General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Thurs., March 14, 2013

Filed in National by on March 14, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, to the barricades! Or, at least, to your phones, your e-mail, you know the drill.

The Forces of Ee-vil are afoot in Leg Hall. The gun nuts, the Chamber of Commerce shills. Their goal: Stop progressive legislation from passing. For the gun nuts, it’s the backgrounds check on gun purchases. For the Chamber fat-cats, it’s minimum wage. I believe that there is enough legislative support to pass both bills. But it won’t happen unless you contact your legislators, and either let them know that you’ve got their back, or that you expect them to do the right thing.

The background check bill is in House committee. An outpouring of gun nuts prevented the bill from moving out of committee yesterday. So, the committee meets again, next Wednesday, starting at 11:30 a.m. until…whenever all those who wish to speak have spoken. Here’s what you can and should do. Contact your own State Rep and politely tell them that you support HB 35 and ask them to do the same. The odds are that you will speak to a staffer first. These are good people. Be polite and friendly. Make sure that they’ve gotten the message correctly. If you wish to participate in the discussion, either directly or via correspondence, here’s how:

Sign up to speak when you arrive at the meeting.

If members of the public cannot attend and wish to submit testimony to the committee in advance, they can do so in one of three ways:


Fax: (302) 739-2313,

Or mail: Legislative Hall, c/o Rep. Rebecca Walker, P.O Box 1401,Dover, DE 19903

Do it. You can bet the other side will. They already are. There’s far more of us than there are of them, but legislators are easily spooked. Stand up and make a difference.

The Chamber of Commerce and its oily ilk are once again making the argument that they always make against any minimum wage increase. You know, that it’s an ‘inopportune time’  to consider an increase. Leave it to Sen. Karen Peterson to shine a flashlight on the roaches:

“Every year it’s the same thing–it’s not the right time,” Peterson said. “Unfortunately, when you cry wolf for 30 years straight, when it really is a bad time is kind of hard to measure. You claim it’s a bad time all the time.”

Income disparity between the wealthy and the poor in this country has never been larger. That tells me that it’s a good time. I suspect that Sen. Marshall will get the votes to bring the bill out of committee. Contact your State Senator and tell them to support SB 6.  Again, be friendly and polite to all who you come into contact with. It really makes a difference.

It wasn’t all delaydelaydelay yesterday. HB 20 (Jaques), the first leg of a constitutional amendment to permit ‘no excuse required’ absentee voting, passed out of committee and is on today’s House Agenda. SB 7, which would provide for the election of an independent City Auditor for Wilmington,  also made it out of committee.

You may have missed it, but Delaware now has two new cabinet secretaries courtesy of Senate votes yesterday. An education expert for the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families; and an ex-State Police Superintendent for…Commissioner of Correction. Call me crazy, but I would have preferred someone with, you know, experience in corrections to run the troubled prison system. Anyway, here’s the truncated version of the press release from the Governor:

(Dover, DE) The Delaware Senate today confirmed the nomination of recently retired Delaware State Police Superintendent Colonel Robert Coupe as Commissioner of Correction and attorney and former Education Policy Advisor Jennifer Ranji as Secretary of the State Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.

Colonel Coupe served as Delaware State Police Superintendent from July 2009 until December 2012.  He had 28 years of service to the State Police upon retirement. As Superintendent, he commanded 676 Troopers and 270 civilian employees.

“I am confident my professional work and leadership experience with the Delaware State Police will provide a solid foundation as I join the leadership team at the Department of Correction and move the department forward,” said Colonel Coupe.  “I am excited for the opportunity to serve as Commissioner and believe I can make a difference for employees and the people we serve.”

Jennifer Ranji served as Educational Policy Advisor in the Office of Governor Markell from September 2009 to July 2012.  She was the lead staff person on Race to the Top and Early Childhood Race to the Top initiatives and played a leading role in developing the Governor’s education policy agenda, working closely with the Department of Education, the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, and other agencies and stakeholders.   Prior, Ms. Ranji was in private legal practice, served as Deputy Legal Counsel in the Office of Governor Thomas Carper and as Director of Legal Affairs for Family Court of the State of Delaware.  While in private practice, she provided pro bono representation to domestic violence victims through Delaware Volunteer Legal Services and to child abuse victims through the Office of the Child Advocate.

“I have spent a significant amount of time working on behalf of children at risk, representing children in the child welfare system and developing  policy level changes,” said Ranji. “I believe a combination of on-the-ground experience with cases combined with strong policy work and a compassion for helping at-risk families will make me an effective and strong leader for the Department and I look forward to beginning this work.”

Don’t get me wrong. The Governor is entitled to have his nominees in place. I just think that someone with corrections experience would have a better chance of reforming the culture there. Although…if he succeeds in keeping John Atkins from turning Sussex Correctional into his own personal petting zoo, I’ll change my mind.

Not much on today’s Senate Agenda. Three House bills that received not one dissenting vote amongst them in the House.

The House Agenda features the aforementioned HB 20, and, assuming it has the votes, it will likely be considered today.  The House will also consider Rep. Briggs King’s bill to make scalping of concert tickets at the Delaware State Fair illegal. I will ask once again: Shouldn’t ticket scalping either be legal or illegal everywhere in Delaware? Why we’re doing this piecemeal, I’ll never know. Actually, I do. If you take a look at the sponsor list for HB 3, you can bet your boots ‘n bonnets that none of them will ever have to pay a scalper’s price or any price to get into those shows.

Finally, the Growler Filler bill is on today’s agenda. I’m not interested in the substance of the bill. Even though the substance is beer. I’m just in love with the name, and I’m prepared to do something about it: If you’re an indie band, and you’re considering a Kickstarter campaign, change your name to Growler Filler, and I’ll pony up the first $100. The beer possibilities are endless: ‘Growler Filler’, the Official Indie Band of Growler Filler. I’ve been told that free beer is often quite the inducement for would-be concertgoers, and I’m willing to spend $100 to test out my theory.

Which reminds me: Happy St. Patty’s Day!:


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  1. puck says:

    Ted Kennedy in a classic 2007 speech on minimum wage that just keeps building all the way through: “What is the price you want from these working men and women? When does the greed stop?

    It is chilling when he begins by saying “How much time do I have?”

  2. SussexWatcher says:

    Who would want to take over the DOC? Multiple legal problems, the paper breathing down your neck, severe staffing shortages – bad combination and a possible career-ender for a corrections professional from elsewhere. Coupe has no need to prove anything or make friends – he can come in, clean it up and retire for good in four years.

    I do wonder how far out in advance Markell has been gaming this, though. What came first – Danberg’s new gig or Coupe wanting to retire from DSP and do something new? Was one a trigger for the other?

  3. When you look at how the highly connected maneuver, it is hardly ever a casual or loosely correlated relationship of coincidences.

    Coupe is drawing a fine pile of public compensation for his stint at DOC, collecting his full state police retirement in addition to the new salary. But I doubt it is the money that is behind his service. And I happily believe he will go in there and kick some butt.

  4. Aoine says:

    Please ease ease its rope rely called St Patricks day…….stPaddys day came form the diminutive form of St PADRAIGH which was shortened to St Paddy’s day. – Note the 2 dds. Not the tts. I’ts Padriaghs day not Patricia’s day

    Got that ? Good