Stephanie Hansen to take office Wednesday

State Sen. Stephanie Hansen speaks to supporters after winning the special election in February 2017. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

State Sen. Stephanie Hansen speaks to supporters after winning the special election in February 2017. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Following Tuesday’s snow day for Delaware’s General Assembly, lawmakers will reconvene Wednesday to witness the swearing in of State Sen. Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown.

The Democrat won a special election to take a vacant seat left by now Lt. Governor Bethany Hall Long, D-Delaware.

“I think many of the initiatives and issues that were in the discussion phase prior to the election will continue,” Hansen said. “I think there would have been a real shift in a number of things, I suspect, had the senate majority switched to Republicans. I don’t know for certain, but that’s what I suspect.”

One of the first orders of business when the session reconvenes will be to revisit the confirmation of Gov. John Carney’s pick for Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

In January, Republicans blocked the confirmation of Shawn Garvin, who most recently led the regional Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration.

With a vacant seat, Democrats and Republicans had split control of the Senate. The votes would have been an even tie, but when one Republican left the building for what he called a family emergency, there was no chance for a tie break—which would have likely confirmed Garvin since Hall Long would decide the vote.

The outcome may be different now Hansen is elected. She said she’s known Garvin for several years when they worked for New Castle County and during Hansen’s experience as an environmental attorney. Hansen said she had a phone conversation with Garvin last week, and she believes he will be confirmed.  

“You never want to pre-judge a hearing so you never know what’s going to happen when the name comes up on the floor, depending on the debate or discussion that happens on the floor. But I can tell you the discussion I’ve had with him on issues related to agriculture and brownfields redevelopment, I was pleased,” she said.

“He has been on the administrative level with the Environmental Protection Agency for many years, and specifically, he’s had the ability to become educated on Delaware’s environmental issues as well, and taking a broad issue as to how to address those issues. Being from Delaware, I think the experience he had at the EPA, and his experience as a Delawarean, knowing the things important to us and knowing we all have to work together as Republicans and Democrats, I think will serve him very well.”

For Hansen, one of the first items on her agenda is to address the issue of substance abuse in the state, curing individuals facing addiction and preventing addiction as well.

“I’ve begun those discussions already with members of caucus and members in the Attorney General’s Office and counsel as well. That’s one big thing that I’m working on right away,” she said.

“There are a couple of bills that were already in the works I’m in discussions with that will begin to approach the issue tangentially, but the initiatives I would like to see, I would love to have something in this session, I’m certainly going to work to that, I don’t know if it will happen this session but I’m actively working toward that.”

Hansen was originally set to take her oath of office Tuesdy, but was rescheduled until Wednesday due to the snow. She said she’s looking forward to the experience.

“To be able to have my friends and family there, particularly my family, who have traveled some distance to see me sworn in—it’s a big event for my family, we haven’t had anyone elected in office for a long, long time. I think I’m the only one, so it will be really nice to have them there with me and will make them really proud,” Hansen said.

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