General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 19, 2012

Filed in National by on June 19, 2012

So much happening, much of it previously discussed in excruciating illuminating detail, that this’ll be more of a Just the Facts, Ma’am report than normal.

The Senate passed legislation ‘clarifying’ that county sheriffs and their deputies do not have arrest authority. Only 12 voted yes, with 3 no and 6 not voting. After all this, six senators simply, and I mean simply, could not make up their minds. The bill heads to the Governor.

Phony redistricting reform passed the Senate, with only two no votes.  The cynics behind the bill are counting on nobody paying attention to what constitutes ‘reform’. They’re probably right. Bill’s headed to the House, where you can expect more of the same. Here’s what the bill will do: The bill will provide for party hacks, lawyer party hacks most likely, to do the bidding of the leaders of the General Assembly, but with one degree of plausible deniability. Except, if you’re reading this, you know the deniability is not plausible.

Yet more special legislation for veterans passed the Senate. And in the General Assembly’s favorite form…tax breaks for businesses. Back to the House with a Senate Amendment.

The House did not pass legislation protecting residents of manufactured housing communities. Didn’t defeat it either. # 1 on today’s House agenda. Either the sponsors are waiting for a witness or for 21 votes. most likely the latter. I understand they’re close, though…

The House passed legislation requiring school districts and charter schools to establish a policy on responding to Teen Dating Violence and Sexual Assault. Back to the Senate with a House Amendment.

Today’s House and Senate agendas look very much like Thursday’s House and Senate agendas. Why? At this point, the respective chambers are primatily adding bills to what is already a long list of agenda items. The House generally works from multiple agendas, while the Senate usually, but not always, works from one. Still, a few items deserve attention.

Once again, SB 205(Ennis) leads off the Senate agenda. Opponents of the bill tried to deflect attention from what the bill really does by raising a false ‘concern’, you know, that the bill will benefit vacationers with second homes. That’s what opponents do when they’ve been exposed for the cucarachas they are. At this point, they are trying to give undecided legislators (aka, those who have gotten the checks, but worry that their constituents might be paying attention) any fig leaf they can to either vote no or go ‘not voting’. Or, at the least, to get an amendment added so that the Senate may take a second, not as favorable, ‘look’ at this bill. Pay attention, folks. This bill can pass, but its prognosis is uncertain. You know who to call.

Hmmm, this one’s really interesting, at least politically. HB 363(Keeley) requires that bail bondspersons be residents of the State of Delaware. Say-y-y, Isn’t Robert Bovell, who ran against Helene Keeley in 2010 in a primary, a bail bondsman? Why, yes, yes he is. He also ran for mayor as an R, and has run on the so-called ‘Working Families’ Party line. And, isn’t Robert Bovell running for mayor of Wilmington in the Democratic primary this year? Why, yes, yes he is. And isn’t Dennis P. Williams, who is also running as a D, a co-sponsor of HB 363? Why, yes, yes he is. So, here you have a bill introduced on June 5, 2012 that just happens to address the occupation of one of the co-sponsor’s rivals for Mayor. And, as I read the synopsis, this bill would have the effect of eliminating out-of-state competitors of this erstwhile candidate from his profession. Sure as shit smells like a big stinky quid pro quo to me. Can Bovell’s withdrawal from the race and endorsement of Dennis P. Williams be far behind? Wonder if our putative paper of record, emphasis on  p and u, even notice.

Speaking of stink, the Senate agenda kicks off with some toxic waste. That’s right. Rep. Lumpy Carson’s Last One to Happy Hour is a Rotten, Or a Pickled, Egg bill gets its Senate hearing today. Might I point out that even the basic premise of the bill is wrong? The synopsis suggests that this will help alleviate road rage when, in fact, when this bill is enforced as infrequently as the talking-on-the-cellphone-while-driving ban is enforced, it will only lead to more road rage. The General Assembly is often venal and corrupt, but rarely this stupid. Looks like stupidity is about to become less rare.

In fact, with few big issues being addressed, with weak and/or phony ‘reform’ leading the way, with worthy legislation getting buried, this has been a very disappointing session. Brochure bills have abounded, and several bad bills, the kind that usually die, are on the verge of enactment. Which, I maintain, is a great argument against a full-time legislature. All the legislative work that needs to get done does get done every year. Expanded legislative time can only lead to more bad bills. And increased costs, as you would either need to hire full-time employees to replace the per diem positions, like pages, bill clerks, and sergeants-at-arms, or you would need to drastically increase the number of days worked by the per diem employees at significant taxpayer expense.

Since the principal argument that I’ve heard in favor of a full-time legislature is that it would eliminate double-dipping, I would respectfully suggest the alternative of holding legislators accountable for their greed. Both Tony DeLuca and Joe Booth offer inviting targets this year. If they get voted out, believe me, legislators will get the message. And, if they get reelected, legislators will get the message as well. Once again, it’s up to you.

Gotta prep for Al’s Show. so many topics, so little time…

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  1. SussexWatcher says:

    AFAIK, legislators “earn” around $40,000 a year. That is full-time pay for a part-time job, and more than a lot of Delawareans make. Fully sufficient.

  2. Most of them earn a lot more than that. Committee assignments, leadership positions, and the like.

  3. jason330 says:

    “Can Bovell’s withdrawal from the race and endorsement of Dennis P. Williams be far behind?”

    If this happens you win the “Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein Swami of the Year Award”

  4. Painesme says:

    No word on Dennis E’s absentee vote bill?

  5. They get part-time status because of the abbreviated work year.

    Subtract the weeks and weeks of breaks between mid January start time and June 30th end.

    And further consider that the remaining weeks stretch from Tues – Thurs and the days linger from 2 – 5:30 on average – until the last slog of the last two weeks of session where you have to hang around a bit longer.

    And then ask what part-time really means…..we are getting ripped off. Most committees are farces where one or two Senators bear witness to the public comment in what is supposed to be the public hearing for the bill. All the real work is done behind the scenes by lobbyist-legislators meet ups well outside the public eye.

    And now that we are in the last gasps of session – they suspend the rules for having public hearings for bill altogether. Oops. Too bad.

  6. Thanks for the heads up on the implication of the Keep Keeley – Williams – Bovell Competition Prevention Legislation. I totally missed that one.

    Also, Bruce Ennis has a GOP contender who is a big wig on the Farm Bureau. Steven Unruh (sp?).

    My feeling is that Ennis’ not backing down on his legislation forcing Workforce Housing development disclosure to market rate buyer’s bill is really pissing off land owners and realtors blocking the bill.

    Whose interest is served to have more information in the hands of the consumer for the biggest investment of their lives….?

    The News Journal has been sitting on the story for this legislation for over a month….

  7. Could be. I’ve known Ennis since I started in the General Assembly. He is one of the best ‘people’s legislators’ down there.

  8. SussexWatcher says:

    So the GA works six months out of the year. For a massive overcalculation, let’s estimate they work three days a week for each of those six months, and put in 12-hour days each time. Legislators will say they work far longer hours during the rest of the year, but their time in Dover is the only time we can account for. My boss would not allow me to work from home and take my word for it that I was working. So the pay rate works out to $47 an hour. Only politicians would consider that woefully underpaid.

  9. Will M says:

    12 hour days is INCREDIBLY generous. They also get time off for spring break and JFC hearings. There’s at least another month they’re not working and pegging their daily hours logged at 6 hours is probably still generous. $43,605/5 months/3 days/6 hours = $484.50/hr

    Good work if you can get it. Why am I the only one here running for one of these positions?

  10. SussexWatcher says:

    Will, your math has them working just 15 days a year. Using your figures, they earn $121 an hour.

  11. Will M says:

    Good spot. More than 3 days in a month, eh? Still damn good work if you can get it.

  12. Will M says:

    Though, the lack of any actual attendance requirement doesn’t preclude them from working far less than ~60 days. It would be perfectly legitimate for some guy to get elected and spend the next two years vacationing in the Caribbean. Doubt he’d get reelected, but then, this IS Delaware and a number of our legislators are already running unopposed.

  13. I am not bitched so much about what we pay them. I think the system is deliberately manipulated and abbreviated to short-strap the legislative process ‘oh we just don’t have enough time to work these bills, dear….’

    Decent hard- working legislators who work a decent amount of time dedicated to creating decent legislation for our state would be a welcome change.