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Delaware Senate Democrats

House, Senate Leaders Announce Procedures for End of Legislative Session

January 20, 2020

Proposals would establish last committee days for bills to be considered by each chamber, set end of session time.

DOVER – Citing a desire to ensure as smooth an end of legislative session as possible, House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride on Wednesday announced new procedures for the final weeks of session.

The plan would establish June 10 this year as the final day that each chamber’s committees could consider bills originating in their respective chambers, meaning it would be the last day House committees could consider House bills, and Senate committees could consider Senate bills. For bills to follow the normal process, they would need to be passed by each originating chamber the following session day on June 11.

The last normally scheduled committee day for each chamber would be the following week, on June 17, the final day each chamber’s committees will consider bills from the opposite chamber.

The budget, bond bill and grant-in-aid legislation will not bound by these procedures. Special committee meetings still could be scheduled to consider legislation after that date. House and Senate rules also can be suspended to allow for votes on bills without a committee hearing in the event of an emergency.

“I’ve been committed to changing the culture in the Delaware General Assembly since my colleagues first elected me as President Pro Tempore in 2016,” said Sen. McBride, D-Hawk’s Nest. “I believe these changes will result in a fairer and more transparent process during the hectic, final days of the legislative session. This is the right thing to do for our members and the voters who entrusted us to represent them.” 

The goal of this procedure is to significantly reduce the number of bills that pass through both chambers in the final days of session, often requiring shortly noticed meetings or suspension of rules. Both leaders said they are instructing their members to abide by these procedures.

“We have heard the concerns legislators, advocates and residents have raised about the late flood of bills that pass through our chambers in June,” said Rep. Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach. “By implementing a last committee day and announcing it in January, we are sending a clear message that we intend to alleviate that late logjam. We have discussed this proposal with the governor’s office and our Republican colleagues, and we are confident this will help us have a smoother, more orderly final weeks of session.”

Rep. Schwartzkopf and Sen. McBride noted that if this process works well this year, both chambers could incorporate it into their respective rules, which the House and Senate enact at the beginning of each two-year General Assembly.

Also on Wednesday, Rep. Schwartzkopf and Sen. McBride announced that both chambers fully intend to finish session by 1 a.m. or earlier on July 1, shortly after the constitutionally mandated legislative special session begins after midnight. While June 30 is regarded as the last day of each session, the General Assembly must remain in session past midnight to trigger a special session so each body can call itself back into session during the recess from July through early January if needed.

Last year, both chambers completed their legislative business at or before 1 a.m., the first time that had happened in recent memory.