General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Weds., April 17, 2013

Filed in National by on April 17, 2013

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.

Here is the entire session activity log for Tuesday.

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:

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  1. I would encourage those who are concerned about SB 27 to take a second look at the bill. According to a leading proponent who touched base with me today:

    “We are seeing a ton of kids leaving for charter and private schools because we don’t offer any kind of robust programming for academically advanced kids in most of our traditional elementary and middle schools — and those kids who remain aren’t being challenged as much as they could. This is one of the number one issues we hear about from both parents and business leaders, it is something we can address at relatively little cost, and…it will be tragic if we don’t deal with it. It is also a great opportunity to set up magnet programs at some of our schools — especially schools in the city — that are having trouble keeping enrollment numbers up and attracting teachers, where we could actually have parents wanting to send kids into the city to attend school.”

    Sounds like a worthy goal to me. Responses?

  2. Anon says:

    What happens after Year 2 when funding is gone? Where does the bill actually provide for robust programming or true magnet programs?

  3. Good questions, and I’m no expert.

    However, there is a long history in this state of ‘pilot programs’ becoming permanent after their merits have been demonstrated.

    Don’t know if that’s the case here.

  4. Jason330 says:

    Shamefull vote today in the US senate. any statements from Coons and Carper yet?

  5. I dunno, but I DO know that this makes Delaware’s criminal background checks bill even more important.

    And it’s first on tomorrow’s Senate agenda.

  6. Dave says:

    I thought the President set the right tone in his remarks. He was pissed. Can’t wait for those who voted note to explain.

  7. pandora says:

    Here’s Chris Coons’ statement:

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement after the Senate failed to pass a series of amendments Wednesday evening to reduce gun violence in our communities. Additional amendments will be considered on Thursday.

    “After Aurora, after Tucson, after Newtown, and with ongoing gun violence on the streets of cities like Wilmington and Dover, Congress owes it to the American people to take real steps to stop gun violence. I am heartsick over the Senate’s failure to come together today to combat the gun violence that is tearing our communities apart. We must do a better job of enforcing our existing laws, and do more to fight gun trafficking and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. A thorough and effective background check is something a staggering 86 percent of Americans support, so I just don’t understand how it earned only 54 senators’ votes today. While there is still a potential path forward on expanding background checks, there is no question this is a disappointing day.”