Delaware General Assembly postpones legislative session indefinitely

Delaware's General Assembly (WHYY file)

Delaware's General Assembly (WHYY file)

The Delaware General Assembly is on hiatus as Americans are asked to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride announced Wednesday that Delaware’s legislative session will not reconvene until public health experts advise it’s safe to hold large gatherings.

The session was supposed to reconvene on Tuesday, but was temporarily postponed due to the spread of COVID-19. That pause has now been extended indefinitely.

House Majority Caucus spokesman Drew Volturo said in a statement that as the “situation has continued to unfold, it has become necessary to postpone session for the foreseeable future as officials assess the extent of Delaware’s exposure to the virus.”

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 30 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Delaware.

House Minority Leader Danny Short said it was a necessary decision.

“There’s no real logical need for us to congregate in the capitol building when we’re asking other folks to social distance themselves from colleagues and friends, so we have to set that example,” he said.

The General Assembly is preparing an action plan in the event they must pass legislation directly related to COVID-19 in Delaware.

State lawmakers are required by the constitution to pass an operating budget by June 30, and they will discuss how to achieve that while facing a pandemic.

Short said he’s hopeful Delaware and the U.S. will be able to flatten the curve by that deadline. He’s also finding the silver lining in the situation.

“I think it will prove not all legislation has an immediate need to be considered and passed. A good thing will occur out of a bad situation, where there will be some ideas that will come forth on how we can operate more efficiently,” Short said. “Keep in mind, we’re working under emergency plans developed by people in the state that allow us to smoothly do the things we’re doing today, so we’ll continue to revise and revisit them.”

He said postponing the legislative session means passing laws will become a more streamlined process.

“There’s only three things that need to be done; that’s pass the budget, pass the bond bill, and pass grant-in-aid, and it might come to that,” Short said. “I’m not sure at this point, but other things might have to wait. We’ll see.”

“The public needs to stay calm and collected,” he added. “We’ll get through it and we’ll end up with a package that we can best put together to help as many people as we can.”

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