From the Hall: Governor’s nephew first pro athlete to attend State of the State speech

DOVER — History was made Thursday, with a special guest in attendance for the Gov. John Carney’s State of the State. Among the hundreds gathered in Legislative Hall for the event was the governor’s nephew Brian O’Neill, who is believed to be the first professional athlete to be present for such a speech in the First State.

Mr. O’Neill recently completed his rookie season with the Minnesota Vikings, starting 11 games at right tackle. A native of Wilmington, he graduated from Salesianum School, winning state titles in football and basketball, and committed to play tight end at the University of Pittsburgh.

He later moved to tackle, starting 37 consecutive games at Pitt, and was named first-team all-conference in 2017.

He was taken in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and the advanced stats website Pro Football Focus rated Mr. O’Neill as one of the best rookie offensive linemen in the NFL this season.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman raved about him in an April news conference, praising his athleticism and fit with the team.

“He has tremendous athletic ability that you can’t teach,” he said, according to the team’s website. “You watch his tape, watch him get to the second level, watch him pull. All the physical and athletic traits that we look for and the scheme that we run. I know if I can get coaches this type of athlete, they can develop these guys. We think this kid has tremendous upside.”

In his speech Thursday, Gov. Carney joked that his nephew is “the most famous Carney.” The noted Philadelphia Eagles fan also lamented that the Vikings beat the Eagles earlier this season, prompting laughs from the audience.

Mr. O’Neill’s mother is one of Gov. Carney’s sisters, and his father is Delaware’s public defender.

A November article from the Minnesota Star Tribune described the 23-year-old as a relentless trash talker who doesn’t back down from a challenge.

Bills

While the first January of a legislative session is generally fairly slow, some potentially controversial bills have already been filed.

One measure would establish term limits for lawmakers, although the proposal itself is weak and unlikely to pass at any rate. The bill, which would not take effect until after the 2022 general election, would prevent lawmakers from serving more than 20 consecutive years in the same chamber.

A quick reading of the text will reveal a major loophole: Not only would it not include time in office before 2022, legislators could simply run for a seat in the other chamber after 20 years or sit out two years and then run for the same post.

The measure is sponsored solely by Republicans.

Another proposal would mandate Delaware close state offices after a national day of mourning is declared due to the death of a U.S. president.

Although some states gave government employees the day off for the December funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, Delaware was not among them. Some state employees were irked by the news.

Delaware government has shut down in the past for funeral services for ex-presidents, most recently with Gerald Ford in 2006.

One Democratic senator also introduced a measure that would essentially create a statewide property tax to be used to fund capital improvements, maintenance and equipment purchases for Delaware Technical and Community College.

While the bill has limited bipartisan support, previous measures have gone nowhere in recent years.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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