Making Democracy Work

Our Advocacy Work

Making Democracy Work

The LWV of Delaware is active in Dover, the state capital, working primarily through our 11 volunteer, registered lobbyists and other members of the Advocacy Corps who support our advocacy work in many ways.

Advocacy Corps

The Advocacy Corps (AC), chaired by Sandy Spence, is comprised of our 11 volunteer registered lobbyists, other portfolio (committee) chairs, and additional League members who participate on a regular basis in the AC's deliberations and support the work of the lobbyists by researching and writing testimony, letters to the editor, op eds. The AC monitors all bills related to League issues.

Our volunteer lobbyists advocate on those bills where we have a relevant state or national position that has been developed after study and consensus at the national and/or state level.

A summary of our state positions, developed after study and consensus, appears below. Positions developed by LWVUS can also be used as a basis for League action. Go here for our Positions.

The AC is also responsible for organizing our annual League Day in Dover, held in late March or early April each year.

The Corps meets in Dover monthly during legislative sessions and most months in between. For more information contact Sandy Spence, Advocacy Chair.

Current and Recent Advocacy Actions

LWVDE lobbyists testified at several hearings of the Office of Management and Budget in preparation for the Governor's FY2019 budget in November 2017. After the Governor presented his proposed budget in January, Advocacy Corps members testified at hearings of the Joint Finance Committee during late January and February.

They urged approval of some of the Governor's budget provisions and decried the absence of funding for some important programs. Their testimony and updated position papers appear below.

The major issue for the League is that the Governor's Budget fails to include funding for new voting machines, presumably because the task force assigned to review bids and make recommendations has not completed that process, so the cost is currently unknown but is expected to amount to as much as $25 million.

Assuming that funding for voting machines will come from the Capital Improvement (Bond) Bill, LWVDE has contacted Committee Chairman Quinn Johnson about the need for funding for this purpose to be included on the agenda for Bond Bill hearings that are scheduled for May 14-17. He responded: "No request came from the Department of Elections for a hearing. It is our understanding that they will evaluate the responses of the RFP, formulate some decisions and then choose a path. If a hearing is needed, we will certainly entertain their request."

See our testimony on voting machines, based on LWVUS policy, below.

In the first of the two-year 149th Session of Delaware's General Assembly (2017), the Advocacy Corps discussed 124 bills, deciding on which ones to support, oppose, or simply monitor. See the summer 2017 Delaware Voter for a summary report of the first year of the 149th Session of the Delaware General Assembly. Some testimony they presented can be accessed below.

The AC is now reviewing new bills introduced beginning in December 2017.

LWVDE Position Papers

Based on state and/or national League policy positions, the Advocacy Corps has prepared a set of Position Papers on specific bills or current issues. Members deliver folders with these papers to the office of every legislator on the afternoon of League Day and they are used throughout the year as we advocate at public hearings, write letters to the editor and take other actions to support our positions.

View the papers on each topic by clicking on the header below. Check back later as we update these and post additional papers.

  • Absentee Voting HB 39, the first leg of a constitutional amendment to remove restrictions on absentee voting was released from the House Committee in March 2017 but has never been considered on the House floor. Constitutional amendments must be passed in two consecutive sessions of the legislature. If it fails to be acted on by the House and Senate by June 30, it will need to start over in the next Sesson. A bill to remove the requirement that applications for absentee ballots be notarized was enacted on July 28, 2017.

  • Auto Insurance Position Paper We support elimination of discriminatory practices by insurance companies. A compromise bill was signed by the Governor on August 2, 2017.

  • Bail ReformThe League supports the urgent need for bail reform. We are delighted to announce that HB 204 passed the House on June 26, 2017, passed the Senate on January 16, 2018 and was signed by the Governor on January 25, 2018!

  • Coastal Zone Act of 1971 We support Strengthening Regulations Implementing the Coastal Zone Act of 1971. Unfortunately, the bill we strongly opposed was enacted on August 2, 2017.

  • Cigarette and E-Cigarette Tax The cigarette tax should be doubled and e-cigarettes should be taxed at the same rate. Cigarette taxes were increased by 50 cents but were not doubled to $1. A complex formula was applied to tax e-cigarettes in the FY 2018 appropriations bill.

  • Death Penalty Reinstatement We oppose Reinstatement of Delaware's Death Penalty. This bill passed the House and is pending in the Senate Committee.

  • Dental Care for Medicaid Recipients Dental Care is important to overall health. To date, this funding has not been added to Delaware's budget.

  • DIMER Funding to secure slots for Delaware students at out-of-state Medical School supports availability of medical personnel since we have no medical schools in Delaware. Partial funding has been provided.

  • Earned Income Tax Credit The LWV supports making Delaware's EITC program refundable to target aid to some of the lowest-income workers and provide work incentives. This bill passed the House in 2017 and is pending in the Senate Finance Committee.

  • Homeless Bill of Rights We support Adoption of a Homeless Bill of Rights. No bill has been introduced in the current legislative session.

  • Human Trafficking We consider human trafficking to be a form of modern day slavery and believe that every measure should be taken and every effort should be made through legislation and changes in public policy to prevent human trafficking. HB 35, giving the state authority to regulate massage parlors where much of the state's human trafficking occurs, was enacted on July 26, 2017.

  • Manufactured Housing. Based on our support for affordable housing and "tenants" rights, we support legislation to improve the plight of manufactured homeowners on leased land.

  • Minimum Mandatory Sentencing Let's eliminate minimum mandatory sentences and adjust drug sentencing laws to fit the seriousness of the crime. Some progress was made on this subject in various bills in the current session.

  • Minimum Wage LWVDE supports a minimum wage of up to $10.25 adopted in annual steps, indexing future increases to inflation, and raising the minimum wage for tipped workers beyond its current level of $2.23 per hour. SB 10 was released from the Senate Labor Committee on June 7, 2017. No further action to date.

  • National Popular Vote LWVDE urges the General Assembly to join the National Popular Vote Compact. No action has been taken on this issue.

  • Open Space and Agricultural Preservation We support full funding of $9 million for open space and $10 million for farmland preservation. The Governor's budget for the Fiscal Year ending on June 30, 2019 includes $10 million for each of these programs.

  • Special Education Funding for K-3 We support special education funding for grades K-3. No funding for this program was included in the current year budget.

  • Transit Funding We support increased funding for public transportation.

  • Voting Machines and Paper Trail Delaware should adopt a system that leaves a paper trail to ensure that voters can see and have confidence in the integrity of the state's elections. A Request for Proposal is pending. Funding for new machines is critical in the FY 2019 budget.

  • Wilmington Eduction Improvement Recommendations We support the Recommendations of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission addressing the urgent need for property tax reassessment and correction of the inequities in the school funding formula. This proposal died in the House.

  • Work a Day, Earn a Pay We support a public works program aimed at unemployed, at-risk, and disadvantaged individuals with barriers to employment opportunities. SB 9 passed the Senate on June 30, 2017; It is now pending in the House Labor Committee.

League Testimonies on Specific Bills

LWVUS Advocacy Focus

To learn about the priority national issues with which LWVUS is involved, go to LWV-Our Work.

If you would like to advocate on LWVUS positions at the national level, consider joining the LWVUS Grassroots Lobby Corps to receive email action alerts from the LWVUS and respond by sending quick, targeted, and sometimes last-minute, messages to members of Congress on priority issues before key votes. To get involved in this network, go to the League's website here. Provide your contact information and check Grassroots Lobby Corps.

The Lobby Handbook

The LWVDE produced The Lobby Handbook as a guide on how to conduct effective advocacy. An updated version (April 2018) can be found here. It was written to give you a short course on the legislative process in Delaware and to offer practical information about influencing it. We encourage you to take advantage of our state's "uniqueness" and to become knowledgeable about and involved in your government.