Exciting news! We have our First Agenda of the Year! There is one bill on it!
The bill on this agenda pretty much defines everything you need to know about the General Assembly. It is a House Agenda. It is a House Bill. And, yes, the bill creates a new Special License Plate for veterans. In this case, for those who fought in Operation Desert Storm, George H Dubya’s feckless foray into the Middle East.
Yes, the 29-member House Veterans’ Affairs Committee has wasted no time before lumbering into action. This bill will be on everyone’s campaign brochures. Might I suggest a way to make a few extra bucks? Now that there are so many special license plates for veterans, how about an ‘Own the Entire Set’ clearance sale? Perhaps a half-price sale to surviving spouses? Or, alternatively, how about a ‘You’ve Got All the Plates, How About Buying a New Car From a Delaware Dealer To Display One of Them’ promotion? Hey, just trying to help. No point in having John Carney on a street corner with a ‘Will Sell Out For Cheap’ sign. Everybody already knows that.
Jason330 has already scooped me on this one. But a little history is in order. You see, kids, in a teeny tiny General Assembly not very long ago, legislators used to have to vote themselves raises. Something they were all too willing to do. Except, some annoying grandstanding legislator would invariably take the floor and, full of faux righteous indignation, would castigate their colleagues for being greedy. This proved to be annoying to the Honorables (annual h/t to Ralph Moyed). So, they decided to come up with a way where they would get those raises automatically without even having to vote for them. They created a vehicle known as the Delaware Compensation Commission. The vehicle would release a schedule of remuneration to specific government officials, including cabinet members, the judiciary, and the legislature. Oh, and the members of the Commission would , wait for it:
consist… of 6 members, 2 of whom shall be appointed by the Governor, 1 by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and 1 by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The fifth member shall be the President of the Delaware Round Table. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget of the State shall serve as an ex officio and nonvoting member of the Commission.
So, by my careful calculations, 4 of the 5 voting members of this Commission would be appointed by the entities most interested in the outcome of their deliberations. And the 5th is a member of the Delaware Business Roundtable, meaning essentially a Chamber of Commerce bigwig looking to curry favor with the General Assembly. That, in Delaware, is known as ‘taking the politics out of the process’. Getting handpicked lackeys to approve their raises for them. And, the best part? The raises would take effect unless the General Assembly rejected them.
Which is why the manufactured ‘outrage’ over the Commission’s recommendations is nothing more than Kabuki theatre. What the legislators really want to protect is a system that generally rubber stamps raises for them. Better to get out ahead of this now and preserve this process rather than having their constituents find out that their legislators have found a way to give themselves raises with no public scrutiny. Just thought you’d like to know.
Let’s talk about the budget. This year’s initial proposed budget will be submitted by outgoing Gov. Jack Markell and will then be massaged by the incoming Administration. This is how it’s supposed to work. There is, of course, irony afoot. Eight years ago, as the Minner/Carney team was exiting via trap door (why does Sweeney Todd come to mind?), Gov. Minner did not submit a budget, as was constitutionally required. I mean, would you want to do so when facing an $800 mill deficit that you did nothing about?
But at least Markell is submitting one, and doing Carney a solid in the process. I guess I should look at it as good government. But, the question that comes to mind is, “What’s in it for him?” Sorry, my skepticism is in danger of morphing into full-blown cynicism. Can you blame me?
You’ll notice that I haven’t wrapped anything up yet. That’s because the General Assembly has basically ‘organized’, and the only legislation that has passed consists of resolutions required to do the ceremonial organization. Here are the Daily Activity Reports for you completists out there: Tues., Jan. 10 and Weds., Jan. 11.
OK, it’s time for me to ask a question. According to the official reports, not a single Senate bill has been introduced this session. Uh, why? A free subscription to Delaware Liberal for the person who provides the correct answer. And, perhaps a complimentary Operation Desert Storm special license plate as a bonus.