Delaware General Assembly
|State executive officials|
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 Represenatives is elected every two years for a two year term. Vacancies are filled through special elections.
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 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the General Assembly will be in session from January 11 through June 30.
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
In 2010, the General Assembly was in session from January 12th to June 30th.
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.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2010, members of the Delaware legislature are paid $41,680 per year. Legislators are allowed a maximum of $7,334 in expenses annually.
The $41,680 that Delaware legislators are paid as of 2010 is a decrease from the $42,000 that they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007. Delaware legislators received no per diem in 2007.
When sworn in
Delaware legislators assume office the day after their election.
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 Senate member represents an average district of 37,314 people.
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 February 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 representative represent an average district of 19,112 people.
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 February 2015|
- Joint Committee on Capital Improvement, Delaware State Legislature
- Joint Finance Committee, Delaware State Legislature
- Joint Sunset Committee, Delaware State Legislature