to the media how he splits his time between the legislature and the state labor department, where he was given a job after being elected.

Senate, House release maps

Redistricting maps for the state House and Senate — one drafted as a bill, the other revised — are working their way through the General Assembly.

A bill introduced in the House on Tuesday, and released by the House Administration Committee on Wednesday, redraws the state’s 41 House districts to account for population changes reflected in the 2010 Census, including a southward population shift within the state.

It closes two districts in New Castle County that currently are represented by Republicans, and creates two new ones in Kent and Sussex counties.

But some Wilmington-area black leaders are blasting the plan, saying it doesn’t go far enough to protect the interests of black voters.

About 20 people gathered outside Legislative Hall on Thursday to complain about the redistricting plan, which lawmakers plan to approve by July 1.

The plan preserves four majority black House districts in and around the city of Wilmington, even though the city lost population over the past decade. It also preserves two majority-minority Senate districts in and around the city.

But some black leaders say more could have been done to increase the influence of black voters, including creating even more majority-black districts.

In the Senate, a revised map includes a more compact 12th District in central New Castle County. The new map also retains a new district in coastal Sussex County and keeps a northern New Castle County district, merging the seats of Senate Minority Whip Liane Sorenson (R-Hockessin) and Sen. David Sokola (D-Newark).

Changes to the proposed maps were made following a public hearing on June 2.

Copies of the original maps as well as the new map are available on the website, http://legis.delaware.gov.

Dangerous chemical banned in baby products

Legislation banning a chemical linked to health problems in pregnant women and children from several children’s products unanimously passed the House Wednesday and is on its way to the governor for his signature. 

Senate Bill 70 would prohibit the sale of children’s products that include Bisphenol-A, an estrogen-mimicking chemical better known as BPA. The ban would take immediate effect for manufacturers selling products such as baby bottles and cups that include the chemical and merchants would have until July 2012 to remove those products from their shelves.

A 2010 fact sheet from the Food and Drug Administration says the chemical – which has been used since the 1960s to harden plastics and to help line some metal food and beverage containers – has a suspected link to health problems and that further studies have been recommended.

Several retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Target and Sears have phased out baby bottles containing BPA, while several major infant formula makers are already using BPA-free packaging.

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