That was quick! In the same day the WEIC redistricting plan turns into pending legislation, the bill is also placed on the House Education Committee agenda for next week! I’m not sure what this fast-track means. But we are well into May and the General Assembly finishes up on June 30th. But there are some other potentially controversial bills on the agenda as well!
House Joint Resolution #12, the now famous Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting bill introduced today, turns all the WEAC and WEIC recommendations into a bill. The WEIC did what they had to do, the State Board of Education finally passed it in March, now it is the General Assembly’s turn. This is where this bill could either move forward or actually die in committee. While you can’t go by who the sponsors are on a bill, it is a good sign of who will definitely say yes when it comes up for a vote. But with this bill being so Wilmington and New Castle County specific, it would stand to assume that those who are legislators up there and support the redistricting would sponsor the bill. The House Education Committee has 14 members. The following members are sponsors on the bill: Jaques, Bentz, Bolden, Lynn, Osienski, and Potter. Red Clay legislators Kim Williams (Democrat), Joseph Miro (Republican) and Michael Ramone (Republican), who also serve on the committee, are not sponsors on the bill. There are no House Republican sponsors whatsoever on the bill. Which leads me to believe (and this is only speculation on my part) none of them will support this. Which also takes Dukes, Hensley, and Kenton off the yes list. That leaves two other Democrats on the House Education Committee who aren’t sponsors on the bill but also come from the Wilmington area: Sean Matthews and Deb Heffernan. Both of them did not vote on Senate Bill 122 when it had the full House vote last June, along with Mike Ramone. So this bill could die in committee with 6 yes and 8 no. Specifically, the bill would be tabled.
Once again, this is merely speculation on my part and I have not heard anything from anyone on this. I imagine Kim Williams could be swayed if House Bill 30 were also given equal merit and taken out of the appropriations committee. But it would still face a full House vote. If it passed then, it would go to the Senate Education Committee, and if released from there it would be up for a full Senate vote. That is a lot of variables. If I that were my bargaining chip, I wouldn’t cash it in until House Bill 30 is signed by the Governor! But it still needs a majority vote.
To get out of the House Education Committee, House rules state:
Bills and resolutions shall be reported out of committee by a majority of the committee or subcommittee by signing the backer. A bill or resolution may be tabled in any committee or subcommittee by a majority vote of the full committee or subcommittee.
This is assuming everyone attends the committee meeting as well. I could picture some members who don’t want to be put in a position of killing the WEIC bill to just not show up! It wouldn’t be the first time. But this is also an election year. If the majority of the constituents in your district don’t support WEIC and the bill winds up passing, an absent from committee could potentially change an election if it ticks off enough voters. This chess game could get a checkmate next week!
But there are other bills on the agenda as well:
A somewhat odd school choice bill would give priority to students who have certain medical conditions. House Bill 229 states “if a parent, relative, guardian or caregiver can demonstrate that they would be able to respond quicker to an emergency at the selected school, the student will receive a priority consideration.” This one could open a big old can of worms!
The Restorative Justice Senate Bill 207 which seeks to reduce suspensions unless it is for fighting, drug offenses are other such serious infractions has a lot of support. The bill would also put restorative justice techniques in Delaware schools. But with the recent Howard High School tragedy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an amendment or two tacked on this one!
House Bill 355, which was just filed on Tuesday, would make computer science a mandatory course in high school and the credit would go towards the math or science graduation requirements. When I put this up the other day, many folks on Facebook were shocked this wasn’t already a requirement. I expect this will get a quick release without a lot of discussion.
If I know the WEIC crowd, this will be a packed House (literally) next week. Especially after this article comes out! As I said yesterday, get there early!