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!