DOVER — Things have gone too far for the state’s Republican lawmakers, who claim partisanship has led to many of the GOP-sponsored bills getting stalled in committees.
Four days remain in the first half of the 147th General Assembly’ session, and the 62 legislators still have to grapple with an inordinate number of bills.
“We have debated gun bills, same-sex marriage, the death penalty, and we have not focused on economic growth,” said Senate Minority Whip Gregory Lavelle, R-Wilmington.
“These bills deserve debate.”
While Republican legislation may be heard in committee meetings, Sen. Lavelle said many of the Republican-sponsored bills never get heard for a vote. In the small committees, bills can get buried by legislators who do not have to take a position on the pieces of legislation, Sen. Lavelle said.
“If you want to vote no, vote no,” he said in regard to Republican bills on the Senate floor rather than keeping them in committees. “I may not agree with you, but that’s the democratic process.”
For instance, the senator’s bill restructuring the basis of the Delaware Compensation Commission, Senate Bill 8, never made it out to the full Senate floor for a vote despite being introduced early in the session.
“Some senators are frustrated,” he said, which leads to most not filing bills at all.
Of the 146 Senate bills, only 11 of them were GOP-sponsored, and only one signed into law.
The House Republican caucus has also had similar issues. The House GOP caucus reported that there were 39 GOP-introduced bills of the 191 filed.
Of the six Republican bills that have cleared the House, three of them have been municipal charter changes.
“I don’t know where the story is,” House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear. She said the amount of legislation the General Assembly has had to tackle this session have caused many of the bills — both Republican and Democrat — to be held in committee.
The session started off with a bang in January, she said when legislation to temporarily legalize video lottery machines for veterans organizations was passed, setting the pace for the rest of the session. From then on, a slew of social issues such as gay marriage, gender identity, gun control and the death penalty became the focus in committees.
“We had all those issues that came up that kind of backfilled us,” she said.
Timing has also been a factor. The socially oriented bills take longer to deliberate in committees. For instance, she said the transgender legislation, which added gender identity to Delaware’s non-discrimination clause, took two hours in the House Administration Committee.
“Everybody’s doing the best we can with what we have,” Rep. Longhurst said.