General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Thurs., June 12, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on June 12, 2014

There’s always a story. And sometimes I don’t know what it is. I know that there’s a story concerning HB 81(Mulrooney). The bill “lowers the number of full-time employees from 25 to 3 for the Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Employment Relations Act to apply to a public employer”.  I think that means that teeny tiny municipal police forces would qualify should the bill pass. Which, based on the House vote, they don’t want. The bill had passed the House, 24-14, in May, with Rep. Atkins joining with the R’s in voting no. What intrigues me here is that the bill was defeated in the Senate yesterday, 10 Y,  7 N, 3 NV,1 A. Here’s what interests me. Blevins went not voting, Peterson voted no, and Sokola, who was in attendance yesterday, was absent for the roll call. Like I said, I don’t know what the story is, but I know that there is one. Who wants to fill in the blanks for us?

Yeah, yeah, I know, if that’s the lead story, then I’m reachin’.

Here is yesterday’s Session Activity Report.

Well, here’s a potentially more important lead story. In a rare Thursday committee meeting, the House Administration Committee will consider HB 331(Kowalko), which ‘removes the exemption from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and thus fully applies FOIA to the University of Delaware and Delaware State University. Currently FOIA applies to their Boards of Trustees and their documents relating to the expenditure of public funds’.

I think there are two possibilities. (1) This is merely a pro-forma meeting to comply with House rules, and the bill will be tabled in committee. I suspect this is the reason it’s being considered, as the bill has sat in committee until after the last regularly-scheduled committee meeting. (2) Perhaps consideration of this bill is designed to put even further pressure on the University of Delaware to commit to the data center/energy plant project. Based on the individuals involved, I know that this bill isn’t being considered on its merits. Although it should be.

A brief interlude. So, the I-495 bridge repair is gonna cost $20 million or so. About 60,000 vehicles, a lot of them trucks,  are now grinding other  Delaware roads, further degrading those road surfaces. Not so much as a peep out of the General Assembly as to how they’re gonna fund the $70 mill hole in the road/infrastructure funding. Which may now be $90 mill. Rethug signs still litter New Castle County, proclaiming ‘No New Gas Taxes’. Is anybody gonna do anything?

Today’s Senate Agenda doesn’t excite me, but I’m on deadline as work beckons. Let me know what I missed.

The House Agenda features a good whistleblower protection bill.  HB 300(Baumbach)  essentially outlaws  retaliation against an employee by an employer due to (a) the employee’s refusal to take part in an offense and/or (b) the employee’s ‘reporting or participating in an investigation, hearing, trial or inquiry of an offense’.

Consensus legislation addressing workers’ comp insurance will also be considered.  By consensus, it looks like virtually every legislator is on the bill as a sponsor.

I really like HB 264(J. Johnson), which ‘enable(s) the Department of Correction to offer casual seasonal employment for up to 6 months to ex-offenders who demonstrate exceptional job skills while enrolled in a Level 4 or Level 5 vocational program.

HS 1/HB 302(Jaques) purportedly ‘establishes a more efficient structure for the administration of Delaware’s campaign finance laws, establishes a mechanism for citizens to report possible violations, and gives the State Election Commissioner the resources necessary to investigate potential violations.’. This is major legislation that reorganizes the operation of Delaware election law. Read the bill and see if you agree with the synopsis.

OK, gotta go. Feel free to write up anything I overlooked. Or got completely wrong.

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  1. cassandra_m says:

    Jaques “Election Efficiency” bill is interesting.

    It consolidates all of the County Board of Elections to the State Department of Elections; gives the Department of Elections the authority to investigate complaints of campaign misdeeds (including requirements to take anonymous complaints, to investigate and to refer to the AG or the US Attorney); provides for the hiring of investigators to look into complaints and grants the Department the authority to subpoena witnesses and compel document production; and also to produce real guidance on campaign finance law.

    I have to think about this some more, but one of the things that is missing from this is some additional transparency around this activity. The day after campaign reports are due, I’d like to see a big list posted on the Elections website of who hasn’t filed. I’d also like to see some information around the investigation of complaints — including a discussion of the disposal of complaints.

    What else?

  2. SussexWatcher says:

    The elections consolidation alone makes that bill deserve passage. It’s long past time to professionalize elections and take it out of the hands of the D and R hangers-on.

  3. painesme says:

    Cassandra -

    Agreed that more can and must be done to modernize our DoE, but this is a step in the right direction. Any election reform used to have to be done through three separate county offices of greatly varying quality. The transparency bit is going to be the next big hurdle to tackle – accessibility to data is…. not the greatest.

  4. cassandra m says:

    Oh I agree that this is a step in the right direction. I just think that some additional (and cheap) transparency around some of these actions would make this better. This kind of reform has more meaning when people can actually see it.

  5. Jim C. says:

    Regarding gas tax hike/infrastructure spending. I think we ought to increase the tolls at the DE/MD line, and, install a toll booth at the northbound entrance to I95 on 896 to catch the big trucks that avoid 95 and come up the Eastern Shore thru DE to avoid all the tolls on 95. They are beating up all of our roads. We would also reinstall the tollbooth on the southbound exit to 896 to catch those big trucks headed down the Eastern shore south to avoid tolls. Each DE registered vehicle would be issued an EZ Pass that would exempt them from those tolls going south and northbound at the 896 interchange.
    We should also increase our gas taxes by five cents. If I was still working, it would cost me $.60 a week.
    How much damage is getting done to 95 thru Wilmington since the 495 closure with an additional thousands of vehicles every day?

  6. John Manifold says:

    Darryl Scott bill to give executors access to deceased persons’ digital assets surmounts industry challenge to pass the House, 34-6.

    http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/LIS147.nsf/2bede841c6272c888025698400433a04/ed02328e743f63cf85257cc8003f3732

  7. That seems like a real good bill.

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