Delaware General Assembly Pre-Game Show: Tues., March 28, 2017

Filed in Delaware, Featured by on March 28, 2017

So, it turns out that the killing of the death penalty was not final.  When the Delaware Supreme Court held that the statute was unconstitutional, it was like waving a red flag in front of a bull.  Or, bull-headed legislators.

Hence, the “Extreme Crimes Prevention Act”, which the News-Journal reports will be introduced next week.  BTW, three of the co-sponsors are quoted  in the linked article, all of them with law enforcement backgrounds.  Of course, the title of the bill is untrue, as it’s not likely that one ‘extreme crime’ would be prevented by this act.  All of this would be moot if John Carney merely reiterated his opposition to the death penalty.  But that’s not our Jellyfish John:

In a statement, Carney said he agreed with the Court’s ruling, calling the current law “too flawed to be considered fair or just.”

“I wouldn’t rule out, however, supporting a death penalty that applied only to those convicted of killing a member of law enforcement,” Carney said. “In some cases – specifically behind prison walls – capital punishment may be our only deterrent to murder. I’ll be following legislative action on the issue closely.”

Sigh.  Today’s Senate Agenda isn’t worth discussing.  Today’s House Agenda has some admirable legislation up for consideration.  HB 39 and HB 40 (both Rep. Lynn) seek to provide a continuum of services for troubled youth turning 18 years of age. HB 76 (Keeley)  ‘extends the Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Automatic Residential Foreclosure Mediation Program an additional two years, from January 18, 2018 until January 18, 2020’.  This office has been key in helping those homeowners who were caught in the mortgage foreclosure scandals.

HB 21 (Heffernan) :

…takes steps to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not denied access to organ transplant procedures based solely on their disability…This bill prohibits denying a person with a disability a referral, evaluation and recommendation for transplantation solely on the basis of a non-medically significant disability and notes that persons who have the necessary support system to comply with post-transplant medical requirements should not have the inability to independently comply with those requirements held against them. The Act does not require referrals, recommendations or performance of medically inappropriate organ transplants. It affirms the state’s commitment to the elimination of discrimination on the basis of disability.

Seems like real good legislation to me. Any opinions out there?

Time to scope out the most notable bills scheduled for Wednesday’s committee hearings. Starting with the House:

*Teh stoopid. It burns! HS 1/HB36 (Ramone)  ‘will make the possession, use, or consumption of tobacco by a minor subject to penalties relating to education and community service.’  As to those penalties?:

A person who violates subsection (c) of this section for a first violation shall be ordered to attend an educational course relating to the health issues and dangers associated with the consumption and use of tobacco products or tobacco substitutes, for a second violation be ordered to perform 25 hours of community service work, and for all subsequent violations be ordered to perform 50 hours of community service work.

That’ll teach ’em.  In Judiciary Committee.

BTW, kids, this could well be a learning opportunity.  When there is no money to spend, legislators seeking to justify their existence are apt to wander further afield in search of statutory mischief.  We can only hope that they will offer up a bumper crop of truly bad bills ripe for ridicule.  Just as long as none of it passes.  But, I digress. Back to committee highlights.

*Looks like Matt Meyer is working quickly.  HB 83 (Matthews) ‘enables a county government to enact an ordinance that concerns the maintenance of sidewalks in residential subdivisions.’ (Transportation/Land Use & Infrastructure)

*Bulletproof schools. HB 49 (Jaques)  ‘requires all new school construction or major renovation to include the following features: an intruder alarm, bulletproof glass in entrance areas and interior doors and windows, and doors lockable with keys on both sides.’  Whether needed or not, this bill depresses me. (Education)

*Teh stoopid. It burns! Part 2.  HB 70 (Bennett)  ‘makes teaching cursive writing a requirement for all public schools in Delaware.’  Lots of sponsors on this bill. (Full Disclosure: I once got a ‘D’ in penmanship in 3rd Grade.) (Education)

HB 55 (Heffernan)  ‘increases the age requirement for compulsory school attendance in Delaware from 16 to 18 years of age.’  Well, that’s a significant change. Whaddayathink? (Education)

We have a notable package of voting rights bills up for consideration in the House Administration CommitteeHB 63 (Jaques) is a first leg of a constitutional amendment that would eliminate from the Delaware Constitution the limitations as to when an individual may vote by absentee ballot.  HB 89 (Bolden)  would change the date of Delaware’s primaries from September to April.  I have some serious concerns with this bill, which I’ll raise when the bill ends up on an Agenda.  HB 90 (Bentz)  ‘establishes in-person early voting for the State of Delaware. Registered voters will be allowed to vote in-person for at least 10 days prior to an election, up to and including the Saturday and Sunday immediately prior to the election at locations determined by the Commissioner.’

HB 100 (Keeley)  ‘seeks to ensure that persons with private and public insurance coverage have the ability to insist that they receive the substance abuse coverage to which they are entitled by law and by their insurance plans’. (Health & Human Development).  From the bill’s synopsis:

The denial by private and public health benefit administrators of adequate coverage for substance abuse treatment has been identified as a major source of failed treatment efforts by persons addicted to controlled substances. These denials have also been identified as a cause of the shortage of adequate treatment facilities in Delaware.

Let me refill my  coffee cup and steel myself for what awaits in the Senate…aaah!  Nearing full caffeination.

First, let me just say that Sen. Marshall’s minimum wage bill has not yet been released from the Labor Committee.  All eyes turn towards fellow D’s John Walsh and Nicole Poore.  Which D is holding out?

Here’s what strikes my interest for Wednesday’s meetings in the Senate:

*The second leg of a Constitutional amendment limiting Transportation Trust Fund moneys exclusively to direct transportation and capital-related expenditures. The first leg passed last session. The second leg is always the hardest. (Transportation)

*A pretty good start for the Senate’s newest member.  SB 41 (Hansen):

…requires carriers to provide coverage for medically necessary inpatient treatment of alcohol and drug dependencies and prohibits carriers from imposing precertification, prior authorization, pre-admission screening, or referral requirements for the diagnosis and treatment, including in-patient treatment, of drug and alcohol dependencies.

Good bipartisan sponsorship on this one. (Banking, Business & Insurance)

*Would’ve thought that this would’ve been law already. SB 42 (Bushweller) permits individuals to add their resident minor child and foster child to their existing motor vehicle insurance policies as additional drivers.  (Banking, Business & Insurance)

*Make way for more retired law enforcement officers in the Delaware General Assembly if SB 22 (Ennis) passes.  The bill ‘establishes a 20 year retirement for correction officers and specified peace officers.’  Said ‘peace officers’ include “1) Probation and parole officers employed by the Department of Correction; (2) Capitol Police officers; (3) Department of Natural Resources police officers; (4) University of Delaware Police; (5) State Fire Marshal officers; (6) Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement agents; (7) Justice of the Peace Court constables; and (8) Probation and parole officers in the Serious Juvenile Offender Unit and senior probation officers employed by the Division of Services for Children, Youth, and their Families.” (Finance)

*A real full agenda for the Senate Executive Committee.

*This one’s political posturing from Monsignor Greg Lavelle.  It proposes elimination of the Delaware Compensation Commission and is an outgrowth of the political stampede to renounce pay increases by the legislators.  That’s not to say it won’t pass, but, setting legislators aside, someone will have to determine what appropriate salaries for judges and cabinet secretaries should be.  Having the General Assembly being the sole arbiter brings politics right back into every decision on salaries.

*As I wrote last week, SB 27 (Townsend)  is the first legislative redistricting proposal worthy of consideration.  Unlike all previous proposals, this one establishes a truly independent commission as opposed to one filled with political appointees who would be expected to do the bidding of those making the appointments.  In fact, it’s such a good bill that I doubt that it will ever pass.  Let’s first see if it gets out of committee.

* Another great Townsend bill.  SB 29:

removes from the Code the language that exempts members of the General Assembly from the obligations of the State Employees’, Officers’ and Officials’ Conflict of Interest and Code of Conduct rules. It also eliminates a reference to Resident Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. Section 2 adds to the Legislative Conflicts of Interest chapter a provision that expressly limits a legislator’s use of public assets for private or partisan political purposes.

The bad news, of course, is that the more I like a strong ethics bill, the less likely the chances of its passage through this, um, ethically-challenged legislative body.

Deep exhale.

That’s it. Now on to the most important part of my day, perhaps my year: Prepping for tonight’s baseball fantasy draft.  More coffee…

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  1. Jason330 says:

    HB999 (Scott) Prohibits a person from writing bills that do nothing but justify their petty existence. Any person who violates subsection (c) of this section for a first violation shall be ordered to attend an educational course relating the harmful nature of legislative busy work, for a second violation be ordered to perform 25 hours of community service work, and for all subsequent violations be ordered to perform 50 hours of community service work.

  2. anon says:

    “I wouldn’t rule out, however, supporting a death penalty that applied only to those convicted of killing a member of law enforcement,” Carney said. “In some cases – specifically behind prison walls – capital punishment may be our only deterrent to murder. I’ll be following legislative action on the issue closely.”

    So not for murdering a helpless child, a pregnant woman, the elderly, or the disabled, but only for fully armed and trained law enforcement officers.

    That is some pretty fucked up shit.

  3. Jason330 says:

    Indeed. It reveals so much.

  4. Delaware Left says:

    HB89 is a much much welcomed changed and saves the state tons of money. It’s a no brainer (unless you’re a lazy incumbent)

  5. Aurochs says:

    I disagree: the senate agenda does merit discussion. SB21 reads, in (pretty much) its entirety:

    “(b) Jurisdiction in all matters pertaining to seed is vested exclusively in the Department, and all acts and parts of acts inconsistent with this chapter are hereby expressly repealed.” [addition, underlined]

    I was under the impression that, in order to “expressly repeal” something, the legislature had to pass a bill that removed it from the Code by strike-through. Does this bill add yet more inconsistent language to the Code?

    This just looks like a really lazy, shitty bill to me.

  6. Delaware Left: It’s not a no-brainer. I think it does MORE to protect incumbents. And it also might cut prospective voters out of the process of selecting candidates.

    An April primary makes it more difficult for challengers to meet the voters in a district.
    It’s a lot tougher knocking doors in winter with no Daylight Savings Time which, IMHO, makes it advantageous for incumbents. Plus, let’s assume that incumbents officially re-up for reelection in time for an April primary, thus largely ensuring their renomination, and then announce in June that they’re retiring. Guess what? The local committee chooses the successor, not the voters.

    I’m not saying that the bill is an abject disaster. Just pointing out that it’s not a no-brainer.

    Aurochs: You’re a better person than I am. I saw seed and the Ag Department, and my eyes glazed over…

  7. mediawatch says:

    I want to see the fiscal notes for HS1/HB36 and HB999.

    If they ever prosecuted kids for getting caught smoking … we’d have to hire counselors and community services supervisors? (Nah … let’s require that the schools take responsibility for this section of the law)

    Actually, for HB999, anti-stupidity training should be made part of the orientation for all new legislators.

  8. Josh W says:

    I’m excited about SB27, especially considering how much support it’s getting from the R side.

    SB29 is great, but I believe it’s constitutionally suspect. I think Nevada had a similar law that got struck down by the federal courts. I hope not, but we’ll see.