Delaware General Assembly Demographics Show Huge Gaps With Women & Minorities

The 149th Delaware General Assembly just completed at 8:30am this morning.  An upcoming election will bring many new faces to Legislative Hall as ten State Representatives are either retiring or, in two cases, running for the Delaware Senate.  That is almost 25% of the House.  On the Senate side, three of them are retiring as well which represents a little over 14% of the Senate.  On the House side, 6 Democrats are retiring and 4 Republicans.  For the Senate, 2 Democrats and 1 Republican are retiring, including the ONLY African-American in the Senate.  There are many female and African-American candidates running for seats which could improve the below numbers.  There are NO African-Americans in either the Republican House or Republican Senate.  But that could change as well!

 

SENATE (21 seats)

 

Men: 17 members, 81% (2 leaving)

Women: 4 members, 19% (1 leaving)

 

White: 19 members, 90.5% (2 leaving)

African-American: 1 member, 4.75% (1 leaving)

Hispanic: 1 member, 4.75%

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (41 seats)

 

Men: 32 members, 78% (8 leaving)

Women: 9 members, 22% (2 leaving)

 

White: 37 members, 90% (8 leaving)

African-American: 3 members, 7.25% (1 leaving)

Hispanic: 1 member, 2.25% (1 leaving)

 

OVERALL

 

Men: 49 members, 79%

Women: 13 members, 21%

 

White: 56 members, 90%

African-American: 4 members, 6.5%

Hispanic: 2 members, 3.5%

 

DELAWARE 2010 CENSUS DEMOGRAPHICS

 

Men: 49.4%

Women: 51.6%

 

White: 62.3%

African-American: 22.8%

Hispanic: 9.3%

Other: 5.6%

 

When you compare Delaware’s population to that of our legislators, the numbers don’t match up.  That is, in large part, based on how the districts are mapped for State Rep and State Senate seats.  As well, it also depends on who votes!  I predict, with the 2020 census, the Hispanic population will be bigger.

There are more women in Delaware but they only make up for 22% of our legislators.  Those numbers could change in the next election, along with African-Americans but it will be tough to get them to match up with Delaware’s population.  We could see some new minorities enter the mix come January 2019 as well!

Advertisements

How The General Assembly Turned What Should Have Been A Fast June 30th Into An Endless Night

I don’t get it.  Every single year the Delaware General Assembly insists on having their late-night marathon with hundreds of bills on the agendas.  They had many opportunities to prevent that this year.  But instead, they had unending tributes to departing legislators, the Governor scheduled non-budget bill signings on June 30th, and they waited until the last minute to put up a minimum wage bill.

The tributes to the departing legislators had been going on for days.  And they never seemed to end.  I get that you want to honor those who wrote bills for decades.  But a time limit on the comments would have been really good.

The temperature in Legislative Hall went up as Governor Carney signed an Executive Order around 4:45pm to put the methodology of “budget smoothing” into his proposed budget each year.  Since the Democrats in the General Assembly balked on this idea that would change the Delaware Constitution, Carney felt he had to get something about it in writing, thus the Executive Order.

Around the same time, an unending line of pro-gun supporters flooded Legislative Hall.  It was already a hot day, and just having more bodies in the place physically rose the temperature in there!  All the suits began sweating and it became uncomfortable.  As the pro-gun folk realized there was NOT going to be any last-minute legislation (which was their reason for coming- a just in case), they began to leave and you could actually feel the air in there.

Many candidates who filed for the upcoming election were seen in the halls.  Even Kathy McGimmick was seen dashing in, heading towards Speaker of the House Pete Schwartkopf’s office, and leaving about 10-15 minutes later.  It was a good opportunity to meet some of the candidates I had not met yet and to chat with those I had.

Even a wine bill caused chaos!  When Rep. Dave Wilson changed what I assume was a yes vote to a no, Rep. Jeff Spiegelman did not mince his words with Wilson as he yelled “You stabbed me in the back!”

For education, the VERY controversial House Bill #454 was stricken.  This was the “show me the money” bill for developers and a decrease in their property assessments for redeveloped land.  Buh-bye bad bill!

But here is what gets me.  They talk about how much they respect their staff but treat them to intolerable working conditions.  Some of their staff came in at 11am yesterday.  They were still there at 7:30am this morning.  Some of their staff are senior citizens.  Hell, some of the legislators are senior citizens!  I don’t blame every legislator for this.  But the leadership is who determines these monstrous agendas.

It is not a party no matter what you hear.  Having legislators pass laws when they are beyond the point of exhaustion is the very definition of insanity.  Tempers flare and they grumble.  Visitors wait in the lobby and constantly ask what the heck is going on.  This morning, when I left around 2:45am, the Capitol Police were already indicating their workers were past the 16 hour shift mark.  Sure, the free ice cream for visitors helps.  But the cafeteria closes at 8pm.  You have to go to WaWa to get coffee!

This is what kills me about Legislative Hall- the lack of plugs!  We live in a cell phone society now.  The plug shortage (except for legislators and their staff) causes folks to huddle around the rare plug outlets.  Which brings me to my next point- why do they not have TVs in the lobbies showing live feeds of the House or Senate?  This isn’t 1950 anymore Delaware!  We can do this.  Hell, they could do live feeds on the internet as well!

There has to be a better way.  It wasn’t like there were a ton of new bills that were introduced on the last day.  It was the fact they left tons of bills languishing until the last minute.  Instead of having all these tributes and fluff stuff during their many other legislative days, maybe they could do what we elected them to do- vote on legislation!

I was one of the lucky ones.  The last education legislation passed at 2am.  Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting left immediately after that vote.  I should have taken her queue but decided to stick around until I asked myself what was so important for me to stick around.  Sure, I could have seen the minimum wage bill debacle.  Which would have consisted of me rolling my eyes when they decided to stay open.

I lost big time.  I called a departure time of 12:38am.  They left hours after the sun came up this morning.  On the plus side, they get to rest for the next six months!  But like the myth of teachers doing nothing during the summer, many of our legislators plan for the next session and do a ton of research on bills they would like to introduce.  Many of them will spend the next few months campaigning as all 41 of the State Reps and 10 of the State Senators are up for re-election.  For some of them, they will sail off into the retirement sunset and, no doubt, thank the lucky stars they will never have to pull the June 30th/July 1st all-nighter.

The sad part?  I’ll probably do this again next year.  I’m a glutton for punishment!  But I have to admit, I do enjoy Delaware politics for a few reasons.  We are a small state.  You can drive an hour or so from any direction and wind up at Legislative Hall.  It can take time, but you can get to know pretty much every single legislator in the state.  You can hang out at Legislative Hall and say hi to the Governor when he emerges from the bat cave.  You can joke around with his staff as they walk around looking like the weight of the world rests on their shoulders and manage to get them to crack a smile.  You can attend a rally against separating families one minute and chat with folks who wear “live free or die” t-shirts the next.  You can chat with the Delaware Secretary of Education and not worry about detention.  If you go to Leg. Hall often enough, the Capitol Police call you by your name when you walk in the door.  For me, it is my home away from home in a weird way.

How Long Have Members Of The Delaware General Assembly Been Around? Should There Be Term Limits?

Term limits.  We hear these words so often but the ones to decide would be the ones that would lose out the most from them.  Some call them politicians or legislators.  But they are the Delaware General Assembly.  How long have these folks been making laws in Dover?  Some of them are lifers.  Some are relatively new (past ten years).  Should we have term limits in Dover?  If so, how long should they be?  Since the Senate serves four years how many terms are too many?  The House has a two-year election cycle.  How many terms should they get?  Or do you think the people vote for a reason and term limits don’t bother you?  Take the poll and see how long some of these cats have prowled the halls!  I put the ones first voted into office last century in bold. Continue reading

Even If WEIC Passes The General Assembly, It Could Still Fall Apart Over Funding Issues

Remember when the Delaware State Board of Education wanted to change a key word from “shall” to “may”?  That created a resolution unanimously passed by the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission that if the “necessary and sufficient funding” is not available at two milestones of the redistricting plan, it will collapse.  End.  Finish.  Kaput.

Today, the House Education Committee did two things: they lifted House Bill #424 from a tabled status and released it from the education committee with eight votes in the positive.  But the discussion before the vote was somewhat tense.  As the meeting started, no House Republicans were present.  Slowly but surely, two of them came in: State Reps. Joe Miro and Tim Dukes.  State Rep. Deb Heffernan started the questioning about the Red Clay Board of Education’s role if the funding is not there.  After a considerable amount of confusion, WEIC Chair Tony Allen and Dan Rich clarified that the amount for the first two years just for the funding changes is $7.5 million each year for a total of $15 million.  In the Governor’s proposed budget, he allocated $6 million: $4 million for the funding changes and $2 million for WEIC transitional costs.

Based on Tony Allen’s statement about the resolution, the necessary and sufficient funding of $7.5 million for FY2017 will not be available even if the General Assembly passes House Joint Resolution #12.  Yesterday, DEFAC determined Delaware’s revenues are lower than projected a month ago so now there is less money in the state budget for next year.  Will the WEIC redistricting plan get out of the General Assembly alive?  Or will the Joint Finance Committee give the money to the redistricting plan if it passes both the House and the Senate?

State Rep. Sean Lynn’s FOIA Legislation Opens Legislators To FOIA

SeanLynn

State Rep. Sean Lynn filed House Bill 269 on March 3rd.  In the State of Delaware, all state employees are subject to the Freedom of Information Act with one exception: the General Assembly.  Rep. Lynn’s bill would change that.  Any email from a General Assembly legislator, whether they are in the House or the Senate, would be subject to FOIA.  While this could certainly give Delaware more transparency, it would not allow for the FOIA treasure chest: cell phone texts.  I would imagine a lot of what goes on in Delaware happens this way.  But this is certainly a step in the right direction.

I would love to get a crack at State Rep. Earl Jaques and Senator Dave Sokola’s emails!  That would be fun!

HB269