Green Delaware sent out quite a few emails during the last weeks of the Delaware General Assembly, so we’ve tried to be quiet for a while…..
First, Wednesday and Thursday (July 19th and 20th) are both official Code Orange bad air days. Since both ozone and particle levels will be high, along with temperature and humidity, Green Delaware would call these Code Red days and urge caution. These are unhealthy conditions and can be expected to recur throughout the summer. The Mid-Atlantic Medium Range Air Quality Discussion says high ozone levels may persist Friday through Sunday. With the Trump administration working to shut down environmental regulatory programs, the long-term outlook for air quality improvements is not so good. Continue reading
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:
TODAY! Please get on the phone to “your” legislators about protecting the Delaware Coastal Zone Act.
Home and Leg Hall phone numbers are listed here. Home numbers are OK to use.
If you don’t know who you representative or senator is, go to “Who is my legislator?” (Upper right of page.)
HB 190, the “Gut the Coastal Zone Act” bill, is scheduled for floor debate and vote in the Delaware House of Representatives this afternoon (Tuesday, June 20, 2017. (This could change.)
The bill was passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee on June 7th. 8 members voted for it and only Rep. John Kowalko voted “no.” So now it goes to the full House.
A powerful Dark Side coalition is behind HB 190, and most legislators, whatever their personal feelings, seem reluctant to oppose the bill. The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce carries a big stick.
The action item, per usual. is to contact legislators. Continue reading
The piece was slightly edited by the newspaper. The original as submitted is below:
Bad bill serves special interests, rips off utility ratepayers
As Delaware reaches the peak of its political season, there’s no more powerful example of the prevailing special interest chokehold than Senate Bill 80. This bill would create a new line item charge (“distribution system improvement charge”) on Delmarva Power electric and gas bills, without meaningful opportunities for public review of the additional charges. Total charges without a “rate case” could amount to $24 million. Continue reading
A draft bill circulated by Delmarva Power (Excelon) lobbyists would create a new means for the utility to reach deeper into ratepayers’ pockets with reduced oversight. The scheme, called a “Distribution System Improvement Charge” would allow millions of dollars to be added to bills without authorization in a formal “rate case,” supposedly to solve a problem that does not exist.
DPL seeks to collect up to $17 million in additional electric charges and $7 million in additional gas charges “between” rate cases. Continue reading
Jake Kreshtool passed on April 11th at the age of 98. I just found about this via a call from a relative. Jake was my mentor in environmental activism and other aspects of life. So much to be said about him… labor lawyer, civil liberties activist, naval officer (WW2 vet), longtime head of Delaware Citizens for Clean Air, Democratic candidate for Governor of Delaware, filed the first-ever citizens suit under the Clean Air Act…..
Jake was the dean of Delaware environmentalists and probably the last standing member of the group, the generation, that lead the fight for the Delaware Coastal Zone Act. He was a longtime supporter of Green Delaware, member of our Steering Committee, generator of creative ideas for getting the message across…..
Jake once ended a speech at the Delaware Nature Society–not my favorite organization–with this, said loudly: “NEVER BE REASONABLE.” He knew what he was talking about.
The last time I talked to Jake, a few months ago, he’d bought a bicycle and was considering buying a car.
I’ll write more about Jake when I can get my thoughts and emotions together.
“services will be 12:30 pm, Friday, April 21, 2017 in the Chapel at the Jewish Community Cemetery, 401 Foulk Road, Wilmington, DE 19803. Shiva will be observed approximately 2:30 pm, Friday, April 21 at Adas Kodesch Shel Emeth Synagogue, 4412 Washington Boulevard, Wilmington, DE 19802.”
Below is the obit published in the Wilmington News Journal this morning, April 20, 2017: Continue reading
This commentary on recently retired DNREC Secretary David Small appeared on April 6, 2017 in the Delaware State News. Please post your own thoughts on Dave Small, and what should be expected from his successor, Shawn Garvin.
The March 26 profile of former DNREC official Dave Small [“From reporter to environmental chief”] presented one side. Small has had an impact on Delaware, as does any DNREC secretary, and it makes sense to try to understand what that has been. I was involved with Small from an environmental advocacy perspective since the early 1990s. Continue reading
The Markell administration supposedly left Delaware with a “structural” budget deficit approaching $400 million/year. This does not seem surprising because Markell was essentially a Republican, and Republicans leave behind big deficits due to their habits of reducing taxes on those well able to pay them, while engineering big giveaways to the over-priviledged.
Governor John Carney has proposed a combination of spending cuts, and tax increases. The income tax increases are even across the board. Rep. John Kowalko has proposed–various times over the years, actually–to establish two new tax brackets for higher-income residents:
- Those making more than $125,000 would pay 7.1 percent instead of 6.6 percent.
- Those making more than $250,000 would pay 7.85 percent instead of 6.6 percent.
Right now the tax brackets top out at 6.6 percent at $60,000.) Flat tax rates are inherently regressive. Continue reading
Gov. Carney promises attack on the Delaware Coastal Zone Act
Nine years ago two people were contending for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Delaware. (Then, as since, it was presumed that the Republican candidate would not be competitive, such that the Democratic nomination likely meant the governorship.) The two Democratic contenders were John Carney, a long-time party warhorse, and Jack Markell, state Treasurer but essentially an interloper in Delaware’s closed politics.