Much has happened in the past week.
Open Government—House Bill 1 (HB1) was released from committee to the full Senate on May 6th. Let your senator know that you expect them to vote FOR House Bill 1 when it gets a vote. This bill will open legislative meetings (except caucuses and emails) to the public, by putting it under FOIA, the freedom of information act.
Equality in Delaware— HB5 would make it illegal to discriminate on housing, employment, or insurance, on the basis of sexual orientation. HB5 is sitting in the Senate Executive Committee (Adams chair, Blevins, Cook, DeLuca, Simpson, and Sorenson), and is getting a hearing this Wednesday, the 13th, at 1:30pm, in the full Senate Chamber. Let’s pack the chamber, and let the committee know that the time has come for equality for all. The action needed now is to attend the hearing and/or reach out to those six senators and ask that they release HB5 onto the full Senate. If the committee fails to release the bill to the full senate for a vote, we will still plan to petition this bill out of committee on June 2nd, Petition Day, after the bill has been stuck in committee for the ‘required’ 16 legislative days.
I am initially surprised that there will be a hearing, as I expected Adams to keep the bill in his desk drawer, where this type of bill has been banished for years. I consider this a victory for representative government. Years of testimony to deaf legislators has resulted in a softening of the walls of our conservative state Senate. Let’s finish the job and get it voted out of committee, and if not, petitioned!
Newark Alderman’s Court—I wrote about this last month. The bill is out of committee since April 1st, and awaits a full senate vote. Please ask your senator to vote against this bill. See my prior posting for details on it. Let your senator and representative know that Newark’s Alderman’s court works just fine, and don’t break it—oppose SB42.
Equality in Newark—Newark City Council will not be hearing the proposed LBGT protection proposal at its Monday May 11th meeting. I will share more information as it becomes available.
State Budget—The state of Delaware’s next year budget is a hot topic of discussion. Governor Jack Markell offered a proposed budget with revenue increases and spending cuts. One of the most publicized cuts was an across-the-board 8% salary cut for state workers, along with passing onto state workers more of the cost of health benefits.
State Representative John Kowalko has offered for consideration a set of alternatives, that would reduce, if not eliminate, the need to focus $91 million of cuts on the backs of state workers. His proposals are generally pretty progressive, striving to spread the belt-tightening more fairly across the state. Go to http://www.johnkowalko.com/Issues.aspx?prid=9&m=4 to see his explanation. It includes more details at http://www.johnkowalko.com/docs/Alternate%20Budget%20Proposalsx.pdf. If you agree with it, or with some of its points, let your state Representative and state Senator (and Governor) know.