Sometimes it's easier to criticize than lead

February 1, 2013

I read with disappointment a recent correspondence sent by Sussex County Councilwoman Joan Deaver, in which she criticized elected officials at the state level, questioning whether we have our "priorities in the right order."

Even though this will not be the first time she has offered criticism of the General Assembly, I will again assure the councilwoman and the constituents I serve that my Sussex County colleagues and I do not take the criticism lightly.  We take it to heart and defend our work proudly.

I have had the joy and honor of serving in our Legislature since 2009 and, since then, much has been accomplished at the state level, especially as it relates to improving critical system failures that resulted from the historic case against convicted child predator and former Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley.

I contend that the comprehensive package of bills the General Assembly passed as a result of that case will be among some of the most important public policy decisions ever to be made in Legislative Hall.  These laws were carefully authored with the specific intent of correcting failures in state laws and procedures.  The legislation put in place the necessary safeguards that will help protect children from the kind of despicable horrors Bradley inflicted upon his victims.

We also continue to work to improve the overall public safety of Delawareans in the wake of the recent tragedy relating to the multiple shooting deaths in Newtown, Conn.  The acts were unthinkable and, yet as policymakers, we have an obligation to offer proposals to make our schools and communities safer ensuring that what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary does not happen in our state.

I am proudly sponsoring a package of bills that will improve public safety within our schools and increase the penalties for those who illegally possess or use a firearm. The package of bills includes a measure that establishes a School Safety and Security Fund that will allow public schools to pay for immediate school safety improvements.

Another bill would require the installation of a “crisis button” in every public school in order to alert law enforcement in the event of an emergency. We are also proposing legislation that will stiffen the penalties for firearms used in the commission of a crime, as well as a bill to tighten the penalties relating to the possession of a firearm by a person prohibited from having a gun.

We have a good deal of work ahead of us this year.  One of my other main objectives in the 2013 legislative session will be to fight the extension of the $200 million in tax increases due to start expiring this year. The governor has already announced that he is not planning to return the tax rates to the levels they were in 2009 when the increases were enacted.

As our economy continues to struggle to rebound, however, many Delaware families continue to be impacted by a sluggish recovery. I stand with those families, as well as the many small businesses already anticipating increased costs from higher workers' compensation premiums this year and the unfunded mandates that will result from the federal Affordable Care Act.  We made a promise four years ago that the tax increases were only temporary to get us through a significant budget shortfall.  We owe it to all Delawareans to make good on that promise this year.

Sometimes it's a lot easier to criticize than lead.  Keeping our focus amid the criticism is often a tough task.  But, I welcome the challenges ahead of us and will continue to remain focused on the job at hand. I am excited about serving another term in our General Assembly.  Serving the citizens of Sussex County is an honor and a job I very much take to heart.

Rep. Ruth Briggs King,

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