Madame President, I rise as the 150th General Assembly begins its second legislative day of the first session for two reasons: first, to share with you, my respected colleagues, an indelible impression that struck me as I reviewed the Senate committee assignments, the chairs and vice chairs and the committee members you now have in hand; and second, to make an announcement regarding the end of session procedure for this Chamber that should both promote the efficiency of our June deliberations and provide added safety for legislators and staff.
As noted, the committee assignments are now published, and the committee chairs and committee vice chairs are duly appointed. Almost all of you received the assignments that you requested. As I surveyed the final list, I marveled at the extraordinary array of talent, expertise, and experience that the members of the Delaware Senate—on both sides of the aisle—bring to the critical legislative tasks that lie ahead. I believe that the collective skills and abilities of the members of this Senate are without parallel in my 40 years of service in Legislative Hall. This high quality brand provides strong assurance to the citizens of Delaware that their best interests will be well-served by the labors of the Delaware Senate.
In that spirit, let me turn to my announcement. As its predicate, let me ask on this second day of Senate deliberations that you turn your attention to the last day of deliberations on June 30. It is no secret that I have never been a fan of the extraordinary end of session marathons that extend well into the morning of July 1. I have always believed that these long night journeys into day create an environment where we are incapable of doing our best work. And, worse yet, we put ourselves and our staff in harm’s way when we wearily climb into our cars for the journey home. Data from the National Highway Safety Administration underscore my concern: in 2015 alone, 824 fatalities occurred on our nation’s roads that were attributed to drowsily driving. And drowsiness during the early morning hours of July 1 is epidemic, and magnified by the stress of the long night which follows the longest legislative day at the conclusion of the longest legislative week.
So today I announce that the three critical pieces of legislation — the operating budget, the bond bill, and the grant in aid bill — will be voted upon by the Senate no later than 1 a.m. on July 1, 2019. If this troika of finance legislation is not completed on or before 1 a.m. on July 1, I will recess the Senate to the call of the President Pro Tempore at 1 a.m., and then reconvene the Senate at 4 p.m. on July 1, and at the same time on each day following until these bills and passed and sent to the Governor.
I believe that putting an end to the all-night session will both promote a more deliberative resolution of any issues that would impede passage of the key finance measures at the end of session and at the same time allay a serious threat to those traveling n Delaware’s roads on July 1. The days when members and staff of the Delaware Senate must watch the sun rise over Legislative Hall on July 1 are over.