Bill seeks to ban ‘double-dippers’

A bill that would eliminate “double-dipping” in the Delaware state legislature has been filed in the State House.

House Bill 65 would prohibit new state legislators from landing an additional state job after they have been elected to office.

Rep. Gerald Hocker (R-Ocean View), a prime sponsor of House Bill 65, says current legislators would be “grandfathered in” under the proposal.

“Those legislators that have a state job, it does not affect them at all,” he said. “But all new legislators would not be able to take a new state job.”

Although State Sen. President Pro Tem Anthony DeLuca (D-Varlano) has recently been at the center of controversy connected with his second state position overseeing the Office of Labor Law Enforcement, supporters of House Bill 65 say the measure was not sparked by those events.  They point out the legislation was originally filed in May 2009.

“It’s a measure our constituents understand, it’s a measure our constituents want us to pass,” said Rep. Greg Lavelle (R-Sharpley). “It’s just the right thing to do.”

HB 65 would not prevent a state employee from running for a legislative office and holding both positions if they won the election.  The bill’s supporters say voters would know in advance of the situation they would be creating and should be allowed to make their own informed choices.

Backers say House Bill 65 is needed to prevent future lawmakers from potentially abusing their influence to “double-dip” the public coffers by securing a second state paycheck.  They also say that legislators who get a state job – even one for which they are qualified – not only create conflict-of-interest issues for themselves; they undermine the public’s confidence in the entire General Assembly.

“I think the events that are going on right now are just evidence of the need for this bill, that you can’t serve two masters,” said Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Stanton). “There’s a terrific conflict of interest, I believe, when legislators work with two state agencies at the same time.”

The bill has been assigned to the House Administration Committee.

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