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Senate Passes Legislator Residency Amendment

The Senate on Thursday also passed House Bill 77, the second leg of a Constitutional amendment that requires state legislators to continuously reside in the districts they are elected to represent.  The vote was unanimous, with only Republican Senator Lawson absent.

The Delaware Constitution currently requires General Assembly candidates to reside in the representative or senatorial districts they wish to represent for a full year before Election Day. However, there is no requirement that a legislator maintain a full-time residence in that district once elected, only that they meet the yearlong residency requirement before the following election if they are running for another term.  

Also introduced in March, HB 77 would require legislators to continuously reside in their districts for the entirety of their terms. If they move out of their district before their term ends, the lawmaker would be “deemed to have resigned the office.”  

The measure does include a once-a-decade exception for sitting legislators who change their residence to live within the boundaries of newly drawn districts through the redistricting process. 

Constitutional amendments require a 2/3 majority in each chamber and pass in identical form in consecutive General Assemblies. House Bill 395, the first leg of this Constitutional amendment, was passed by the House and Senate in June 2022. 

With the Senate’s vote on Thursday, the amendment will now be incorporated into the Delaware Constitution. No signature from the governor is required. 

House Bill 77– Legislator Residency Constitutional AmendmentCurrrent Status – Passed House 39-0-2 and Senate 20-0-1. Constitution Amended.
House SponsorsBaumbach, Williams, Morrison, Osienski, Wilson-Anton // Hensley, Ramone, Short, Smith, YearickSenate SponsorsGay, Hansen, Huxtable, Lockman, Pinkney, Sokola, Sturgeon // Wilson, Lawson
House Yes VotesBaumbach Bolden Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Harris Heffernan Johnson Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Moore Morrison Osienski Phillips Romer Schwartzkopf Williams Wilson-Anton // Briggs King Collins Dukes Gray Hensley Hilovsky Morris Postles Ramone Short Shupe Smith Spiegelman Vanderwende YearickSenate Yes VotesBrown Gay Hansen Hoffner Huxtable Lockman Mantzavinos McBride Paradee Pinkney Poore Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh // Buckson Hocker Pettyjohn Richardon Wilson
House No Votes – NoneSenate No Votes – None
House Absents or Not VotingNeal, Parker SelbySenate Absent or Not VotingLawson

“We expect that when we elect an official to represent us, they live in the district they serve,” said Rep. Paul Baumbach, the prime sponsor of HB 77. “We discovered that this is not required in Delaware, and so over multiple years we are completing the steps to correct this oversight. HB77 ensures that your elected members of the legislature live in the district they serve. In Delaware, a state of neighbors, we want to ensure that we are represented by a neighbor.” 

“State legislators should reside in the districts they represent,” said Sen. Kyle Evans Gay, the Senate prime sponsor of HB 77. “I want to thank Rep. Baumbach for working diligently over two years to make sure that is reflected in the law with clear penalties for those who seek to play games with the residency requirement.” 

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