House Bill 410
149th General Assembly (2017 - 2018)
Becomes part of the Constitution upon approval or upon the date specified
AN ACT CONCURRING IN PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE DELAWARE CONSTITUTION RELATING TO CONTINUITY OF GOVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS.
This Act is the second leg of a constitutional amendment that would alter the continuity of government provisions of the Delaware Constitution to enable the effective continuance of government following a variety of emergency situations. The first leg of this amendment, House Bill No. 380 of the 148th General Assembly, passed both Houses with the two-thirds vote required by, and was publicized in accordance with, the Delaware Constitution. Currently, Article II, § 5 of the Delaware Constitution requires the General Assembly to meet in Dover, unless an emergency caused by insurrection, conflagration, or epidemic diseases occurs. And, Article XVII, § 1 of the Delaware Constitution provides the General Assembly with the power to enact laws providing for continuity of government following emergency situations, but only if the emergency results from an enemy attack. Section 2 of this Act extends the General Assembly's authority under Article XVII, § 1 to disasters involving terrorism, disease, accident, and other natural or man-made disasters. This would authorize the General Assembly to extend the provisions of Chapter 77 of Title 29 of the Delaware Code (relating to the emergency location of government), Chapter 17 of Title 29 (relating to emergency interim legislative succession), Chapter 78 of Title 29 (relating to interim executive succession), and Chapter 18 of Title 10 (relating to emergency interim judicial succession) to emergencies involving terrorism, disease, accident, or other natural or manmade disasters, as well as those involving enemy attack. This change is consistent with the approach taken in at least four states, New York, Louisiana, Montana, and Utah, which have adopted an "all hazards" approach to continuity of government planning. In addition, Section 2 of this Act makes changes to Article XVII, § 1 adopting the interpretation of this provision by the Delaware Supreme Court in Opinion of the Justices, 190 A.2d 521 (Del. 1963), so that it is clear that the General Assembly may provide for succession for those public offices that are not immediately filled by operation of the Constitution. Section 1 of this Act would harmonize Article XVII, § 1 and Article § 5 so that the emergency situations exempting the General Assembly from the requirement that it meet in Dover are similar to the emergency situation in which the General Assembly may enact laws or otherwise act to provide for the continuity of government. Finally, this Act makes technical corrections to confirm existing law to the guidelines of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual. Specifically, lines 17 through 19 of this Act remove unnecessary legalese in and make grammatical changes to the final sentence of Article XVII, §1.