Delaware’s top elected officials ensured that gun control would be front-and center during the 2013-14 legislative session by unveiling a bold and (IMHO) essential set of initiatives at a Monday news conference. You can check out the proposed package here.
I can’t praise Governor Jack Markell, Lt. Gov. Matt Denn and AG Beau Biden highly enough for this. I’ll be more than a little intrigued to see how the timid souls who constitute Delaware’s D. C. delegation respond to any initiatives coming from the White House.
Delaware’s proposed legislation includes: (1) a ban on the sale, manufacture, delivery, and unlawful possession of military-style assault weapons; (2) a ban on the sale, manufacture, delivery. and unlawful possession of large-capacity magazines; (3) requiring background checks for private purchase of firearms; (4) requiring the reporting of lost and stolen firearms; and (5) banning the possession of firearms within 1000 feet of a school, except for those exempted from this requirement.
This package will inevitably draw the total opposition of the NRA and the oxymoronically-named Delaware Sportsmen’s Association. Good. As this Washington Post article points out, the National Rifle Association rose to political prominence by adopting this as their motto back in 1977: “No Compromise”. All you need to know about the NRA is in this article. Read it. Know your enemy.
It’s time that Delaware legislators understand this, and stand up to these bullies. As the Rethugs in Congress found out, once somebody stands up to you, you lose all credibility. Those bozos are no longer the Great And Powerful Oz, they’re all just bozos on this bus. Time to render them obsolete. Without a shot fired.
Let’s get the post-game wrap-up of one of the slowest weeks in recent legislative memory out of the way:
The Senate approved the nominations of two judges, both R’s (keep in mind that Delaware law requires essentially an even balance between D’s and R’s). One, Charles Welch, is a former State Rep., and a good one. The other, career prosecutor Robert Surles, is perhaps best known, at least by me, for owning the fantasy baseball team ‘The Reds’. He loved and loves him some Cincinnati Reds. So, of course, during our annual auction, we’d bid up the Reds’ players, knowing full-well that Rob would go at least one dollar higher to have his favorite Reds on his team. He’ll do an excellent job although (memo to would-be criminals) he might be inclined to show more leniency if you wear a Reds’ cap to court.
Surprisingly few bills were introduced during the first week of session, and I found only two of them especially compelling. One note for those who think that the waiting period for legislators to return as lobbyists should be more than the one year proposed in HB 13: HB 13 prevents legislators from turning their legislative gig into an immediate lobbying gig, and that’s important. If legislators have these jobs lined up even before they leave the General Assembly, you can be assured that they are representing their future employers, not their constituents, in those final days, months, and years. HB 13 would stop that, which is why I support it.
You can find the entire first week’s action here. Just click on the appropriate day. You won’t find much, trust me.
Tuesday features both the 11 am swearing-in of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor and tonight’s Inaugural Ball on Wilmington’s riverfront at 7 p.m. Doing the math, I predict that nothing of note will happen during today’s session, save perhaps the introduction of a bill or two. Neither the House nor the Senate has posted an Agenda for today.
Senate Labor Committee : This one’s so important, they’re doing it on Tuesday, as in today. SB 3(Marshall), which would require legislative approval before the Diamond State Port Corporation ‘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.’ If this ends up on Wednesday or Thursday’s agenda, it means that bill supporters are trying to fast-track this through the General Assembly before they break for Joint Finance Committee hearings at the end of the month. Good. Wonder if the House will go along…
House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance/Commerce Committee: HB 16(Carson). Cut through the confusing verbiage of the synopsis, and what you have is a bill seemingly designed with Firefly in mind. To make it (more) alcohol user-friendly. And lucrative. Could do more than that, though. Looks like they’re trying to cherry-pick events from other states by using this loophole. If, indeed, there’s a loophole. Synopsis is full of confusing verbiage. Or did I write that already?
House House Administration Committee: No, not a typo, at least not by me, that’s the committee name, according to the House House. Here is tomorrow’s committee agenda. What stands out is what’s not there. First of all, you’ve got a bill that hasn’t even been introduced yet that will be on the agenda. That does not, IMHO constitute proper notice to the public. We know that it has something to do with ‘abandoned or unclaimed property’. That’s all we know. Maybe a ‘Storage Wars Delaware’ is in our future? Probably not. Introducing and acting on a bill in committee w/o proper public notice is bad form, especially since this committee is comprised of House leadership. In contrast, while two bills that were pre-filed last week are on the agenda, one is not. If you guessed that the one that is not is this one, you’d be correct. I’m sure it’s mere coincidence.
The big event of the week takes place on Thursday as Governor Jack Markell gives his State of the State Address. No doubt he’ll talk about gun control, climate change (don’t you wish every state was working with climatologists on the obvious impact of climate change on their respective states?), and education. I suspect that this governor will also sound the call for marriage equality. I will be listening closely to see whether he provides any message of hope to working people. A minimum wage increase, perhaps. And/or economic justice for exploited workers at big box stores and conglomo glop shop chain restaurants. I doubt that we’ll hear anything about tax increases or belt-tightening, as that will likely be reserved for his Budget Address, one week hence. But it’s always possible.
This is a big week as, in large part, the State of the State sets most of the legislative agenda for the year. So, yes(!), I’ll be back with updates throughout the week.
Oh, and I’ll be talking about all this and more on today’s Al Mascitti Show, 10 am to 12 noon, WDEL-1150 on your AM dial.