DOVER – With the start of a new legislative session, the House Democratic Caucus outlined its public participation process to ensure that all residents’ voices are heard on issues affecting our state.
The COVID-19 pandemic created many challenges, but it also forced government agencies to find new, innovative ways to continue functioning and remain open and transparent to the public. Many of those new methods have carried over into how the General Assembly conducts business today.
“One of the things we recognized during the pandemic was that by providing a way for residents to watch and participate in their government remotely, more and more people were able to stay informed and have their voices heard. We had record attendance and participation in our committee meetings, and it’s something that we are eager to continue to provide,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst.
“We understand it’s a difficult commitment to ask someone to take off work, arrange childcare or coordinate transportation to get to Dover to watch a hearing and offer public comment. By providing livestreamed proceedings and a way for residents to offer comment remotely, we are bringing their government directly to them and allowing them to be a part of the process wherever they might be. That is a big win for transparency.”
Committee meetings provide a public vetting of legislation where legislators can ask questions of a bill sponsor, state agency heads or other experts. The public also has the opportunity to voice their support, opposition or concerns about legislation about each bill before the committee members vote on whether to release it. Committee members take a public vote on whether to release the bill from committee for consideration by the full House of Representatives.
Members of the public have multiple opportunities to view House committees and provide public comment during the meetings. They may attend proceedings and offer comment on legislation in person at Legislative Hall in Dover.
Residents also can view meetings online via livestream on the General Assembly website. If they wish to give public comment remotely, they must call into the established conference call line and enter the passcode provided on the committee meeting agenda page.
It is strongly encouraged that members of the public submit written comments via email at HouseCommitteeComment@delaware.gov before or up to close of business the day after the committee meeting takes place. All public comments will be incorporated into the committee meeting record.
All sessions of the full House are broadcast live on the General Assembly website, and members of the public may attend session in person in the House Chamber.