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Will Delawareans be welcomed in the 2021 Legislative Session?

Delawareans take a lot of pride in our little state, and so do we at A Better Delaware. That is why we are working to improve the state for every Delawarean, and for our future. The 2021 Legislative Sessions begins on Tuesday, January 12, and we will continue to advocate for you and your businesses throughout Session.

Currently, our representatives and leaders are not working to truly improve Delaware, and Delawareans are tired of seeing their state suffer because of it. Now is the time to critically think about the decisions that have been made in Dover, who is making them, and why. The 2021 Legislative Session could be the one to solidify the poor national standings A Better Delaware frequently reports on. It may push us further down the path of mediocrity, or could be the one that makes a decisive change that puts the First State back on top.

One such issue is that Delaware state government tends to minimize or even diminish the role of the citizen in decision-making, to the detriment of its constituency. Without transparency and accountability to influence better decisions, our officials are free to pass legislation to their own benefit, instead of that of its people.

The transparency issue with Delaware state government has been clear each time a bill is held until the last minute, or rules are suspended to bring forward a bill that was not on the agenda. Information is frequently withheld from constituents and stakeholders.

Transparency and the resulting ability to hold elected officials accountable have long been major issues in Delaware government with implications that span policy, spending, and public faith in government, but access should be easier than ever with virtual meetings and digital communication.

Evidence shows that government secrecy can lead to a lack of accountability and abuse of power, and when a local government isn’t forthcoming, it weakens the trust between the officials and their constituents.

Weakened public trust in government can lead to citizens and businesses becoming more risk-averse and delaying investment, innovation and employment decisions that impact economic growth and development. Establishing and focusing on transparency is an investment in economic recovery the future of the state.

Delawareans were teased with the promise change one year ago, when Delaware General Assembly leaders Sen. McBride and Rep. Schwartzkopf announced a new rule which made June 10, 2020 the last day that House or Senate committees could consider bills that originate in their respective chambers. In May, Rep. Schwartzkopf doubled-down on the promise, by asserting the General Assembly would “concentrate on the money bills,” and that anything beyond would need to be refiled in the start of this upcoming legislative session.

Legislators quickly went back on their word when session resumed virtually.

The purpose of the rule was to encourage public involvement and prevent bills from being rushed through at the end of session.

“The public isn’t fully aware of what we’re doing,’ President Pro Tempore, Senator David McBride said. ‘It’s not that we’re trying to do it without their knowledge. It’s just that things come up.”

Why, in the digital age, won’t our legislators communicate to the public upcoming bills that impact the state’s residents and businesses? What is the reluctance for legislators to hold themselves accountable, or continue to keep the state in the dark?

Voters need to speak out against legislation that is detrimental to their families, communities, businesses, or finances, but must be aware of upcoming bills to do so. In order to do better, our lawmakers must act better. As we approach the 151st General Assembly, it is important to advocate for change by advocating for transparency and accountability in our state government.

Stay up to date on important issues and how to take a stand during this Session by keeping up with our social media, emails, blog, and VoterVoice platform.