General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Weds., June 14, 2017

Filed in Delaware, Featured by on June 14, 2017

The Day the Rethugs Showed Their Hand.  Cut wages for workers on construction projects. Throw more people off Medicaid.  Tighten the screws on the State budget.  Have you ever noticed that they always leave one essential point out of their narrative when it comes to ‘the good times (then)’  vs. ‘the bad times (now)’?  They leave out the fact that, during the ‘good times’, taxes on Delaware’s top earners were slashed from 11.4% to 6.5%, and that income brackets were consolidated so that we in essence have a flat tax for everyone earning over $60 K a year.  Which is why you always see Greg Lavelle and Deborah Hudson, who represent the vast proportion of the 1%, deliberately ignoring this inconvenient fact.  They have no interest in protecting the interests of most state residents, only those wealthy deadbeats. Shared sacrifice, their asses. Afflict the afflicted, comfort the comfortable. The Delaware Rethuglican Way.

So now they’re holding the budget hostage, and what passes for D leadership is angrily fulminating.  Yo, D ‘leaders’, call their fucking bluff.  PASS legislation restoring some of that fairness to the tax code and then dare the Rethugs to insist on cuts to popular programs rather than making the wealthy pay their fair share. Jee-zus, it’s not that hard. You have the numbers in the House, make this part of the negotiations. The public will strongly support you if you simply make this an issue of fairness.

Of course, it’s not just Rethugs who aim to damage Democratic principles.  Bob Marshall’s minimum wage increase bill was tabled b/c at least one D objected to having cost-of-living increases reflected in the minimum wage post-2020. So now we’re waiting for an amendment to remove the COLA increases. Delaware Democrats suck.

Anyway, here is the Session Activity Report from yesterday.  Val Longhurst’s constitutional amendment ran into trouble in the House and did not receive its required 2/3 majority. A pretty much straight partisan vote that belied the bipartisan sponsorship.  Anybody care to elaborate on what happened?

Other than that bill, every other bill on both the House and Senate Agendas passed unanimously.

Committee highlights! Starting with House committees this week:

*HB 204 (Johnson) ‘makes a number of changes to Chapter 21, Title 11 of the Delaware Code, with the goal of modernizing the pretrial process, reducing reliance on monetary conditions, improving the efficiency and outcomes for the criminal justice system, and ensuring the safety of the community.’  This bill is a collaborative effort of judicial agencies designed to improve a system where we ‘unnecessarily detain individuals who lack funds for their release, and on the other end of the spectrum, we release defendants who fail to appear or remain law abiding during their period of pretrial release’. Judiciary Committee.

*HB 214 (Mulrooney)  ‘amends merit compensation bargaining unit by allowing non-uniformed correctional employees, including correctional counselors, correctional administrative staff and similar occupations, to bargain over compensation. These correctional employees are presently the only correctional employees excluded from compensation bargaining. ‘ Labor Committee.

*HB 4 (Longhurst)  creates a new ‘Department of Human Resources by transferring various divisions and other organizational units from the Office of Management and Budget to the newly established Department of Human Resources’. The new Department would be home to all state personnel functions. House Administration.

*HB 60 (Kowalko)  ‘creates the right for the parent or guardian of a child to opt out of the annual assessment, currently the Smarter Balanced Assessment System’. Education Committee.

*HB 174 (Mitchell) ‘raises the first offense of purchasing or obtaining a firearm for someone not legally qualified to own, possess or purchase one from a Class F to a Class E Felony. This change is to deter such “straw purchases” by making jail time more likely for the offender, and consequently, to reduce the number of people who cannot legally possess firearms but obtain them in this manner’.  Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee.

*HB 226 (B. Short) transfers the functions of the Delaware Economic Development Office to the Department of State, and provides for the creation of the so-called Public/Private Partnership, which would permit, among other things, private business leaders to decide who gets access to state funds.  A dream of the State Chamber.  In, and sponsored by the Chair of, the Business Lapdog Committee. Bill was introduced on June 13 with an eye towards rushing it through the General Assembly before anybody takes too close a look at it. Put the brakes on this and give the public a chance to see just what kind of sausage (lots o’ pork) is being made.

*HB 200 (Heffernan)  ‘sets a minimum reimbursement rate for home health care nursing services paid for by Medicaid-contracted organizations. The rate shall be at least equal to the rate set by the Division of Medicaid for equivalent services. Home care nurses and aides give Delawareans with disabilities the option to remain at home with their families and prevents unnecessary use of higher-cost hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities’.  Yes they do. I like this bill. Health & Human Development.

*HB 220 (Bentz) creates a broad-based Addiction Action Committee to address Delaware’s addiction crisis. Health & Human Development.

Woof. Deep breath, time for the Senate Committee highlights:

Wasn’t it Sen. Pettyjohn who argued that we shouldn’t be wasting time with minimum wage legislation when there were more serious issues to discuss? With weighty legislation like this from the Good Senator, who is to argue with him? Transportation Committee.Image result for wild turkey

*SB 53 (Bonini) creates a supposed remedy to the supposed problem attendant to the Court of Chancery Transperfect decision. In the Elections and Government Affairs Committee. Why that committee instead of Judiciary? I have no idea.

*SB 113 (McDowell). I’m sorry. Any time that Harris McDowell proposes something that gives authority to the SEU (Sustainable Energy Utility), I can’t support it.  Too much mismanagement there, much of it attributable to Sen. McDowell. Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee.

*SB 49 (Townsend) establishes a Homeless Individual’s Bill of Rights. Judicial & Community Affairs.

*SB 89 (Lawson) appears to be a Rethug talking points bill about ensuring that ‘Sharia Law’ never overruns the United States. Judicial & Community Affairs.

*SB 50 (McDowell)Special Interest Legislation Warning!!! Those who would take money out of your pockets w/o referendum and give them to the Lonnie George Technical & Community College Slush Fund are at it again! That’s what this bill would do.  No surprise that Lonnie’s daughter, who just happens to co-chair JFC, is on this bill as a sponsor.  Nothing but a cash grab from an institution bloated with overpaid bureaucrats and a staff larded up with current and former legislators.  Finance Committee.

That’s a whole lot of bills, and I’m sure that I’ve missed some that you might want to talk about.  For now, however, the two worst offenders are the Public/Private Giveaway Act and the Lonnie George Tech Slush Fund Act. While the first is largely the work of the Chamber, Gov. Carney and DINO’s, the second is largely by Democrats and for Democratic officeholders and hangers-on.  Both should be opposed strongly, IMHO.

For you completists, there is a Senate Agenda today. Here it is.

See ya tomorrow. Maybe.

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  1. Gigi says:

    Will this public/private partnership office be exempt from FOIA? DEDO states that their communications with businesses are confidential now, I have a feeling this will be even more opaque.

  2. I thought Senate Bill #50 sucked to begin with. Now that you have drawn out the VERY BIG conflict of interest with this bill, is there anyone who can seriously primary this rep?

  3. It’s the third consecutive session that the Del-Tech giveaway has been introduced.

    As to Rep. Melanie (George) Smith, word on the street is that she’s bought a house outside the district and likely will not run for reelection.

    If she does, though, she should be primaried. As it is, she was fishing for a judgeship that did not come her way.

  4. Gigi, looks like they indeed are looking to circumvent FOIA:

    The Public/Private Partnership “means a nonprofit corporation not established by the General Assembly consisting of business and community leaders and public officials formed to enhance the State’s ability to attract, grow and retain businesses; facilitate the development of a stronger entrepreneurial and innovative economic system within the State; coordinate with the Division of Small Business, Development and Tourism; and, support private employers within the State in identifying, recruiting and developing talent for the operation of their business within the State.”

    Got that? The General Assembly is NOT establishing the partnership, just defining it.

    Wonder if anybody will have the guts to require that they comply with FOIA. This is total bullshit. These people can give away state money w/o having to reveal their deliberations to the taxpayers of the state?

  5. alby says:

    There’s an even bigger problem with this “partnership”: Why would existing companies ever fund other companies that might be competitors? Answer: They wouldn’t.

    Has anyone asked John Carney yet how many concussions he suffered playing football? I think it’s relevant, because brain damage might explain his shuffling nothingness.

  6. Paul Hayes says:

    El Som is right about tax decreases during the years 1984-Sometime during the Minner Administration. I lived through them here. Markell raised taxes during the 2009 catastrophe. It is a matter of fairness that the people who actually have the means to pay taxes support those who do not. Everyone in the country is in relationship whether they want to recognize it or not. That means that even high taxes are justifiable if only to maintain the social order. Consider what happens in third world countries when the poor have had enough. That kind of stewardship of the culture engenders instability of the worst kind, a small group of the extremely well off and nothing for anyone else, even things we consider to be basic rights, such as clean water, nourishing food. Tax who can pay the tax to create the society we all share.

  7. Markell only raIsed taxes once Sunset provisions were placed on all of them. All of the increases were made permanent–EXCEPT for the increase on Delaware’s highest earners. That was sunsetted.

    The cutting of the top rate began under Castle, and then ran through Carper and Minner.

  8. chris says:

    Good call….someone needs to slap an amendment on that bill that makes the public -private partnership clearly accountable under FOIA. Calling John Kowalko or other good gov’t legislators. Should be bipartisan .

  9. chris says:

    Regarding the bottle of Wild Turkey, why has there been no proposal to increase the tax on beer and wine and hard liquor? They used to do it over a decade ago. Why is it always only tobacco that gets hit hard? You could raise some money with that tax hike.

  10. Jason330 says:

    Sugary beverages as well. If you can’t raise taxes, raise excise taxes. The poors won’t mind.

  11. gary myers says:

    Re: SB 50 The Community College Tax and Bond Board

    Questions for those who know constitutional legislative requirements:

    1. Isn’t this bill in part an effort to raise revenue for a State institution? If so, does not the bill have to originate in the House, not the Senate, under Art. VIII, sec. 2 of the DE Constitution?

    2. Besides creating a taxing authority for the College Board, doesn’t the bill also allow for the Board to issue State supported bonds to be paid with the property tax line item? if so, doesn’t the bill require not just a 3/5 supermajority, but a 3/4 supermajority for passage under the State bonding rules in Art. VIII, secs. 3 & 4 of the DE Constitution?

    Significant constitutional issues lurk in SB 50, not only as to legislative process, but the delegation of bonding and taxing authority. Way back in the 1920s, the ability to delegate the taxing authority to school districts was approved only because of a long history of such power. Here the Community College Board has no such history and thus there can be real question whether the DE Constitutional provisions allow the taxiing authority to be delegated to the administrative Board.

  12. chris says:

    You think Mark Brainard really cares about the state constitution?
    he just wants the moolah through the back door!

    Al Mascitti used to expose this stuff on the radio al the time! But News Journal won’t expose it.

  13. alby says:

    If they need money for construction, they might think about moving the main campus out of the high-priced mall retail corridor and building someplace where land is cheaper. They can finance part of it by selling off that property.

    Or, if the state actually wants to save money, it can stop giving out free tuition at a school that’s well under the national average for community college tuitions. The rationale behind the ask is that the college needs new buildings, which it wouldn’t need if all that free state money wasn’t rolling in.

    And to think some people believe all the state’s problems are caused by Republicans when in fact they haven’t the power to be this corrupt. All they could manage was setting up Dick Cathcart with a sinecure in Delaware City. The Democrats give out money to their cronies and the well-connected in sums as large as a jury rewarding a slip-and-fall victim, and for the same reason — it’s not their money.

  14. Jeff says:

    Has anyone noticed that Park City Kathy hangs around leg hall trying to get in as many pics as possible like all the time? She’s clearly running for something in 2018

  15. Yep, she’s definitely planning a run for something. A challenge to Ernie Lopez would be…ironic.

  16. FiscalFanatic says:

    El Som, just a quick clarification, top personal income tax rates were lowered starting with the DuPont administration.

    A history of PIT changes can be found at:

  17. Evan says:

    Excellent points alby, especially the third paragraph. And I’m a D.