Delaware lawmakers approve school security measures

DOVER — The state Senate has given final approval to a bill aimed at protecting Delaware school students and teachers from shootings.

The legislation approved unanimously Thursday requires all new school construction and major renovation projects to include measures to prevent a gunman from wreaking havoc.

The standards include a secured vestibule to be used as the primary entrance to screen visitors, and ballistic-resistant glass or other ballistic-resistant materials in all areas used to screen visitors. Also required are a panic button or intruder alert system, and classroom doors that can be locked on the outside.

The bill also requires that all new school construction plans be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget’s Facilities Management Section. That’s to ensure compliance with the requirements and design principles aimed at preventing crime.

Effort to rewrite Delaware criminal code scrapped

DOVER — Lawmakers have scrapped an effort to overhaul Delaware’s criminal code amid criticism from the attorney general.

A comprehensive code rewrite had been scheduled for consideration by lawmakers this week but was pulled after Attorney General Matt Denn issued a 30-page document Tuesday outlining the Department of Justice’s concerns.

Among other things, Denn says the proposed revisions would dramatically reduce existing punishments for repeat violent offenders and totally eliminate mandatory prison sentences for repeat drunken drivers.

Denn also says there’s not enough time left in the legislative session for lawmakers to responsibly review hundreds of pages of legislation.

Chief Justice Leo Strine Jr. has been pushing for a broad revision of the code, prompting lawmakers in 2014 to form a committee tasked with identifying disproportionate, redundant, outdated and inefficient code provisions.

Delaware House approves equal rights amendment

DOVER — The state House has approved a proposed amendment to Delaware’s constitution guaranteeing equal rights based on sex.

The measure easily cleared the House on Thursday, one day after the Senate recalled and revised it.

The bill had failed to win Senate passage last month amid Republican concerns about possible hidden motives, such as guaranteeing taxpayer funding for abortions or granting special rights to transgender people.

The revised legislation includes language that clarifies the intent of the legislation and states that the amendment applies only to the state and its political subdivisions, not private entities. The clarifying language also notes that a declaration of rights does not require the state to fund the exercise of those rights.

The legislation now faces a second round of approval in the next General Assembly.

Randall Chase writes for the Associated Press

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