[caption id="attachment_188115" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
DOVER – The Delaware Senate convened the 151st General Assembly on Tuesday by swearing in a historically diverse class of re-elected and newly elected Senators, selecting a new President Pro Tempore, confirming a new Secretary of the Senate and adopting updated Senate rules.
As previously announced, the first day of session was conducted virtually with the proceedings livestreamed directly to the General Assembly website for the first time ever.
“Delaware faces historic challenges today stemming from both the COVID-19 pandemic and more deep-rooted inequalities left unaddressed for far too long,” said Sen. Dave Sokola, D-Newark, who was unanimously elected Senate President Pro Tempore by his peers on Tuesday.
“The voters of Delaware spoke loud and clear last fall that they are tired of the status quo. They demand changes that will benefit all Delawareans and not just a privileged few. I believe we have a Senate today that is eager to tackle these issues head on. I am excited to roll up our sleeves and get to work for the people of this great state.”
The leadership of the Senate Democratic Caucus also includes Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend, D-Newark/Bear, and Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, D-Wilmington.
The Senate Democratic Caucus on Tuesday began a new session with 14 members for the first time in a decade. Thanks to the voters of Delaware, the Majority Caucus is also more reflective of Delaware’s broader demographics than ever before. The Majority Caucus is now made up of seven women and seven men. For the first time in Delaware history, the Majority Caucus includes three African American members in Sen. Lockman, Sen. Darius Brown and Sen. Marie Pinkney and one Latina in Sen. Laura Sturgeon. Sen. Pinkney and Sen. Sarah McBride, the first two openly LGBTQ+ Delawareans elected to the State Senate, also were sworn in on Tuesday.
“Every one of us is proud of our identities and the historic advancements our being sworn in today represents,” said Sen. McBride, D-North Wilmington, America’s first out transgender state senator and the highest-ranking transgender elected official in the nation. “Now I think we are all eager to focus our attention on our constituents and our responsibility to address their needs and their concerns. The challenges they face are great but our resolve to create a healthier, fairer, more equitable Delaware must be greater.”
The Senate on Tuesday also confirmed the newly elected President Pro Tempore’s appointment of Ryan Dunphy as its new Secretary. At 24 years old, the former legislative assistant to Sen. Jack Walsh, D-Stanton, is the youngest state Senate secretary in the nation.
“Today represents not only the start of a new legislative session but the start of a new direction for the Delaware Senate,” Sen. Lockman said. “Over and over in recent election cycles, the voters have demanded more responsiveness and more action from their elected officials. We have a responsibility to meet their expectations by working every day to improve the lives of our neighbors and our communities.”
The 151st General Assembly will continue Wednesday with a meeting of the Senate Executive Committee at 3 p.m. to consider cabinet nominations from Gov. John Carney. The full Senate will reconvene at 4 p.m. to confirm those nominees.