The Delaware State House Tuesday passed measures to help the roughly 500 federal government workers who call Delaware home but are currently receiving no paychecks due to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf filed legislation which would protect Delaware-based federal workers from losing insurance or being evicted due to an inability to pay while not receiving any wages.
“Regardless of your position on this shutdown, one thing is universal: Federal government employees should not suffer as a result of this impasse," said Schwartzkopf in a release. "These are our neighbors and our friends, many of whom still get up in the morning to head to the office, knowing they won’t be receiving a paycheck for that day’s work."
The Delaware Federal Employees Civil Relief Act temporarily suspends "judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions: in the state which would harm federal workers during a government shutdown.
"For federal workers, including many of our neighbors here in Delaware, bills don't just stop coming because the federal government is shut down," said Governor John Carney. "These workers still have to take their families to the doctor, get groceries, pay the electric bill, and the mortgage. We ought to do what we can to help these workers and their families.”
The bill would allow Delaware's federal workers to apply for suspension of "payment of rent, mortgage, tax, fine, penalty, insurance premium, or other civil obligation or liability" for up to a possible 90 days following the end of the shutdown, and would prohibit landlords from evicting renters on the grounds of nonpayment. Various health, life, disability, or motor vehicle insurance policies would also be covered during the shutdown.
“Delaware needs to stand up for the hundreds of workers and their families who still have bills coming in with less and less money to pay them," he said. "No Delawarean should lose their home or insurance due to this federal debacle, which is why we’re taking action to protect our residents."
Another bill also passed in the House would provide state-backed, low-interest loans to federal workers to help them cover costs such as mortgage payments, medical bills or food.
Employees of federal contractors would not be covered.
House Bills 2 and 3 now heads to the Delaware state Senate for a vote.