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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

March 2021 Newsletter

News & Events


Membership Report



Treasurer's Report




Meetings

New Castle County

March 1st @ 7p, Crabby Dicks, Delaware City & Zoom
Contact ncclp1776@gmail.com for Zoom details.

Sussex County

March 8th @ 7p, Grotto's, Seaford

Kent County

March 15th @ 7p, Pizza Delight, Dover & Zoom

Please join us at your local monthly meeting and on the Statewide Facebook Page and Group.  We're also on Discord.

Interview with a Delaware Libertarian - Vern Proctor

Vern Proctor is a member of the Sussex County Libertarian Party of Delaware.  He is currently a town council person in the town of Bethel.  He agreed to be featured in our first "Interview with a Delaware Libertarian" article which will hopefully become a regular feature of our monthly newsletter.  Questions below are written in bold with Vern's answers in italics.


February Legislative Roundup

The primary purpose of the Legislative Roundup is to inform party members and readers of pending legislation before the Delaware General Assembly, educate them about the legislative process in Delaware, and provide general information about Libertarian stances and beliefs based on the national platform and prior actions of the Libertarian Party of Delaware State Board.  Unless explicitly stated, the Libertarian Party of Delaware and its State Board takes no position on any pending legislation described below.


HB94

This bill would tie the minimum wage for tipped workers to the regular minimum wage, fixing it at 65% of the regular minimum wage.  The Libertarian Party opposes government interference in the voluntary transactions of individuals, including those between an employer and an employee freely agreeing to whatever wage they determine themselves to be mutually beneficial.  This bill is currently in the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee, sponsored by Rep. Kimberly Williams.

HB88

This bill would remove provisions allowing a "training and youth minimum wage" $0.50 below the regular minimum wage to be paid to employees under 18 and during the first 90 days of employment for adults.  The Libertarian Party opposes government interference in the voluntary transactions of individuals, including those between an employer and an employee freely agreeing to whatever wage they determine themselves to be mutually beneficial.  This bill is also currently in the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee, sponsored by Rep. Kimberly Williams.

HB105

This bill is the FY2022 Delaware Appropriations Act.  It is currently assigned to the House Appropriations Committee sponsored by House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokala.

SB50

This bill is the FY2022 Bond and Capital Improvements Bill.  It is currently assigned to the Senate Capital Improvement Committee sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokala and House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf

HB81

This bill would allow microbreweries to share brewing equipment so long as they maintain separate premises to sell their products to consumers and wholesalers.  The Libertarian Party opposes State micromanagement of private businesses.  Current statutes appear to prohibit any sharing of microbrewing equipment so despite the continued micromanagement under this legislation, it is an improvement over the status quo.  It is currently assigned to the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee, sponsored by Rep. Paul Baumbach.

HB75

This bill is the second leg of an amendment to the Delaware Constitution removing language regarding the circumstances when it is permissible to vote in elections by absentee ballot, leaving it to the General Assembly to determine by statute.  The Delaware Constitution requires two successive General Assemblies to pass a bill in order to amend it.  The first leg of this amendment was passed as HB73 under the 150th General Assembly.  This bill was passed out of the House Administration Committee on January 21st, 2021 and is awaiting a vote by the full House before moving to the Senate.  Bills to amend the Delaware Constitution must pass by a 2/3 vote.  HB75 is sponsored by Rep. David Bentz.

HB64

HB64 would create new tax brackets increasing taxes in Delaware on income over $125,000/yr to 7.1% up to $250,000/yr; income over $250,000/yr to 7.85% up to $500,000/yr; and income over $500,000/yr to 8.6%.  The Libertarian Party opposes taxation in general and views progressive income taxation in particular as a penalty for productivity.  This bill is currently assigned to the House Revenue & Finance Committee sponsored by Rep. John Kowalko.  Legislation to increase taxes requires a 3/5 vote in both chambers of the General Assembly.

SB17

This legislation, known as "The Woman's Ultrasound Right to Know Act", would compel a physician to offer a patient ultrasound imaging and auscultation of fetal heart tone services prior to terminating a pregnancy and create a Class A Misdemeanor as well as civil causes of action for medical malpractice and wrongful death should the fail to do so.  The Libertarian Party opposes government interference in doctor/patient relationships, and while recognizing that good faith views can be held on all sides of the abortion debate ultimately believes that government should be kept out of the matter.  This bill is currently assigned to the Senate Legislative Oversight & Sunset Committee sponsored by Senator Bryant Richardson.

HB40

This legislation is identical to SB17, but is assigned to the House Health & Human Development Committee sponsored by Rep. Richard Collins.

HB30

This legislation would move the state primaries for local offices currently held in September back to April, aligning it with the date of the presidential primaries.  It would also move back the deadline for "minor parties" to hold their conventions and complete their nomination papers from the current date in July to the date of the primary.  The Libertarian Party objects to interference by politicians in the incumbent so-called "major" parties interfering with the operations of so-called "minor" parties like the LP.  This legislation is not without its opportunities for the Libertarian Party of Delaware to take advantage, but it is also the case that "insurgent" candidates in major party primaries receive an advantage from the longer primary season including the summer months that they would lose under this bill, tipping the balance further in favor of the incumbents currently occupying the General Assembly.  This bill is currently assigned to the House Administration Committee sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Bolden.

HB15

This legislation is functionally equivalent to HB75, removing language from the Delaware Constitution regarding absentee voting and empowering the General Assembly to set the conditions for doing so by statute.  It is assigned to the House Administration Committee sponsored by Rep. David Bentz.

HB49

HB49 was endorsed by the Libertarian Party of Delaware and would require the General Assembly to approve any State of Emergency lasting longer than 30 days, invalidates States of Emergency declared for similar but non-weather related reasons within six months of a prior emergency, and requires the precise delineation of facilities and businesses required to be closed under any non-weather related emergency order.  This bill is assigned to the House Administration Committee sponsored by Rep. Richard Collins.

SB58

SB58 would exempt the current COVID-19 related emergency from provisions in the Delaware Code allowing executive agencies to impose quarantine and isolation procedures as well as enforcing vaccinations.  The Libertarian Party believes in medical freedom and due process all the time, even during a State of Emergency.  Not just this one.  This bill is currently assigned to the Senate Executive Committee sponsored by Senator Dave Lawson.

SCR8

SCR8, while only a "concurrent resolution" originating in the Delaware Senate, purports to declare gun violence in Delaware as a "public health crisis".  The Libertarian Party of Delaware's State Board released a statement in opposition to SCR8, as has the Delaware Chapter of the Libertarian Party Mises Caucus.  This resolution is in the House having been passed by the Senate, and is sponsored by Senator Marie Pinkney.

Monday, March 1, 2021

SCR 8 - Gun Violence as a "Public Health Crisis"


A Google Search of the Delaware Code turns up zero results for the phrase “public health crisis”.  A text search of Title 16 related to Health and Safety and of Title 20, Chapter 31 of which is related to Emergency Management, likewise returns zero results for the phrase “public health crisis”.  Nevertheless, the Delaware Senate’s concurrent resolution SCR 8 declares gun violence in Delaware to be a “public health crisis”.

This resolution is toothless campaign literature proposing no solutions and only masquerading as government action, pandering to national gun control organizations with the by now explicit goal of restricting, obstructing, and deterring lawful gun ownership by peaceful individuals exercising their right to provide for their own defense.

Though it will have no legal impact on anything by itself, it lays a foundation in the minds of legislators, executive officials, and the public to accept gun violence as “public health crisis” as if it were a virulent new strain of the Coronavirus rather than the predictable result of failed bipartisan policies like:
  • the War on Drugs,

  • a woefully inadequate Criminal Justice system, and

  • endemic problems constraining the economic opportunity of Delaware residents.


The explicit conflation contained in the declaration of this alleged public health crisis with the ongoing State of Emergency suggests that perhaps the Senate is trying to justify in advance the same type of COVID inspired unilateral government intrusions and restrictions of individual liberty, contrary to the principles of checks and balances and due process that all Americans hold dear.

Using statistics from the PRO gun control Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence:

  • 93 gun deaths are reported in Delaware for 2019, only half of them homicides.

  • New Castle County, along the I-95 Corridor, carries the highest rate of gun related deaths.

  • Sussex County, hours away from the major drug trade routes, carries the lowest rate of gun related deaths.

  • These numbers in proportion to our population are largely unchanged over the last decade and are actually going down in recent years.


By way of comparison DHSS identified 381 deaths in 2017 that were the result of drug overdoses, with 2018 and 2019 reported by the News Journal to run even higher.  Child poverty, unemployment, lack of health insurance, inaccessible dental care, cancer, obesity, and myriad other crises actually relating to public health plague our state in addition to the Coronavirus pandemic and most have been allowed to fester for years with no effective tangible action by the General Assembly.  Singling out gun violence as a “public health crisis” in light of these true crises of public health is hypocritical hand waving meant to distract from the failure to properly address them and pander to a national constituency of special interest donors.


SCR 8 itself declares additional statistics copied uncritically from one such constituency that are misleading, disconnected, and largely non-specific to Delaware, using cherry picked percentages to obfuscate the real numbers, and ignoring the disproportionate impact that the CDC attributes to the 17 square mile area comprising the City of Wilmington. Wilmington is likewise plagued by myriad endemic problems ignored both by the City government and the General Assembly for years, and has a distorting effect inflating the statewide gun death numbers that are otherwise among the lowest in the country.


Every homicide, gun related or not, is a tragedy.  Every homicide that could have been prevented even more so.  However this is no acute and escalating gun crisis, public health related or otherwise.  It is a simmering side effect of longstanding failed government policies.  What is needed to address gun violence in Delaware is:

  • to end the destructive War on Drugs directly encouraging violence in our streets to enforce the territory and terms of black market drug distributors,

  • a streamlined and strict enforcement of laws against violent crime that are too often traded for plea bargains and probation in order to more quickly cycle court dockets and prison populations crowded with non-violent offenders committing victimless crimes, and

  • real reform affecting the City of Wilmington whether rooted in municipal government or in state restrictions on its charter, funding, and allocation of existing state resources.


Targeting guns as the inanimate culprits of violence instead of the criminals who wield them, while perpetuating the circumstances that incentivize those criminals to remain outside the law and deny them opportunities to better themselves within it, will not only fail to solve the problem of violence, but will leave the innocent victims of that violence with no way to protect themselves when law enforcement fails to do so.


The Libertarian Party of Delaware calls on the Delaware House of Representatives to reject SCR 8 for the empty and misguided gesture that it is and for the foundation of unilateral executive diktats that it might be.


Instead the General Assembly should introduce and pass real legislation amending the state code:

  • to dismantle the War on Drugs;

  • to gut the economic incentives for drug related violence that so often leads to gun related homicides;

  • to free up law enforcement personnel, court dockets, and correctional resources to enable the efficient and effective enforcement of laws against violence and theft instead of clogging them up persecuting and harassing perpetrators of victimless crimes; and

  • to focus reform efforts on the moribund governance of the City of Wilmington both at the municipal and state levels to enable those communities to access opportunities that will lift them out of the cycle of poverty, hopelessness, and violence that truly lie at the root of the gun death statistics in the State of Delaware.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Developing Nations' Debt - Steve Newton

A guest post from Steve Newton: 

An interesting issue for libertarians consistent with the concept the our concerns regarding the use of force and fraud do not stop at our borders.

The question: should libertarians support the cancellation of 3rd World debt?

To answer the question you have to know how most developing nations got into serious debt trouble, because it is a problem that is, in the main, about 50-60 years old. During the 1970s -- the era of the first OPEC oil embargoes, the oil-producing nations were literally awash with western cash. So much cash that they couldn't reasonably spend it all. So they put it into western banks in America and Europe, and the bankers went crazy. They needed to lend this money out, and there was such a glut on the market that they were stepping all over each other to provide the lowest interest rates possible.

This was BIG money, the kind that even a trans-national corporation couldn't afford -- the basic buy-in level was to be at least a small nation. So they went to Bolivia, they went to Gabon, they went to Belize ... Mostly they went to countries with authoritarian regimes (dictators being a favorite subset) that held power by force rather than by the franchise, And they lent these folks a lot -- a LOT -- of money. Most of which ended up in numbered Swiss bank accounts of the dictators and their families, with the people in the country being taxed to make the loan payments.

And all was sort of well for awhile, while the interest rates were low. But interests rates never stay low, and so the taxes got higher and the governments became MORE authoritarian, and more repressive, and the living condition of the people in the countries tanked.

So many of them had revolutions and threw the bastards out. The luckiest ex dictators got to go into exile with the proceeds of their numbered Swiss accounts. The new governments raised their flag and announced they were going work for lower taxes, better schools, and more hospitals.

Enter the International Monetary Fund, which said, no bank will lend your country a dime now unless you agree to recognize your national obligation to repay Citibank, and Deutsche Bank, and etc. the full amount of those existing loans, plus the new interest rate. "We don't have the money," says the new government. "The bastards stole it from us."

"Nonetheless," says the IMF, "they were the legitimate national government at the time, and they pledged the full faith and credit of Bolivia, Gabon, Belize ... to this debt, and you took over the country, so you now have to pay it back."

"We will need to refinance," said the countries' leaders, looking at their war-torn nations and the poverty abounding. "We cannot possibly do so at the current terms."

"To refinance will require you to undertake an austerity program," said the IMF. "Cut school budgets. Cut hospital budgets. Reduce tariff and trade barriers for trans-national companies that want to do business in your country. Sign ironclad agreements not to ever nationalize any of your natural resources. And then, only then, will we refinance and give you access to a small line of credit. But you must also pledge equity in those resources against the chance that you miss a payment because you are a bad credit risk."

So the new leaders, not seeing any choice, signed. And their countries declined into the state that our former President called "shit holes." And whenever anyone brings up the question of cancelling the debt for 3rd world nations, everybody pretends that "they borrowed the money, they have to repay it." "If they weren't so corrupt and didn't mismanage their finances, they wouldn't be in this mess."

Many of them now have authoritarian regimes again, in no small part because the more democratic, representative leaders couldn't hold their power against mercenaries and uprisings ... funded from numbered Swiss bank accounts and private military companies funded by transnational corporations. (See the Cabinda province of Angola for a truly inspirational example.)

It's an old model that the US and European nations first piloted against the Republic of Haiti for African slaves having the audacity to rise up against slave owners and then kick the shit out of three French armies sent to re-enslave them. The French got everybody -- including the US -- to agree to an international trade embargo until Haiti agreed it owed millions upon millions to compensate the former plantations owners for the lands and lost revenues, and to compensate France for the cost  of sending three armies to re-enslave them. So Haiti was, in effect, doomed to be a self-fulfilling prophecy ... a shit hole of poverty and dictators that stayed in power by taxing (and murdering people) to keep the money flowing into European banks.

So back to the question. As a libertarian, how can you not be in favor of canceling that debt? The people who signed for it used force to gain power. The IMF used the threat of both force and fraud to make the new governments agree to take over the debts of criminals. The people, who have to pay the taxes to repay these debts, NEVER received any of the funds, or the benefits of the funds, while the IMF used (again) both force and fraud to require them to restructure their economies to its satisfaction, while all the money flowed back into the coffers of Citibank, Deutsche Bank, and from thence padded the accounts of OPEC members.

*Note -- if you doubt that the IMF used force or the threat of force, spend some time looking up the relationship of the IMF to funding Private Military Companies like Executive Outcomes, Sandline, Airscan, Crossed Swords, and their later cousins Blackwater/Xe. It will take some digging but you can determine who covered their payrolls, operational expenses, and equipment all over the world.

Should the people of these nations so coerced and defrauded be held responsible for paying debts they never made, for proceeds they never received? 

(Hint: in the US after the American Revolution you can bet your bippy that every colonial merchant with debts to British companies stiffed them ... and it was considered the patriotic thing to do. Too bad for the Brits that the Bank of England was not quite as soulless and vampiric as the international Monetary Fund and transnational banks.)

If we truly believe that force and fraud are illegitimate wherever they raise their ugly head, and that taxation is theft, then shouldn't we argue that US policy should include (a) cancelling all 3rd world debt to the globe's poorest countries; and (b) while we are at it, putting the IMF completely out of business?

2021 School Board Elections

In addition to the State Board's efforts to encourage participation in non-partisan municipal elections, Libertarian Party members in Delaware should also strongly consider getting involved in their local School Boards.  The 2021 School Board elections occur on May 11th, and the filing deadline is March 5th at 4.30p.  More information is on the Commissioner of Elections website.

In addition to being officially non-partisan, School Board elections are typically low turnout and offer a unique opportunity to allow Libertarians to get in on the ground floor of electoral politics.  While there are relatively few opportunities for sweeping Libertarian changes given the constraints of State and Federal laws governing education, an elected position on a School Board can give an aspiring Libertarian politician the ability to solve problems by applying a Libertarian perspective on issues with a direct and immediate impact in our local communities, build name recognition and reputation, and learn some of the players in their local political ecosystem.

Detailed instructions for filing are also available on the Commissioner of Elections website.

State Board Update - March 2021

Rank the Vote

Following a discussion spanning several months, and similar actions by all three county affiliates, the State Board of the Libertarian Party of Delaware has voted to endorse the efforts of Rank the Vote Delaware to educate the public about ranked choice voting for eventual implementation in Delaware elections.  LPD State Secretary Dayl Thomas also serves as the Secretary for Rank the Vote Delaware and introduced a motion to the State Board during the 2020Q4 State Board meeting which was tabled to allow County affiliates to weigh in first.  Kent and Sussex affiliates passed endorsement motions at monthly meetings following that meeting.  Jason Hoover, the chair of Rank the Vote Delaware, attended the New Castle County monthly meeting in February to explain their efforts and allay concerns that had been raised about the scope of the organization's efforts and how they might impact the LPD.  As a result of his presentation, the New Castle party passed a resolution endorsing the organization and the State Board took up a motion ad hoc immediately following the meeting.

Spike Cohen

At the conclusion of the 2021Q1 State Board meeting, a resolution had been passed tentatively scheduling the 2021 State Convention for May, and to extend an invitation to 2020 VP Nominee Spike Cohen for our keynote speaker.  The Board approved up to $1,000 to cover expenses while also passing a motion to allow for donations to be given to the party for the specific purpose of defraying Convention related expenses, including the expense of Mr. Cohen's travel and accommodations for the Convention.  LPD Conventions have in recent years been hosted at the Kent County Theater Guild's Patchwork Playhouse in Dover.  In light of the ongoing COVID pandemic and associated government restrictions, the Guild is unable to commit to any dates at this point in time.  Spike's schedule was also booked for May, so the State Board passed an ad hoc resolution to move the date to June 5th.  Following a conversation with Mr. Cohen's staff, the State Board also approved an additional $100 to cover Mr. Cohen's expenses so that he and his wife Tasha could join us in Dover.  We have raised $950 so far and still need another $150 to reach our goal.  You can donate at lpdelaware.org/p/donate.html.  Please be sure to mark all donations for "Friends and Family" to avoid PayPal fees and include a comment designating your donation to the Convention fund.

Developing Efforts

In light of recent actions by Facebook and Twitter, the State Board has chosen to migrate its ad hoc discussions from FB Messenger to Signal.  At the suggestion of a member, the webmaster is also looking into utilizing a Google Group for the motions and votes of these ad hoc meetings to enable members and the public to view the exchanges.  Notice has been given for an AoA Amendment to require the State Board to use this mailing list for all motions and votes.  After setting up this initial group, the webmaster is also setting up a group to distribute a monthly email newsletter including updates on State Board activities, pending legislation in the General Assembly, volunteer opportunities, outreach events, fundraising needs, meeting dates, and reports regarding the financial and membership situation of the state party.  If you did not receive the link to this post through that mailing list already, you can sign up for it by joining the group at https://groups.google.com/g/lp-delaware.  We are also encouraging members to join our new Discord Server.

Other Items

Saturday, January 30, 2021

HB 49

Passed unianimously by the State Board and sent by the State Chair to the sponsors and to the leadership in both chambers:
We are nearly a year into the Coronavirus Pandemic and there is as yet no end in sight. We have grown accustomed to what those in government and media are repeatedly calling the “new normal." Businesses remain closed or operate at reduced capacity. Restaurants provide single-use paper menus, break up large parties, and leave open tables between groups of guests. Most businesses require their customers to wear a mask to enter.

It is impossible to know how long these precautions will be warranted and difficult to know for sure if they’re even helping. What is not unknown is that the impetus for many of these changes in the State of Delaware can be ultimately laid at the feet of one man: Governor John Carney. The overbearing and invasive changes to our society were not the result of complex, voluntary interactions and negotiations among individuals, businesses, schools, and other institutions. They were not even the result of consultation with, nor of debate by, our representatives in the General Assembly who then, in their official capacity, updated the laws of our state to reflect the challenges of the times.

Instead, they have been carried out under the auspices of a “State of Emergency” declared unilaterally by our Governor. It is left to faith that he is doing so in consultation with public health experts and doctors, adequately balancing the tradeoffs between public safety and the economic necessities of survival in troubled times. Unfortunately, there is no accountability. There is no transparency. This concentrated power has bred an environment of distrust in an already divided nation and a divided state. Contrary to the exhortations to our better angels, we are not “all in this together.” Rather, we are dancing to the tune of a career politician many of us didn’t vote for and that many more voted for only begrudgingly as the least bad option.

This “new normal” cannot and should not mean that the norms of a democratic and participatory representative government are cast by the wayside along with our livelihoods, children's youth, family vacations, and ability to see the faces of our friends and neighbors while out in the community. The challenges we face may justify making difficult choices and limiting the possibilities of exposing vulnerable populations to this virus. But that is a decision we should all make together, at the very least through our elected representatives in the General Assembly, if not through the voluntary give and take of our everyday interactions.

Accordingly, a number of Representatives and Senators are sponsoring HB49 for the upcoming 151st Session of the Delaware General Assembly. This legislation would limit the ability of Delaware's Governor to extend a non-weather related State of Emergency beyond 30 days without input from the General Assembly, and therefore from the people they represent. Sadly, this bill is devoid of cosponsors from the Democratic members of the General Assembly and consigned to the House Administration Committee, where legislation disfavored by the House Democratic Leadership goes to die.

The Libertarian Party of Delaware acknowledges the realities of the political situation but hopes nevertheless that this bill will overcome the odds by receiving the committee hearing it is due and gaining enough support from our Representatives and Senators to become law. It is an unfortunate fact that this pandemic has become a political football for the dominant, dysfunctional codependency of our twisted two-party system. However, the single largest contributing factor to those circumstances must be acknowledged as the unilateral and unaccountable fashion in which the government response has been imposed.

Constraining the authority of any one politician to impose these restrictions on the population not only imposes accountability on that one politician, but also engenders buy-in from the legislative branch of our state government and by extension the diverse populations of our state and communities. We do not speak out in favor of HB49 because we discount the importance of protecting our health care workers and vulnerable populations from the ravages of this pandemic, but because in order for us to truly be “in this together,” we must all work in concert to develop the solutions needed to address it rather than be simply told what we must do, under penalty of law, by one man, sitting atop the executive branch of our state government.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Spike Cohen and the 2021 State Convention


The Libertarian Party of Delaware is honored to announce that
Spike Cohen
will be a special guest at our 2021 State Convention, being held on June 5th. Pending additional donations and the monumental organizational work of Irene Mavrakakis, we are hoping to have additional guests and events over the course of the weekend. Please contribute through the PayPal "Donate" button on the right and reach out to Irene to assist with event planning. Please use the "Friends and Family" option when making donations, as we are all family in the Liberty Movement (we certainly bicker like one) and it saves costs in fees to PayPal. Also, please include a comment denoting your contribution as intended to defray Convention expenses, which the State Board has authorized to be designated in advance to be spent for that explicit purpose.

Thank you!

Proposed Delaware Libertarian Education Policies

This was copy/pasted with permission from a post in the Delaware for Liberty Facebook group by former NCCo LPD Chair Steve Newton.


So in response to a relatively legit criticism that I should provide content rather than just sniping at what's posted here, here's a partial draft of the kind of issues surrounding public education that I believe Libertarians in Delaware should be running on. (Or at least be aware of.) This is not comprehensive, but it is meant to explore the kinds of issues, positions, and issue knowledge that libertarians will need to have be seen as credible candidates, while still advancing toward more libertarian positions.

I will cover four potential items -- (1) an elected State Board of Education; (2) School Bus Retirement Schedules; (3) eliminating the prevailing wage requirement for construction/renovation of school building; and (4) extending the provisions for Home Schools to Home School "pods."
The first thing to ask yourself as you read this is why libertarians would even go so far down into the details of a Statist public school system, when the LP platform basically calls for the elimination of State-funded education? The answer is pretty simple: State-funded education is not going to disappear in the near future, and most people are not even ready to have that conversation, much less vote for somebody who is saying that. They have not been trained to think out of that box yet.
These issues, however, are designed to introduce more libertarian elements into the existing system with the idea of, and once they are accepted and work, provides us with more credibility and visibility. The second part of the strategy revolves around actually introducing elements into that system that are inherently destabilizing for the system as such in the long term.
(1) State Board of Education elections. The staple idea of local control of schools, such as it still tenuously exists, is based on the concept of the non-partisan, elected school board. This is intended to give parents and community members final control over their own school districts through electing their own candidates to the school board. The local school board approves all policies under which the district runs, and has immense power to mediate against State and even federal incursions. This is, despite its inherent fractiousness (a feature, not a bug), one of the most directly representative entities in our entire governance system, because they can't even (except in vo-tech school districts) raise local taxes without a referendum.
However, the State Board of Education, which is supposed to perform similar tasks at the next level up, is not a voice for the parents and families in the DE school system, but a congregation of people appointed (often as direct political favors) by the Governor. The State Board has the power to set policies at the State level, and has certain appellate responsibilities regarding special education, charter schools, and a few other cases. It is also the organization that approves all charter school applications, and passes on statewide graduation requirements.
So why should not the State Board of Education also represent the parents and families of Delaware by being directly elected in the same non-partisan elections that select regular School Board members? There are a number of proposed schemas for dividing the State into voting districts for such elections, and the elections could be staggered (one third elected every two years) so as not to destroy continuity.
Who would support: most local school boards, anybody who has been negatively affected by Board policy decisions (there are literally thousands of them, because the Board has made some whopper bad decisions over the past decade), and -- interestingly enough -- the teachers' union. It may sound strange to find libertarians on the same side as DSEA on any issue, but they would be ... up to a point (I would personally support using conflict of interest rules to make it illegal for anyone who is an employee of a school district or charter school to sit on the State Board). Also, the Delaware PTA would support this idea (individual high officers have done so in the past).
Who would oppose: most Democrats and Republicans because the current system cements their power at the State level.
Now consider this -- libertarians statewide advocating in concert with the DSEA and DE PTA AGAINST Republicans and Democrats. You want to become part of the public dialogue? This can make it happen. Also, if it were ever to pass (I'd guess it will take about 3 years from start to finish), it would be significantly easier for a libertarian to get elected to that Statewide office because it is non-partisan.
(2) School bus retirement (This is a lower taxes issue). Right now in the DE State Code districts and school bus companies are required to stop using buses that are either 14 years old or have 190,000 miles on them, regardless of mechanical reliability. They have to be replaced. Interestingly enough, the industry standard is at least 17 years old and 250K, but several states have a "certified mechanical reliability" standard that allows buses to be kept in service as long as an independent inspector attests to their safety.
Just changing from 14-17 years for mandatory replacement would save the taxpayers about $60 million per year. Going to a mechanical reliability standard would save us close to $100 million per year in taxpayer-subsidized transportation costs.
Why do we have this system? Because we have an excellent private school lobby. You may not realize that, despite the existence of school choice and charters, Delaware has one of the largest private school school percentages of the school-age population per capita in America. I have not checked in several years, but back in 2016, for example, New Castle County had the fourth highest private school attendance percentage per capita in the entire country.
Where do private schools in Delaware get their school bus fleets? They buy them happily from school districts required to retire perfectly good buses at 14 years, and then run them for at least another 10 years because the DE State Code for School Buses DOES NOT COVER private schools. And they lobby their state legislators ever single time this comes up to kill any changes. Thus we have the interesting spectacle that your tax dollars are not only being taken from you to support "public" schools, but also to support "private" schools (who also get State-funded School Nurses, Drivers' Education programs, and all sorts of other goodies while piously declaiming their independence).
We are literally paying about $100 million in excess education taxes (carefully hidden in 3-4 different budget line items) to support bus fleets for private schools.
Big irony: this information originally came from a State-commissioned report back in 2008 recommending changes to public education to save money (or at least put it back in the classroom). If you recall, that was the year that Jack Markell successfully primaried John Carney for the Dem gubernatorial nomination. Here's the irony: BOTH men ran supporting the recommendations of this report (including specific reference to school buses AND the prevailing wage issue that is covered below), and BOTH became Governor, and NEITHER followed through.
Who would support: almost all public school districts and school bus companies, for whom this would be a huge savings; most liberal/progressive Democrats, and fiscally conservative Republicans. The private school lobby would oppose as hard as it could. The placement for libertarians is classic -- cut taxes, reduce red tape, improve performance -- while avoiding any extremism label by pointing out that not one but two Democratic governors supported this once and lacked the guts to do anything about it.
(3) Prevailing wage requirement -- one of the reasons we cannot fix Delaware's crumbling school infrastructure is that all major renovations or construction is REQUIRED, whether the contractor is union or not, to pay "prevailing wages." The schedule of wages is so high that the same 2008 report suggested that by dumping it we would save $300 million in tax dollars annually on school construction costs (split between State and local funds). That's 12 years ago -- estimates I have seen since suggest this figure today is closer to $500 million ...
This is great positioning against the deleterious impact of the construction unions -- at what point does it cease to make sense that a "carpenter's assistant" should be making $45/hour? According to the last prevailing wage chart I checked, the carpenter is supposed to be making $115/hour. The irony here is that most construction work done in the state of Delaware for private concerns is NOT done under prevailing wage contracts. And most of the prevailing wage work is actually done by out of state contractors, so the money does not even stay in circulation here.
The elimination of this provision in State construction contracts has been a hot potato that even DE Republicans have been afraid to touch ... but you can be guaranteed that it plays well with taxpayers.
(4) Extend home schooling protections to "pods" -- you probably don't know it, but Delaware is about the third-easiest state in the nation to set yourself up as a home school (which is something that has to be constantly protected). Now imagine if we could extend that to the creation of home school "pods" of multiple families, who would then be able to do things like hire college students to teach science classes (which is currently prohibited to them).
Why is this a take-off idea? Because COVID made a lot of upper middle class families start to think seriously about pulling their kids out of public schools and creating such pods in their neighborhoods, complete with hiring their own teachers ... only to discover that it's not legal under current DE law. This is the perfect time to get ahead of that issue and bring a libertarian idea to people who have never even considered anything but the R and D mainstream in their lives. But now they have seen how the existing system have let them down.
Equally cool, it would drive DSEA crazy and put us on the opposite side of this question while still making common cause with them on an elected State Board. Remember that the LP calls itself the "Party of Principle"? Well, education presents a unique opportunity, even in heavily Democratic Delaware, to walk that walk in a way that will get us support.
Ironically, such opportunities exist in considering transportation, the environment (did you know that something like 31 of the 50 worst polluting sites in Delaware are government owned?), prison reform, bail reform, and a host of other issues.
But we are outsiders, and we have to (a) do our homework, and (b) get down to work on these issues in non-election years, so that when you run for office you can say, "Remember I am the guy who has been fighting for the past two years to save taxpayers $100 million per year in school transportation while not compromising safety. What Democrat or Republican can say the same?"
Maybe I am completely wrong. But I have seen this approach in Delaware work -- and the beauty of it is that you do even have to win elections to make a difference.

Upcoming meetings in February 2021

 Dear Fellow Delaware Libertarians,

     Good morning! We have some exciting meetings coming up this month that you may want to join in order to get more involved. Each month, our three county parties hold meetings. Here are some updates for the meetings in February:

     NCCLP Monthly Meeting: February 1st, 7pm. Meeting on Zoom. For Zoom access, please contact LPD and NCCLP Secretary Dayl Thomas at ncclp1776@gmail.com.

     Sussex County Monthly Meeting: February 8th, 7pm. Meeting at Grotto Pizza in Seaford (22925 Sussex Highway, Seaford).

     Kent County Monthly Meeting: February 15th, 7pm. Meeting at Pizza Delight by Giacomo in Dover (67 Greentree Dr, Dover).

     Thank you for all the support you have given and continue to give. We look forward to seeing you at one of our county meetings and getting involved!