OPINION OF THE JUSTICES of the Supreme Court in Response to a question Propounded by the Governor of Delaware.
[54 Del. 526] To His Excellency Elbert N. Carvel, Governor of Delaware:
Reference is made to your two letters of April 17th and April 26th, addressed to the Chief Justice, requesting the opinion of the members of the Supreme Court upon the constitutionality of four Acts of the General Assembly passed during the second or thirty-day session of the One Hundred [54 Del. 527] and Twenty-first General Assembly. You state that the constitutionality of these Acts has been questioned on the ground that they do not fall within any of the three categories of legislation that may lawfully be considered during the second session of a General Assembly.
Article II, § 4 of the Constitution, as amended in 1959, Del.C.Ann., provides as follows:
'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 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.'
Since the four acts referred to do not necessarily fall within the same category, we shall consider each separately.
Senate Bill 308, being Ch. 348, Vol. 53, Delaware Laws
This is an act to amend Chapter 83 of Title 16 of the Code, embodying the Building Code for rural New Castle County. The amendatory act amends three sections of the chapter. The present statute authorizes the adoption of a building code for only part of the county, i. e. the 'Wilmington, [54 Del. 528] Metropolitan Area' outside of the City of Wilmington. The general purpose of Senate Bill 308 is to grant authority to extend the code to all of the county outside of Wilmington excepting farm properties.
Obviously Senate Bill 308 does not fall within either category (1) or category (2) of the constitutional provision above quoted.
The question therefore is whether Senate Bill 308 is 'legislation in the general public welfare.'
The phrase 'general public welfare' is a vague one. What is meant by the use of the word 'general'?
In giving a meaning to the phrase we are aided by the history of the 1959 Constitutional Amendment. A thorough examination of the Constitutions of all of the States reveals that only one State, Maryland, has such a provision. Moreover, the language of our provision is almost identical with that of the Maryland provision. The language of our provision specifying the three categories of permissible legislation is word for word that of the Maryland provision. The Maryland provision was adopted in 1948. Our amendment was first passed in 1957 (51 Del.L. c. ...