Here is our latest update to our Vote Tracker. The recent action since our last update is highlighted both in bold and in yellow. Specifically, HB35, Byron Short’s bill targeting illicit massage parlors; HB16, the repeal of the estate tax; HB175, the Corporate Franchise Tax increase have all passed the General Assembly and are on Governor Carney’s desk waiting for his signature.
HB47, Lyndon Yearick’s bill to remove the requirement of a notary to certify your absentee ballot, has passed both the House and Senate, though the House needs to vote on it again before it can be sent to Governor Carney due to a minor technical amendment that passed in the Senate.
HB80(S), Trey Paradee’s bill regulating the use of credit reports in determining auto insurance rates, has risen from the dead and has passed the House 24-14. It is on the Ready List in the Senate.
Kim Williams’s HB143(S), which eliminates Performance Assessment Requirements for new teachers being hired so that more new teachers can be recruited to Delaware, has passed the House and Senate and is waiting for Governor Carney’s signature.
The bill of most consequence and controversy for those who care about the environment was the House passage of HB190. I have been and remain agnostic on this bill. I see both the good side to it and the potential harm it could do.
The good news is that during the hearing and amendment process, several amendments to the bill were added to to better clarify the process for remediation of the abandoned brownfields and the conversion permit process and ensure the preservation of Delaware’s coastline. Under the bill as passed, an interested industry would need to clean the abandoned brownfield according to the provisions of the Delaware Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act, removing any pollution from the site. A company applying for a conversion permit would also have to submit a sea-level rise plan. There would be restrictions on what types of industries could operate along the coast. Refineries processing crude oil, basic cellulose pulp paper mills, and incinerators would continue to be forbidden, as they have been since the Coastal Zone Act was enacted in 1971.
But environmental groups are still concerned about bulk transfers of crude oil and other chemicals at whatever new ports are constructed at the four abandoned sites will result in spills, either from ships crashing in the river, accidents at the port, or accidents on the rails that are transporting the materials. The more activity, the more risk of spills and accidents that would release oil and chemicals and other pollutants into the environment.
The reason I am agnostic on this is these abandoned brownfields need to be cleaned up by someone and used by something. If they remained abandoned, it’s blight, like any other abandoned townhouse in the city.
So, we shall see. I saw one progressive make this point, and I think it is fair: if these revisions to the Coastal Zone Act do not produce the promised new jobs in three years, the Coastal Zone Act should be restored in its original form. I say that is a good idea.
Finally, SB113 was defeated in the Senate. The bill was just recently introduced back on June 8, and I haven’t even had a chance to create a separate bill page for it yet. The bill proposed to establish a clean energy financing program for the installation of energy efficiency technologies and clean energy systems for qualifying commercial real properties statewide. Sounds good to me. But the bill was defeated in an unusual vote of 8-6-3-4. Because three Senators did not vote and four were absent, it did not garner the necessary votes to pass.
Parliamentary inquiry: when members are not present (i.e. are absent) is the number need to pass a bill lowered accordingly? For example, there are 21 members of the Senate, so 11 votes is needed for a majority. But if four are absent, that number of total Senators present is lowered to 17, and half of 17 is 8.5, so that means it would take 9 votes to pass something. It is immaterial to SB113, since that bill only got 8 votes, and not 9, but I was just wondering.
As for the vote on SB113:
YES VOTES: Ennis, Hansen, Henry, McBride, McDowell, Poore, Sokola, Walsh
NO VOTES: Bonini, Lavelle, Lawson, Pettyjohn, Richardson, Townsend [Delcollo, Hocker, Simpson did not vote]
ABSENT: Bushweller, Cloutier, Lopez, Marshall
The only surprise there is Senator Bryan Townsend. I suppose it is possible that he voted no in order to be able to bring the legislation back (though, if he had voted yes, the vote would have been 9-5-3-4, and if my parliamentary inquiry is correct above, it would have passed.
Congratulations to Senator Townsend and his wife Lillianna on the birth of their son, Logan Christian Townsend yesterday! One more Democrat added to the population rolls.