DOVER — For once, the legislative session ended not with a bang but with a whimper.
At 12:01 a.m., the Delaware House of Representatives virtually gaveled out for the final time in the regular 2021 session. Just eight minutes later, the Senate joined.
With that, lawmakers were finished their legislative work for the year, a rare planned fall special session for redistricting aside.
June 30 marks not just the close of a fiscal year but the last day of normal session. Typically, the General Assembly doesn’t return until January, and even when the chambers do convene later this year, lawmakers are not expected to handle anything outside of redrawing district borders.
Lawmakers finished their remaining bills Wednesday afternoon at Legislative Hall, approving the final budget measure and a handful of miscellaneous other proposals before departing, only to virtually regather through Zoom later.
Due to a quirk in state law, the General Assembly works through midnight on June 30, closing the book on its the regular session as June turns into July. In turn, legislators begin a special session, enabling them to return before January if need be (as is the case this year due to delays in the federal government collecting and distributing vital census data).
Aside from a few brief words of appreciation for colleagues' commitment over the past five-and-a-half months, legislators had little to share during the virtual session. Understandably, everyone was ready for bed, and the late-night formalities wrapped up in record time.
"It has been a difficult year all the way around, and we were able to come out on the better end of it," House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said.
This year's legislative session took place both virtually and in person, albeit in limited fashion. Lawmakers hope to be fully back by January, if not the fall special session.
Because this is only the first leg of a two-year sesison, all bills still making their way through the legislative process will be picked up where they were left off when lawmakers reconvene in January.