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Ready Shoot Aim…

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware 

How many times have you gotten to the grocery checkout line only to realize that the bags that you should be putting your groceries in are sitting in the car or by the front door where you meant to pick them up on your way out? Or maybe you’ve juggled “10 items or less” in your arms as you try to unlock the car because you refused to buy one more of those [darn] bags that are piling up in your house or car on your way through checkout? You are not alone.

In states that have banned the use of “single use” plastic bags (also called film bags), “reusable” plastic bags are piling up, in cars, basements, garages and ultimately, the landfill.

The purported purpose of this social engineering experiment was to save the environment. A recent study calls the success of that objective into question. Fredonia Custom Research examined the impact of the single use plastic bag ban in New Jersey. It found that, since the ban was implemented, actual plastic consumption went up 300%. Additionally, the most utilized of these reusable bags are comprised of woven polypropylene, which is not widely recycled in the United States, and they are not usually made of recycled materials. Their use has been accelerated by escalating availability of delivery services for groceries and other items, which also are banned from single use containers. And, it turns out the increased production of woven polypropylene results in a significant increase in greenhouse gases.

When you look at it rationally, like many other policies our governments have adopted lately because it sounded like a good idea, there is little to commend the ban. It is just another example of government meddling in our lives without considering the consequences of their actions.

And those single use bags weren’t really single use. A quick survey of my friends indicated that they were used for cat litter, wet towels for swimsuits from the beach or pool, dirty shoes when packing to come home from a trip, and Christmas card envelopes so they knew who to send cards to next year, etc.

And, ironically, because most of those who are motivated by a mission to support the environment don’t usually support business, the ban has been super for profits. Not only do the stores not have to provide a bag, they can sell you one instead. Of course, public relations have suffered for those stores. After all, if they don’t have a bag for you when you don’t have your own, you hate them. If they have bags, but they charge you for them, you hate them.

Reusable bags are not the only example of government run reckless. Laws relating to electric vehicles, plastic straws, and incandescent lightbulbs are all the result of feel-good policies with unintended consequences, and science and data contrary to the proclaimed good results the legislation would achieve. Ultimately, the answer to this issue is to have all the facts before you make a decision, consider the alternatives and whether the objective is achievable and how best to achieve it. No reasonable person is opposed to the end objective of many of these policies, but no rational person would take the path many legislatures and Congress have to achieve those objectives.

There was a saying in the 1960s, “If it feels good, do it”. It was not a good way to live a life. It is an even worse way to govern.

Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court. 

A scandal-worthy dereliction of duty by Delaware’s Election Commissioner

By Ben duPont, Guest Contributor

Like all office holders in our state, Election Commissioner Anthony Albence took an oath to serve Delaware faithfully in accordance with the state and federal constitutions. Unfortunately, he has decided to break that oath by putting his own party’s political interests over the rights of Delaware voters.

Mr. Albence is attempting to block our group, No Labels Delaware, from gaining ballot access in the state. No Labels’ work in Delaware is part of our nationwide effort to secure a ballot line that we could potentially offer to a Unity presidential ticket in 2024, featuring a Republican and Democrat as running mates. We’re undertaking this work on behalf of the majority of Americans and Delawareans who are unsatisfied with their two likely choices for president and are demanding another option.

Unfortunately, many partisans have proven they will stop at nothing to prevent that option from being offered. Mr. Albence is now engaged in a clear and shameful attempt to eliminate competition for President Biden in his home state.

Mr. Albence wants to block No Labels Delaware from the ballot on the pretext of a ridiculously thin accusation, based on a handful of phone calls and an anonymous tip from a reporter, that No Labels Delaware is “tricking” voters during the registration process. Never mind that we utilize best-in-class measures to prevent confusion among all voters we register, such as having our organizers wear t-shirts that say “THIS IS NOT A PETITION” in bold letters and requiring them to complete multiple rounds of training.  We also use only the official form, published by the Commissioner himself, that features “All-in-One Form to Register to Vote” in bold at the top.

These measures are exactly why Mr. Albence can only identify a handful of potential instances of voter confusion out of the 1,316 registrations we have successfully submitted. A 1 to 2 percent misunderstanding rate does not invalidate the other 98% of our registered voters and does not constitute a sufficient basis for disqualification. To assert otherwise is absurd.

Even worse, Mr. Albence is attempting to change the rules of how to register voters in order to make it impossible for No Labels Delaware to succeed. State law mandates that we register party members to secure ballot access, but he claims we cannot proactively approach or ask voters to register with us, and that the voters must approach us instead. This is an outrageous violation of our most basic First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. It also poses a clear catch-22 by making No Labels unable to qualify for the ballot and yet unable to do anything that would allow us to qualify. And that, of course, is exactly how Mr. Albence wants it.

His actions make a mockery of the democratic process and Americans’ constitutional right to influence the ballot. It is a clear misuse of government power to shut down electoral competition and secure advantages for his own party, and a terrible look for the president’s home state. I believe President Biden has an ethical obligation to intervene and stand up for the rights of Delaware voters. If he chooses to stand idly by while his party rigs ballots in his favor, he’ll lose any credibility in his constant moralizing about defending democracy.

The real victim of this isn’t No Labels, it’s the people of Delaware. This is a shameful affront to their right to have a say over their electoral choices, and it comes from the very person tasked with defending that right. It’s a reminder of exactly why so many people despise our two-party political system: it is more focused on self-preservation and power than actually serving voters. No wonder so many Delawareans have been eager to register with our party and support a fresh choice in 2024. I can assure them that we will not rest until our party status and ballot access have been restored.

Ben serves as a director of UrbanBound, GigSky, Ecrio, Vorbeck, Longwood Gardens, Zip Code Wilmington, and the Tower Hill School. Previously, he served as Co-Chair of A Better Delaware.

 

 

Navigating Delaware’s Legislative Process: A Users Guide

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware 

On Tuesday, January 9, the 152nd General Assembly reconvened in Legislative Hall in Dover. We at A Better Delaware thought it would be a good idea to give you some information about the General Assembly and ways you can learn what policies and laws the legislators are considering.

The General Assembly session runs for two years, the current one from November 2022 to November 2024, coinciding with the election of senators and representatives. While in session, legislators will be attending committee hearings, introducing legislation, seeking support for their ideas, and bringing bills to the floor. You may feel that it would be impossible to know what is going on in the General Assembly. And, while it is a complex process, with some “backroom meetings,” there are ways to learn about the status of a bill what the bill says or who is sponsoring a bill. The information is on a website at www.legis@delaware,gov

The website is fairly easy to use. When you log onto the page, there will be informational boxes with different types of information to which you can link. One, called Session Info has a link to the 2024 Legislative Session Schedule. If you click on that, it will display a calendar showing when the General Assembly will be meeting, when it will be in recess, and when it will be holding Joint Finance or Bond Committee hearings.

The General Assembly in Delaware meets from January through June three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The sessions begin at 2:00 PM, although it’s hard to know exactly when sessions will begin because sometimes committee hearings run over time, sometimes there are Democrat and Republican caucus meetings. Sessions also vary in when they end, and toward the last of June may go quite late.

In addition to the schedule, you can find the agenda items that are on for the next several legislative days. Each of the items listed allows you to click on the meeting, of a committee or task force, and find out who the chair is and what might be on the specific agenda. Be aware that items are added there regularly, so it is not a static list. Further down the page you can find the last action taken on specific legislation.  That list becomes much more fluid as the session goes on.

Many of the meetings and the sessions provide for virtual participation. You can click on the link and view the meeting or session. That does not entitle you to speak, however, simply observe.

If you want to find out information about a particular bill, you can put in the bill number or a keyword to search. If you can’t find it, or you want to look at all the bills that are currently pending, you can see a full list by clicking on “view the full list” and that will tell you the bill number of all pending legislation, the sponsor, the title (which doesn’t always tell you exactly what the bill is about), what committee it is assigned to, if it has been voted out of committee and if it is ready for a vote by the House or Senate.

If you aren’t sure who your legislator is, there is a place to put in your address and click to determine who your senator and representative are, their address at Legislative Hall, and their state email address if you want to reach out to them.

Finally at the bottom, there is information on redistricting, the Budget and Bond bills, and Grant-in-aid information, which is a program that provides taxpayer assistance to certain nonprofit organizations.

So, as you can see, there is a lot of information provided to you free of charge in the comfort of your own living room or office that will help you be better informed about what policies and laws the legislators, in your district and around the state, are proposing and where those proposals are in the legislative process.

So, now we have an action item for you. Go to our website, look at our mission and policy statements, and when you see a bill that furthers, or one that hinders, our objectives, let your legislator know where you stand on the issue and why. If you have not already signed up to be a Member of A Better Delaware, do so, and get access to exclusive conversations with our experts. And, if you have a good idea, share it with your legislator. Be a part of making Delaware a better place to grow a business, go to school or enjoy the beauty Delaware has to offer.

Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court. 

 

Common Sense Policies, Not More Money will Make for A Better Delaware in 2024

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware 

Each January, the Governor delivers a State of the State address, which is given in the chambers of the General Assembly, to report on the condition of the state in all respects, and often serves to highlight the executive branch priorities for the coming year. Members of the Governor’s cabinet, the judiciary, and the General Assembly attend, and afterward, the politicians, media and pundits’ comment and report on the content of the speech.

Generally, topics include the health of the economy, education, workforce development, healthcare, and our natural resources. Usually, there are references to what will be reflected in the Governor’s proposed budget relative to those topics. But I want to encourage the Governor to consider that money is not always needed to make the lives of Delawareans better.

In fact, in many instances, we have spent more and more money over the years with little or no change in results. What we need are new and bold ideas and changes in policy.

Most significantly, education stands out. While we rank in the top 10 in spending per student, we are three or four from the bottom in academic performance. According to the state Department of Education, more than a dozen Delaware schools have single digit proficiency in math and reading – fewer than one in 10 of the students can read or do math at grade level. Spending more money clearly does not work.

Other states have had to address this same issue. The Governor should look to Mississippi, which passed a law that any child that cannot read at grade level in third grade does not get promoted to fourth until they can. They have seen incredible results, rising from the bottom to now, 21 among the states – Delaware is Number 47.

. Many states are looking to school choice not only to give parents more authority over their child’s education, but to allow those children assigned to the poorly performing schools to escape a bloated and ineffective system that serves neither student nor teacher.

Our school discipline policies are disrupting the learning and teaching environment and putting students, teachers, and staff at risk. We need to return to a system that demands accountability and provide alternative classrooms and environments and additional mental health services to give all students a learning environment essential to their success.

According to the Federal Reserve, our gross domestic product (GDP), which reflects the value of the goods and services we produce in the state, is below zero – yes, it is shrinking. We need to reduce the taxes and regulations on our small businesses, which are the engine of our economy right now, and many of which are minority- and woman-owned, to generate our economy and encourage entrepreneurs to venture into the business world or invest to grow their businesses.

Education lays at the heart of other policy challenges, Again, there is opportunity. Companies do not want to locate here if the available workforce is not capable of doing the jobs a company might bring to our state. And we are not just talking about scientists or doctors. There is now an organization in our state that is teaching potential union and construction workers what they need to know to pass the apprenticeship exam, skills they should have learned in our public education system.

Our access to good health care at a reasonable price is affected by the requirement that the government approve new services or facilities. The Certificate of Need requirement gives those already in health care an advantage and limits competition. Many other states have eliminated the requirement, and we should too.

Delaware received a grade of F from the Center for Public Integrity. We need to expand our Freedom of Information Act, giving the public more transparency into government, and to establish the position of Inspector General, who will objectively review our state agencies and be a watchdog for fraud, abuse, and misconduct.

There are many other areas in which changes can be made. Overwhelmingly, our citizens oppose the electric vehicle mandate, but the Governor disregarded our opposition and imposed the strict and onerous law, unsupported by the necessary infrastructure and science to make it practical. We have adopted policies that limit our ability to escape federal oversight of our environmental efforts, and we have failed to properly invest the more than $4 billion in surplus funds our state has had in the past three years. And, while the state has used much of that money on building structures and roads, we adopted a policy that makes all those projects more expensive, carelessly spending our tax dollars.

It is January. Our Governor will be presenting a State of the State address to the citizens, his cabinet, and the General Assembly. I hope to hear him address these issues and lead Delaware forward with new, common-sense policies that will make our state a better place to live, work and play.

Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.