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Opinion of the Justices

Supreme Court of Delaware

November 18, 1961

OPINION OF THE JUSTICES of the Supreme Court in Response to Questions Propounded by the Governor of Delaware.

To His Excellency Elbert N. Carvel, Governor of Delaware:

Reference is made to your letter of September 19, 1961, addressed to the Chief Justice, requesting the opinion of the members of the Supreme Court upon certain questions involving the construction of the provisions of two articles of the Constitution of the State of Delaware. On November 17, 1961 we answered the question involving the construction of Article III, Section 18, of the Constitution, Del.C.Ann. This opinion constitutes our answer to the remaining two questions contained in your letter of September 19, 1961.

The questions remaining for answer concern the construction of Article II, Section 4, which, as amended on April 10, 1959, reads as follows:

[54 Del. 223] 'Section 4. The General Assembly shall meet on the first Tuesday of January, nineteen hundred and sixty-one, and on the same day in every second year thereafter, and on the first Tuesday in February, nineteen hundred and sixty-two, and on the same day in every second year thereafter, and at no other time, unless convened by the Governor. When the General Assembly shall be convened by the Governor, the

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session shall not continue longer than thirty days.

'The General Assembly may continue its session so long as in its judgment the public interest may require, for a period not longer than ninety legislative days in odd years and thirty legislative days in even years. In any of said thirty legislative day sessions in even years, the General Assembly shall consider no bills other than (1) bills having to do with budgetary, revenue and financial matters, (2) legislation dealing with an acute emergency, and (3) legislation in the general public welfare.'

You have asked us the following questions involving the proper meaning of this particular constitutional provision:

1. 'Do the words 'final adjournment' as appearing in Article 3, Section 18 mean final adjournment of each of the annual meetings of the General Assembly now provided for by Article 2, Section 4, or is the phrase limited to the adjournment at the end of the meeting which commences in even number years?'

2. 'Are bills introduced during the meeting of the General Assembly which commenced on the first Tuesday in January of 1961 automatically carried over to the meeting which will commence on the first Tuesday in February of 1962, or will it be necessary for the General Assembly to reintroduce bills and resolutions in February of 1962 which were not passed prior to that date?'

[54 Del. 224] We will give our answers to the quoted questions in the order in which they are set forth.

Question No. 1

By Article II, Section 1, the Constitution of this State provides that the legislative power shall be vested 'in a General Assembly' consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. By Article II, Section 2, it is provided that the House shall be composed of thirty-five members chosen for terms of two years, and that the Senate shall be composed of seventeen members chosen for terms of four years. By reason of Section 3 of the schedule appended to the Constitution, seven Senators are elected for four year terms in the years of presidential elections, and ten Senators are elected for four year terms in the years of non-presidential elections. The members of the House are elected for two year terms at each biennial election. By reason of Section 4 of the Constitutional schedule the terms of both Senators and members of the House begin 'on the day next after their election'.

It is thus apparent that by reason of Article II, Sections 1 and 2, one General Assembly is created with a life of two years, and that every two years a new General Assembly is created which in turn has a life of two years.

The original Constitution of 1897, by Article II, Section 4, required each General Assembly to meet biennially on the first Tuesday in January in regular session, and in such special ...


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