Amendment to SB3 Filed by Speaker

Filed in National by on January 23, 2013

El Som will likely provide more insights into this tomorrow, but this press release announcing an amendment to SB3 that will be voted on tomorrow came to my inbox a little while ago:

AMENDMENT: BOND BILL COMMITTEE WOULD SERVE AS REVIEW PANEL FOR PORT OF WILMINGTON PROPOSAL

Schwartzkopf proposal would amend Senate Bill 3, still allow full legislative vote on final proposal

DOVER – Seeking to reach a compromise on legislation regarding the Diamond State Port Corporation, House Speaker Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf announced an amendment to the bill Wednesday that could ensure its passage before the General Assembly recesses this week.

Senate Bill 3, which was released from a House committee Wednesday, passed the Senate last week with a bare majority. It would require the Diamond State Port Corporation to obtain the approval of the General Assembly and the Governor before it could enter into an agreement to transfer, privatize or lease all or substantially all of the Port of Wilmington. The issue has gained a great deal of attention in recent weeks due to reported discussions about the state possibly privatizing and leasing the port.

Rep. Schwartzkopf’s amendment would modify the General Assembly approval process by having any final proposal that the Diamond State Port Corporation approves come before the Joint Bond Bill Committee for review. The Bond Bill Committee is comprised of 12 legislators from the House and Senate, with members of both parties on the joint panel. The committee would then brief the full General Assembly, which would take an up-or-down vote on the proposal as presented.

“Since taking ownership of the Port of Wilmington in the 1990s, the state has invested more than $150 million into the port, so we have a huge financial stake in making sure it is successful. We also have thousands of Delawareans who earn a living through direct or indirect jobs, so we have a personal stake in its success as well,” said Rep. Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach.

“I absolutely think the General Assembly needs to have a say in any final decision involving the port. This compromise will hopefully satisfy all sides and put a process in place that accomplishes our goal without hurting the future of the port.”

SB 3 was released from the House Economic Development, Banking, Insurance & Commerce Committee and has been placed on the House agenda for Thursday. If the amendment is approved, the bill would return to the Senate for consideration.
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So this makes the Port Bill into an opportunity for the legislature to be briefed on the deal, then vote on the deal — do I have that right? I presume that the briefing of the Bond Committee is a public one, but what I don’t see is any opportunity for input or modifications by legislators. So we don’t have legislative oversight — the opportunity seems to be to rubber stamp the thing. El Som will tell me if I’m wrong here. Or you guys will. What do you think?

And can I ask why this bill *needed* a compromise just to perform basic legislative oversight?

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  1. Yep, I’m getting a head start on my post-game/pre-game.

    While I, too, am unclear as to the level of the Bond Bill’s involvement, i.e. do they have the opportunity to make any changes, at least the General Assembly will be able to get public input into the proposed agreement, and vote on its passage.

    So, while I’m ambivalent about the amendment, I like the process, and think that it will be tough to pass an agreement through a strongly-divided General Assembly…which could be the impetus for any change to the agreement.

    In short, I’m fine with the bill as amended. But then again, I’m just a blogger.

    Cass-one reason that the bill may have ‘needed’ a compromise was b/c the governor could always have vetoed it–and there were nowhere near enough yes votes to override the veto in the Senate. On that basis, I think this was probably the best Pete could have done.