dougcdenison@gmail.com's blog

We have seen many changes to the Route 1 corridor in the past few years. We are fortunate that our communities are a destination for millions of visitors each year, but those visitors also create challenges for us. The most obvious is the increase in traffic as we are no longer a secret to the outside world. Since my time as Delaware State Police Troop 7 commander, I have seen the steady increase of traffic along Route 1, and what that’s meant for people walking and biking along the road. The increased traffic not only brings congestion but an increased danger for pedestrians and cyclists traveling along a very busy Route 1.

Nearly a year ago, Delaware Republicans made a big overture about helping the city I call home. Republicans acknowledged that Wilmington was in crisis and pledged to reach across party lines to help Delaware’s largest city.

I want to thank the Delaware Health Care Commission for its recent creation of a new work group to explore the establishment of a Delaware End of Life Advisory Council, serving what I believe will be an essential function given Delaware’s rapidly changing demographics. As a member of the work group, I look forward to productive public meetings and the work group’s recommendations, which are due to the General Assembly by the end of March.


It’s not every day in Delaware that a lobbying effort garners so much attention, but that’s what happened last week when the Delaware Business Roundtable released a report that was critical of the way Delaware has managed its finances.

The report warns against a hypothetical doomsday scenario, where Delaware does nothing, spends recklessly, and ends up with a catastrophic structural deficit of more than $600 million in 2025. It’s a breathless, sky-isfalling view into the future, but not a realistic one. For one thing, doing nothing has never been an option in Delaware, as is evidenced by the balanced budgets we’ve consistently passed. 

The financing behind the U.S. 301 toll road project is conservative, innovative and geared to return money to Delaware’s Highway Trust Fund rather than take from it. The road will also pay uncounted dividends to Delaware in the form of a safer, less congested highway and the economic opportunities it will create.

The issue of firearms and efforts to reduce gun violence is something that polarizes our society. Lawmakers have made honest efforts to do this while respecting and protecting everyone’s Second Amendment rights. With this right comes a corresponding responsibility to make sure that a person’s weapon is secured. Guns are not toys – they are lethal instruments – which is why we must prevent them from falling into the hands of a youth or a person prohibited.

Our juvenile justice system must not only hold youth accountable for their actions, but also protect children from unsafe environments and help them become productive members of their communities. Prosecuting very young children for minor offenses does not accomplish these goals. Children under the age of 10 have not developed the mental capacity to understand the consequences of their actions, and many react in response to underlying problems at home or in the community. 

In a recent column in this space, a leading Republican in the General Assembly lamented the state of manufacturing in Delaware, pointing to the closing of our major auto plants several years ago. But to make his point, he left out key facts that demonstrate the strength of manufacturing today in our state, including how Delaware has positioned itself as a manufacturing leader in our region and beyond.

After another long, cold winter that took its toll on our state’s roads and highways, thousands of taxpaying drivers know firsthand that Delaware needs to do more to improve and maintain our transportation infrastructure. Even without the newest potholes and cracked pavement to remind us, we’ve known for years that the state simply can’t keep up with the demand for repairs and new construction in our road system – at least not at current funding levels.

This week Reps. Paul Baumbach and Sean Lynn drafted a letter congratulating the Delaware Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee on its recent recognition by the American Library Association. The committee helped mobilize efforts to halt a local book-banning push last year, preserving the mission of Delaware's libraries as institutions of free thinking and universal access.

Some 30 Representatives and Senators co-signed a letter written by Rep. Ed Osienski to Delaware's federal delegation, pushing for support of greater safety and oversight measures for crude-by-rail operations nationwide. 

Delaware is once again facing a tight budget year, and we legislators are facing tough decisions these next several months. In addition to our bipartisan Joint Finance Committee – which writes the state’s operating budget – we have a task force looking at our revenue streams and how to improve them. As we move forward, there undoubtedly will be a lot of ideas put on the table to address our budget issues.

Republican lawmakers have already dusted off two of their tried-and-proven-untrue “solutions”: overhaul Delaware’s prevailing wage laws and implement so-called “right-to-work” legislation.

Reps. Earl Jaques and Sean Matthews penned side-by-side newspaper editorials addressing the issue of standardized testing from different perspectives, but with a shared goal for progress. 

Contrary to what others have said, Delaware is a business-friendly state. The Small Business Caucus and Governor Markell have taken numerous steps during the past several years to improve the climate for businesses, and we have seen several examples of this working.

In a recent newspaper column, outgoing University of Delaware President Patrick T. Harker raised the important issue of the spiraling cost of college education in America. His description of the tough choices faced by students striving for higher education, and their families, was spot on.

President Harker missed the mark, however, when he laid blame for his institution’s perennial tuition and fee increases at the feet of UD faculty and Delaware taxpayers.

 

A teacher in New York recently tweeted: “I taught in the South Bronx and students passed exams at 50 percent, now I am in the suburbs and they pass at 95 percent. I am the same teacher.” This simple example illustrates the fallacy of using standardized test scores to “grade” teachers. But teachers will be OK. They have professional associations to advocate for them.

When I was a boy growing up in Smyrna, I remember waking up in the middle of the night to the ringing of the telephone. My father would answer and tell the person on the other end of the line that he was on his way, then he’d put on his coat and head out the door.

He was going to the hospital to save someone’s life, but my father wasn’t a doctor or nurse. He was a lifetime donor and member of the Blood Bank of Delmarva, and since his blood type was rare, he was on a special list of members to call when someone was in dire need of blood, day or night.

My fellow members of the capital budget committee and our colleagues on the operating budget committee have heard many calls to simply cut spending across the board. Since I’ve been a member of the House, every budget we’ve worked on has required significant cuts, which we have made. It’s been our mission to realize savings and efficiencies wherever we can find them in the budget, without jeopardizing the services and programs that Delawareans rely on. 

The General Assembly's Joint Finance Committee started it's second week of work today on Delaware's fiscal year 2016 operating budget, continuing its series of public hearings with state agencies to discuss their budget priorities and requests.

The House’s Wilmington delegation sent this letter to Gov. Markell at the end of December, offering help and pledging to work cooperatively to help formulate and implement solutions to the city’s crime problem.

Last month the panel responsible for calculating the state’s budget projections announced the creation of a task force that will conduct a thorough review of the various revenue streams that fund state government. Click here to read more about the task force in this report from WDDE news.

The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council, commonly referred to as DEFAC, structured the task force to include members from throughout state government, including members of the General Assembly. Middletown-area Rep. Quinn Johnson, who chairs the Legislature’s joint capital budget committee, was selected to represent the House Majority Caucus on the task force.

The task force is scheduled to have its first meeting this month and produce a final report in the spring.

 

Stateline, the state government blog run by the Pew Charitable Trusts, took a deep look at the recent controversy surrounding what happens to our digital assets after we die. 

Five years ago this past Wednesday, I stood in the heart of my district at CAMP Rehoboth, surrounded by hundreds of friends and supporters, and watched Gov. Jack Markell sign into law legislation that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Our weekly caucus email newsletter.

Our weekly caucus email newsletter.

When students visit Delaware City, they board a ferry and head to Pea Patch Island to tour Fort Dela­ware. They bypass a historic site on the mainland that played a role during the Civil War and World War II, because it has long been forgotten

“In light of the information shared today by State Prosecutor Kathleen Jennings regarding the misuse of state resources by Chief Medical Examiner Richard T. Callery, I believe Mr. Callery should be suspended from his duties without pay, pending further investigation of this possibly criminal activity.

Highlights from this week in the House.

Bills enhance the role of the PIC, provide a needed funding source

By Dr. Wilma Mishoe

On behalf of all the members of Delaware’s Public Integrity Commission, I want to thank the group of lawmakers in our General Assembly who, in collaboration with the Commission, recently introduced a package of legislation designed to improve and expand our agency’s ability to ensure transparency and public accountability in our government.

Delaware will observe National Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at collection sites located throughout the state.

Click here for more information and to find a location near you.

Syndicate content