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January 17, 1997     Cape Gazette
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January 17, 1997

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12 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, January 17 - January 23, 1997 Cape Region lawmakers sworn in as 139th General Assembly opens By Rosanne Pack Sussex County is usually responsible for something unique as the state General As- sembly opens each January, and for the 139th, the south county provides two of three lawmakers that are taking a seat in their respective chambers for the first time. First-time ever elected to public office, Shirley A. Price, D-Millville, serves the 37th Representative District, and George H. Bunting, D-Bethany, moves across the hall to become a new state senator for the 20th Senatorial District. Bunting previously served 14 years in the Delaware House of Representatives; and he left the seat that Price was elected to fill. Although the Delaware House has al- ready given the public something to talk about by tabling a pet bill of Gov. Tom Carper, opening day of the General Assem- bly was the usual mix of family and friends, George Howard Bunting and wife Donna relax in his office after he is sworn in as state senator after serv-  ing 14 years in the House of Represen- tatives. warm festivities and solemn ceremony. The House of Representatives, standing-room- only crowded with family and friends of 41 elected officials, hummed with activity. Children murmured softly into the desk mi- crophones of their parents and grandparents during opening invocation, and husbands and wives held family Bibles as the official oath of office was administered by Supreme Court Justice Randy Holland, another Sus- sex Countian. First-time legislator Before swearing in the entire House of Representatives, Holland swore in Price and Helene M. Keeley, D-Wilmington South, in a symbolic separate ceremony as the two new members of the elected body. Price's husband Gordon accompanied her to the front of the house chamber where Holland waited, but the rest of her en- tourage had to watch from the back of the floor or from the balcony gallery. The first-time legislator was escorted to her swearing-in by 70 people; family, friends and supporters from her district. Many of her followers utilized a bus to make the trip to Dover, and the Price parade was by far the largest group to honor one lawmaker with their presence. On the other end of the elected longevity spectrum, Charles P. West, D-Gumboro, was re-elected to his seat this fall after serv- ing the 41st Representative District for 39 years. Crowded around him, his family knew the routine. His adult son gallantly waved people in front of him, explaining that he had seen the show a few times be- fore, Rep. John R. Sehroeder, D-Lewes, shared his desk, and sometimes his microphone, with six-year-old son Zachary. Later his wife Sue held their Bible as the oath of of- fice was administered to the collective house. Schroeder was elected to his fifth term of service for the 37th District. Bunting assumes seat In the Delaware Senate, Bunting took the oath of office for the first time as the occu- pant of a seat long filled by now-retired lawmaker Sen. Richard Cordrey. He was accompanied by his wife Donna who not only worked on her husband's campaign right up to election day, but she also quick- ly got in some finishing decorator touches to her husband's new office once workers were out of the way. Another southern Delaware lawmaker, Sen. Robert J. Voshell took a new position as the Senate Majority Leader. Although he has served only one term in the state senate, the Milford Democrat is familiar with the ways of government in Delaware since he retired as director of the division of motor vehicles five years ago after more than 25 years as a public servant. State lawmakers are returning to a reno- vated Legislative Hall that is almost com- plete. Footsteps resound on new black and white marble floors and a large state seal overlooks each chamber from a position in the ceiling. Work crews were bustling up to the Jan. 14 opening day, and many were back for finishing up once the festivities closed. With the renovations and shifting of of- rices, new phone numbers have not been as- signed yet; area lawmakers can be reached by calling the following numbers: Senate Democrats, 739-5086; Senate Re- publicans, 739-5048; House Republicans, 739-4487 or 739-4291; House Democrats, 739-4351. Rosanne Pack photos 37th District Rep. John Schroeder is joined by wife Sue and sen Zachary for opening day ceremonies Jan. 14 in Dover. Shirley Price, with husband Gor- don, awaits being sworn in on the opening day of the 139th General As. sembly. Committee throws governor a curve on secretary of eclucation By Rosanne Pack Wasting no time in serving up surprises, the Delaware House Ed- ucation Committee tabled H.B. 1 Wednesday, a Carper-crafted piece of legislation that would create the position of secretary of education. As an integral part of his public education reforms, the governor wants the bill passed before the General Assembly breaks for bud- get writing at the end of the month. The state department of public instruction has been without a su- perintendent since Pascal D. For- gione resigned in May, 1996. On Jan. 15, the first full day of legislative action of the 139th General Assembly, the committee voted to table the bill that is spon- sored by the House Majority Leader Wayne A. Smith, R-Clair Manor. Although the bill has 34 co- sponsors between the two legisla- tive chambers and bi-partisan sup- port, Rep. Philip D. Cloutier, R- Heatherbrooke initiated action to table it for a week. He said that the time is needed for the public to become familiar with and comment on the bill. H.B 1 would allow the governor to ap- point a secretary of education rather than have the state board of education appoint a state superin- tendent. The appointee would have to be confirmed by the Delaware Sen- ate. Rep. John R. Schroeder, D- Lewes, is surprised and disap- pointed that the bill was not re- leased from committee and sent to the floor for debate on Jan. 16. He said that there has been ample in- formation and discussion circulat- ed on the proposal. "I have supported this idea; it is not brand new and individuals up and down the state knew it was coming," he said. "I was ready to debate the bill Thursday; and I am amazed that Smith's own party kept it in committee. "What does it mean when the new Majority Leader can't get a bill out of committee because of his party; especially when this one has such broad-based support." Newly seated representative of the 38th District, Shirley Price, D- Millville, is a member of the House Education Committee. She said that she supports the bill, but she voted to keep it in committee for another week to get public input. "I am in favor of it, but it was tabled because people didn't have a chance to respond," she said. "I want everybody to be part of the process. "I want the bill passed because it elevates the position to where it should be, and will make the edu- cation community more respon- sive to the public." Price said that she expects the bill will pass both chambers once it is out of committee. Conservation districts to debate agriculture's future: farming or housing Jan. 23 By Michael Sho provocative topic. The sesssion will be The future of farm preservation has been ly farmer. Vosheil said that land use, a pop- Will future Sussex farmland sprout sub- divisions or soybeans? That's the question to be asked at the an- nual convention of the Delaware Associa- tion of Conservation Districts. The provocative topic has attracted speakers ranging from Don Crossan, chairman of Agricultural Lands Preservation Founda- tion, to Dean Belt, president of the Delaware Assocation of Conservation Dis- tricts, Senator Bob Voshell (D-Milford), Bob Stickels, Sussex County Administrator and Tom Daniels, the Farmland Preserva- tion Director for Lancaster County, Penn- sylvania. The day-long session isn't expected to reach any conclusions, but it will air a Thursday, Jan. 23 at the Sheraton Inn Con- ference Center in Dover. Voshell, the Senate Majority Leader, says the timing is good for such a session. It's an issue that has moved to the front burner re- cently as land use issues have come to prominence in the state. "'I think everybody has concern about which way this is going," said Voshell. "I think the issue is there from every- body," according to Voshell. Kevin Donnelly, program administrator for conservation districts with the Division of Soil and Water Conservation, said that people feel "this is one of the most impor- tant ones [issues] that has faced agriculture in a long time." thrust into center stage as Delaware's three counties develop land use plans. In Sussex, a proposal to limit much of the county's farmland to only one lot of development for each 20 acres of land caused upheavals among farm groups, which argued that property values would fall and the plan would make it harder for many small farm- ers to stay in business. Ironically enough, the Plan had been in- tended to preserve farmland. But critics said it could do exactly the opposite. One critic of that plan, Rich Collins, a former candidate for county council, farmer and insurance agent, argued that instead of trying to preserve the family farm, some- thing ought to be done to preserve the fami- ular topic in last year's legislature, may come up again during this year's session. Voshell said that he feels land use is essen- tially a local issue, but an issue that may need some state oversight. He explained that state oversight could make sure infra- structure like roads and sewers are up to ca- pacity. "I think this issue is very timely and I'm looking forward to being a listener to the prior speakers," Voshell said. Donnelly said the forum will not reach a final consensus; but it's designed to stimu- late comment and ideas on the issue. The forum, titled "Delaware Agriculture, is the future in farming or houses?" begins with a Friends of Agriculture Breakfast at 7:15 a.m. To register call 739-4411 soon.