The Longest Day.
Here’s what a final day is usually like. Legislators drift in, and sessions generally begin around 4 pm or so. Dinner break a couple hours later. Because of, um, unfortunate instances of overindulgence in the past, members and staff generally dine in Leg Hall. In the past, lobbyists have paid for dinner. Then, caucuses. Maybe around 8:30 or so, session begins in earnest. Boatloads of legislation get moved through without much consideration. The Senate is already working from must-list folders. The House has some unfinished agendas to work through. You’ll note that the Bond Bill is on House Agenda III. BTW, you’ll also note that the bill requires a 3/4 majority vote, which is why there’s always stuff in that bill that is district-specific. Call it bribery, call it extortion, it is what it is. Speaking of which, at some point, both houses will work the annual Grant-In-Aid bill, which could also be considered an incumbent-protection bill. Dollars for fire companies and popular agencies that encompass all 62 legislative districts. Ceremonies at fire halls to follow.
I’m interested in two bills that probably will not be considered. Will the House allow a vote on repeal of the death penalty? And will the Senate vote on HB 179(Scott), which Harris McDowell is holding up (in more ways than one) in his Senate Committee. Which brings me to a story. The House and Senate have been trading ‘must lists’, lists of bills that one House wants the other to consider. HB 179 reportedly was on a House Must List, and the bill was at least briefly placed in one of the must-list folders for Senate consideration. Um, until Sen. McDowell noticed and had it pulled. As much as I like and respect Harris, and I do, this is a horrendous blind spot and conflict-of-interest. I hope that somehow the Senate can get this bill considered. Consumers will benefit.
I’m also, of course, interested in the fate of the racino bailout. It appears that there are sufficient votes to shoehorn this bill out of the House and to the Governor, but you never know. A complete disgrace and a cave to failed greedy businessmen. Arguably the worst bill of the year, mostly because it could pass. $10 mill of your dollars down the toilet. With more to follow.
OK, let’s look at last Thursday’s marathon session. A rare shout-out to whoever puts the Session Reports together for arraying all the bills in numerical order. They’ve probably been doing that all along, but it’s really helpful when so many bills are pushed through on a single day. High- and low-lights:
Excellent whistleblower protection bill. Heads to Governor.
Bill providing a pathway to state employment for casual and seasonal employees. Heads to Governor.
Pension increases for state retirees. Passed Senate, heads to House.
Bill requiring legislators to wait one year before becoming lobbyists. Passed House with Senate Amendment, Heads to Governor.
Bill permitting Wilmington to adopt further recycling initiatives. Passed House with Senate Amendment. Heads to Governor.
Controversial constitutional amendment restricting bail availability. First leg of constitutional amendment, not subject to Governor’s signature. Wonder if the next Attorney General will revisit this amendment.
An Al Mascitti Show alert: I’ll be doing the show on Wednesday this week so that I can provide a final wrap-up of the Legislative Session.