General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Thurs., June 13, 2013

Filed in Delaware by on June 13, 2013

Let me get this straight. Jack Markell cuts taxes for his wealthy friends early this session. The only tax among the so-called temporary emergency taxes enacted in 2009 that he cut. Now he says he needs $80 million in new taxes and fees, or bridges will fall down, highways will crumble. Oh, and if they do, it will be somebody else’s fault because Markell gave the legislators a full 2 1/2 week’s warning before the end of session.  Maybe, just maybe, if he stopped appearing on TV, writing half-baked op-eds, or accepting ginned-up awards created solely to increase his national stature (I recommend lifts as an alternative), he might find time to, you know, actually govern. I mean in public, not in secret.

From the once-again unlinkable News-Journal story (if anyone with the News-Journal reads this, please explain to me why, as one of the last ‘dead trees’ subscribers, I can’t access your bleeping online edition, except for the 5 articles a month; if you’ve all just given up, let me know and I’ll save the subscription costs), here are key excerpts from Jonathan Starkey’s story:

Gov. Jack Markell has offered (mighty nice of him) legislators a selection of more than $80 million in tax and fee increases to spend on roads, beaches, parks and waterways, but already legislators are rejecting some of the ideas.  Markell included a 5-cent increase in the gasoline tax…

Other ideas including upping document fees charged when Delawareans purchase a car (aka a sales tax on new car purchases), expanding the hotel accommodation tax so it applies to beach rental properties, and increasing vehicle registration fees and highway tolls.

I find it almost impossible to believe that a governor who claims competence as his principal calling card has botched this worse than Ruth Ann Minner ever could. It’s June 13, and, all of a sudden, he’s talking about $80 mill in new fees and taxes? Utterly. Inept. If he’s too busy running for ‘something else’ to govern, dare I say that he has a Lieutenant Governor who I think is more than up to the task.

Here is yesterday’s Session Activity Report. By far the worst bill to pass yesterday, and arguably the worst bill to pass this session, is HB 96(Scott). This bill was literally written by the telecom industry to enhance their ‘competitiveness’. I would have hoped that a more progressive General Assembly would have been more skeptical of such legislation. But it passed unanimously in the Senate and heads to the Governor. Caveat Emptor.

Before we look at today’s agendas, I wonder whether the projected dangerous weather might require adjustments to the legislative schedule. Here’s hoping that everyone is safe. Please be careful today.

Assuming that session takes place, here’s what’s on the House Agenda. Perhaps the most intriguing bill is HB 131(Walker), which establishes that gestational carrier (surrogate moms) arrangements are legal contracts. The bill also ‘establishes a set of consistent standards and procedural safeguards applicable to all agreements for the protection of all parties involved in a gestational carrier arrangement. It recognizes the need for intended parents to obtain legal recognition of their rights before birth of any resulting child especially in cases where medical decisions need to be made immediately after delivery’.

Didja know that the National Guard is yet another agency involved in the War On Drugs? I didn’t. But here’s legislation enabling the Delaware National Guard Counterdrug unit to, yes, access funding under something called the National Guard Mutual Assistance Counterdrug Activities Compact. My consecutive translation is, while this program is a waste of money, it’s a waste of Federal money, so why shouldn’t Delaware get its fair share of money to waste?

We also have the Rethugs’ solution to gun control. Increase minimum mandatories for possession and purchase. Sponsored by the usual suspects. BTW, click on the fiscal note and see if you can spot the fiscal fallacies within it.

If you find something else on the agenda that strikes your interest, talk about it here.

The Senate Agenda is even less notable than the House Agenda. But that’s not because they’ve been slacking in the upper chamber. If you take a look, you will see that a slew of key bills have already been scheduled for Tuesday’s agenda. Thanks to Senate leadership for providing ‘fair notice’ to the public.

Which leads me to a digression. Must’ve been a slow news day Monday, but the News-Journal had a story quoting a self-described Republican activist, with an echo chamber provided by Pope Pompous I, formerly Monsignor Greg Lavelle, complaining about ‘meltaways’. No, not another defective 7-11 frozen confection. The complaint is that Senate committees rarely vote with a show of hands to release bills from committees, something the House routinely does.  The members just ‘meltaway’. Well, there’s a reason for this, an obvious one when you stop to think of it.  By my count, the Senate has 24 standing committees, the House has 25. There are 21 senators and 41 representatives. Hello-o-o-o. With so many committees and so few senators, it is virtually impossible to have quorums at most Senate meetings. Which is why bills are circulated amongst senators for signature rather than passed around in committee. Less than ideal, yes, sinister, no. Pope Pompous I knows this. He’s just…a pompous partisan.  Now you know too.

Did HB 116(Viola) run into problems yesterday? It was on the agenda, but ultimately was laid on the table. That often happens when, for example, someone discovers a technical problem that requires an amendment.

Other than that, nothing turns me on. Legislatively, I mean. Now, blogging in my underwear…that’s another story.

Stay safe, everybody!

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  1. Shifting The Tax Burden | kavips | June 13, 2013
  1. John says:

    FYI – if you reset the cookies on your browser, you can continue to read the News Journal all day (not that you would need to, of course). You can even set your browser to erase cookies automatically when you close the window.

  2. anon says:

    Doesn’t Markell realize that a big portion of the people in this state are barely keeping their heads above water and raising the gas tax will make virtually everyfuckingthing people buy more expensive?

    Markell has become totally out of touch with the people in this state and the reality on the ground. If he goes for another money grab, expect more of your neighbors who don’t live in mansions in Greenville around the Governor to go under.

    I’m sure the people surrounding Markell will tell him this won’t hurt anyone. I can tell you, this will definitely hurt me.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    anon – the gov. doesn’t care about you or me.

    And I thought that if you got the print subscription, the online one was free? Of course, I wouldn’t know for sure b/c I don’t get print anymore. The delivery guy kept throwing the damn thing in a puddle at the end of my driveway.

  4. Joanne Christian says:

    El Som–please put the mariachi suit back on–you are to set the example here remember.

  5. John Young says:

    Thus far SB51 is by far the worst bill of the session that has passed.

  6. puck says:

    Yeah, the Community News (which I love) when it rains, throws the paper in my driveway in its highly permeable plastic wrapper, where it inevitably gets sodden and looks like an enormous used condom.

  7. Citizen says:

    Senate Ed. committee hearing said to be Wed., June 19, 2:30 in Senate Majority Caucus Room. HB 165 on the agenda. Not sure whether there is any opportunity for public comments (I think not?)

    Attend if you possibly can. It does matter to have people in Dover–Joanne is right (and I do empathize with the various work & family conflicts).

  8. Citizen says:

    puck! Now I can’t let my kids read this blog :).

  9. Anon says:

    Maybe this increase will allow Markell to offset some of the $325/hour legal cost to coverup his corruption and disregard for the environmental laws like the coastal zone act and the Clean Air Act.

    If he has done nothing wrong, why does he have to hide and cover up the existing opinions from the AG that likely pointed out that Markell and O’Mara were breaking the law in their sweatheart deals with the refinery.

    His economic plans have failed (fisker, bluewater wind, etc.), so to build an national image he has to break the law by getting in bed with big oil.

  10. geezer says:

    “raising the gas tax will make virtually everyfuckingthing people buy more expensive”

    Bullshit. A 5-cent gas tax increase means 60-75 cents when you fill up. If that forces you under, I’ll send flowers.

    Every comment you post is full of this kind of hair-on-fire hyperbole.

  11. puck says:

    Geezer, he has a point. Every time gas goes up, I see food go up. Especially anything heavy.

    In general I support raising gas taxes to force consumption toward renewables. At the national level that is a good policy. But in little Delaware it won’t make a dent toward renewables. In the context of cutting taxes on the rich and cutting services, it does raise eyebrows.

  12. geezer says:

    If it’s going into the Transportation Trust Fund, it has nothing to do with taxes on the rich.

    Your point is well taken, but the fluctuations in the market far exceed the proposed tax. It will barely be noticed.

  13. Another Mike says:

    “Senate Ed. committee hearing said to be Wed., June 19, 2:30 in Senate Majority Caucus Room. HB 165 on the agenda. Not sure whether there is any opportunity for public comments (I think not?)”

    Not sure about committees, but when HB 165 hits the full senate you can ask your senator for the privilege of the floor, which gives regular citizens the opportunity to address the full body about the bill. This was how several people were able to address the senate during the same-sex marriage debate.

  14. Citizen says:

    Thanks, AnotherMike, for this very useful tip.

    Since my senator is the bill’s sponsor, David Sokola–do you know whether I can request this privilege from another senator (seriously)?

  15. Joanne Christian says:

    Regardless of your Senator, citizen–he still represents you, and should afford you that privilege–especially in light of all the privileges going ’round here!

    I don’t know about speaking, but I certainly have met w/ reps. and sens. outside my assigned residence on issues. All have been most receptive. Two had even commented, they thought a certain bill (transportation cut to districts) was going to hurt their districts, and upon checking in were told by their districts (supers/board/accounts),they would be fine. My head can only explode so many times. One REALLY was looking out for his district, and was shot down. The other, just dismissive of “they have it covered”. Onto the next set of rooms.

  16. anon says:

    Now he says he needs $80 million in new taxes and fees, or bridges will fall down, highways will crumble.

    What happened to the Transportation Trust Fund and the tax money we already pay to fund DelDOT? There was a $21 million budget surplus, where did that money go? People in Delaware aren’t doing well enough to strap them with more tax burdens, if you can’t see that, you’re blind. The Governor seems to be blind. Our economic recovery is tenuous at best.

  17. Geezer says:

    It’s a freaking nickel a gallon. If you don’t like it, don’t drive.

  18. anon says:

    It’s a nickel to a dime a gallon, on top of the 2009 stop gap, temporary tax hikes. What happened to the Transportation Trust Fund, and the tax dollars we already pump into DelDOT?

    This is not the time to start taxing and spending like drunken sailors. People are still struggling. Have some compassion for people who have suffered through unemployment and are suffering through underemployment.

    Most people drive to put food on their table and a roof over their heads.

  19. Citizen says:

    On the tax hike, can’t help thinking about the recent NJ article (June 10) starting “Delaware had one of the slowest-growing economies in the nation in 2012, a recent study shows.”

    So what are the upsides of the Markell admin.? Not the economy, not education, not the environment…

  20. Mike O. says:

    No, the report says it’s HB 27 that is tabled. My misreading. I have to increase the zoom level in my browser.

  21. cassandra_m says:

    That nickel or dime increase isn’t far from the usual price fluctuation of gas and that doesn’t seem to stop anyone from driving to put a roof over their heads or putting food on the table.

    I note that a good deal of the projects earmarked for whatever taxes get increased are Sussex projects, including the ridiculous beach replenishment. I’m not going to mind of those projects don’t get done, but if they are to be done, they need to be paid for. And, really, I’d rather see taxes on rentals and have the folks they say they are trying to entice here pay the freight for a change.

  22. Roland D. Lebay says:

    El Som-

    The Gannett “paywall” is a joke. Use Google Chrome as your browser. Open an incognito tab to read Delaware Online for free. You can do the same thing with Mozilla Firefox.

    Chrome Download

    Chrome Incognito mode

    Firefox Download

    Private browsing with Firefox

  23. Citizen, you got the chance to speak at the House hearing. The same will be afforded to you at the Senate hearing for HB 165.

  24. Tom Hawk says:

    Those of us with a paper subscription to the NJ do get free access but for downloads and such we must register and have a registered password for that access.

    I’ve got a carrier that deserves tips more often than I send him. If it has rained or is yet raining, the paper in its sleeve is dropped on the grass which holds it above the water flowing across the lawn. Putting it on the grass minimizes any puncturing of the plastic, thus is an effort to keep things dry. Dry weather puts the rubber band bound copy conveniently in the concrete driveway. My carrier cares.

    As far as gasoline cost is concerned, I don’t really pay too much attention. I’ve been retired for 15 years and have learned to accomplish the most chores in the fewest miles. Read this and weep! I last filled the tank on March 28. I’ve only used about a 1/4 tank on my errands since then. Oh, my 1997 Mitsubishi sedan only gets about 19-20 MPG.

  25. Power was out, then I had to go to work.

    My point about the proposed tax hikes is that the Governor waited until this late in session to say he needs $80 mill more? And the thing about the gas tax is that legislative leaders have said it’s a non-starter. So, what’s he gonna do?

    These discussions should have started in January, if not before. I am stunned by the ineptitude, and I bet that a lot of long-time legislators are as well.

  26. Roland D. Lebay says:

    Tom Hawk-

    Congrats on having a ’90s era Mitsubishi that is still alive. Those things are horrible vehicles & they’re very expensive to repair when the ECU/PCM fails (as they often did in the ’90s) or when they spit out the timing belt (another common problem w/ ’90s Mitsus.)

    I commute 32 miles round trip every day. A $0.10/gal tax increase won’t kill me, but it may allow me to buy fuel in PA for the same cost or less than in DE.

    I’m not necessarily against an increase in fuel taxes, but I hope Markell & crew have considered the possibility that many people will buy their fuel in MD or PA if we raise our fuel tax to the point that it’s worth the trip.