The Delaware General Assembly has unanimously voted to override Gov. John Carney's veto on HB 282.

With Senate vote, Carney veto overridden; 1st time in 47 years 

Jarek RutzGovernment, Headlines

The Delaware General Assembly has unanimously voted to override Gov. John Carney's veto on HB 282.

The Delaware General Assembly has unanimously voted to override Gov. John Carney’s veto on HB 282.

It’s official – the Delaware General Assembly has overridden a veto by Gov. John Carney.

And House Bill 282, sponsored by Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, has become state law.

It will go into effect Jan. 1, 2025, altering the membership, leadership, structure and procedures of the State Employee Benefits Committee, which controls health insurance and more for employees and retirees.

Carney on Tuesday vetoed the bill, which unanimously had passed both chambers of the legislature.

On Wednesday, the House again voted unanimously to pass the bill, which is step one of overriding a veto.

RELATED: Carney vetoes bill to rework employee benefits committee

Thursday, in the second to last day of this year’s legislative session, the Senate completed the first veto override in nearly 50 years by unanimously passing the bill again.

“This vote was not about us, and it was not about Gov. John Carney,” the House’s Democratic leadership said in a statement they released after the vote.

“This was a vote of confidence in our state workers and the labor unions who fight for their interests each and every day, said Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola, D-Newark, Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, and Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman D-Wilmington.

RELATED: House votes to override Carney veto; now on to Senate

Carney wasn’t pleased.

“For eight years, I’ve been focused on getting our fiscal house in order and protecting the interests of all Delaware taxpayers,” he said in a statement after the vote.

“I’m proud that we’ll leave our budget in strong shape for the next administration. In fact, we were able to turn a $400 million deficit when I took office into $400 million in additional reserves above the required Rainy Day Fund. As a result, we’ll be able to keep taxes low, prevent painful budget cuts and continue to fund important priorities for Delaware families.

“Unfortunately, House Bill 282 runs counter to those efforts.

The governor repeated what he had said about his veto: “This bill will make it harder for state leaders to manage over $1 billion in health care expenses — roughly one sixth of our state budget.

“That’s not smart public policy. It puts the interests of Delaware taxpayers at risk. It could lead to higher taxes and limit our ability to give pay raises to teachers, active state employees and pensioners, as we’ve done the last several years.”

Even so,  he said, “Sometimes we have disagreements with members of the General Assembly. This is one of those times. I look forward to finishing this session by working together with legislators and doing as much good as we can for the people we’re fortunate enough to serve.”

House Bill 282 was driven by a year of  discussions and meetings after the Benefits Committee announced it was going to change state retiree benefits from the premium plan they have to Medicare Advantage plans.

Many retirees were angered by this and sued, winning a court judgment that the move was illegal because of the way the retiree benefits were set up. 

The legislation will require the Speaker of the House and Senate President Pro Tem to each name a retiree to the benefits committee, among other things.

Former State Representative John Kowalko — a leader of the retiree revolt — said, “There are few issues of more importance in protecting the rights of retirees, current and future and all state employees than HB 282. The promises made to pensioners should not be ignored nor dismissed, and HB 282 allows the public and retirees to actively participate in the decisions affecting them.”

Retirees Opposed to Medicare Advantage issued a statement Thursday that their members have sent over 17,000 emails and letters to all of the 62 members of the Delaware General Assembly thanking them for passing HB 282 and asking them to override Carney’s veto.

“We believe state workers and retirees deserve a seat at the table when decisions are being made that will impact the health and welfare of their families for years to come,” Sokola, Townsend and Lockman said.

 “We trust state workers to fairly balance their personal interests with the interests of their communities, just as they trust us to protect the benefits promised to them during their dedicated careers in public service. And, we believe any steps that are undertaken to control healthcare costs in Delaware should be done in the open with seats at the table for the people most impacted by our decisions.”

Share this Post