Delaware lawmakers marked the start of the 148th General Assembly on Tuesday in Dover.
Members of the Delaware House were ceremoniously sworn in before friends, family and the public.
Highlights included Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf’s grandson, Oliver, leading the Pledge of Allegiance and Rep. Melanie George Smith introducing her 9-week-old daughter, Grace. Several other House members made touching tributes to their spouses who were in attendance.
House Republicans welcomed two new lawmakers, Rich Collins who will represent the Millsboro-Selbyville area and Kevin Hensley, who will serve the 9th District.
“We have two new members this year so we’re a larger caucus, and those new members have been told by the voters to get working on new jobs and a better economy so I think that’s what we’ll start out with,” said Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne.
House Democrats also welcomed two newbies, Sean Matthews of the Brandywine Hundred district and Sean Lynn, who serves Dover.
On the other side of Legislative Hall, Delaware Senators also briefly assembled. Most were sworn in last month during a special session.
While no official legislation was introduced on Tuesday, Delaware lawmakers have already started laying out their agendas.
Sen. Patricia Blevins, D-Elsmere, said she thinks the state’s budget will take center stage.
“I really think we need to continue to focus on the budget, the stability of our revenues, that will be the most important thing, trying to make sure the trust fund, the transportation trust fund, in order to make sure our bridges stay up, our roads still function properly, we have to find a better way to fund the transportation trust fund,” she said.
Newcomer Sean Lynn said he campaigned on the issues of job creation and economic development during the November elections and he plans to continue to push for those issues now that he in the state legislature. The former Dover city councilman got a head start on those initiatives during the announcement this morning that Dover will be a recipient of a Downtown Development grant.
“That was one of the last acts I participated on as a city councilman in the city of Dover and it was a nice transition into being here in the General Assembly,” he said.
The decriminalization of marijuana and repealing the death penalty were two hot button topics last session and are expected to come up again this year.
“I think Representative (Helene) Keeley will push for the decriminalization of marijuana, it’s not the legalization it’s just the decriminalization of small amounts possession,” Blevins explained. “And I think the death penalty repeal may be reintroduced. It passed the senate and it may have passed the house if it had gotten out of committee so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that come forward again.”
Other hot topics expected to come up this session include priority schools, Wilmington crime and the state’s casinos.