Delaware General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Weds., May 17, 2017

Filed in Delaware, Featured by on May 17, 2017

Hmmm, a couple of bills went down to defeat yesterday. At least one that I did not expect. SB 24 (Henry), which ‘would allow people with anxiety to get medical marijuana and loosen its prescription for those with post-traumatic stress disorder’, was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 9 Y, 1N, and 10 NV. Looks like the impetus was twofold: (1) Opposition from a couple of the medical professions; and (2) Absence of leadership from the Department of Health & Social Services. Quoting from the News-Journal story:

Henry said she had twice tried to meet with staff from the Department of Health and Social Services to work on amendments to the bill but had not gotten a response.

In a statement, DHSS Director of Communications Jill Fredel said the department was willing to work with Henry. “Throughout this entire process we have sought to be a partner to Senator Henry and her colleagues, and we remain willing to work with her and the legislature on this and other issues related to keeping Delawareans healthy.”

Sen. Henry does her homework.  DHSS choosing not to participate is an abdication of their responsibility.  Wonder if they got their delaying orders from Jellyfish John. Disgraceful, but not unexpected.

On a straight party line vote, HB 136 (Viola),  which would have ‘impose(d) a filing fee on write-in candidates of $1,000.00 for federal office and $100.00 for statewide or local office ‘, failed to reach its 3/5ths threshold. Rep. Longhurst switched her vote to no for parliamentary reasons.

Oh, and remember Senate Bill 68 (Ennis) that failed to reach its 3/5th vote requirement last week?  It was restored, and then passed the Senate unanimously. Go figure.

Here is yesterday’s Session Activity Report.

Let’s start our committee preview with the Worst Bill on today’s House Committee Meeting ScheduleHB 151 (Hudson) perverts the intent of hate crime legislation by ‘revis(ing) Delaware’s hate crime statute to make law enforcement, firefighters and emergency personnel protected classes’.  Never mind the fact that police, in particular, are a ‘protected class’ in the sense that they can get away with heinous behavior and never be prosecuted. The so-called Law Enforcement Bill of Rights.  It’s in the Public Safety/Homeland Security Committee.

Other highlights:

*There is some real good work being done in the area of juvenile corrections this session.  I commend to you the entire Agenda from today’s House Judiciary Committee.

*I like HB 143 (Rep. K. Williams), which would make it easier for Delaware schools to recruit teachers from out-of-state. The bill ‘removes a performance assessment requirement for new educators that is limiting Delaware schools’ ability to recruit new educators from other jurisdictions that do not have this requirement. Approximately 45% of teachers hired annually by Delaware’s School Districts graduate from out-of-state pre-service teaching programs as Delaware Colleges and Universities do not supply enough teachers to meet Delaware’s demand. Delaware’s requirement of passing a performance assessment for licensure places a burden on the recruitment process as most first year teacher out-of-state hires are recruited from states that do not have this requirement’. Education Committee.

*Probably the most notable bill in committee today is HB 175 (Schwartzkopf).  This is the legislation that increases corporate taxes and will race something north of $100 mill to close the budget deficit.  This is also the only tax proposal that enjoys broad bipartisan support. Administration Committee.

*SS1 to SB 5 (Townsend) would make the reproductive rights protections afforded by Roe v Wade the law of the state of Delaware. This, of course, would protect Delaware women should Roe v Wade be struck down by the US Supreme Court.  The bill passed the Senate with only the 11 votes needed for passage.  Time to take to the phones.  Health & Human Development.

Today’s Senate Committee meetings are perhaps less intriguing.  Let’s see if I can scrounge up some interesting items:

*We have the annual amendments to Delaware’s corporate law statutes as crafted by that section of Delaware Bar.  Banking/Business/Insurance Committee.

*This one looks like it was written at the request of the construction trade unions. You can almost predict the Senate roll call vote before it happens.  D’s plus Cloutier. Labor Committee.

*Maybe I’m wrong, but it looks like SS1 to SB 80 (McDowell)  enables electric and natural gas utilities to raise rates in certain circumstances w/o having to get approval.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on this stuff, so do we have anybody out there who can fill in my knowledge gap? Oh, and is this a good idea or not? Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee.

*Whoa. If you serve on a state-authorized board, your annual $500 compensation could be raised to $1500 if SB 83 (Poore) is passed. Elections & Government Affairs.

Today’s Senate Agenda features SB 65 (McDowell), which essentially outlaws the practice of Conversion Therapy in Delaware. Between the medical marijuana bill and the Dover Mall bailout package, there wasn’t time to consider the bill yesterday.

Be back tomorrow, time permitting.


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  1. Blackflyer says:

    HB 143. I think the bill refers to the PPST or Praxis 1- pre-professional skills test has been administered to prospective teachers in Delaware since 1983. I know, as I was in the first group to take the test that year. The test has three components: reading, math, and writing. It is a pain in the ass for new teachers. Sometimes it kept otherwise good teachers from keeping their jobs in Delaware. From the state’s perspective, it was enforced in a peculiar way. If you didn’t pass, the state let you take it again, but your salary was reduced until you passed. The state got a brief period where they got your services on the cheap. And, the test made no provision for those who were not able in only one of the three areas. English teachers often suffered at the hands of the math section, and math teachers often struggled throught the reading section. These teachers were competent in their content area, but did not pass the section that was not their requisite area of expertise. Further, some folks struggled only because they were not good test takers, and I saw the anxiety these folks felt in relation to this test. So now, in 2017, we find ourselves needing more teachers. Our knee-jerk response is to get rid of this test. Well, you know what? I think the entire move is bogus. This was not a difficult test, relatively speaking. The argument was, “do we want an English teacher who does not know simple algebra? Or do we want a math teacher who cannot write a simple paragraph? The underlying logic of having the test was sound, IMHO, and perhaps needed some tweaks to make it work, such as affording prospects some accommodation for learning impairments, as LD people often have remarkable “gifts” that compensate for their disabilities. But the real problem will not be solved by dropping the test. The real problem is the culture of hostility toward teachers by the freakish Mark Murphy and his cabal of Arne Duncan minions who hated teachers and made teaching a miserable existence. Delaware’s missing teacher problem was created in more than one day, and won’t resolved by a “quickie” dropped test solution.

  2. Jab says:

    SB 83- The way I understand it, SB 18 of the 146th GA was a constitutional amendment that already raised the max pay to $1500. The Delaware code states $500. This bill will change the code to have no specified limit but another constitutional amendment would be needed to raise it over $1500.

  3. Tipster says:

    Dont forget about the Juvenile Expungement bills on the House Judiciary Agenda today.

    Word is that Matt Denn is actively opposing them.

    Between this and his support of Death Penalty Reinstatement, one must wonder if he has completely abandoned any Democratic ideology and/or his African American Constituency……

  4. Nancy Willing says:

    I was in the committee hearing for the juvenile expungement bills and both the public defenders and the prosecutors spoke favorably about the bills.

    I agree with much of what Blackflyer writes @10am about teachers.

    And, McDowell pulled SB 80 from the agenda today in his committee and people are saying the substitute for it is just as rotten.

  5. john kowalko says:

    Today 5/18/17, a bill to repeal the “estate tax”, has been placed on the House Agenda by Speaker Schwartzkopf. It will require a suspension of rules due to notification inadequacies but more importantly it will guarantee less revenue for the state and amounts to a giveaway to the Republicans and the wealthy. This tax garnered $9.3 million in revenue in 2016 and to date there have been no suggestions from leadership of either party or the JFC as to how that revenue loss will be replaced. I have asked this question of all of my Democratic colleagues and have not received one suggestion. This bill should not receive one Democrat vote but it will as deals have been cut to the detriment of Delaware’s taxpayers to ensure passage. This is irresponsible and abhorrent behavior that contradicts true Democratic party principles and ideals and all Democrat legislators should reject this or be held accountable.
    Representative John Kowalko

  6. Thanks, Nancy. That electric utilities bill just has a noxious odor to it.