A mixed bag on voting rights and, for that matter, bipartisanship during yesterday’s session
Republicans stonewalled ‘No-Excuses’ Absentee Voting. Not a single R voted for HB 20(Jaques), and the bill failed to reach its 2/3 majority requirement by one vote. According to a press release from the House Democrats:
“Several House Republicans have expressed support for the bill. So why won’t they vote for it?” asked Rep. Longhurst, D-Bear. “It’s clear House Republican leadership is playing politics with this bill and withholding votes. Voting is not a partisan issue. Delawareans deserve fair access to voting. Republicans need to either help pass this important bill or explain their uniform opposition to the public.
That seems only fair. What do Rethugs want? Paging Dr. Freud. I mean, besides economic disaster that they can then blame on the D’s? And crippled pigeons to maim (they already have those)? If they’re looking for respect or relevance, sorry, I can’t be of help there.
Logic and comity prevailed across the building in the Senate, as HB 10(Keeley), which would restore voting rights to convicted felons who have paid in full their debt to society, passed by a 15-6 vote. R senators Cathy Cloutier and Greg Lavelle voted for the bill (thank you!) while self-proclaimed ‘moderate’ Ernesto Lopez voted no. Hmmm, sure looks like somebody sold a lot of somebodies a bill of goods. Here’s the roll call. Since this is the second leg of a constitutional amendment, HB 10 will soon be law.
The Senate also passed a controversial education bill that, according to Rep. Earl Jaques, is identical to a bill that ran into serious opposition in the House. That tactic, while not unprecedented, is highly unusual. SB 27(Sokola) ‘would authorize the Department of Education, pending available funds, to offer competitive two year start-up grants to public schools for the purpose of developing new programs for students capable of performing accelerated academic work.’ Here’s the roll call. The six no votes were from Senators Hocker, Lawson, McDowell, Pettyjohn, Simpson and Townsend.
Big committee day today. HB 75(Smith), which would legalize gay marriage in Delaware, will be considered by the House (House) Administration Committee today at 2:30 p.m. in the House Chamber. Look for a full House vote as early as tomorrow. While approval in the House is all but assured, The Senate deliberations could well prove to be fascinating, with at least two senators facing defining moments in their respective careers (how’s that for a tease?).
Here is today’s schedule of House Committee meetings. Some items that catch my attention:
HB 64(Bennett): Would allow(s) parents to “freeze” their minor children’s credit at any time to protect them from identity theft. This bill also allows for credit to be frozen for an incapacitated person by their guardian. In the House Business Lapdog Committee.
HB 42(Barbieri): Adds adult aunts and uncles to the list of relatives who may act as a surrogate to make health care decisions for an adult patient if the patient lacks capacity and there is no agent or guardian, no prior designated surrogate, the prior designated surrogate is unavailable, or the health-care directive does not address the specific issue. House Health & Social Services Committee
HB’s 36 and 37: Since Rethugs generally oppose any common sense weapons reform, we get these R-sponsored bills instead: Increased minimum mandatories and ‘enhanced penalties’ for those committing crimes using firearms. And D’s fall right in line. Because minimum mandatories and enhanced penalties have proven effective in the past. Except, oh, never. Pretty pathetic stuff. Brought to us by Attorney General Beau Biden. House Judiciary Committee.
Here is the Senate committee meeting schedule. The highlights:
SB 29(Peterson): Provides for recording and maintaining a record of all deliberations made by public bodies during public hearings, including any discussion made “off the record.” Senate Executive Committee.
SB 21(Henry): In which the Delaware General Assembly tries to prevent Governor Jack Markell from channeling his inner Governor Scott Walker. SB 21 ‘…expands the composition of the State Employees Benefits Committee and provides Delaware public employees with representation on the Committee.’ The Governor’s people currently dominate this body and pointedly exclude any input from, you know, state employees, in matters dealing with employees’ benefits. The Governor has opposed employees’ input, and D’s and R’s are calling him on it. Yet one more example of Delaware’s Democratic governor acting like anything other than a Democrat. And the General Assembly reacting against him. Senate Insurance Committee.
Three firearms bill will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. If any of you spot Delaware’s Most Notorious Pigeon-Maimer at the meeting, let him know exactly what you think of him. If you spot any R legislators, ask them if they support having a pigeon-maimer as their State Chairman. Here’s the legislative lineup:
HB 35(Longhurst): The criminal background checks bill. With about 11 amendments. Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is scheduled to testify in support of the bill.
SB 18(Pettyjohn): Makes clear that it is a class A misdemeanor to falsely report to a law enforcement agency that a firearm has been lost or stolen. The Act also increases the penalty for providing a false statement to law enforcement that a firearm has been lost or stolen intending to prevent, hinder or delay the investigation of any crime or offense.
SB 23(Marshall): Would allow Wilmington and other Delaware municipalities to implement their own firearms regulations.
The only real question here is whether SB 23 makes it out of committee or not. I suspect that that’s as far as it will go.
Well, check me out on today’s Al Show, 10 am to 12 noon, WDEL 1150 on your AM dial. We’ll be talking all this, plus some real sleazy doings at Del-Tech. We might also address John Atkins’ conspiracy theory that the moon landings were faked. All that plus the post-Wrestlemania rasslin’ landscape. Cue the exit music: