Delaware General Assembly
|Delaware General Assembly|
|2015 session start:||January 8, 2013|
|Website:||Official Legislature Page|
|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)
|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|
|Last Election:||November 6, 2012 |
21 seats (Senate)
41 seats (House)
|Next election:||November 4, 2014|
|Redistricting:||Delaware Legislature has control|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 History
- 4 Legislators
- 5 Redistricting
- 6 Senate
- 7 House of Representatives
- 8 Joint committees
- 9 External links
- 10 References
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 April 2015, Delaware is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.
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.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 through July 1.
Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included gun control, gay marriage, and budgetary problems.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the General Assembly was in session from January 10 through June 30.
Legislators focused more on economic rather than social issues this session, including reforms to Medicaid and addressing the budget deficit.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the General Assembly was in session from January 11 through June 30.
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.
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
In 2010, the General Assembly was in session from January 12th to June 30th.
Ethics and transparency
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Delaware was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
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.
Partisan balance 1992-2013
Delaware State Senate: Throughout every year from 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Delaware State Senate. The Delaware State Senate is 1 of 16 state senates that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. During the final five years of the study, Delaware was under Democratic trifectas.
Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.
Delaware State House of Representatives: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Delaware State House of Representatives for five years and the Republicans for 17 years. During the final five years of the study, Delaware was under Democratic trifectas.
Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.
Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the Delaware legislature are paid $42,750 per year. Legislators are allowed a maximum of $7,334 in expenses annually.
When sworn in
Delaware legislators assume office the day after their election.
- See also: Redistricting in Delaware
The Delaware General Assembly is responsible for redistricting.
Delaware received its 2010 census data on March 1, 2011. The state population increased by over 115,000 (nearly 15%), topping 900,000 residents. 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.
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.
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. After the 2000 Census, each member represented 37,314.
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.
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.
|Party||As of April 2015|
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. After the 2000 Census, each member represented 19,112.
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.
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 April 2015|
- Beaumont Enterprise, "Budget, guns among issues facing Del. lawmakers," January 8, 2013
- Delaware First Media, "Legislators begin to form 2012 agenda," January 8, 2012
- Office of the Governor of Delaware, "Markell Thanks Legislature for Overwhelming Votes of Support for Employee Pension and Health Care Reform – Changes Will Save Taxpayers over $480M over 15 years," April 14, 2011.
- Stateline, "States overhaul pensions but pass on 401(k)-style plans," June 21, 2011.
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- Delaware Online, "Delaware grows 15 percent, tops 900,000," December 22, 2010
- Sussex Countian, "Redistricting looms in 2011 General Assembly session," January 12, 2011
- The Republic "Delaware lawmakers approve legislative redistricting plan for state House, Senate," June 30, 2011
- Delaware Online "General Assembly's pace picks up in late-night flurry," July 1, 2011
- Population in 2010 of the American states
- Population in 2000 of the American states
- Population in 2010 of the American states
- Population in 2000 of the American states