Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf’s gonna earn his money today. Look for a l-o-o-o-o-ng party caucus for the House Majority.
At a time when key legislation needs to be worked, and worked with some sense of urgency, The House D’s will most likely feel forced to confront the (former GOP) elephant in the room. John Atkins. I can’t imagine that there will not be a serious mass of legislators outraged at his alleged actions. And, of course, this is far from the first time that the Caucus has had to address issues regarding Atkins. When you add to that the fact that Schwartzkopf personally vouched for Atkins and sold him to a skeptical caucus back in 2008 (‘People can change’), and you’ve got a real messy situation on your hands. The guy was always kinda on probation to several caucus members, and I wonder if caucus members are willing to let that continue. Yes, I know, he has not been charged with anything and he deserves his day in court. I’m just looking at the dynamics of the caucus. After all, not even the Rethugs wanted him. Betcha a majority of D’s don’t, either.
If they ever get to it, the House has an ambitious Agenda today. SB 197(Blevins) would provide Delaware with perhaps the strongest human trafficking statute in the country. It’s a great piece of legislation, one of the best of this session. In typical Rethug fashion, Rep. Smyk has introduced an amendment making the penalties even more punitive. The guy has not worked on the bill at all even though other Republicans have, but he and his fellow idiot Sen. Dave Lawson see this amendment as a way to score political points. I don’t care whether the amendment passes or not, but these guys aren’t even trying to be constructive. Just political.
Rep. Quin Johnson’s ‘A Movie and Some Beers’ legislation is also scheduled for consideration. Campaign contributions to follow.
Val Longhurst’s Fort DuPont ‘Redevelopment’ plan may move forward as well although…it looks like Jack Markell is taking most of the ownership. A filed amendment adds yet two more state officials to the ‘Corporation’ board, further dwarfing the influence of the Delaware City insiders. We’ll see if those concessions suffice to get this proposal through the House.
And we’re just getting started. Pete Schwartzkopf’s bill requiring General Assembly approval for municipal tax increases looms large. And, I think, ominous.
Finally, we have SB 222(Blevins), which names the Wilmington campus of Del-Tech in honor of Lonnie George. Stop by and visit him at the President Emeritus’ house, Xanadu.
Now, let’s be honest, kids. Even were there not issues to be addressed in Caucus, an agenda this loaded would not be worked in a single day. During the next two weeks or so, numerous bills will be added to this Agenda. Then you’ll see different agendas, each numbered, pop up. Which will take us to June 30, where ‘must-lists’ get worked, often late at night and early in the morning. While I have confidence in both Pete Schwartzkopf and Patti Blevins to avoid the worst of the June 30 horsetrading, we must be diligent in shining sunlight on the process. This is the time of year when bad stuff gets through.
A more typical, and less contentious, agenda awaits in the Senate. I’m feeling so magnanimous that I ‘m totally fine with a bill sponsored by Greg Lavelle. SB 221 ‘allows political committees to give campaign contributions back to their donors’. You will recall that Lavelle and other Rethugs were outraged, outraged, that committees that unknowingly received illegal contributions donated them to charity. Thus, presumably, getting some sort of ‘rub’ for their alleged perfidy. So, we now have legislation that permits giving contributions to charity, and this companion bill. Call it what it is. A crumb. In the spirit of bipartisanship. Welcome to June.