For many years I made a lot of hay out of the fact that the Maryland General Assembly session is prescribed to last just 90 days, a time period I dubbed the “90 Days of Terror.” On the other hand, while Delaware does not have a full-time legislature, the relaxed and less frenetic pace of the deliberations (which only just concluded Wednesday after starting in mid-January) makes for a General Assembly that comparatively out of sight and out of mind – so much so that I found doing an annual monoblogue Accountability Project for Delaware doesn’t work.
Perhaps the extended time period leads to more congeniality. By my (admittedly rather quick) count, just 152 of 917 House and Senate votes in this portion of the two-year General Assembly term were contested. Looking through the vote tallies only, you find a lot of 21-0 and 41-0 totals, along with a growing number of votes that are blank because they were passed by a voice vote. (No one records if these votes were unanimous or who would have spoken out in opposition, and I suppose those in charge like it that way.)
And instead of being pushed into overtime by a need to pass a budget, this year’s session ended several hours early as the last recorded vote came sometime after 4 p.m. on June 30. All in all, it was a rather uninspiring session when it comes to accountability.
You may have noted that I stated the Accountability Project has to be semi-annual in Delaware, and here’s why. Because I prefer that votes be contested for the mAP, I begin with a base of 152 votes. Now you would think it would be easy to pick out 25 votes, but remember this covers both House and Senate so in reality I need 50 votes.
I start with 152, but the number dramatically drops because one chamber or the other (usually the Senate) has a unanimous vote and I want contested votes in both chambers. The other limiting factor is that many of these votes are on amendments that are only voted for on one side. I used to have a few of these votes in Maryland during the early days of the mAP, but I eventually streamlined the process.
What I think I will do in the coming weeks, though, is provide an interim report that simply tallies up the right and wrong votes of the legislator as a percentage of the bills that came up this year, without a great deal of further explanation that I use to build out my Accountability Project report. It’s actually rather easy to do and can be the beginning of putting together the 2021-22 mAP for Delaware.
And while I’m on the subject of future posts, methinks it’s time to revisit something else I used to do on a regular basis thanks to a chance encounter with one of those involved. Maybe I’ll work on it over this long holiday weekend. So besides that and the upcoming Shorebirds of the Month for June I will begin writing a bit in this venue. I’m looking forward to it.