DE HoR Newsletter

Date Posted: Wednesday, December 30th, 2020
 
Issue 488 – December 18, 2020
 
In This Issue:
 
  • Republican Leaders Take Issue with Plan to Begin 竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojbo’s State Legislative Session
 
  • COVID-19 Stats Update
 
  • Proposal to Prevent Suicides Among New Bills
 
Republican Leaders Take Issue with Plan to Begin 竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojbo’s State Legislative Session
 
DECEMBER 18, 2020 — Senate Minority Leader Gerald Hocker (R-Ocean View) and House Minority Leader Danny Short (R-Seaford) say a plan released late yesterday by the General Assembly’s Democratic leaders will blunt the ability of citizens to make their voices heard on controversial bills.
 
Speaker of the House-Elect Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) and Senate President Pro Tem-Elect Dave Sokola (D-Newark) issued a press release late Thursday calling for the 151st General Assembly to start the scheduled legislative session on January 12 in a virtual setting.
 
Rep. Short and Sen. Hocker agree with initially holding legislative proceedings virtually. However, they both oppose considering any controversial legislation while citizens cannot meet with legislators, testify at committee hearings, or attend floor proceedings in-person.
 
In the Democratic press release, which was falsely characterized as being bipartisan, Sen. Sokola stated:
 
“Starting the 151st General Assembly in a virtual format will not stop us from aggressively tackling the economic, public health, and racial justice issues the people of this state are facing on a daily basis. This pandemic has laid bare long-standing fractures in our society and we will not let the fact that we’re unable to meet in person prevent us from making progress for 竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojboans who can’t afford to wait any longer.”
 
Rep. Schwartzkopf stated:
 
“When January 12 gets here, we intend to get to work considering bills, holding committee hearings, voting on legislation and doing all the things that the General Assembly is expected to do, just in a different format.
 
“One silver lining to all of this is that the public will have more access than ever before to the business of the Legislature. Throughout the entire history of the 竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojbo General Assembly, if you wanted to deliver a public comment during a committee meeting, you had to be in that room in Legislative Hall. If you wanted to watch a roll-call vote, you had to be in the House or Senate chamber. But now, every committee meeting we hold, every floor debate we have, and every vote we take will be streamed live online.”
 
“It is absurd to eliminate personal contact with citizens and then claim you are doing them a favor by providing the feeble substitute of online access,” Sen. Hocker said. “A Zoom session or any other virtual meeting is an inadequate replacement for face-to-face interaction. Online meetings are easy to control and manipulate. They lack the emotion, energy, and intensity that is tangible when dozens or hundreds of people come to Legislative Hall to advocate for a subject about which they are passionate.”
 
Both Rep. Short and Sen. Hocker said the legislature should limit its work in early 2021 to essential bills and measures on which there is little disagreement. They say a large portion of the bills the General Assembly handles are minor, uncontentious, and tend to clear the legislature with broad agreement. 
 
“There were a lot of non-controversial bills we were not able to move last year, and several new measures, like an annual tweak to the Bond Bill, that should be worked,” Rep. Short said. “It’s these bills we should be considering in January, and perhaps March, if we’re still meeting virtually then.
 
“Sen. Sokola’s comments — which I did not see until after he issued his press release — leaves little doubt he intends to start immediately considering potentially divisive bills,” Rep. Short continued. “Claiming these bills are so important and urgent that they cannot possibly be delayed until early spring is disingenuous. It is an apparent attempt to diminish any dissent by keeping it online and at a distance — minimizing the rhetorical weight of those objecting to these likely contentious policies. This is a needlessly provocative way for him to begin his tenure as the leader of the Senate.”
 
竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojbo’s COVID-19 Stats
 
  • There are 407 patients hospitalized due to complications associated with COVID-19, 68 of which are in critical condition.
  • All healthcare system indicators are in the green (see graphic), including hospital capacity and ICU bed availability.
  • Thus far, 882,919 total tests for COVID-19 administered in 竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojbo, involving 478,106 persons tested. Of this later number, 428,997 have been negative and 49,109 have been positive.
  • As of Tuesday, December 15 (most recent figure) the seven-day average for the “percentage of total tests that were positive” was 9.7% — which was the same percentage reported a week earlier on December 8. This metric reflects the total number of specimens tested, including when an individual is tested more than once.
  • As of today (12/18), a total of 854 竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojboans have reportedly died due to complications from COVID-19.
  • Seniors are disproportionately at-risk of serious consequences from COVID-19. 83% of all fatalities have been to those 65 years of age and older, even though this demographic has the third-lowest case rate for the virus of the six age groups tracked.
  • Only 4% of 竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojbo’s fatalities (34) have occurred to those age 49 and younger.
 
For more data on COVID-19 in 竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojbo, click here.
 
Proposal to Prevent Suicides
Among New Bills
 
While the state legislature will not officially convene until January 12th, the new 151st General Assembly is already active. Here are some of the more noteworthy bills that were introduced today (12/18) and will be awaiting the consideration of lawmakers:
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Extending Changes to Help the Struggling Hospitality Industry — Food and drink establishments have struggled over the last nine months due to the economic disruption caused by COVID-19. This bipartisan measure (House Bill 1) seeks to extend changes enacted earlier this year that are currently set to lapse at the end of March. This bill seeks to extend the following provisions until March 31, 2022: (1) Allowing an entity that has a valid license to sell alcoholic beverages on their premises to also sell them as part of transactions for take-out, curbside, or drive-through food service (meeting specified conditions). (2) Allowing a licensee to continue to use outdoor seating for the serving of food and drinks (meeting specified conditions). (3) Allowing the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner to temporarily suspend a license only if there are reasonable grounds to believe that public’s safety is at-risk and there has been a violation of the law. (4) Allowing the commissioner to hold hearings by remote means.
Suicide Prevention — This bipartisan legislation (House Bill 55) seeks to establish the 竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojbo Gun Shop Project, the primary purpose of which would be to develop, create, and provide suicide prevention education materials and training that would be made available to firearms dealers and consumers. A coalition staffed by the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health would oversee the effort and issue an annual report. The concept first began in New Hampshire in 2009 and has since expanded to more than 20 states.
Expanding Opportunities for Brew-Pubs – House Bill 45 seeks to increase from three to five the number of brewery-pubs a license-holder could operate in 竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojbo. Supporters of the bipartisan measure say the existing limitations have led to lost jobs as successful brew-pub operators opened locations outside the state because they were prohibited from doing so in 竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojbo. House Bill 46 would permit 竞博jbojboannounces竞博jbojbo brewery-pub and microbrewery license holders to brew, bottle and sell hard seltzers and other fermented beverages made from malt substitutes. The legislation would result in making state law more similar to federal law on this topic.

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