State House committee assignments are posted

DOVER — Rep. Quinn Johnson, a Middletown Democrat who served as one of the two co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Capital Improvement for the past six years, has been named co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance Committee.

Rep. Debra Heffernan, a Bellefonte Democrat, will replace him as co-chair of what is commonly known as the Bond Committee.

House Democrats on Friday unveiled committee assignments for the 150th General Assembly, which begins Tuesday.

Speculation about who would be the next House co-chair on JFC was sparked in January 2018 when Rep. Melanie George Smith announced she would not seek another term in office. She had co-chaired the committee for six years.

“We have new members making up nearly one-third of our chamber, which is both exciting and challenging at the same time,” said House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, a Rehoboth Beach Democrat who has the ultimate authority for placing representatives on committees, in a statement.

“On one hand, we lost a lot of veteran legislators who reliably chaired several important committees. But on the other hand, we have new members with a lot of energy and different talents they bring to the table.

“In putting these committee assignments together, we have worked to pair members with committees where their background and experience will serve them best. I believe we are in a good position to hit the ground running when session begins on January 8.”

The Senate will announce its committee assignments after session starts Tuesday.

Five of the six JFC members from the House were not on the committee last year, with only Rep. William Carson, a Smyrna Democrat, returning. Three representatives and one senator who sat on JFC over the past two years retired.

None of the six representatives named to the Joint Committee on Capital Improvement were on the body in the prior General Assembly.

Because 12 of the House’s 41 members are new, plenty of fresh faces sit on committees. In fact, of the 23 committees, 14 will have new chairs, with four of those only elected to the chamber in November.

Eight representatives chair at least two committees, and because Democrats control the Legislature, every committee has a Democratic majority.

 

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

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