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Delaware House of Representatives e-Newsletter - A public service provided by the House Republican Caucus - Issue 302 - April

Date: April 20, 2017




Delaware House of Representatives 
A public service provided by the House Republican Caucus -
Issue 302 - April 14, 2017
In This Issue
OPINION VIDEO: Opioid Abuse Posing a Threat to Public Health and Safety in Delaware
NEWS: Bill Would Reform Tax, Create Equity
NEWS: Bill Seeks to Protect Abused Infants
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Opioid Abuse Posing a Threat to 
Public Health and Safety in Delaware
In this commentary, State Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown) discusses Delaware's opioid epidemic, its human cost, and what is being done to turn the tide.
Click here to see three-minute video.
Text of Message
Hi, I'm State Representative Ruth Briggs King.
Our nation has a drug problem. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2000 and 2015, more than a half-million people died from drug overdoses.  In 2015, opioid drug overdoses killed more than 33,000 people - a new high-water mark.  
Delaware has not escaped the epidemic.  More Delawareans die annually from overdoses of heroin and prescription painkillers than are killed on our state's roadways.  The overdose death rate in exceeds one person every other day. In 2016, over 308 fatal overdoses occurred.  Sadly, over 353 babies were born with substance exposure in 2015 and the number almost doubled in 2016.
State Rep. Ruth Briggs King
One problem is the pervasive nature of opioid drugs.  They include prescription pain relievers like oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodon, morphine, and fentanyl, as well as illicit drugs like heroin.
An estimated two million Americans are abusing or otherwise dependent on prescription opioids.  For those who cannot obtain prescription painkillers, heroin provides a cheaper alternative.
Some positive steps have been taken to turn the tide.
Many Delaware police officers now carry Naloxone, a drug able to reverse an opioid overdose.  Last year, emergency responders in Delaware administered Naxolone to revive 2,334 individuals.
Delaware has established a Prescription Monitoring Program - a database used to track prescription drugs dispensed to patients.  Such systems have successfully limited unnecessary prescriptions; prevented "doctor shopping;" and identified patients in possible need of intervention.
Last year, our state created the Drug Overdose Fatality Review Commission to examine all opioid fatality cases and find ways to curtail this tragic toll.
And earlier this month, new state regulations went into effect regarding how opioid medications can be prescribed by doctors and requiring physicians to take additional steps if those guidelines are exceeded. 
But a lot more needs to be done.
Nearly 40 million Americans experience severe levels of pain.   Before turning to opioids, health care providers should first consider other pain management alternatives such as physical therapy and non-addictive meds and treatments.
Ensuring adequate insurance coverage for treating substance disorders, and enhancing enforcement of those preying on the addicted also need to be part of the equation.
Delaware's drug issues are not going away anytime soon.  We need to continue seeking solutions to contain the problem, reverse the trend, and save lives.
Rentals marketed through AIRBNB available in the beach resort area.
Bill Would Reform Tax, Create Equity
A bill introduced in the State House of Representatives Thursday seeks to reform Delaware's Public Accommodations Tax ("Lodging Tax") to make it applicable to short-term rentals.
Under the measure, "short-term rental" would be defined as any room, dwelling unit, or campground site that is used to provide overnight guest accommodations for a period of 120 days or less annually.
State Rep. Deborah Hudson (R-Fairthorne), one of the bipartisan bill's sponsors, says the proposal is an attempt to make the levy more equitable.  "This is a tax that is not being collected equally," she said.  "Hotels and motels pay the 8-percent lodging tax, but no other short-term vacation rental operators contribute."
Rep. Hudson added that the change is also needed in light of the new sharing economy.  Property owners are now able to market short-term rentals through such online services as AIRBNB and VRBO, directly competing with the traditional lodging industry, while evading the tax. 
The bill would place state campgrounds on a level playing field with their private counterparts, requiring both to be subject to its requirements.
Under its current structure, the Lodging Tax is projected to produce about $25 million in the upcoming FY 2018.  If the bill is enacted, the Delaware Controller General's Office estimates the broader levy would generate an additional $8 million to $11 million per year. 
The legislation would not impact the existing protocol for distributing Lodging Tax revenue that was established 17 years ago.  Five-eighths of the money would continue to flow into the state's General Fund, with the remaining three-eighths split equally between the state's beach preservation program; county tourism agencies; and the Delaware Tourism Office. 
"This legislation ... provides revenue to the state without digging in the pockets of Delawareans," said State Sen. Gary Simpson (R-Milford), who is also sponsoring the bill.  "It provides needed funding for beach replenishment, as well as bolstering the efforts of our tourists' bureaus."
The bill is pending action in the House Revenue & Finance Committee.
Bill Seeks to Protect Abused Infants
Protecting Delaware's most vulnerable citizens is the goal of a bipartisan bill introduced in the General Assembly this week.
House Bill 140 would bring Delaware into compliance the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.  That law, among other things, sets standards for child abuse and neglect and provides assistance to help states deal with those issues.
The Delaware measure would satisfy a federal requirement for creating procedures to address the needs of newly born infants affected by substance abuse, withdrawal symptoms, or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  It includes a mandate for health care providers involved in the delivery or care of affected infants to notify child protection services. 
Upon receiving notification, state officials would have to determine if an investigation was warranted; develop a "Plan of Safe Care" for the infant; and ensure the plan was implemented and followed.
This bill, to be known as "Aiden's Law," is sponsored by State Rep. Melanie George Smith (D-Bear-Newark). 
Among the members of the House Republican Caucus co-sponsoring the legislation are:  State Reps. Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown), Joe Miro (R-Pike Creek Valley), Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek South), and Dave Wilson (R-Cedar Creek Hundred).
The bill is pending action in the House Judiciary Committee.