Two Good Bills

Filed in National by on January 11, 2013

Even for the first week of legislative session, this was the slowest first week evah for the Delaware General Assembly.

However, the first worthy pieces of legislation of the 147th surfaced, and both deserve your attention.

HB 13(Kowalko) requires a one-year waiting period before retiring legislators may return to Legislative Hall as lobbyists. This time-dishonored tradition was perhaps best worst exemplified by former House Majority Leader Wayne Smith. Just months after being reelected in 2006, Smith resigned from the General Assembly to head up the lobbying organization representing Delaware’s hospitals. It certainly raised questions as to how long Smith had been their lobbyist-without-portfolio while being paid by the taxpayers. I’m still not sure what an ‘unclassified misdemeanor’ is, and I still don’t know what penalty is attached to HB 13, if any, but I agree that the public is well-served by eliminating this revolving door. Good to see freshman legislators Baumbach, Paradee, and Kim Williams on this bill.

SB 3(Marshall) requires legislative approval before any agreement can be reached that would ‘transfer, sell, privatize, or lease all or substantially all of the Port of Wilmington to a single entity, or to a related group of entities’. You will recall that the Governor and DEDO chose a Friday afternoon news dump to pass along the information that Kinder Morgan was the ‘preferred partner’ for the Port. I wonder what Markell preferred the most–the fact that Kinder Morgan was in essence an Enron spin-off, the fact that Kinder Morgan generally combines port operations with environmentally-questionable fuel pipeline operations, or the fact that Kinder Morgan is a serial violator when it comes to both labor and environmental laws.  Good to see the President Pro-Tem as a sponsor on this bill. Gov. Markell and DEDO Director Alan Levin have taken a stance somewhere between non-committal and ‘unavailable for comment’ on the issue of legislative approval for this or any subsequent proposal regarding the Port. The General Assembly should be involved and, at the least, this bill will serve to smoke out the real intentions of the Markell Administration.

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  1. Jason330 says:

    A one-year waiting period before retiring legislators may return to Legislative Hall as lobbyists doesn’t seem long enough.

  2. SussexAnon says:

    5 years. 1 year is a joke.

  3. cassandra_m says:

    I agree. I’d propose that a legislator has to sit out one *complete* election cycle before he or she can go back to lobby.

    And I agree that Marshall’s Port bill is a good one. There is no way that a deal of this order ought to be done without the legislature. In the NJ today, Greg Lavelle’s comment re: this bill makes it sound like he can barely be roused to consider legislative business:

    Sen. Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, said he would wait to see the proposed deal before deciding whether the Legislature’s approval would be necessary. Lawmakers are owed a consultation, but “we have to take everything in the entire context,” Lavelle said.

  4. John Tobin says:

    I agree longer would probably be better ,but Rep. Kowalko may be pursuing what is most within reach now. It can be amended later,but it did not even get a vote before the full house the last time he sponsored a bill addressing this issue. He may not be able , right now at least, to build consensus around a longer ban.
    2007 co-sponsors:
    SPONSOR: Rep. Kowalko & Sen. Peterson & Sen. Still
    Reps. Blakey, Brady, Cathcart, Ennis, Gilligan, Hall-Long, Hocker, Hudson, Johnson, Lofink, Maier, Manolakos, M Marshall, McWilliams, Miro, Mitchell, Mulrooney, Plant, B. Short, Spence, Valihura, Viola; Sen. Cloutier

    HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES144th GENERAL ASSEMBLY

    HOUSE BILL NO. 68
    http://www.legis.delaware.gov/LIS/lis144.nsf/vwLegislation/HB+68/$file/legis.html?open
    He had 25 co-sponsors in Jan 2007 for a very similar bill. 8 of those co-sponsors are no longer members of the General Assembly.

    This time he has 9 co-sponsors. Karen Peterson and Larry Mitchell are the only ones among the 17 legislators who served in 2007 and serve now who are co-sponsors for the concept both times.
    House Bill # 13
    2013 co-sponsors:
    Primary Sponsor: Kowalko Additional Sponsor(s): Sen. Peterson Reps. Baumbach Jaques Mitchell Paradee Osienski Scott K. Williams Sen. Sokola

  5. kavips says:

    Thanks John, nice work.

  6. The bill also prevents what has happened in the past–a legislator heading out the door with a lobbying gig already in hand.

    In other words, it prevents the lobbyist-without-portfolio scenario that Wayne Smith enjoyed: Lobby for the hospitals as a representative, then lobby for the hospitals as a lobbyist.

  7. John Tobin says:

    While I am hopeful about this concept becoming law, it may or may not be a matter of concern that in 2007 , when it got out of the House Administration Committee which appears to be composed of House leadership, two members of the House Administration Committee were co-sponsors (Bob Gilligan & Terry Spence),but none this year. For the 2013 version of the bill no members of House leadership are co-sponsors, including Rep. John Viola, who was a co-sponsor for the 2007 bill. It is early in the legislative session and more legislators can sign on to be co-sponsors,so I hope some members of the House Administration Committee express support for the bill.
    2013

    House House Administration Committee
    (made up of members of the House leadership)

    Chairman: Valerie Longhurst Total # 5
    Vice-Chairman: Peter C. Schwartzkopf
    Members: Deborah HudsonDaniel B. ShortJohn J. Viola

    2007 Housee leadership:
    Representative Terry R. Spence,Speaker of the House
    Representative Richard C. Cathcart,Majority Leader ( after Wayne Smith retired earlier in the year)
    Representative Clifford G. “Biff” Lee,majority whip
    Representative Robert F. Gilligan,Minority Leader
    Representative Helene M. Keeley,Minority Whip

  8. Roland D. LeBay says:

    John Young–bad link.

  9. Pencadermom says:

    Roland, it was a bad link even when it wasn’t a bad link. LOL just kidding John :)

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