Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Progressive Update--04/11/2007

National Issues--Where do I begin? What a difference a party-change makes! We no longer have a Congress that rubber-stamps everything that comes out of the White House. White House cronyism and incompetence is finally being challenged (it is sad when the Justice Department is being investigated for injustice).

Election Time Is Now, Really!!--There are two seats in the Delaware House of Representatives up for grabs. Republican Wayne Smith turned from lobbyists' friend to lobbyist in the stroke of a pen. His district (the 7th, in Brandywine Hundred) has its special election THIS SATURDAY, and Democrat Bryon Short is running. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer, including on Saturday. Go to for more information, and to volunteer.

Republican Representative Adkins, after flashing his Representative credentials at too many drunk-driving stops, and lying to fellow representatives and law enforcement offices one too many times, was forced to resign from the downstate 41st district. Democrat (and former Millsboro Mayor) Lynn Bullock will be running in the special election (not yet scheduled, but expected in May). Contributions and volunteers are needed.

These two elections offer the opportunity for us to narrow our gap in the House, where Republicans currently have a 5 seat advantage (18 Democrats to 23 Republicans), to only one. This can make 2008 a far easier year. Please pitch in!

The 23rd Representative District (with Democrat Terry Schooley as its rep), hosts its annual spaghetti dinner and auction next Friday (the 20th) from 6-9pm at the Unitarian church ( Seeing Chris Coons emcee an auction is well worth the cost of admission, with the dinner simply a bonus. See me for the $10 tickets. Arrive on time--the live auction begins at 7pm.

Delaware Legislation--Here I run down a bunch of progressive topics and related pending legislation in Dover.

Open Government--House Bill 4 easily passed the House on its second try last month, and is currently in the Senate Executive Committee. This will bring the budget and bond bills into the open a few days before the end of June. Democratic-backed House Bill 70 (simple, clear, effective) is in the House House Administration Committee. Republican-backed House Bill 60 (innumerable loopholes) is in the same committee. These two bills are designed to remove the exemption that the House and Senate currently have from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Senate Bill 4 is even stronger, including caucuses. As such, it likely has a lower chance of passing. It has been in the Senate Executive Committee for three months, dieing a slow death.

Lobbying Reform--Democratic Representative John Kowalko's House Bill 68, which forbids senators and representatives from working as a lobbyist for 1 year after they end their service is in the House House Administration Committee. This bill needs your support--please ask your senator and representative to support this bill.

Equality--There are two bills designed to provide equal rights for all, and there is an event planned to support these bills. Come to Dover on Thursday May 3rd starting at 12:30pm, for Lobby Day.

Senate Bill 10, which provides healthcare and other employee benefits to domestic partners has been stuck in the Senate Finance Committee for over two months. Senate Bill 9 is not yet introduced, would make it illegal in Delaware to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation. Senate Bill 57 has been accepted 'on its merits' by committee and is back to the Senate for a vote. It 'would expand eligibility for Protection from Abuse orders to those in substantive dating relationships and al cohabitating couples.' There is a not-yet-introduced bill to provide hospital visitation rights to domestic partners. Please come to Dover on May 3rd and be heard by your representatives. For more information, contact Drew Fennel at

Stem Cell Research--Senate Bill 5 passed the senate on March 29th, and is currently in the House Health & Human Development Committee. There is much information supporting this effort at, which is also the site where you can donate to support this effort.

Prison Reform--House Bill 71, which replaces mandatory sentences for drug offenders with empowering judges to set sentences, passed the House last week, and is in the Senate Judiciary Committee. has more information on how this can help 'reduce the injustice, elevated incarcerated population, and excessive cost risked by one-size-fits-all mandatory minimum drug sentenceing laws.'

Insurance--Senate Bill 37 is designed to empower the state Insurance Department to review health insurance premium rates just as they do for auto, homeowner, etc. It is currently before the Senate. Senate Bill 31 would forbit insurance companies from using credit scores in setting auto insurance rates. This, too, sits in the Senate. Senate Bill 6 will establish a statewide health insurance pool for individuals and small businesses to obtain more favorable rates, and was passed by the Senate last week. All of these bills have been introduced in the past and have been blocked by the Republican House. House Concurrent Resolution 6 urges Congress and the President to enact a comprehensive universal health insurance act. It is in the House Economic Development/Banking & Insurance Committee.

Poverty--House Concurrent Reslution 16 (by Terry Schooley) seeks to establish a Child Poverty Task Force to study and develop a plan to reduce child poverty in Delaware by 50% in the next ten years. It is in the House Health & Human Development Committee.

National Guard--House Joint Resolution 4 urges Congress and the President to pass Senate Bill 513 and House 869, which returns control of the Delaware National Guard for domestic purposes from the President to the Governor.

Earth Day is later this month, and there are several related events, including the Sierra Club Film Festival at DE State University (for info email June Satterfield at

Presidential Candidates--I have friends who actively support Dennis Kucinich ( and Barack Obama ( I like some of the information that I have heard from John Edwards, too ( Now is the time for each of us to learn more, and when we find a candidate that excites us, volunteer and contribute to their campaign.

Volunteering--Go to for information on volunteer opportunities in Delaware.