Read the State Legislative Tracker. New edition available now!

Delaware General Assembly

From Ballotpedia
Revision as of 08:10, 15 January 2013 by Gtjanetka (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search
Delaware General Assembly

Seal of Delaware.svg.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2014 session start:   January 8, 2013
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Leadership
Senate President:   Matthew Denn (D)
House Speaker:  Robert Gilligan (D)
Majority Leader:   Patricia Blevins (D) (Senate),
Peter Schwartzkopf (D) (House)
Minority leader:   F. Gary Simpson (R) (Senate),
Gregory Lavelle (R) (House)
Structure
Members:  21 (Senate), 41 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art II, Section 1, Delaware Constitution
Salary:   $41,680/year + $7,334 expenses/year
Elections
Last Election:  November 6, 2012
21 seats (Senate)
41 seats (House)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Redistricting:  Delaware Legislature has control
The Delaware General Assembly is the state legislature of Delaware. It is composed of the Delaware State Senate with 21 Senators and the Delaware House of Representatives with 41 Representatives. It meets at the Legislative Hall in Dover, convening on the second Tuesday of January of odd numbered years, with a second session of the same Assembly convening likewise in even numbered years. Normally the sessions are required to adjourn by the last day of June of the same calendar year. In 2012, the General Assembly was in session from January 10 through June 30.

Members are elected from single member districts, all apportioned to roughly equal populations after each U.S. census. Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1st and about one half of the Senate is elected every two years for a four year term, and the entire House of Representatives is elected every two years for a two year term. Vacancies are filled through special elections.

As of December 2012, Delaware is one of 12 Democratic state government trifectas.

Sessions

Article II of the Delaware Constitution establishes when the General Assembly is to be in session. Section 4 of Article II states that the General Assembly is to convene on the second Tuesday of January of each calendar year, and it is not to extend beyond the last day of June.

Section 4 also allows the General Assembly to be convened into special session by the Governor of Delaware or by the mutual call of the presiding officers of both Houses.

2013

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature will be in session from January 8 through June 30.

Major issues

Major issues for the 147th legislative session include gun control, gay marriage, and budgetary problems.[1]

2012

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the General Assembly was in session from January 10 through June 30.

Major issues

Legislators focused more on economic rather than social issues this session, including reforms to Medicaid and addressing the budget deficit.[2]

2011

See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the General Assembly was in session from January 11 through June 30.

Session highlights

State employee benefit cuts

Governor Jack Markell's plan to cut public employee pension and health benefits received overwhelming support from officials within his administration, legislators and even public employee union officials. Markell's proposal, which became law on May 2, 2011, requires new state employees to pay 5% of their salary after the first $6,000 towards their pension, rather than 3%. It also eliminates the use of overtime when calculating pensions and the "double state share" health care benefit. According to the governor's office, the plan will save Delaware taxpayers $130 million over the next five years and $480 million over the next fifteen.[3][4]

2010

See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the General Assembly was in session from January 12th to June 30th.

History

The Delaware General Assembly was one of the thirteen legislatures that participated in the American War of Independence. Created by the Delaware Constitution of 1776, its membership and responsibilities have been modified by the Delaware Constitution of 1792, the Delaware Constitution of 1831, the Delaware Constitution of 1897, and significant U.S. Supreme Court action, effective in 1965.

Significant actions of the General Assembly include the calling of the Constitutional Convention which become the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution of 1787, and its rejection of secession from the Union on January 3, 1861 in spite of Delaware's slave state status. Also significant was its repeated refusal to legislate the end of slavery or voting rights for women, requiring federal law to enforce those changes.

Until 1898 the General Assembly was apportioned by county, with a total of 30 members elected county-wide "at-large" with equal numbers from each of the three counties. After 1898 the total membership was increased to 52 and they were elected from districts, mostly corresponding to the geographical boundaries of hundreds within the counties. However, there was little recognition of disparities in population, except for the addition of two extra senators and five extra representatives elected from much more populous New Castle County. After 1965, action of U.S. Supreme Court forced the General Assembly to redistrict so that all members of both houses were elected from districts of equal population. By 1972, the total membership had increased to its present 62, still the second smallest state legislature in the country.

Legislators

Salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2012, members of the Delaware legislature are paid $42,750 per year. Legislators are allowed a maximum of $7,334 in expenses annually.[5]

The $42,750 that Delaware legislators are paid as of 2011 is a inc from the $42,000 that they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007. Delaware legislators received no per diem in 2007.[6]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Delaware legislators assume office the day after their election.

Redistricting

See also: Redistricting in Delaware

The Delaware General Assembly is responsible for redistricting.

2010 census

Delaware received its 2010 census data on March 1, 2011. The state population increased by over 115,000 (nearly 15%), topping 900,000 residents.[7] Significant population shifts threatened to radically alter state House and Senate districts. According to the Delaware Population Consortium, there was a large shift to the southern part of the state, with Sussex County growing by 25% while New Castle County only saw 7% growth.[8]

With comfortable majorities in the Senate and House, Democrats controlled the redistricting process, although Republicans did construct a counter-proposal to Democratic maps. The House passed its redistricting map on June 28, 2011 on a party line vote. The Senate map was approved on June 30, 2011 by a 15-6 vote. Two districts were merged in the northern part of the state in order to make room for a new southern district.[9][10]

Senate

The Delaware Senate is the upper house of the Delaware General Assembly. It is composed of 21 Senators, each of whom is elected to a four-year term, except when reapportionment occurs, at which time Senators may be elected to a two-year term. There is no limit to the number of terms that a Senator may serve. The Delaware Senate meet at the Legislative Hall in Dover. Each member represents an average of 42,759 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[11] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 37,314.[12]

In order to accommodate the 10 year cycle of reapportionment, the terms of office of the Senators are staggered so that 10 Senators are elected to terms of 2 years at the first biennial general election following reapportionment, followed by two 4 year terms. The remaining 11 Senators are elected at the biennial election for two 4 year terms, followed by a 2 year term.

Like other upper houses of state and territorial legislatures and the federal U.S. Senate, the Senate can confirm or reject gubernatorial appointments to the state cabinet, commissions, boards, or justices to the Delaware Supreme Court.

Leadership of the Senate

The Lieutenant Governor of Delaware serves as the President of the Senate, but only casts a vote if required to break a tie. In his or her absence, the President Pro Tempore presides over the Senate. The President Pro Tempore is elected by the majority party caucus followed by confirmation of the entire Senate through a Senate Resolution. The President Pro Tempore is the chief leadership position in the Senate. The other Senate leaders are elected by their respective party caucuses.

Qualifications

Senators must be citizens of the United States, have lived in Delaware for three years, and have been a resident of their respective district for at least one year preceding their election. They must also be at least 27 years old at the time of their election.

Current make-up

Party As of September 2014
     Democratic Party 13
     Republican Party 8
Total 21


House of Representatives

The Delaware House of Representatives is the lower house of the Delaware General Assembly. It is composed of 41 Representatives from an equal amount of constituencies, each of whom is elected to a two year term. The Delaware General Assembly does not have term limits. The House meets at the Delaware Legislative Hall in Dover.

From 1776 to 1792, the chamber was known as the House of Assembly, a common name for lower houses of colonial legislatures and states under the loose Confederation. The name was changed by the state's 1792 Constitution, reflecting the new federal House of Representatives, which Delaware was the first state to approve of in ratifying the federal U.S. Constitution in 1787. The renaming began a trend that has resulted in a majority of the lower houses of U.S. state legislatures sharing the same name of the U.S. House. Each member represents an average of 21,901 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[13] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 19,112.[14]

Leadership of the House

The Speaker of the House presides over the House of Representatives. The Speaker is elected by the majority party caucus followed by confirmation of the full House through the passage of a House Resolution. The Speaker is the chief leadership position of the body. The other House leaders are elected by their respective party caucuses. The Majority Leader determines which bills are brought to the floor for debate (from an Agenda prepared by the Speaker of the House) and manages debates and floor votes.

Qualifications

Members of the House of Representatives must be citizens of the United States, have lived in Delaware for three years, been a resident of their constituent district for at least one year preceding their election and must be at least 24 years old by the time of their election.

Party As of September 2014
     Democratic Party 27
     Republican Party 14
Total 41


Joint committees

External links

References