July, 2019 Meeting Minutes

Eastern Sussex Democrats

July 20, 2019 Meeting Minutes


The Eastern Sussex Democrats monthly meeting was held at the Wheelhouse Restaurant, Lewes, DE.  Meeting was called to order by President Kathy Hughes at 9:15 a.m.   After the salute to the flag, President Kathy Hughes welcomed the addition of the Membership Chairperson, Nancy Weller.   She also acknowledged Kerry Thalheim, RD# 20 Chairperson, Charlotte King. Co-founder of Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice, Peter Schott, Board President of the DE Stonewall PAC and Joanne Cabry, Progressive Democrats of Sussex County Chair as, not only attendees but potential supporters and allies of ESD.  The guest speaker for next month’s meeting, U.S. Representative, Lisa Blunt Rochester was also announced. That meeting will be on August 31st at Irish Eyes, Lewes, DE. 

The agenda continued with the introduction of the meeting’s panelists:  Speaker of the House, Pete Schwartzkopf, State Senator Bryan Townsend and Attorney General Kathy Jennings with the focus on the 2019 General Assembly legislation.

The Senate and the House of Representatives approved the state’s FY2020, $4.45 billion operating budget and budgetary supplemental bill.  Not only is it a balanced budget but it was approved ahead of schedule and limited growth to 4.2% assuring a surplus that may be available for education, healthcare, transportation, environment, mental health, etc. in the future.        

New members to the legislature, from both parties, were described as definite assets.  All are being incorporated seamlessly which will provide a strong base to combat what might be the current Federal administration’s efforts to “undo” human rights legislation, i.e., Roe v. Wade, marriage equality, environmental protection, etc.  

Another critical area that is seeing positive change is the criminal justice system.  As Kathy Jennings reported at our January meeting, her #1 goal was to implement internal policy revisions to better align charges and sentencing more equitably for everyone.  With less crowding in the prisons it is hoped that the short-term result will be an increase in rehabilitation and a decrease in trauma (both in and out of the facilities) with long term outcomes limitless.  This effort has an excellent beginning with the passing of 11 bills, many unanimously, in just 7 months!  The next focus is the Juvenile Justice system; it needs to be revised to prevent teens whose crimes are equivalent to “bad behavior” being tried in the adult criminal system.  This often results in an 80% recidivism rate.

AG Jennings is not limiting her scope to local issues.  She has joined with 15 other states in a lawsuit to block President Trump’s unilateral spending of federal defense funds for construction of a border security wall under the category of an “emergency”.    


The motion to adjourn the meeting was made by President Kathy Hughes and seconded by Russell Mojcher.  Motion passed unanimously. The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 AM.


Questions were asked on the following topics:


Off-shore wind energy - Governor Carney signed an executive order establishing the Offshore Wind Working Group to review economic opportunities and environmental benefits of offshore wind development.            


Criminal code reform status – similar to AG Jennings’ strategy on criminal justice reform she chooses not to revise the criminal code policy in its entirety.  Rather, she chooses to consolidate the codes by category, creating a more efficient method. 


Firearms legislation – existing storage law expanded.  Gov. Carney signed an expansion of the existing bill to further define unsafe storage of firearms.  The newly revised law makes it a Class B misdemeanor for a person to “intentionally or recklessly” store a loaded firearm in a way that allows a child or other person previously prohibited from gun possession to obtain the weapon. 


Pending: “Common sense” gun laws need further debate; all republicans have voiced opposition to them. “What can we (constituents) do to assist the passing of these laws?”  Follow the legislative process on legis.delaware.gov, attend the hearings to show support, join activist organizations like Moms Demand Action, etc.    


Voting machine security – DE will have updated voting machines in November; the voter will make their selection and a paper ballot will be generated for review and/or cast.  The paper ballot is equal to a legal ballot and provides a paper trail. 


Opioid crisis update – SB 101 was signed by the Governor on 7/17/19.  This bill is aimed to curb the manufacture and distribution of illicit Fentanyl analogues and has no impact on the legal manufacture of Fentanyl for medical use.  In addition, there is a shift to treatment vs. incarceration for drug use crimes.   And, mental health now covers drug addiction.  There is an effort underway to secure and convert the State Troop 7 building to a drug rehabilitation facility.

 Legalization of non-medical marijuana – many pros & cons were identified but the general overview is to assess the states that have legalized and learn from their shortcomings/successes.

Repeal of ACA – AG Jennings is one of 27 AGs claiming that repeal of the ACA is unconstitutional.  Twenty lawsuits are pending.  



Kathy Hughes
ESD Meeting Minutes

June, 2019 Meeting featuring Senator Chris Coons

The Eastern Sussex Democrats monthly meeting was held at the Atlantic Sands Hotel, Rehoboth Beach, DE. Meeting was called to order by President Kathy Hughes at 9:15 a.m. April minutes were approved by Richard Byrne and seconded by Marsha Davis. Treasurer’s report was given by Russell Mojcher and approved unanimously.

President Hughes has been invited to speak at various groups in an effort to bring awareness to ESD and recruit new members. This has been successful to a degree but we would gladly welcome anyone interested in joining our Membership Committee. Fundraising is another area that needs a dedicated individual with or without expertise within that function.

If you were there you noted that Administrative topics were kept intentionally concise to give our attendees as much time as possible to hear the informative comments of guest speaker, U.S. Senator, Chris Coons. If you have heard Senator Coons on the numerous occasions he appears on cable stations (btw, he appears on Fox News about 1/week) or in person you know what a dynamic speaker he is. And he did not disappoint the 70+ constituents that came to Rehoboth Beach on a sunny Saturday morning to hear his insights to what is on the political horizon, two of which are recapped below:

He believes that DJT has a 50-50 chance of winning again because the GOP has a singular focal point, the appointments of conservative judges to the courts. One specific appointment Sen. Coons referenced is Judge Amy Berman Jackson for the next potential Supreme Court opening. Their strategy to accomplish this is to focus on the Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaign. As Democrats, we must do the same.

The Democrats strategy, In addition to GOTV, is to focus on a number of key Senate/Congress contests that need support such as Amy McGrath vs. Mitch McConnell (KY ) and M.J. Hegar vs. John Cornyn (TX). He recommended McGrath’s video entitled “The Letter” www.amymcgrath.com and Hegar’s video on YouTube entitled “Doors” for insight into their characters. A number of other States like NH, MI & MN have Senate/Congressional seats that need to be held/won to counteract the Republicans not doing their job. In the past Coons has made significant inroads to sponsoring and supporting bi-partisan legislation but this is getting increasingly more difficult so he cited this as another reason to get involved in these important races.

At a local level he suggests taking action on Sussex County issues (clean water, gun control, etc), consider running for office, volunteer for political organizations (Eastern Sussex Dems, League of Women Voters, etc).

See below for Q & A session that followed.

Respectfully submitted.

Delores Clark

ESD Secretary

Kathy Hughes
Senator Coon's Q and A from June, 2019

Senator Coons answered questions on the following topics:


This is a process and all steps/tools available to the legislators’ should be used to effect this end.  Is it the legislators’ constitutional duty? Yes, however it will not result in the reversal of the 2016 election and may well result in the reverse.    

Climate change

Is it happening? Yes.  Is it human driven? Yes.  Will there be global participation?  Unknown but the U.S. needs to proceed with some form of a “price-on-carbon “ bill and “renewable energy” legislation as well as renegotiating the Paris Treaty that Trump abandoned after taking office. 

Press Corp

What we have been used to, equal coverage perspective, is virtually non- existent.  Media news is now business driven.  The Public needs to stay informed and be better educated and get the data from various sources to correct this new environment.  

Electoral College

It is outdated but to amend/modify is cumbersome.

Foreign interference in our elections

Some GOP senators have joined with Democrats to co-sponsor legislation designed to shore up voting machines and make it harder for foreign intelligence operatives to hack, leak and manipulate social media the way the Russians did in 2016.  But those bills are going nowhere — because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not allowed a vote on any of them 

Opinion on the proposal of free college or free community college

It would be more effective if, like the G.I. bill, students “earn it,” by a commitment to a Federal program like the Peace Corp or AmeriCorps.  

Don Allan