Legislative Hall fall/winter 2021

The House of Representatives has unanimously passed a constitutional amendment that would require that elected members of the General Assembly maintain a fulltime residence in the district where they are elected.

Under House Bill 77, if a lawmaker moves out of the district before his or her term ends, that would be an effective resignation from office.

The Delaware Constitution already requires that candidates for the General Assembly reside in the district where they are running but places no residency requirement after a candidate is elected.

“Delawareans elect people from the communities in which they live to represent them and their interests in Dover. The entire idea is that by living in those communities, representatives and senators can better raise issues that affect those areas and advocate for solutions,” Representative Paul Baumbach, D-Newark North said. “It should be a basic tenet that members live in their districts for the entire time they’re in office, which is why we are enshrining it in the Delaware Constitution.”

There would be an exception after redistricting every ten years. As described by the House Democratic Caucus:

once-a-decade exception for sitting legislators who change their residence to live within the boundaries of newly drawn districts through the redistricting process. Redistricting is a federally required process where legislative districts are redrawn based on the latest decennial census. Lines can move enough that sitting members are effectively moved out of their current districts. This provision would provide an exception for members who move out of their current district into the new one to meet the one-year residency requirement.

A two-thirds majority is required in each chamber in consecutive General Assemblies for a constitutional amendment. The measure's next stop is in the Delaware State Senate.

“This issue, unlike many that we tackle in Legislative Hall, is extremely straightforward. Elected officials should live in the district they were elected to represent,” Senator Kyle Evans Gay, D-Brandywine Hundred said,. “I look forward to swiftly passing HB 77 in the Senate and sending it to Governor Carney’s desk.”