It’s alive! It’s alive!
The bill that would allow absentee ballots to be used for any reason will not die, but will be able to come back before the Delaware House of Representatives in 2022, thanks to some little used political machinations.
Because House Bill 75 would alter the state’s Constitution, it must be passed in two separate sessions of the General Assembly. It passed easily in 2019 in the 150th session. But when it came up for a vote last week — now in the 151st session — it failed.
House Republicans voted it down, even though the bill had bipartisan support in 2019. Several Republicans said that removing the ballots from the Constitution would mean that absentee ballot rules could be changed by a simple majority vote in the legislature. That could mean the ruling party could make changes that would favor its party in elections, they said.
When the bill did not pass, House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, switched her vote from yes to no. Then she asked Speaker of the House Peter Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, to end the session with three Republican bills left on the agenda.
Longhurst’s switch put her on the prevailing side of the vote — the nos — and gave her the right to ask for the bill to come back up instead of letting it die.
On Thursday, Longhurst did that.
When Schwartzkopf allowed the bill to come back, Longhurst tabled it.
That will allow it to be heard again during this session, which continues in 2022, which is still the 151st session of the Delaware General Assembly because its sessions are spread over two years.
“By restoring it, rescinding the vote and tabling it, it resets the bill and stops the clock,” said Joseph Fulgham, communications officer of the Delaware House of Representatives Republican Caucus. “It will be eligible to be worked through the 2022 legislative.”
The three Republican bills that were not heard on last week’s agenda have not shown up on a House agenda this week
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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