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This page offers all of Delaware Public Media's ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it is affecting the First State. Check here regularly for the latest new and information.

State Senate begins working virtually

Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s legislative branch is back up and running again.  The State Senate voted 17-4 Wednesday to approve rules for working online for the rest of the session.

Senate President Pro Temp David McBride (D-Hawk's Nest) stressed it was a long road to getting back to work.   

“Since last we gathered in the Senate chamber, we have been compelled to answer the restrictions relating to the public gatherings, protect the members of health and staff, and members of the public normally attending regular Senate sessions.  All amidst the concerns and challenges of moving forward within the global pandemic,” McBride said.

McBride said the vote allows the Senate to play its role as the state continues to navigate the pandemic.

“There is much uncertainty as we proceed.  Many decisions yet to be made to effectively meet this health and economic crisis,” McBride said.  “There is one certainty.  The Delaware State Senate will continue to take action and work with the House and the Governor to do whatever it may be necessary to meet this challenge.”

State Senator David Lawson (R-Milford) was among four Republicans to vote “no.” He expressed concerns over rural internet access.

“There’s many in the 15th Senatorial District and many others that don’t have access to the internet and they can’t see what we’re doing.  They don’t have the ability,” Lawson said. “There’s no way to reach out to those particularly in the Amish community.  And, I’m not comfortable with passing a resolution to circumvent a law.”

State Senators Colin Bonini (R-South Dover), Bryant Richardson (R-Laurel), and David Wilson (R-Lincoln) also voted against the resolution.

Both chambers needed to pass a concurrent resolution to alter rules and hold its session offsite.  The House passed it Tuesday.  Gov. John Carney released a statement after the vote commending the state legislature’s work to resume session.  

“This is an unusual time, and a session of the General Assembly like we’ve never seen before,” Gov. Carney said.  “I want to thank members of the House and Senate for gaveling into session this week and getting important work done under difficult circumstances”

The Senate also confirmed several appointments left in limbo by the coronavirus pandemic, including Colonel Nathaniel McQueen as Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security. Seven judical nominations were confirmed as well.