Republicans in Delaware’s General Assembly are calling for a return to in-person meetings.
Delaware’s 151st Congressional Delegation has so far been conducted entirely online.
House Minority Whip Rep. Tim Dukes (R-Laurel) is among those critical of the process of using a digital platform to conduct committee meetings and says now is the time to resume meeting in person.
“I think it’s time to move on this,” said Dukes. “What we want more than anything is transparency with the general public.”
Senate Democrats responded saying they too want to return to in-person meetings as soon as possible, but are waiting for the ok from state public health officials. The Democrats issued a statement saying “We will not be bullied into putting the public’s health at risk.”
“I think that it’s important we do get back when we can, but I think we need to listen to medical and science professionals,” said President Pro Sen. Tem David Sokola (D-Newark).
Republicans are criticizing the process by which two bills that would restrict gun rights cleared committee in the Senate last week—noting the digital format only allowed for one-minute responses from the public, and only a few from the public were allowed to speak at a meeting attended by several hundred.
“It’s interesting how when they don’t get their way it’s always a process argument,” said Sokola in response. “I don’t know that we were hearing anything different after the fourth statement.”
Now with more Delawareans receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, Republicans say the state legislature can safely return to in-person meetings, either at Legislative Hall, or, as Dukes suggests, at a different venue nearby.
“There are several places that would house both chambers, the House and the Senate, that would be plenty of room with social distancing for the general public to be a part,” said Dukes. He lists Dover Downs, the Modern Maturity Center and Delaware State University as potential candidate sites.
The legislature is currently on its Easter Break and will return to session in two weeks.
More than 520,000 shots of vaccine have been administered in Delaware. There 142 hospitalizations statewide and the state is averaging 319 new cases of COVID-19 per day.