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.