The adage about law-making and sausage-making (you don’t want to see either up close) proved true last week as the Delaware General Assembly drew to a close.
House Republicans decided to play the last card in their deck after reportedly making a deal with majority Democrats on passing a bill that allows out-of-town property entities to vote in Seaford municipal elections. In return, they would vote to pass the capital (construction) and grant in aid budgets for fire companies, nonprofits, etc
The voting quirk is mainly designed for beach towns with seasonal populations and out-of-town owners. Its use became controversial when a Newark property owner voted more than 30 times.
While the Newark issue never made its way past the state line the Seaford bill went viral and gained national attention. Tossed around was the scary term “artificial entities” (limited liability companies).
It all played into Delaware’s reputation as a location for shadowy limited liability companies engaged in money laundering and other sketchy activities.
Common Cause’s Delaware Chapter mobilized, and the issue became a “cause celeb” in progressive circles.
When the vote on the Seaford bill fell short of the required supermajority, House GOP members walked out and stated they would not vote for the capital budget until the Seaford bill was passed. House Minority Leader Mike Ramone said Republican legislators were more than willing to wait out the Dems, who quickly accused Republicans of throwing a tantrum.
On the final day, House leadership rounded up enough votes for the Seaford bill, the budget was passed, and the legislative session ended.
As an added bonus, GOP legislators won a House victory on a bill requiring the General Assembly to approve a future ban on electric vehicles. The Senate, meanwhile, took no action on either bill before the session adjourned.
Legislative Democrats proclaimed they had a responsibility to move past such shenanigans and pass the budget.
Sponsor of the bill State Rep. and former Seaford Mayor Danny Short declared victory.
Short argued that the legislation, which passed the Seaford City Council by a slim margin, was needed by a community that never fully recovered from economic troubles largely stemming from the long-running downsizing of the former DuPont nylon plant.
“This was a win for everyone involved, even if it took more gamesmanship than necessary. We should not be using the state legislature to retaliate and intimidate any municipal government in Delaware because they do not hold the same political perspectives as those in the majority,” Short stated.
It’s hard for those of us on the outside looking in to see any sort of victory here.
Legislators might first want to look at a recent poll that shows about half of those surveyed have doubts the effectiveness of the General Assembly.
Last week’s sausage-making episode won’t alter that perception. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.