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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Jason Melrath, 302.494.6699, jmelrath@gmail.

com THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE INCOMPLETE: PROGRESSIVE DEMS GRADE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY Four legislative goals were achieved; four were defeated, while four were incomplete. Wilmington, Delaware Starting in January 2013, the Progressive Democrats for Delaware (PDD) partnered with the local political blog Delaware Liberal to track not only the progress of legislation that was a priority to the PDD, but also how legislators voted on that legislation. The PDD legislative priorities in this session were the passage of measures providing for 1) marriage equality, 2) reasonable gun control, 3) progressive tax rates for incomes above $60,000, 4) single payer healthcare, 5) lobbying and lobbying disclosure reform, 6) no excuse absentee voting, 7) justification for rent increases in manufactured homes, 8) a Transgender discrimination ban, 9) independent redistricting reform, 10) the repeal of the death penalty, 11) an increase in the states minimum wage, and 12) no benefit cuts to Medicaid. The list was long and ambitious, but given Democratic Partys control of both chambers of the General Assembly; Governor Markells agreement with some of these priorities; and the growing number of progressive legislators within the Democratic House and Senate caucuses, the PDD was confident a good number of these priorities could be achieved. At the half way mark of the 147th General Assembly of the State of Delaware, it is time to give the General Assembly as a whole a grade on how it handled each of these priorities.

The Good
Transgender Discrimination Ban. Senate Bill 97 added the term "gender identity" to the existing list of protected classes and hate crimes. Thus, SB 97 forbids discrimination against a person on the basis of gender identity in housing, employment, public works contracting, public accommodations, and insurance, and it would provide for increased punishment of a person who intentionally selects the victim of a crime because of the victims gender identity. The Bill passed 11-7 in the Senate and 24-17 in the House, with only two Republicans, Sen. Cloutier and Rep. Ramone, voting yes, and five Democrats (Sen. Ennis, Sen. Bushweller, Sen. Venables, Rep. Carson, and Rep. Paradee) either voting no or not voting. Opposing Cuts to MedicaidThe budget as passed did not cut Medicaid. So, this priority is achieved, for now. However, the reason we are giving this a B instead of an A is we remain suspicious that the Governor and the General

Assembly will seek to cut Medicaid to close the deficit in the next fiscal year. As Governor Markell said in 2012 in response to whether he would cut Medicaid benefits, he said he would seek to cut waste and inefficiencies in the Medicaid system and administration first. Efficiencies first was his quote. That leads us to wonder what is next after the Governor and the General Assembly have achieved all the savings he can in the program through efficiencies. Marriage Equality. House Bill 75 repeals the prohibition on samegender marriage that was enacted in 1996. Thus, after passage, two individuals, whether of the same or different genders, can marry in the State of Delaware if otherwise eligible. The bill passed the Senate 12-9 and the House 23-18. In important votes like this, we pay particular attention to how the Senators and Representatives we have endorsed in prior elections voted. In this case, we were particularly disappointed in the no votes from Representatives Charles Potter and Earl Jaques. Both individually deserve an F for their votes. Manufactured Home Rent Justification. Senate Bill 33 provides that if a community owner desires to raise the rents charged to homeowners in a manufactured home community more than the average annual increase in the Consumer Price Index For All Urban Consumers for the preceding thirtysix month period, the owner must seek approval of the Delaware Manufactured Home Relocation Authority. The Authority will consider evidence regarding increases in the cost of operating, maintaining and improving the affected community. The bill passed the House 39-0 and the Senate 18-2, and has been signed by the Governor.

The Bad
Minimum Wage Increase. Senate Bill 6, as introduced, would have increased the minimum wage to $8.00 per hour effective July 1, 2013, and then $8.75 per hour effective on July 1, 2014. The bill also would have provided that if the federal minimum wage becomes higher than the Delaware minimum wage, the Delaware minimum wage would increase to $1.00 above the federal minimum wage. This bill was then amended and weakened in the Senate, only increasing the minimum wage to $7.75 per hour effective 1/1/14, and $8.25 per hour effective 1/1/15. This weakened bill passed the Senate 12-9, but it was tabled in the House Banking, Economic Development, Insurance, Commerce and the Kitchen Sink Committee by Chairman Bryan Short (D). In our view, tabling a bill in committee is the same as killing it outright. In January, this bill must be voted out of the Rep. Shorts committee and passed by the House and signed by the Governor. To not do so will effectively mean the Delaware Democratic Party is content to let wages stagnate. Death Penalty Repeal. Senate Bill 19 eliminates capital punishment and provides that those sentenced to death will have their sentences converted to life in prison without parole or other reductions. The bill passed the Senate by the narrowest of margins (11-10) and against long odds (i.e. intense lobbying pressure from the State Police and Attorney General Biden). Perhaps that pressure is to blame for the bill being tabled in the House Judiciary Committee by Chairman Rebecca Walker.

Progressive Tax Rates. House Bill 50, which cut the tax rate for those making $60,000 and over from 6.75% to 6.6% and made that lower rate permanent, was a defeat. Right now, the highest income bracket in Delaware is the $60,000. It is inexplicable, irrational and immoral to have someone making $60,000 a year pay the same tax rate as someone making $600,000 or $6 million. In essence, Delaware has a flat tax that benefits the wealthy, while the General Assembly will spend the next year talking about which social services, which poor and middle class families rely upon, should be cut. Our progressive legislators were rebuffed by the Democratic leadership and the Governor in their attempts to keep the rate at 6.75% or in adding more income level tiers above $60,000. No Excuse Absentee Voting. House Bill 20, the first leg of a constitutional amendment (meaning it has to pass both houses and be signed by the Governor over two legislative sessions), was defeated in the House on a party line vote. Which means that all 27 Democrats in the House voted for it, and all 14 Republicans in the House voted against it. And since this is a Constitutional Amendment, the bill needed a two thirds majority, or 28 votes, to pass. This is why we are giving the Assembly a D rather than an F, because at least the majority of all Representatives wanted to do the right thing. They were just thwarted by their Republican brethren, who seem to be adopting the radical tea party strategy of making it more difficult for citizens to vote in the hopes that they dont vote at all.

The Incomplete
Gun Control Legislation. Senate Bill 16 (Lost/Stolen Gun Reporting), House Bill 35 (Universal Background Check), House Bill 36 (Mandatory Minimums on illegally possessing a gun) and Senate Bill 40 (increasing penalties for repeat offenders of gun crimes) all passed and have been signed by the Governor. The legislators who voted for these bill are to be thanked, for they did so in the face of intense pressure from the NRA and other associated interest groups. House Bill 73, which increases penalties for crimes committed with firearms, passed the House 40-1 and awaits a vote in the Senate. House Bill 88, which would have prevented the mentally ill from purchasing firearms, was defeated in the Senate. However, it would seem that the language of the bill was problematic, and it is likely that there will be another attempt to introduce and pass legislation concerning the mentally ills access to guns in the New Year. Meanwhile, House Bill 58 (large capacity magazine ban); HB 62 (allowing Wilmington to enact its own gun laws); SB 23 (allowing other municipalities to enact their own gun laws); HB 67 (providing for gun free school zones); and HB 72 (providing for mandatory minimums for unlawfully concealing a firearm) all are languishing in committee. So the General Assemblys work is incomplete, but they do deserve a B for their votes so far. Single Payer Healthcare. House Bill 74 awaits a vote the House Health and Human Development Committee. Lobbying Reform. House Bill 13, which prohibits a former member of the General Assembly from acting as a lobbyist for a period of one year after their retirement or defeat, instead of two years as originally drafted, passed the House 30-11. The Bill now resides in the Senate Executive Committee. The Republicans in the

General Assembly have embraced lobbying and open government reform as a tool to hammer the Democratic leadership, and they have introduced a number of bills of their own, including the original two year prohibition (SB 49), a prohibition on lobbying for two years on all executive branch personnel (HB 184), a bill requiring that all gifts over $50 be reported and disclosed (HB 78) and a bill for more transparency regarding the adoption of rules and regulations (SB 74). All of these Republican bills are just fine from an open government and progressive point of view, as ironic as that sounds. Indeed, a number of progressive legislators are co-sponsoring them. However, they all languish in committee, and so this priority is incomplete. Independent Redistricting Reform. Senate Bill 48 creates an eleven member Commission appointed every ten years to redistrict the Senate and House of Representatives of the Delaware General Assembly. The bill requires the Commission to conduct an open and transparent redistricting process enabling full public consideration of and comment on the drawing of district lines. The bill passed the Senate on a party line vote, 13-7. It is awaiting action in the House Administration committee.