General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Thurs., May 16, 2013

Filed in National by on May 16, 2013

Your last legislative fix for almost three weeks, so savor it!

In a Dog Bites Man story, Sen. Colin Bonini sided with the oil polluters,  casting the only ‘no’ vote against legislation eliminating a monetary cap on company liability for damages caused by an oil spill. Bloviator Bonini has suffered a precipitous decline in ink this session, having ceded his senatorial Hot Air Hegemony to Monsignor Greg Lavelle. I, for one, feel sorry for the disheartened former champion, and intend to do everything within my power to rehabilitate his diminished stature (I’m speaking figuratively, of course).  The Comedic Gods demand it.

Probably the biggest news of the day is what didn’t happen:

1. Bill adding 2 more casinos doesn’t make it out of committee. Nobody has clean hands in this game. Just read today’s News-Journal article about it. Which I can’t link. Because even though we still buy the dead trees edition, the online access is screwed up, and I’m still limited to only 5 articles a month. Except the month doesn’t begin and end at the beginning and ending of the month. Hate to say it, but this enterprise has earned obsolescence, alienating the few of us who still believe in newspapers. But, I digress. Williams claims to have the support of Governor Markell, but the Executive branch provides weasel words instead (I’m typing this word for word from today’s print edition):

“The Governor always looks forward to discussing proposals with the sponsors and supporters to understand how proposals might add to the state’s revenue and economy.”

Which raises this question: Rep. Dennis E. Williams, overly-optimistic or delusional? For better or for worse, I don’t think this bill is going anywhere.

2. Bail Reform Constitutional Amendment doesn’t make it out of committee. And for good reason, IMHO. The bill would add additional serious felonies (other than capital offenses) to the list of crimes for which bail could be denied. It would also permit other felonies to be added to the list, prompting Senate Executive Committee chair Patti Blevins to state (again typed verbatim from the News-Journal story that I can’t link):

“This is extremely serious stuff,” Blevins said, adding that without specific details in the amendment, a future Legislature could add another crime to the list ‘in three days’.

Yes, it is serious stuff. Senator Blevins has protected basic civil liberties by slowing down this demagogic-driven freight train. Beau would do well to pull back, way back, on this one.

3. Rethug Plan To Waste $$’s on ‘School Security’ fails to clear committee. Rethugs won’t get the chance to piss away $5 mill in education funding on school security grants unless the House Education Committee changes its mind. HB 34(D. Short) should now be consigned to the dustbin of ill-conceived ideas. In fairness, four D House members co-sponsored the bill: Atkins, Brady, Mitchell and Potter. (BTW, did you know that Potter’s son has resigned from his nepotistically-created ‘job’ with Wilmington Mayor Dennis P. Williams to ‘seek other opportunities’? Now you do.)

Here’s what did happen. SS1/SB28(Peterson), which would allow state pensioners to work as legislative per diem employees, unanimously passed the Senate. The House did not work an agenda yesterday.

Today’s House Agenda features legislation permitting ‘same day voter registration’. HB 105(Viola) ‘provides for election day registration for presidential primary, primary, special, and general elections whereas currently the deadline is the fourth Saturday prior to the date of the election. Moreover, same day registration at polling places will be permitted with submission of valid government issued identification or other generally accepted proof of identification.’ No doubt, Rethugs will vote against it en masse, citing their fictional allegations of voter fraud. As opposed to the REAL Rethug voter fraud of suppressing votes all over the country. “B-b-but ACORN…”  Bastards.

HB 89 permits ‘the construction and operation within the State of Delaware of freestanding inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, which generally are capable of providing services to victims of stroke, spinal cord injuries, amputation or other traumas.’  This should be an interesting vote. We will see the degree to which existing medical operations (*cough Christiana Care cough*) oppose this new facility. Time for Wayne Smith to earn his lucre.

SB 51(Sokola), which purports to ‘strengthen teacher preparation by raising the standards for entry into the teaching profession’, and which has been vilified by several commenters here at DL, is also on the House Agenda.

Forgot to ask my pharmacist wife what she thinks of SB 73(Hall-Long), which ‘authorizes a licensed pharmacist, pharmacist intern or pharmacy student under the supervision of a pharmacist to dispense hypodermic syringes or needles without a prescription to individuals who are at least 18 years of age’. If this is sorta a pharmacy addendum to clean needle exchange, then I’m sure she would support it. Whaddayathink? This bill is on today’s Senate Agenda.

The other bill of note on the Senate side is SB 55(Townsend), which ‘adds members of the Public Service Commission to the definition of ‘public officer’ which would subject them, like many other individuals in positions of public trust, to certain financial disclosure requirements’. I just wish that the General Assembly would also require PSC members to recuse themselves from approving rate increase requests from companies in which they hold shares of stock. Or…prohibit members of the PSC from holding stock in companies that routinely come before them. But, at least, SB 55 will clue us in to which members are doing their masters’ bidding and improving the performance of their stock portfolios at the same time.

This legislative run of slightly over a month has proven to be one of the most productive and, from a progressive perspective, one of the best sessions I can recall. Marriage equality, gun control, some notable and historical triumphs. There are times when we (and I) disparage the legislators for their apparent disinterest. This is not one of those times. Thank you, legislators, and enjoy your well-earned break.

As will I.

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  1. Andy says:

    Its a shame there is not continued condemnation over the squashing of the minimum wage bill on this blog like there was over no votes of other bills

  2. Andy: I direct you to the first four paragraphs of my Tuesday Post-Game/Pre-Game:

    http://www.delawareliberal.net/2013/05/14/general-assembly-post-game-wrap-uppre-game-show-tues-may-14-2013/

    If I was too subtle, please suggest what else I should do…

  3. cassandra_m says:

    Here’s the link to the NJ article re: the casinos. And reading these:

    The bill would allow for the building of one casino in New Castle County and a second in Sussex County, with the locations to be selected by a board of political appointees. That board also would review proposals from would-be casino developers and award licenses to those whose plans would create the most jobs and produce the most revenue for the state.

    “I’m going to talk to people like Rep. Ramone about the tax plan. We could phase it in, maybe 1 percent or half a percent a year,” he said. “We can save [existing casinos] a lot, but still bring in a lot of revenue.”

    D.E. Williams needs to be laughed off of the GA for talking about the “free market” in relation to these new casinos. Casinos don’t exist in a free market as long as the government regulates the number of them in any given market. No doubt the current crowd of casinos have some of their business siphoned off by the new casinos in neighboring states. THAT was utterly predictable, and was predicted by alot of people. But hey. Now — very much behind the curve — they want to address the new competition.

    The top 3 states for casino revenue are (pdf):
    1.Nevada $10.86 billion
    2.Pennsylvania $3.16 billion
    3.New Jersey $3.05 billion

    Delaware doesn’t crack the top 10 or 20. New York comes in at #7 and they have new properties and more on line. Maryland is screaming up the ranks. New Jersey made it to the list in spite of having reduced casino revenues for I don’t know how many years in a row. It doesn’t take much to see the long-term competitive problem for our own casinos.

  4. gary myers says:

    The provisions of 26 Del. C. sec. 109(a) already provide that a person may not be a PSC Commissioner if he or she “owns or directly or indirectly controls any stock of any public utility entitled to vote for election of directors.” While the textual prohibition only extends to ownership of “voting” equities (and thus excludes non-voting bonds, etc.), the PSC yeara ago adopted a Code of Conduct which has broader disqualification provisions. I do not know whether the present Commissioners respect the statutory prohibition and the self-emboseed ethics code, but it is not the case that they are appointed and operate without any restrictions.

  5. Jay says:

    Dennis E.’s reasoning for placement of the NCC casino in Tri-State Mall is a poorly thought out as well. Having a one trick pony of an income source right over the line won’t provide the revenue that something like and entertainment complex with shops and restaurants would bring. People will come, gamble, and leave. If he wants revenue in his district, he should seek out something along the lines of an Xfinity Live type complex that draws a diverse crowd at multiple times of day with various revenue sources.

    Then again, they are not the ones lobbying him for the legislation.

  6. puck says:

    Kilroy is doing headstands over at his blog trying to get people to pay attention to HB 23, which requires school boards (including charters) to post audio of their meetings online. This really is important. The bill is on the House ready list, but Kilroy thinks the fix is in for a desk drawer veto, or to only release it too late for the Senate to act. Word is the charters are opposing.

  7. Prop Joe says:

    @Puck: Couldn’t agree more… I fail to see how any marginally-intelligent person would be opposed to this bill. People whine about transparency and not knowing what’s going on. This is one of several useful steps

  8. Joanne Christian says:

    SB 73–syringes dispensed by intern or student under supervision by pharmacist. R U kidding me? And w/o a prescription–but I’m showing DAMN ID for pseudophed?

    You people worried about guns—how about a little outrage for the syringe toss? And no prescription. Thank you if this passes, for increasing the exposure of at least some control in place for IVDA, and now putting me and mine at risk wherever I walk, swim, toilet, dog run, or picnic to the increased trash of needle stick exposure this brings.

    Why can’t pharmacies stick to just giving out dosing cups, and liquid measures? And WHY would pharmacies EVER want to increase MORE RISK EXPOSURE and VULNERABILITY to their pharmacists, when this now gets added to the Oxycontin, Methadone, Pseudophed, and all scheduled drugs list?

    Let me call your dentist to see if your flouride tablets can be refilled—but hey, let me get this fella behind you first, he only needs needles……..I’ll be reading this one ElSom to see if I’m missing the intent—but THANK YOU for alerting us.

  9. Yeah, JC, I’ll ask my wife about this when she gets home.

    Unless someone in the know would like to clue us in…

  10. Geezer says:

    The ID is required in case you’re cooking meth.

  11. Joanne Christian says:

    OK–admendment has been added to be for persons who are self-admin. certain medicines, or to legal guardian or parent of a child. I still think pharmacy would be okay to dispense, IF the medicine to go with those syringes is on record as currently being dispensed. We know if you are a patient w/ a problem requiring injections, you are certainly seeing your doctor more than once a year. What’s the big deal to get an Rx at those visits, continuing the syringes? Up to a year? If you are in that e.g diabetic category?

    I can’t see a defined term of syringe use (for instance fertility treatments), given blase’ access, when now it’s for the hubs and gymrat friends’ steroid use. Think long and hard about this gang. And that’s the softest, scenario I’m giving you.

  12. Joanne Christian says:

    I am well aware of why the ID is required Geezer. The point being, an OTC requires ID and sign-out–and is far less likely to go to the kitchen for a favorite meth recipe–than a friggin box of 100 syringes unprescribed landing at parks, schools, beaches, bathrooms, parking lots, and back pockets of detainees being frisked by law.

    From the sublime to the ridiculous.

    And pseudoephridine purchase limits should be upped!!!!

  13. cassandra_m says:

    Did you read this bill, Joanne? As I read, it you can get the syringes without a prescription, but you do have to show ID to prove you are of age to buy them.

    Really, I’m not seeing the problem with this.

  14. Dave says:

    RE:SB73

    It would be interesting and useful for the primary sponsors of the bill to make some sort of the statement regarding the bill especially to the point of explaining what problem they are attempting to solve.

    If one can go in and buy sypringes with no valid medical reason, I can foresee the day where it will be the in thing to hang from backpacks or rearview mirror or even become part of a home tattoo kit.

    If one has to be able to inject meds, presumably the syringes can be covered by the same prescription. Can someone explain why you would want to divorce syringes from the meds?

  15. Other states already permit the dispensation of syringes and needles, and Delaware would join them with this bill.

    The needles and syringes have to be paid for, they’re not being given away.

    So, yes, some of those purchasing these products will use them in order to prevent the spread of hepatitis or the AIDS virus, and some will use them b/c they need them for their insulin injections or allergy shots.

    Thus saith my pharmacist wife. I’m on board supporting the bill now.

    BTW, SB 73 passed the Senate today, with only Bonini and Lawson voting no:

    http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/LIS147.nsf/7712cf7cc0e9227a852568470077336f/112b9f3f7fb64ddc85257b6d00652ce7?OpenDocument

  16. Dave: According to my pharmacist wife, you can buy common forms of insulin w/o prescription now, so, in that case, you wouldn’t need a prescription for the insulin, but you would for the needles, which doesn’t seem to make sense.

    Plus, let us acknowledge that these needles will be used by drug addicts. Since they’re gonna use needles anyway, better clean ones than dirty ones.

  17. Joanne Christian says:

    cass–yes I read the bill. No other state allows the pharmacy student, pharmacy intern etc. to dispense.

    El Som–I totally am A-OK w/ known diabetics, and others w/ documented chronic medical needs.

    I am even OK with IDU having access.

    But I’m not OK w/ limitless syringe access, no prescription, and just an age check.

    As you state above El–“let us acknowledge that these needles will be used by drug addicts. Since they’re gonna use needles anyway, better clean ones than dirty ones.” Oh yea? So now our chances of a stray needlestick in a park, bathroom, driveway, schoolyard, beach, trashcan, dumpster, hiking trail, and campfire ring gets to increase exponentially because a needle needer can’t be expected to have a prescription on record? So needles get dispensed practically indiscriminately, by this legislation–has no parameters of dispensation amounts, or transaction tracking–and Joanne Q. Public no longer worries about that Pamper floating by at the beach, because we’re syringe hunting instead of seashell hunting for the big week at the shore. All because we now have more clean needles available–you know, so the IVDA gets a fresh one, to dirty, and contribute more fully to the dirty needles out there. Does this bill come with the fiscal note of providing “needle stick protocol as needed” to the collateral victims?

    As you can see below–these dispensation guidelines are all over the place–but criminee it’ll be harder for my kid to get a suntan, or a Swisher Sweet than a frickin’ box of syringes for the myriad of usages from tatooing to roids to serious weaponry, or just basic IVDA. But hey, don’t let me give you pause on the public ills, society is already having to deal with.

    http://www.temple.edu/lawschool/phrhcs/otc.htm

  18. Dave says:

    Yes, El Som, but the diabetics need for insulin can be and is documented. There are acceptable uses for syringes, but to indiscriminately make them available essentially for everyone is silly.

    I’ll have to echo Joanne on this one. Again, I would like to have a statement from the sponsors regarding the problem for which this proposed legislation is the solution.

    Needle exchange programs at drug treatment centers at least connects addicts with treatment options, perhaps saving one or two people. Additionally, needle exchange does not proliferate needles which would be left wherever.

    This legislation does not make sense on the face of it and some explanation regarding the objective and why this is the right solution is necessary.

  19. I’ll see what I can find out. The legislation passed handily, so I suspect that there was an explanation that must have allayed legislators’ fears.

  20. Joanne Christian says:

    Sure–just an age check for needles :)

  21. cassandra_m says:

    I don’t see why pharmacuetical interns and students dispensing is a problem — these two groups of people are working under the supervision of a pharmacist, sort of like how nurses and doctors get trained. They aren’t making decisions on their own.

    So now our chances of a stray needlestick in a park, bathroom, driveway, schoolyard, beach, trashcan, dumpster, hiking trail, and campfire ring gets to increase exponentially because a needle needer can’t be expected to have a prescription on record?

    I don’t see how your risk of stray needles is any greater than it is now. It isn’t as though being able to get the syringes as needed means that we are all going to rush out to buy them. You are looking for needles on the beach because med waste companies are illegally dumping med waste in the ocean.

    Basically, this is an old-school drug paraphernalia is evil argument. I’d like to see some data from states who have eliminated the presription requirement that there *is* a major uptick in needle waste and needle accidents. Certainly there ought to be some, right?

  22. Joanne Christian says:

    Well cass in normalizing this new access, I do hope our legislators will consider legislation that public spaces where trash cans are, also have a needle disposal box, that all the responsible syringe users can utilize. Restrooms included (some states/countries do that for their citizens). Because now when I walk up to a park trashcan, I will be comforted knowing we have recyclables, dogdoo pick-up bags, and now syringe disposals.

    Don’t want to step on your dogdoo or your other crap. Maybe that’s just me.

    Syringes, the new Delaware gun hidden from view. No license required.

    Oh, and needlestick injury is a little more difficult to tease out comparatively because of retractable systems and such that have GREATLY mitigated incidents. But, I do know what you mean and are asking for, it just can’t be disaggregated honestly yet–but I’ll try!!! Thanks.

  23. cassandra_m says:

    I see more and more needle disposal boxes as I travel around — interestingly because the owners of facilities are avoiding liability of cleaners accidentally sticking themselves handling trash bags AND avoiding the liability of medical waste in their trash. It is probably good to have more of them, but you should check the restrooms of this park you are concerned about — they may actually have a disposal unit there.

  24. AOINE says:

    Ok. I have a question….

    There is a BIG difference between IV syringes and IM syringes

    IMs are used for insulin, epinephedrihe etc…., where the drug is shot into the muscle, or just under the skin, they are very short.

    IV syringes are the longer ones that addicts use, these dispense the drug into the vein directly. This is the type used for heroin

    Does the bill differentiate between the two and their uses? That would tell a lot.

  25. Delaware Dem says:

    Important question