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People to Watch: State Senate Democrats

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State Senate Democrats

When the Delaware General Assembly reconvenes in January, the calculus in Dover will be much different than when legislators last logged off from their virtual 2020 session.

Sen. David Sokola

The State Senate will see an entirely new leadership slate for the majority Democrats after Senate Pro Tempore David McBride was defeated in his primary race. Taking over the top seat this year is Sen. David Sokola, who has represented the greater Newark area for 30 years, and joining him as Senate Majority Leader is Sen. Brian Townsend and Sen. Tizzy Lockman as majority whip.

The leaders, along with new state senators like Sarah McBride, Marie Pinkney, Kyle Evans Gay and Spiros Mantzavinos, will oversee what’s known as a supermajority, or a concentration of three-fifths of seats, in both the House and Senate for at least the next two years. That allows Democrats to make more widespread legislative changes if they can keep caucus members together, and it’s already spurring talk of a more progressive agenda at the statehouse than has been seen in recent years.

Sokola told Delaware Business Times that he understands why that talk has begun, but he advised the public to temper expectations in 2021 as new lawmakers get accustomed to their responsibilities.

He noted that lawmakers are required to deal with reapportionment of legislative districts next year following the decennial census, and they will also have hearings on new Cabinet secretaries, debates over the settlement regarding property taxes and discussion on a difficult budget.

“We’re likely to see [a minimum wage bill] again. It’s not the best year for it, but there’s never a good time to have to do minimum wage,” he said, noting he expected “spirited discussion” on the issue. “We have a lot on our table, and I hope that we can get through it in a timely manner, especially the backlog of bills that weren’t heard last year.”

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