The clock is ticking down……less than forty hours remain. Friends….that is only 2400 minutes! Or even worse, just 144,000 seconds. The countdown continues…..

Remember when the General Assembly was sworn in early in January, At that time the 1st of July seemed a long way off.

But in 2359 minutes, it will be here! January to June, let us see…..six months? we should be tidying up by now with just a few knick knacks left to finalize…..Right?

Let us see what is on the agenda’s of today’s General Assembly.

In the Senate: as of 12:00 (yesterday) only one thing: Tony De’Luca’s bill to have various organizations within the state, look for extra money and report back on 12/21/07 on what they find. I find this a little confusing. Why do we need to tie up the remaining 2398 minutes with a bill that does nothing but say “we need to do this”. On the surface, when you first hear it, it seems sound good. “I, Tony DeLuca, got tough with our bureaucrats and demanded they look for other ways to fund our government.” But isn’t that naturally what happens when you, your business, your government runs out of money? Your first priority becomes to find “where you can get more”……….Since there is no funding within the bill, and there is really nothing new in the bill, this bill, as it says from the outset, it is just a proclamation……..A commission, proposed within this bill, could just as easily be appointed by the governor to find revenue streams and report back.

If someone could get back to me on why this bill is important, I would like to hear. But in reading it, it sounds like ‘much ado about nothing.” One would think with only 2397 minutes left, we could find something far more worthwhile to debate……………..

On the house side more is going on. You have Senate Bill 36 which quietly sells government employees down the river. AFSCME may still be around for years, but as for saving pension plans or bargaining for better insurance, forget it. This bill would forever remove those items from the collective bargaining table:

Position classification, health care and other benefit programs established pursuant to Chapter 52 of Title 29, workers compensation, disability programs and pension programs shall not be deemed to be compensation for purposes of this section;

So if in the future if it becomes necessary for the state to economize by cutting benefits to minimize costs, the unions will be unable to protest it. This appears to be the first quiet, hidden attempt to cut state employee’s benefits. This Rubicon, if crossed, will forever diminish labor’s effective voice. Due to the lack of outcry, I doubt if most of them know……….or will know with only 2396 minutes left.

Next comes HB 177, the fusion bill. This would eliminate candidates who may have lost the primary, from running as a third party candidate in any general election aka Joe Lieberman or Connecticut. As Delaware Watch points out this bill would force organized labor to support just one of the two major parties. And you know they won’t support Republicans. Obviously this is one Democrat’s attempt to keep its rank and file from trickling away, aka the Berlin Wall. Thanks to the watchfulness of Dana this bill became public knowledge. But with only 2395 minutes left it had a good shot at going through.

Next comes HB 208, which says that a person has committed burglary as soon as they enter a building without permission. They do not have to steal anything, just be there. This would effectively cut down on the solid American tradition of checking on elderly neighbors, just to see if they might need medical attention. But most likely this issue will not be raised with just 2394 minutes left.

House Bill 251 prevents convicted criminals from becoming volunteer fireman. Perhaps this is ok, but I think there is no harm in letting Freeberry fight fires if she wants to. But these ramifications will go unnoticed with only 2393 minutes left.

The Senate Joint Resolution 3, organizes a leviathan task force to see what can be done with Wilmington’s schools. The makeup of this monstrous 33 member task force, will be big on names, but seriously short on talent. It will pass on the feeling of “lets do something nice for Wilmington” because no one will have time to look too hard at it with only 2392 minutes left.

House Concurrent Resolution 32 creates another task force, this time of 23 people, to look at new assessment possibilities instead of the current DSTP used in schools today. 3 of those will be on the above task force as well. (I hope they have daytimers). This report is due late May 2008, too late for serious action by the second half of this General Assembly. But it should generate plenty of controversy for the upcoming election. 2391 minutes and counting.

Senate Bill 119 seeks to insert this clause into the Delaware code: “(1) The amount to be raised by taxation shall not exceed 20.97 cents on each $100 value of real property in Sussex County for the tax year 2008, 22.23 cents for 2009, and 23.50 cents for 2010 and all years thereafter.” This is to fund Vocational Schools only. And with only 2390 minutes left, no one will even know……..

Senate Bill 123 further seeks to streamline and professionalize the educational process by controlling who those parents are on the advisory boards, which used to be siphoned from the Delaware Congress of Parents, but now are to be hand picked by the Secretary of Education.

Senate Bill 126 finally does some good. This bill alone should save the state billions over its lifetime if enacted. This bill returns the determination of fines back to the discretion of the judge, by eliminating the predetermined amounts, which unfortunately sent many people into our correctional system, who really did not need to be there. Let’s hope there is enough time, with only 2388 minutes left.

House bill 189 removes one more roadblock that stands in the way of remaking Sussex County into a sea of aluminum sided houses. This obsolete law, which on its surface makes sense to update, will, by its removal, allow many developments to go forward which have been so far held back. This bill still is stuck in committee. It may not see light in the next 2387 minutes left. Oops just passed the House.
HS 1 for HB146 seeks to mandate stateside recycling. Unlike most bills before the House this time, this one has the means to pay for itself. However constant vigilance and discipline need to be exercised to insure the recycling fund is not pilfered by Republicans whose modus operandi has always been: “see it, spend it” despite their political rhetoric to the contrary. Oh! Just got shot down…………..

House bill 241 seeks to make this change which will affect 5 employees of the state………all well known to every legislator.

Section 1. Amend §5201(b), Title 29 of the Delaware Code by adding the following sentence at the end thereof:

“An Individual qualifying for a service pension under §5522(e) of this Title shall not be an ‘eligible pensioner’.”.

Section 2. Amend § 5501(d), Title 29 of the Delaware Code, by inserting therein a new paragraph to read as follows:

“(22) Service as a per diem employee with the House or Senate of this State.”.

Senate bill 133 seeks to mandate the separation of children from sex offenders. This is a good bill. Let’s us hope it gets a hearing with only 2384 minutes left.

HB 220 could with tongue- in- cheek, be called the John Atkins bill. Should he ever return to political notoriety at a whim, he could be hauled in and tested. This bill extends alcohol monitoring indefinitely instead of ending in one year. This could be a good thing for those repeat offenders, but more than likely, knowing how most legislators can put down several very stiff drinks in a very short span of time, it could also be used for intimidation and control once an arrest was made. But in their stupor, there is no time to consider this, with only 2383 minutes left.

House Bill 172 seeks to impose the monitoring of uninsured motorists driving upon the road. It tightens reporting requirements on those who get insurance to buy a car, then let it lapse with no payment. Within ten days the state will know. But, to those who like to hold public officials accountable for their actions, this warning is appropriate: you had better make sure your insurance gets paid on time…….

HB 240 seeks to clarify criminal offenses by switching many minor ones over to civil offenses where they belong. This bill is an interesting read for it includes a list of minor infractions that should be civil in nature. Check out for yourself how many times you were a criminal, and because you did not get caught, you never knew it? This bill is overdue. The cost savings from tying down courts, the AG’s office, and law enforcement, over the life of this bill, should save billions.

HB 212 widens the area sex offenders cannot be seen in to include parks, playgrounds, daycare centers.

SB 160, again by DeLuca, provides one more slap in the face specifically to those American workers who get HURT ON THE JOB. They are being asked to incur at least 15% of the medical costs that occurred from accidents while they were on the job. Currently, they receive medical attention at no cost to themselves for employer mandated accidents. Considering that most current Americans do not have enough money to pay for gas , electric, ARM mortgages, car insurance, or car payments,….. their answer to the question “Do you want to go to the hospital for that?” will turn into an emphatic “no,” a decision that may perhaps kill them a few months later from its complications, but save them from paying their part of the 4000 dollar medical bill, which if paid, would push them into bankruptcy. This is just one more example of how a leadership position, removes a thoughtful person away from reality.

Senate Bill 111 seeks to move one offense the other way, towards a felony. Violation of a Domestic violence protection order, will be upgraded from a Class A misdemeanor, to a Class F felony. Knowing how those to violate these orders, are under passionate emotional influences, and immune from normal rational thought , this bill falls into that feel-good status, (look, we did something) just as mandatory sentencing did, and not into effective control. The only effective difference will be the charge presented to the court, long after the women and children are dead.

House bill 266 attempts to standardize the definitions of abuse thought the state’s governmental system. However, based on their definition of “emotional abuse” that definition could be in a thesaurus under “marriage”.

SB150
will give those medical professionals who help out during emergencies, freedom from any liability for any action occurring as a result of their involvement, the same way state emergency responders are protected.

HB 207 seeks to give the same penalties for selling counterfeit drugs, as for the drugs themselves. No more getting off because the actual drug sold, acetaminophen, was not on the controlled substance list……… but was being sold as something that was……..

SB 35: Section 1. Amend Subsection 1014(a) of Title 26 of the Delaware Code by striking the figure “$0.000178” in the first sentence thereof and replacing it with the figure “$0.000356”. This extra money goes into the Green Energy fund at the residential electrical cost of .18 cents per household. This is to generate home grown energy projects on a person’s own property.

And most importantly, with ramifications greatly affecting all Delawareans, is the Dick Cathcart sponsored HB 245. This bill will change history by changing the method moist snuff is taxed within the state of Delaware.

UPDATE: JUST LAID ON SPEAKERS TABLE

Keeley HJR 7 establishes yet another task force, again devoid of funding, to look into statewide recycling. I guess she doesn’t have the necessary votes to pass HB 146.

Then there is the HB 250, the appropriations bill for 2008: all 256 pages of it. But no worries, mate, there still are 2377 minutes left. (9.28 minutes to read and absorb each page, that is if so choose not sleep.)

Hopefully they are taking amphetamines. Because if they decide to get a good night’s rest over the next couple of working days, they will squander 480 minutes of that time left. One must assume that they will sleep on the floor of the offices, because commuting times will bite into 120 more of those minutes. Unless they eat while working they will use up 120 minutes and estimated bathroom time should fall between 100 and 120 minutes. So if we are willing to forgive these personal indulgences (a whopping 820 minutes), they have only 1577 minutes left……a little over twenty six hours to do all of the above and the bond bill as well, which as of yet, has not arrived out of committee…

There is a lot for our legislators to absorb in the next several minutes. To make it even tougher, our lobbyist’s contingent insists… that our legislators follow the Dr. Pepper rule these last few days……..

Dr. Pepper rule? Don’t know that one? That is a classic. It stands for having two drinks by ten, two drinks by 2, and two drinks by 4. Is it any wonder that our citizens get the short end of the deal at the end of every legislative session?

For true insight on how democracy works, show up at legislative hall on Saturday night.It is free and open to the public…… And bring a camera phone.

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