All hands on deck for the Coastal Zone

There are only four days left of this session of the 149th Delaware General Assembly.  (Various extensions and “special sessions” are possible.)

In this session the “Delaware Way” has been in full flower.  The Delaware Way is that a small club of “big head” legislators get together with big-business interests, and the Governor or his representatives, and make all the real decisions.  Ordinary legislators generally understand that if they want to stay in office and get things for their district, they aren’t supposed to buck this system,

A few things are on the agenda for this week.  One is passing tax and budget bills that penalize mainly lower-middle-class and working class people for Delaware’s “budget deficit.”  Rep.  John Kowalko is advocating a more fair approach.

Another is gutting the famous Delaware Coastal Zone Act, via HB 190.

Overall, the lack of vision, leadership, and idealism is painful to think about; painful to see in action, and plenty damaging to the future of Delaware and it’s people.

Procedurally, House Bill 190 was written without significant public input.  Defenders of the Coastal Zone Act have responded by calling for an open “stakeholder process” before any legislative action is taken.

HB 190 was approved by the House Natural Resources committee on June 7th.  The vote was 8 to 1 with only Rep. John Kowalko voting against.  The committee is chaired by anti-environmental activist Debra Heffernan (who does not return calls from Green Delaware).

HB 190 then went the the whole House, where it was passed 7 to 34 on June 20th.  The honor role of those voting “NO” is Reps. Baumbach, Bennett, K. Williams, Kowalko, Longhurst, Lynn, and Mitchell.  (Read the roll call here–click “view” under roll calls)

Next stop is the Senate Environmental, Natural Resources & Energy Committee, chaired by longtime Senator Harris McDowell and packed with anti-environmental types.

Is the committee so packed because Senate head Dave McBride chose to do so, or because the entire senate is so packed these days?  In any case, HB 190, now decorated with a bunch of amendments that don’t change much, is to be taken up by a Senate committee on

Wednesday, June 28th, at 11:00 am in the Senate Chamber.  Members of the public will probably be allowed to speak, but likely only for 2 or 3 minutes.

If HB 190 passes out of the Senate committee it will probably go to the whole Senate on Thursday, June 29th.

If the Senate passes HB 190 as passed by the House, it will go to Gov. John Carney for his signature.  Carney is a dedicated, long-declared enemy of the Coastal Zone and the Coastal Zone Act.

So, the timely action at this point is to contact the members of the Senate committee and ask them NOT to approve HB 190:

Also call Senate leaders:
President Pro Tem:  Dave McBride, (home: 322-6100, Leg Hall: 744-4167)
Majority Leader:  Margaret Rose Henry, (home: 425-4148, Leg Hall: 744-4191)
Majority Whip:  Nicole Poore, (home: 838-7979, Leg Hall: 744-4164)
Minority Leader:  Gary Simpson (home: 422-3460, Leg Hall: 744-4134)
Minority Whip:  Greg Lavelle, (home: 478-6128, Leg Hall: 7440-4135)
Also call you own Senator, if you feel you have one.  Contact information.
The message should be clear:  “We support the Coastal Zone Act.  Please DO NOT pass House
Bill 190.”
For lots of background on the Coastal Zone Act and Russ Peterson, see greendel.org.
Alan Muller

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