Category Archives: DE General Assembly

Will Republicans find a way to lose the 10th Senate seat

There is a movement by some to skip over conservative and proven candidate John Marino.  Rumor has it that some want to push a pro-common core, pro-tax increase  and anti-parental opt out candidate.  Considering that turnout is what wins special elections, that is hard to understand.

In a longer, regular election, Michelle Walls would be a saleable candidate because of her other many strengths.   It would be a harder sell to Republicans and Independents in a special election against a popular and well known Democrat.   We see no reason to revisit yesterday’s endorsement.

Special Interests Drive Delaware House Speaker’s Campaign

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer Analysis of House Speaker, Peter Schwartzkopf's 2015 Year-end and 2016 30-day Primary campaign finance reports reveals a plethora of special interest contributions and political influence patterns as follows: Banking/Investment/Real Estate: Delaware Association of Realtors DEL PAC, Delaware Bankers Association DELBANK, Ronald E. Lankford Investment Account, Ocean Atlantic Sothoby's International Realty. Beverage/Liquor: American Beverage Association, Anheuser Busch Companies, Dr. Pepper/Snapple PAC, MD-DE-DC Beverage Association, Pepsi Bottling Ventures-PBV of Salisbury, Pepsico, Southern Wine & Spirits of Delaware, Standard Distributing Company, United Distributors of Delaware LLC. Casinos/Racing: Delaware Standardbred Owners Association, Delaware Park Management Company, LLC, Harrington Raceway Inc. Communications/Utilities: Artesian Read more

Mail-in School District Election Balloting Proposed in Delaware

Mail in balloting may soon come to a school district referendum near you if Delaware State Senator, Karen Peterson and the sponsored of SB 165 succeed in getting the bill enacted. Senate Bill 165, titled “An Act to Amend the Delaware Code Relating to Public School Elections” sets the date of public school board elections as the second Tuesday of May and enable duly registered voters to mail in their ballots in advance. Traditional polling places will be eliminated and all school board elections shall be conducted by the Delaware Department of Elections through its county offices under Title 15 of the Delaware Code. All expenses of said elections (except return postage) shall be borne by the State of Delaware, by and through the Department of Elections. The provisions of the proposed legislation are applicable to all local elections and referenda currently conducted by public school Read more

Carney is taking a second bite at the Governor apple

The untimely death of former AG Beau Biden has set off an expected musical chair experience. Congressman Carney is going again for the Governorship. Carney is touting his 3 decades of experience at the County, State, and Federal levels of government. Through my three decades working in federal, county, and state government, I've seen how government works and learned how to make it work better. I've learned that you don't get anything done by fighting, or demonizing your opponents. I've learned that Delawareans want their public officials to be honest and straightforward. Many thought that Carney would have competition from New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon for the nomination of the Democratic party, but recent moves have made his intention a mystery. Republicans have two candidates already running, Ms. Lacey Lafferty who was first to declare and Senator Colin Bonini. DSU Read more

18th District Special Election Lining up

Democrats Pick a Candidate? Representative Michael Barbieri resigned to head up the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health for the Department of Health and Social Services. This has set in motion a special election for sometime in September. Progress is being made regarding finding a replacement. If you are a Democrat, you may be out of luck if you wanted consideration. Democrats had an emergency special meeting last night to look over hand selected candidates and are rumored to have made a decision. David Bentz, who is a legislative aide for the Democratic House Caucus. He is a University of Delaware graduate who previously worked for Pennsylvania House Democrats. Republicans, who are conducting a more open interview process according to GOP Executive Director John Fluharty, plan to have a decision next week "that everyone can support". According to state law, the parties Read more

Senator Bryan Townsend Responds to me about SB60–DE Sanctuary State Bill

Thank you David. Here is additional information I have provided to people who have reached out to me: "Although in June I had already decided not to pursue SB 60 even as we moved forward with SB 59, I want to respond to your message with more details and explanation. SB 60 is, along with SB 59, the product of a task force that met in 2014 and issued recommendations. We passed SB 59 this year. I currently do not plan on bringing SB 60 to a Senate vote next year, and I had made that decision more than a month ago once it became clear that SB 60 codifies the current practice of most (if not all) law enforcement agencies in Delaware. That practice is as follows: if someone has been processed for any criminal-related activity and is entitled to release (e.g., turns out they picked up the wrong person; or the person made bail; or there is no bail and the person is entitled to release, Read more

Senate Bill 59 Driving Privileges for Illegals

Driving permits for illegal aliens passed the General Assembly. Governor Markell is reported to have signed the bill. The bill was not that controversial in the Senate where it passed 17 to 1 with 3 not voting. Only Senator Colin Bonini voted no. The House vote was much closer with only 22 votes (1 more than needed) Republicans Boulden, Miro, and Ramone joined Democrats in support while Democrats Bennett, Paradee, and Johnson joined Republicans in opposition.

Delaware Compromise Saves Transportation Funds

Delaware Republicans forced Democrats to compromise and begin reforms to address the prevailing wage anomaly and remove some administrative costs from the transportation trust fund. Senate Republicans used their new status to block the fee hikes which required a super majority that Democrats no longer had. Democrats used to being able to pass whatever they wanted with their own numbers on budgetary matters played a game of chicken until the last minute. To their credit, they came to the table and negotiated a compromise opposed by the unions to link the prevailing wage more to the federal survey not one made up by local unions. Local governments were relieved that the cuts threatened by the JFC eliminating road maintenance did not materialize because of the deal. The state will now have a minimum amount to continue approved road projects and maintenance and begin to address the longer Read more

Open Letter re: HB 204

Guest Opinion By: Doug Beatty Dear Representative Lynn, This citizen must take umbrage with your sponsorship of H.B. 204. On what planet is this a sound idea? The animal control officers at KCSPCA/FSAC have racked up an impressive history of unanswered complaints. At this very moment one Jacqueline Dyer of Hartly has publicy stated that Lt. David L. Hulse is retaliating against her for a drug test Hulse failed in 2006 administered by Dyer. After Dyer went public, she was criminally charged for dog at large on very shaky probable cause. In fact, in spite of evidence to the contrary according to Ms. Dyer and video from her home surveillance that she has made public. Anywhere I've lived except this place would call that retaliating against a whistle blower. Here, nobody cares how many officials know about this event it seems to always fall outside their responsibility. Giving Read more

Will We get a Del Tech Property Tax?

Del Tech thinks they should be able to charge residents a property tax like the VoTech schools for bonds, but they neglect to recognize that they charge tuition and fees unlike the Vocational and Technical High schools in addition to their state subsidies. Senate Bill 137 synopsis says the following: Delaware’s Community College System plays a critical role in the State’s economy by providing workforce development and transfer education that connects Delawareans with good paying jobs within the State and region. This Act gives the College’s Board of Trustees the authority to issue bonds to finance the cost of major and minor capital improvements, deferred maintenance, and the acquisition of related equipment and educational technology associated therewith and establishes the Community College Infrastructure Fund to pay the principal and interest on such bonds. This Act adopts the Read more

Delaware General Assembly Passing Social Media Privacy for Employees

Apparently some employers have tried to bully applicants into giving social media passwords. I guess some applicants were too weak kneed to stand up for themselves in something clearly unreasonable so they demand government does it for them. House Bill 109 remedies this situation by enshrining into law your right to control your social media login information. Your social media account is your private property not your employers. If your employer wants to see your public profiles to see the image of the people they are hiring to the public, that is fine. Trying to pry into private lives and those of a prospects friends and family is not. Would you give your online banking passwords? Of course you would not. I cannot imagine this being a big problem. I have never once heard of an employer or employee complaining, but someone has or it would not be on its way to becoming law. In these Read more

Campaign Finance Reform That Makes Sense

I am sure that the bipartisan support this legislation has is do to the fact that both sides think they can benefit from it. I support Substitute 1 for House Bill 128 because it makes sense. Fundraising is a burden made more difficult by having to abide by limits from 1993. If adjusted for CPI, the current local $600 limit would be $982 the statewide limit would be $1965 so the bill is just a long overdue inflation adjustment. When it comes to political parties, the bill falls far short of what is needed. The limits are just going to keep the super Pac's empowered and undermine the influence of activists in the parties. They especially make it harder for new parties who may only have a couple of high dollar donors. That may be the intention. At least it is a step in the right direction. We are not going to get rid of the influence of money. We may as well lessen the time drain so Read more

Tax Reform for Delaware

In 2009, Delaware brought back the Estate tax. It hardly brings in any money (this year's projection is just over 4 million dollars) and discourages rich people from staying here or moving here. It may cost us as much as it brings in. A commission on revenue recommends eliminating it. I applaud their recommendation. The tax may make sense in theory but it does not work at a state level to bring in revenue. It just encourages people to move to Florida. Other recommendations seem to lack any real creativity such as cutting the charitable deduction and pension deductions then lowering the top rate. I am sure the progressives in the state love the idea of cutting taxes on the rich instead of adding another bracket so the top tax bracket is not 60k of taxable income. I expect a heated debate within the Democratic Party. At least the commission put aside a statewide property tax for now. Read more

HB 140 is Designed to Raise Motor Vehicle Fees

In a move to raise more revenue for Delaware’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), some state legislators have sponsored HB 140, designed to raise a set of 14 separate motor vehicle documentation fees. Democrat Representatives Peter Schwartzkopf (Dist.14), Valerie Longhurst (Dist.15), John J. Viola (Dist. 26), S. Quinton Johnson (Dist. 8) and Edward S. Osienski (Dist. 24) as well as Senators Patricia M. Blevins (Dist.7), David B. McBride (Dist. 13), Margaret Rose Henry (Dist.2) with David P. Sokola (Dist. 8) are primary sponsors. Estimated to cost Delaware drivers an additional $ 24 million annually, the increase is projected to raise an additional $12.5 million for the TTF. Under the terms of HB 140, the motor vehicle document fee (imposed on new cars sold in Delaware) would rise from 3.75 percent to 4.25 percent, the fee for driver's licenses record sales would increase from $15 Read more

HB 50, Parental Right to Opt Out of Smarter Balanced Squeaks out of Committee

HB 50 received the 8 votes necessary to release it from committee over the objections of the chairman. 1 in favor, 7 on its merits, 1 opposed and 5 no votes. The committee report is as follows: This bill allows a parent or guardian of a Delaware public school student to opt that student out of the annual assessment (Smarter Balanced Assessment System). Committee Findings: The committee found that while the legislation brings about certain questions surrounding educational quality, it warranted debate by the full House of Representatives. The committee found the bill acceptable for release. Parents, Conservatives, the Delaware PTA, and the DSEA joined to support the legislation. The broad coalition is reflected in the sponsors of the legislation. Previous discussion of the bill can be found in an earlier post. Read more

Delaware Legislators Consider Solutions to Sussex Tech Crisis

School Tax Increase Looms on the Horizon By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer In the face of the Sussex Technical High School District’s growing financial and enrollment complications, state legislators are sponsoring remedial measures. House Bill 100, filed last Thursday, will grant the STHS District the power to impose a 5.5 cent tax increase beginning July 1st for the 2016 fiscal year. In FY 2017, the district will be allowed an additional one cent increase. This will inflate the overall rate to 30 cents per $100 of assessed value, costing the average Sussex County homeowner $8.86 in the first year and $10.47 in the following year. The impending school tax increase is the result of various factors: ● A 19.3% increase in student enrollment from 1295 in FY 2011 to 1545 at present. ● Disparity of the rate of growth of the Sussex County property tax base with Read more

Stolen Valor Act Introduced in the Delaware House of Representatives

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer Delaware 41st District State Representative, Rich Collins (R-Millsboro) has proposed HB 80, the Stolen Valor Act. The bill, as written, would expand the legal definition of "criminal impersonation" to include those who falsely claim to be current or past members of the US military for the fraudulent purpose of "obtaining money, property, or other tangible benefit." The proposed statute would treat this as a Class A misdemeanor and impose a minimum fine of $1,000 on persons convicted. Representative Collins stated that his legislation differs considerably from a previously failed federal statute that was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in 2012 in a six to three decision that held that the law infringed on an individual's right to protected speech in reference to false claims of having been awarded military medals, awards or honors. "I Read more

** UPDATE ** Smith v. SPCA

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer A judicial gag order has been issued on all parties concerned in the case of litigation of John "Jake" and Nancy Smith (plaintiffs) against Delaware Animal Care and Control, filed in Delaware Superior Court over possible illegal impoundment of their dog, "Millie" under guise of authority. Attorney John Brady, representing the Smiths contends that the 1981 state statute that excluded Sheriffs and Sheriff's Deputies from certification as police offices by the Delaware Council on Police Training also did not include animal control officers as police officers. The litigation essentially argues that only sworn and certified police officers can legally execute arrest and search and seizure warrants under the present Delaware Code, Title 11, Chapter 19. Both Kent and Sussex Counties have contracted animal control services with the First State Animal Read more

Delaware State Senate Votes to Repeal Death Penalty, Again

The Delaware State Senate voted in favor of Senate Bill 40 by Karen Peterson, which would repeal the death penalty, Thursday. The vote barely received the required majority of 11 votes. (Roll call here) The repeal vote saw support and opposition that defied normal lines of party, ideology, and geography, which normally are on display in state issues. Downstate Conservatives such as Senators Simpson and Lopez supported the repeal while upstate liberals such as Senators Hall-Long, Poore, and Marshall opposed it. Overall 3 Republicans crossed over to support the repeal and 4 Democrats opposed it. Analysis--What you may not know about the dynamics of this debate Supporters turned down amendments to keep the death penalty for law enforcement, ignoring arguments that it protects law enforcement from being targets by people who have nothing more to lose (if they are already facing life Read more

Representative Keeley Should Read This

I have been critical of the movement to decriminalize pot. Now Slate has an article that shows decriminalization makes it more likely to cause interaction with the justice system for the offense especially for minorities. Well, the great promise of decriminalization is that it will stop putting people in jail for minor offenses, right? And most states, when they decriminalize an offense, they eliminate jail as a potential punishment for it: The statute might say, for example, that the maximum penalty for marijuana possession is a $250 fine. However, if someone then fails to pay that $250, the courts can and often do take measures that result in incarceration anyway. For example, they can issue a failure-to-pay warrant. Or they can use the power of contempt to incarcerate people for failure to pay. In other words, they’re in contempt of the order to pay $250 and are jailed—not for Read more

Consequences, Elections have them and so does Legislation by: Larry Mayo–Guest Post

As we look forward to the new legislative session in Dover, to see if the newly elected and also the re-elected Representatives and Senators fulfill the promises they made during the campaigns. I have to wonder to myself, what will change? My best guess is, next to nothing! Why? Well I’m glad you asked. You see, during the election, nothing changed. We, the voters, continued to ask our politicians to solve problems our government has neither the ability nor the authority to solve, and they continued to promise to do just that. After all, the purpose of civil government is what? To do for us what we can’t do for ourselves? No. To level the playing field? No. To spread the wealth around? No! The purpose of OUR government is simply, to secure our rights, those rights which were given to all of us by our Creator. Period! I know this because the men who created our government Read more

The Aftermath: A look at the legislative session part 1

UPDATE: Comments fixed. So many bills were passed on June 30th alone that it is going to take several installments just to examine the last two days of the General Assembly. Here is a quick overview of the session and major bills. Your comments and analysis are welcomed. Consider this a General Assembly/Governor Open Thread. Specific analysis is in process. My apologies to those who experienced site problems especially comment issues yesterday. It is partially solved. We will have it resolved by week's end. A trouble ticket is in process. Please have a little patience if the comments take a minute to load. Most of the bills that concerned the Loyal Opposition (see category on the side), did not pass with the big exception being HB 334--Common Core testing which failed before it passed. The death penalty repeal died (pun intended) in the House. Some other bills of interest included Read more

The Loyal Opposition looks at HB 187

Welcome to a new column.  I will be analyzing bills and initiatives in a new column called the loyal opposition.  Under this column, we will also have guest opinions.  The first bill we scrutinize is Delaware House Bill 187 which is purported to safeguard charitable donors. The synopsis of the bill is as follows:"This Act will require, among other things: (1) the registration of all charitable organizations soliciting in this State or engaging in solicitation activities directed to Delaware citizens and the annual disclosure of certain financial information relating to these entities; and (2) the registration of professional fund-raising counsel and professional solicitors soliciting in this State or engaging in solicitation activities directed to Delaware citizens and the annual reporting of certain financial information relating to these entities. The purpose of these regulations Read more

Why is Rep. Dan Short Helping the Democrats Game the System?

State law allows you to file for more than one ballot position. It is rarely done except by third parties, but VP Biden did it when he ran for Senate and VP. Some lawmakers want to change it, but not for federal offices, only state offices. Why? Is there some voter outcry? No, to protect Democrat incumbents from the Republican bench. In that way, it would eliminate safe seat house member and every 4 years senators from running statewide without giving up their seats. Senators would have to run in off elections for them. The impetus for this bill seems to be Senator Bonini who almost won State Treasurer but was specifically put in the 2014 cycle and given a 2 year seat this time so he would be up the year the Treasurer is up for reelection. Gamesmanship indeed, but that is nothing but smart politics. Changing the rules like HB 159 does, is not legitimate. You would think that Read more

Senator Sokola Harming Delaware Education

Sadly, David Sokola is not alone.  Delaware seems determined to go backwards in education by imposing crazy requirements that judge teachers not by their college grades, but high school grades and imposing common core on the University education departments despite the fact that our colleges and universities rank well with the University of Delaware ranking around the top tenth of one percent.  No, we need to tamper with that and not look at our own state department of education. Teachers are being disrespected as no other profession would tolerate, yet despite concerns by teachers, the DSEA supported the bill.  I think a revolution needs to happen in the teacher's union.  Senate bill 51 became law on the fast track because the very people who should look out for education and teachers had their favorite item attached to the bill.  It was Betrayal with a capital B. Once again, Read more