During the, ah, Special Session of the Delaware Senate in the wee hours of the morning I listened to two items of interest.
The first was interesting because of the substance: I was hoping that HB 194, the bill to raise penalties on non-certified non-nurse midwives, would fail. In that debate, when Senator Karen Petersen brought up the Canadian study published in 2009 (which tracked over 13,000 births at home and in hospitals), either Senator Hall-Long or her witness (it was impossible to tell from the audio), simply lied about the study. She (I could tell that much from the audio) blandly told Senator Petersen that the Canadian study had only involved nurse midwives, not non-nurse wives.
In point of fact, exactly the opposite was true. But Senator Petersen lacked the full data on the study right at that moment, and the measure passed, at least in part because somebody simply stood up and lied about the facts of the case.
It never occurred to me that witnesses would or could simply come into the General Assembly and lie during their testimony, not have anybody check, and just get bills passed that way. It should have occurred to me; in retrospect I'm certain it happens all the time. Which is one hell of a comment on our legislators that they are either (a) unaware; (b) apathetic; or (c) too intent on getting their own bills passed to point out the obvious: a lot of people lie in Dover.
The second item didn't inherently interest me: it was a concurrent resolution to establish a committee to advise the Senate on green buildings and energy savings. At a guess, looking at the list of state agencies vying to be part of the committee, and the total absence of private entities, I'd be this group already exists in some form and just wants a new title that sounds like they have some influence.
Senator McBride, the sponsor working the resolution, was asked several questions about it, and replied each time with variations of this quote: "I haven't the slightest idea. They asked me to sponsor it so I did, and there's nobody here who knows the answer." To which another Senator replied, "It doesn't really matter; nobody actually has to take their advice."
So then, moments later, on a voice vote, they passed the resolution that nobody knew anything about except that the committee had no actual power.
And we wonder how government in Delaware continues to grow like kudzu.
I know there are some smart people in the House and Senate--some people I respect even when I disagree with them completely. But by the end of the night this past weekend, they were just passing laws because somebody asked them to do it, and it was evident in the background chatter that nobody except the sponsors (and sometimes not even them) had any real idea what they were legislating about.
This is the best we can do?