Delaware Senate Violates Constitution By Passing Budget Without Required Majority 3/4 Vote

On Tuesday, the Delaware Senate passed Senate Bill 285, the FY2017 budget bill, with a vote of 15 yes and 6 no.  The Delaware Constitution requires 3/4 of both the Delaware House of Representatives and the Delaware Senate to vote yes in order for the budget to pass.  The Delaware Senate did not get the necessary 3/4 vote.  It was a little bit over 71%, not 75%.  But they passed it anyways and sent it to the House who did pass it with the required 3/4 vote.  Now it heads to Governor Markell’s desk.  As El Somnambulo pointed out on Delaware Liberal this morning, only the General Assembly can declare this unconstitutional and could send it to the Delaware Supreme Court.  This is the dark side of shady Delaware Politics as El Som pointed out:

The question, of course, was moot when the budgets passed almost unanimously. But that’s not the case this year. I don’t care whether the R’s are doing this just to be pains in the ass. The idea that the General Assembly would willfully pass, and the Governor would sign, a budget that might not meet constitutional standards is, well when you think of it, not surprising. Just depressing and sorta outrageous. And business as usual.

The absolute corruption and fraud in Dover continues.  It isn’t just education folks, it is everything.  This General Assembly has no respect for the Delaware Constitution or those who came before them.  They set up laws to allow illegal activity in our state. Yes, that is an oxymoron, but it is what they do.  And we still keep voting the same people in, year after year.  At least Senator Karen Peterson has the good sense to get the hell out of there before they do something even more stupid.  The same day the Senate illegally passed the budget, WBOC reported a federal judge ruled Delaware’s abandoned property collecting practices violate due process law.  Amounting to revenue for the state to the tune of almost $500 million dollars on an annual basis.  That is about 1/8th of the state budget folks.  How can we, as the citizens of Delaware, allow this to continue?  When will the people rise up and take control?  Are we just as guilty as the politicians that look the other way on illegal activities by electing the lawmakers who violate our Constitution?

Delaware GOP Senate Declares War On Poverty!

The Delaware Republican Minority in the Delaware Senate had some very strong words to say on the subject of poverty earlier today.

 

Taking On The Issue Of Poverty In Delaware – You Can Help!

Poverty is one of the greatest challenges of our society. Too many people go to bed at night without the basics of life – proper food, shelter and clothing. And those who have these basics, many are often insecure about whether they will have them in the future.

Delaware can no longer measure success on poverty issues simply by how many tax dollars we can spend. Success can only be measured by how many of our fellow Delawareans are lifted out of poverty and set off on a better path.

Beginning now, we are making it a priority to help Delawareans lift themselves out of poverty, and in doing so, reduce the demand for government resources. We believe we can help people improve their lives and shrink the size of government at the same time.

We are preparing to release a Republican Senate Poverty Agenda that focuses on three categories: improving skills and opportunity for workers, increasing educational options for kids in poverty, and strengthening families.

Ideas up for consideration in our agenda include:

* An increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, rewarding Delaware’s poorest working people for sticking it out in the job market;

* Scholarship Tax Credits that encourage individuals and businesses to fund scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools;

* A resolution to call on the federal government to fund our anti-poverty programs through a “block grant with rails,” which allows decisions to be made at the level closest to the people, while protecting the integrity of the funds;

* A pro-marriage media campaign to promote the benefits of marriage for economic stability;

* A tax credit for businesses who hire apprentices and provide on-the-job training of a marketable skill; and

* Creating a commission to perform a comprehensive review of all Delaware worker training programs, seeking out best practices and ensuring that skills training for the jobs of today takes the highest priority.

This is just a portion of our agenda, and while we are proud of our ideas, we are also eager to work across the aisle on ideas that have merit. This is why many in our caucus have joined with Democratic Rep. Paul Baumbach on a bill to give a refundable tax cut to our poorest working people. And this is why we have reached out to the Governor’s office for a genuine role in his upcoming reform of our occupational licensing system, which is on our agenda as well.

While we have been researching this issue for some time now, and are confident we have ideas and a philosophy that will make a real difference, we know that the true innovators are the people of the state of Delaware. So we are sending out a Call For Ideas to address the issue of poverty in Delaware.

We invite you to submit your ideas via email to our Chief of Staff, Dave Burris, at david.burris@state.de.us. The criteria for submissions:

* Ideas must be addressable at the state level. We have little to no control over federal programs and spending.

* Ideas must not create a permanently funded government program. While government can be the impetus for change, creating layers upon layers of new programs simply puts a band-aid on the problem, and keeps people in poverty. It is not a solution. So we will accept ideas that use short-term investments of state dollars, but not permanently funded new programs.

* While we always welcome constituent ideas, the deadline for consideration in the poverty agenda is Friday, February 12th.

If your new idea is chosen to be part of our Poverty Agenda, we will credit you and you will be invited to be part of our press event when we roll out the legislation.

We thank you for helping us tackle some of the largest problems facing Delaware today. We know that together, we can solve problems and help our fellow Delawareans lift themselves out of poverty.

 

I think this is an excellent idea!  So much that I have already submitted my idea:

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:
“david.burris@state.de.us” <david.burris@state.de.us>
Sent:
Tuesday, February 2, 2016 3:12 PM
Subject:
Senate GOP Poverty Agenda Call For Ideas

Mr. Burris,
I am responding to the call for ideas from the Senate GOP Poverty Agenda Call issued today.  I have a proposed idea that would solve a large controversial issue and would also generate funds for students in poverty. 
In 2013, the 147th General Assembly passed House Bill 165, a charter school reform bill.  Included in this was a stipulation that charter schools could keep any excess funds provided from the state for their transportation budget.  As an example, say Delaware Charter School budgets $150,000 for their bus transportation budget, but only spends $115,000.  Based on that law, they get to keep that $35,000 difference.  What if we did away with that loophole, and had those funds go directly to families and individuals in poverty?  This transportation fund usually averages out to an average of $1.45 million a year based on the last two years of this program.  If these funds were redistributed to families in poverty, it could be the difference between a family actually eating for a few weeks or being hungry.
Quite a few legislators stand opposed to this “slush” fund as some call it.  I am in agreement with them.  Thank you for your consideration on this matter. 
Respectfully,
Kevin Ohlandt

148th General Assembly Legislative Session Schedule For 2016

The fun begins again on January 12th, 2016.  This is when the Delaware General Assembly reconvenes for Part 2 of their 148th General Assembly.  It will be a raucous ride this session, with huge budget issues taking the forefront of any discussion.  Followed by education, death penalty, and right to die bills that are pending bills.

The General Assembly typically meets from Tuesdays to Thursdays with rare exceptions out of those days of the week (usually Joint Finance Committee).  The various committees meet during these days as well, but there is no clear schedule for all of them.  Here are the dates:

January 12th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 26th, 27th, 28th

February-1st week of March: General Assembly in Recess all month for Joint Finance Committee and Joint Finance Committee/Bond meetings.

Here are the dates for the JFC Hearings:

February 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th & 25th

And for the JFC/Bond Committee Hearings:

February 29th, March 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th

Back in Legislative Session:

March 8th, 9th, 10th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th

In recess for a few weeks, then back for:

April 12th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th, 21st

Then more JFC/Bond Hearings:

April 26th, 27th, 28th

Back In Legislative Session:

May 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 19th

And then the JFC Mark-Up Session:

May 23rd, 24th, 25th, 31st, June 1st, 2nd

And then the final stretch back in Legislative Session:

June 7th, 8th, 9th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 28th, 29th, 30th, and if need be, the hours going into July 1st if the General Assembly does not pass the budget for Fiscal Year 2017.  The General Assembly is required by law to keep meeting until the budget is passed.

Delaware Senate To Hold Confirmation Hearing For Interim Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky

On October 28th, the Delaware Senate will have a rare out of legislative session to reconvene for a confirmation hearing for the Governor Markell appointed Secretary of Education, Dr. Steven Godowsky.  The meeting will be held at Legislative Hall in Dover in the Senate Chamber at 2:30pm.

It would be really great if the House could come in the day before and override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, that way the reconvened Senate could just vote on it the same day as Godowsky’s confirmation hearing.  But I can’t see this happening at this point in time.  I posted an article earlier today for questions to submit to the Delaware Senate to ask Dr. Godowsky.  This is a time when parents, teachers, and everyday citizens can make an impact.  Please let me know any questions you have and I will make certain the Delaware Senate gets them.

Governor Markell appointed Dr. Godowsky when Mark Murphy resigned from the Secretary position.  His last day was September 30th.  Dr. Godowsky has been visible of late.  He attended the first Wilmington Education Improvement Commission meeting, the final meeting of the Accountability Framework Working Group, and the last State Board of Education meeting in September.

Once again, I pray Godowsky is not just a Secretary who will do whatever Governor Markell says.  We need change in Delaware, and for those who have stood up for Dr. Godowsky, I really hope your words come true.

Ask Dr. Godowsky: Submit Your Questions Here

The Delaware Senate will be having a meeting on October 28th to consider the nomination of Dr. Steven Godowsky for the role of Secretary of Education in Delaware.  Since October 1st, the role is in an interim capacity.  What questions do you think the Delaware Senate should ask Dr. Godowsky when they meet with him?  Now is the time for the Senate to really dig in and find out not only what he plans to do, but what he won’t do.  We need to find out if Dr. Godowsky is simply there to fulfill Governor Markell’s agenda until the end of his gubernatorial term or if he is truly there for change.  Please place your questions for Dr. Godowsky in the comments section and I will make sure this information gets to the Delaware Senate.  We need Dr. Godowsky to be his own man and not a puppet for the Delaware DOE, the Delaware State Board of Education, and Governor Markell.

Delaware Senate Agenda Experiencing Technical Difficulties But Agenda Is Up For Today, Ignore The Date

After tweeting the Delaware Senate about their agenda not being up on the website while they are in session, this happened:

You can view the agenda for today, despite the date, here: http://legis.delaware.gov/legislature.nsf/FSMain?OpenFrameset&Frame=right&src=/LIS/lis148.nsf/senateagenda

UPDATED, 11:34pm: I had to run out for a bit, but it’s all good now. Agenda is up with the correct date!  And this fun little tweet happened earlier but I forgot to put it up:

Whats Up With The Delaware Senate Not Putting Their Agenda Up? They Have Been In Session For An Hour!

So much for transparency in Delaware!  The Delaware Senate still hasn’t put up their agenda for the last day of legislative session, and they have been on the floor for an hour!  Is that even legal?  It has to make me wonder what bills they might be trying to pass without anyone the wiser.  Yes, you can listen online, but that’s not the same thing.  For a legislative body that makes transparency laws, this is very disturbing.  The Delaware House of Representatives had their agenda up yesterday afternoon…

This is all that shows up on their website: http://legis.delaware.gov/legislature.nsf/FSMain?OpenFrameset&Frame=right&src=/LIS/lis148.nsf/senateagenda

Forget Firefly! Forget Big Barrell! The Biggest Tour This Summer Is HB50! Go To Legislative Hall & Hear The Vote At 2pm!!!

The HB50 tour continues!  Next stop, a return engagement to the Delaware Senate Chamber today at 2pm.  This may be their last stop in this building, and we are all hoping for a final show at what I like to call “desk of Markell”.  The HB50 tour has been going non-stop since February, and they are tired and need a rest.  They never give up though and will keep going until they are heard.  So please check out the HB50 today at Legislative Hall in Dover at 2pm.  There are other bands playing, and HB50 is 5th on the list, but that is subject to change.  Get there early for a side-seat or a back-row seat.  Nobody wants to be up in the balcony for this one!

House Bill 50 News… Not On The Agenda For Senate Vote Tomorrow or Wednesday

The clock is ticking fast for the last days of the Delaware General Assembly’s legislative session.  June 30th is the last day, and House Bill 50 has one last stop before it either goes to Governor Markell or gasps its last breath on the Senate floor.  Many folks have been emailing the Senate, and I would love it if everyone reading this in Delaware could do the same if they haven’t already.

Here’s the latest: Senator David Sokola, the Chair of the Senate Education Committee plans to add an amendment to the bill adding all state assessments as well as district-wide assessments that parents “can” opt out of.  This bewildering move is strategic on his part.  The Senate may pitch a fit over this thinking parents can opt out of any test.  They can, but they are only choosing to opt out of one test: The Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The Senate doesn’t release their committee votes, but all eight agreed to release the bill with one unfavorable.

The Senate is an unknown enigma in this opt out saga.  I had a feeling it would pass the House, but not with a 36-3 vote!  The problem now is Senate Joint Resolution #2.  I can see someone saying “But we are already doing the assessment inventory.”  Well played Sokola.  Not really, it was a shady plan you and Jaques cooked up there, fully backed by Governor Markell I’m sure.  But now it is time to put this to the test (no pun intended).  Let the Senate decide.  Put this up on the agenda this week.  And don’t do it with any backroom deals.  Be a Senator, but more important, be a man and put this up!!!