General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 26, 2012

Filed in Delaware, National by on June 26, 2012

Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Saturday.

Four more legislative days, plus a special legislative session when the clock strikes midnight on Sat./Sun., and the 146th Delaware General Assembly mercifully comes to a close. Except, perhaps, for a fall session by the Senate to consider nominations. This year, in particular, has not been kind to the progressive cause. For those paying attention, big-monied interests have flourished, while those who need government to stand up for them have been thwarted. The  lone exception: the payday loans bill.

Here’s what the General Assembly has to do this week: The money bills. That’s it. They must leave Dover with an operating budget and a capital budget. They will leave Dover with a Grants-In-Aid bill, b/c no one is about to say no to volunteer fire companies, senior centers, and the like, and we can be thankful for that.

They will also leave Dover with yet another revenue source: more dollars via degenerate gamblers thanks to the so-called online gaming bill. This is a particularly odious example of the Delaware Way. Provisions have been put into the bill to ensure that the racinos and the mom-and-pop stores that sell the lottery tickets don’t get screwed, but no such provision for the compulsive gamblers who will help fill the state’s coffers. No fiscal note is even required for this bill, which makes little sense to me. Neither a projection of costs to implement the system, nor a revenues projection? Really? Hey, they don’t want you to know how much they expect to squeeze out of (in-state only) degenerate gamblers. Because they’re ‘humane’ public officials, no doubt they’ll toss an extra $50K or so at compulsive gambling programs a couple of years down the road. Truly a pathetic way to raise revenue at the expense of compulsive gamblers.

OK, let’s take a look at last Thursday’s carnage. Hey, a good bill from Rep. Jaques heads to the Governor. HB 222 requires that the Department of Labor publish the names of employers who have violated the Workplace Fraud Act by misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor or otherwise. Simple and fair, right? Only got 13 yes votes, with six no and two hiding in the bathroom.

More exemptions from the gross receipts tax for Delaware City refineries heads to the Governor. Just remember that this special interest legislation passed unanimously in both houses, the next time some Rethug screams about special interest legislation.

Hey, a DeLuca bill was defeated! A constitutional amendment dealing with bail provisions in non-capital cases. Very close vote, bill will likely rise from the ashes before session’s over. Might not get considered in the House, though.

Some serious legislating from M. Smith in HS1/HB 371. I think that the timely investigation of child abuse cases is strengthened by this bill. Unanimously passed the House, needs to pass the Senate this week.

Another very good bill heads to the Governor. SB 226(Blevins) promotes informed decision-making in the criminal justice system by institutionalizing the use of evidenced-based practices in decisions concerning bail, rehabilitation and probation supervision and helps ensure scarce resources are focused on higher-risk offenders. Three dopes from Sussex County voted no, Atkins, Lee and Wilson. I know, dog bites man.

The lowlight on today’s Senate agenda is, of course, the online gaming bill. It’s gonna pass, just trying to make sure that it doesn’t pass unnoticed.

Hmmm, doesn’t this bill violate the ‘Let Those Who Ride Decide’ spirit? For those unaware of what I’m talking about, back in the day when insurance companies and legislators were pushing for a mandatory helmet law for motorcycle riders, Legislative Hall was suddenly overrun with big guys and gals with black leather jackets and beaucoups tattoos. Their issue? Let those who ride decide. Ah, the good old days…anyway, this bill requires that youthful equestrians wear helmets while on horseback. Don’t think we’re gonna see the same kind of protest this time. Leg Hall already has more horse poop than it needs.

More bribery for businesses coming to Delaware. In the form of tax credits, of course. Hey, I LIKE the bill, just pointing out what it is.

And, tucked away at the bottom of the agenda, well, lookee here, one of the worst bills of this session. You know, the one that will significantly reduce protections from termination of service for customers with serious medical conditions. Written to order by the power and telecommunications companies. It will pass overwhelmingly. As Richard Nixon said to Hunter S. Thompson in the rest room scene of “Where the Buffalo Roam”, “Fuck the doomed.” BTW, while that movie has serious pacing problems (children of the sixties will quickly understand why), there are at least a couple of falling-down funny scenes in it. At least, falling-down-funny if you’re in the right state of mind.

On the House side, I’m starting to worry about HB 308(Scott). This bill, which would protect workers’ privacy rights when it comes to social media, has not budged in a week. The companion bill, designed to protect privacy rights of students, was laid on the table in the Senate after passing the House. I could be wrong, but my Spidey sense is tingling here. Looks like someone is trying to run out the clock. Is mischief afoot? Will someone from the Chamber please return my calls?

Now, here’s what buddies are for. Rep. Biff Lee, helping out his ol’ Sussex County pal, Rep. David Wilson. You know, the auctioneer. Here we are, late in June, and we’ve got a bill that “covers the licensing of auctioneers and auction firms, and creates a commission to license auctioneers and auction firms and to oversee their activities. Section 6 amends the exemption for auctioneers in the real estate brokers chapter to make it the same as the exemption in the auctioneer’s licensing chapter.” Looks like Ol’ Biff might be struggling to get this right: eight amendments already filed. All by Biff Lee or Dan Short. Might I suggest that, if legislators had to be licensed, the inability to get a basic licensing bill right (it’s almost all boilerplate language) w/o eight filed amendments, would disqualify them from licensure? Don’t think the House is gonna be willing to spend two hours or so on this Amateur Night production.

There’ll be nothing but three pros (Al, me, and the Mighty Engineer Gerald) on today’s Al Mascitti Show from 10 am to 12 noon. WDEL 1150-Newsradio on your AM dial. We’ll be talking politics, the General Assembly, and yet another classic Alice-In-Wonderland -Prison story from Sussex County.

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  1. puck says:

    El Som in top form. Thanks for being here, El Som, and sorting this all out, especially in June. Otherwise the rest of us would have to argue about it badly for hundreds of comments.

  2. heragain says:

    Does that mean we WON’T get to argue about it badly for hundreds of comments?

  3. cassandra m says:

    I don’t see why you couldn’t. The patron saint of arguing badly for hundreds of comments kicked it all off in the first comment.

  4. puck says:

    Cassandra nailed it in three. That takes talent and years of practice.

  5. Delaware Dem says:

    I sense tension.

    I echo Puck’s praise of El Som. DL would be all the more unbearable without him. LOL.

  6. Mark Brunswick says:

    El Son,

    Gotta point out one thing regarding the internet gaming bill. Gaming legislation designates 1% of proceeds for community education and treatment of problem gamblers and their families. This provision has been there from the start of slots. I know this because I am a board member at the Delaware Council in Gambling Problems. We take no position on gaming expansion because our mission is education and treatment.

  7. JJ says:

    Does it quell opposition to gaming when the treatment folks are getting more $$$ when there is expanded gambling? Is there a conflict there? More gambling, more treatment, more $$ to tracks and to providers….a vicious circle?

  8. anon says:

    The gaming bill is the worst case scenario for families in Delaware. Not only does this bill bring gambling right into neighborhoods by turning local bars and restaurants into gambling spots, it goes a step beyond that by bring gambling right into people’s houses through the internet.

    Anyone willing to wager that the fine people of Greenville will get more greenspace this session while the rest of us will get beaten outside of a local sports bar for $5?

  9. Preston says:

    Double Down! Double Down!

  10. Mark Brunswick says:

    Not our experience, JJ. We were gambling neutral long before the state legalized slot machines. Our position stems from the fact that most people who gamble do not get into any trouble with it; same with alcohol. We concentrate on the small per cent who do become addicted.

    However, we maintain a proactive stance that if the state is going to legalize an activity that harms some of its users, it has an obligation to fund programs for the victims of public policy. Unlike most states, Delaware has consistently set aside money for educating the public and services for problem gamblers and their families each time it expands legalization.

  11. Dave says:

    Gambling by itself does not harm any of it’s users and there are no victims of this particular public policy. It remains a matter of control and choice for the individual (consumer).

    Obviously there is segment of the population that makes bad choices and I agree that in promoting the general welfare that public funding of programs is both desired and a necessity, but let’s not make people out to be victims because they make bad choices.

    Even AA does not refer to it’s members as victims. In fact, the original first step of AA was

    “1.We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.”

    See, the individual owns up to being out of control. This is also the same first step of Gamblers Anonymous” “1. We admitted we were powerless over gambling – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

    While gambling may be considered a vice in accordance with someone’s moral compass, it requires either a conscious decision or a lack of discipline and control by individuals. Creating victims compromises the ability to control one’s life. How can they ever hold to gain control back if you consider them victims for the rest of their lives?

    Promoting the general welfare by helping those who lives are out of control? Sure, you bet! Creating a class of victims? Nope.

  12. SussexDem40 says:

    El som, the vote on the DeLuca bill allowing a court to deny in non-capital
    cases was not really that close. Since this a constitutional amendment, the legislation required a 2/3 majority, or 14 votes. It only got 9, so it is still a ways away.

  13. Thanks, SD40. All constitutional amendments are 2/3rd bills. My bad!

  14. Sussex Watcher says:

    Is one percent enough?