People interested in getting a better handle on the underpinnings of Delaware state law should welcome the appearance of a new Internet tool.
Those accessing the state code online delcode.delaware.gov will notice the posting of new active links. When clicked, these links reveal the original legislation that produced or altered that section of the code.
For instance, those reviewing the state law that allows volunteer fire companies to hold No Limit Texas Hold’em Poker tournaments for fundraising purposes (TITLE 28, CHAPTER 18) will see live links at the bottom of each section of the code. By clicking on these links, online visitors can access the full text of the 2005 bill that legalized the practice (House Substitute No. 1 for House Bill No. 211).
All Delaware laws that have been enacted or amended since 1999 (140th General Assembly) have links posted in the online code.
“This has been in the works for more than a year,” said State Registrar of Regulations Jeff Hague. “We’re always looking to make Delaware law, agency regulations, and pending regulations more available to the public.”
State Representative Tom Kovach (R-Brandywine Hundred South), an advocate for open government, who is also an attorney and active member of the Delaware Bar, welcomed the news. “Without the proper context, it can be difficult to fully understand state laws. This lack of understanding has the potential to lead to a sense of alienation that distances government from the citizens it serves. I think powerful Internet tools like this will help to provide information to change the relationship between government and its citizens for the better.”
Mr. Hague said no additional state funding was required for the project. “We were able to do this with existing funds and it did not require the purchase of any additional hardware.”
Rep. Kovach commended the effort. “Legislative Council’s Division of Research, the Government Information Center, and the Department of Technology and Information have done a great job to produce something that not only helps citizens access the law, but also gives them a sense of the intent behind it. I believe my colleagues and I need to encourage these developments and continue to support changes to improve the transparency of Delaware government.”