Representative Paul Baumbach talks state legislation at SGA meeting
Published: Monday, March 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
In a general meeting held by the Student Government Association last Tuesday, guest speaker and State Representative Paul Baumbach (D-Del.) advised students to utilize legis.delaware.gov, a website that enables anyone to see the progress of state-level bills.
The website features an online committee hearing in which locals can speak up about a bill, sharing their opinions and concerns. Anyone has the ability to decide the fate of a bill, Baumbach said.
“There is nothing special about an elected official—they’re just like you and me,” Baumbach said. “Both types of people have the power to make something happen.”
Baumbach started off the meeting with a welcome speech, during which he updated the group on the current issues plaguing Delaware, such as gun control, gay marriage and the repeal of the death penalty.
He then gave members insight on some of his campaigning efforts.
“I’ve knocked on 5,000 doors in five months, which is how you win state representative in Delaware—you meet people and you listen to them,” he said. “You share your experiences, perspectives and visions to others.”
Winning against three Democratic primary challengers and one Republican in the race last fall, Baumbach was given a sense of perseverance through his campaigning, he said. While campaigning was a challenge, he said the hardest job of all is serving his community.
One of his current pieces of legislation would initiate a more beneficial pension plan for local firefighters. He said the social issues in the state do not concern him as much as the declining financial situation, but he is doing the best he can.
As an active member of the financial planning field since 1993, Baumbach said he now serves on the banking, insurance, housing and revenue and taxation committees within the state government.
With his motto of “moving forward, giving back,” Baumbach said he has also contributed to the city’s political landscape, advocating for equal rights for the LGBT community and participating in many nonpartisan efforts.
Baumbach said Delaware’s small size plays a large role in the readiness and availability of its representatives because it opens communication between state officials and residents.
“We’re hungry for research, and we want to hear from people with requests,” he said.
Sophomore Ben Page-Gil, the public relations senator, then took the opportunity to remind SGA members of their own online suggestion box called UDecide, a platform for students to see each other’s proposals. He said that within the website, students have the ability to vote and comment on any issues they want to see changed or fixed.
The color-coded chart helps members track progress of their own proposals, while suggesting new ones on the spot, Page-Gil said. Additionally, students are able to create an action plan and follow the status of proposals, he said.
“People can go and vote on each individual item so we can see which issues are really popular,” he said. “Then we can get advisors and the advisory board to research the issue further.”
Sophomore Megan FitzGerald, vice president of university affairs, briefly updated members on the current proposals, including plans for increasing freshman involvement, improving alumni relations and offering more late night meal options.
FitzGerald said late night dining has been an important issue among students, creating a greater need for research and contribution from other members.
“Pencader’s late night dining gets less than 50 people each night,” FitzGerald said. “There’s a cost benefit analysis involved. It’s not beneficial for the dining hall, but they are doing it to help athletes and the students who often can’t make normal dining hall times.”
She brought up the idea of students potentially having four meals a day, which has the potential to change dining plans as a whole. Before any plan is proposed, however, she said significant input from students is needed.
To gather this student input, SGA is planning on using social media to poll students on various issues, even giving students incentives such as gift cards to restaurants and stores on Main Street.
Page-Gil said the questions on the polls should be of all different types, including the typical multiple choice and short answer ones. Additionally, he said the pollsters should ask a maximum of three questions to keep it convenient for students.
He reminded members to pay attention to the way they ask questions, remaining sensitive to the wording and phrasing. Page-Gil said he is supporting plans to reach out to freshman for public relations events, to make sure they are included within the campus community as well.
“We really do need to be conscious of the steps we’re taking in order to make the changes that we have planned,” Page-Gil said.