Brian Bushweller, State Senator

17th District of Delaware

October, 2017

The 149th General Assembly:  Looking back and looking forward

As most readers know, the Legislature is on break now, with the first session of the 149th General Assembly having ended on July 2 of this year and second session not slated to begin until January, 2018.

During this break period each year, I try to share information with readers of the Modern Maturity Center Bulletin about bills I was successful in passing in the first session and others I hope to be successful with in the second session.

As Chairperson of the Senate’s Business, Banking and Insurance Committee, I frequently sponsor bills of a more technical nature on behalf of the State Insurance Commissioner. One of those bills this year was SB 40, a bill requiring insurance companies in Delaware to file with the Commissioner of Insurance certain information relating to the corporate governance of the company.  The idea is to give the Commissioner more information upon which to base decisions about the company so the best results are achieved.  This bill was suggested by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Another insurance bill was SB 66 that put a regulatory framework around the newly developing practice of selling life insurance policies.  As a result of a court decision, owners of life insurance policies can sell those policies to someone else (usually to an investment group), sometimes getting more for the policy than if they surrendered the policy for its cash value.  Because this is a new practice, there are lots of pitfalls to be wary of and lots of less than desirable players who want to take unfair advantage of these opportunities.  SB 66, which was also suggested by the NAIC, establishes some basic ground rules for the sale of these policies.

One more insurance issue I addressed has to do with the fact that children who live in foster homes could have a very hard time getting auto insurance when they become old enough to drive.  My SB 42 helps solve that problem by allowing foster parents to add their resident foster children to the foster parents’ auto insurance policies.  The foster parents still have to pay the premium for the foster children.

On a closely related issue, SB 56 grants limited immunity to foster parents who make reasonable decisions about the foster children in their care with regard to the routine kinds of activities kids are typically involved in.  Before SB 56, the foster parents might be sued if, for example, a foster child injured his leg after the parent gave permission for the child to play on the school’s football team.  Now, the foster parent can make those decisions in a reasonable manner and consistent with certain standards and training found in new federal law, without worry of being sued.

Both of the previous two bills help create a more “normal” situation for foster kids, which is good for their development.

The most important of my bills that did not get enacted this past year is SB 90, a bill that would provide a fourth year of the tuition scholarship currently available to graduates of Delaware high schools at Delaware State University.  Right now, the “Inspire Scholarship” covers only the first three years of the four year college program.  SB 90 is a major goal of mine in the next session starting in January.