Senators voted Jan. 8 to establish rules, procedures and standing committees for the Delaware State Senate in 2019 and 2020.

The vote is one of the first that legislators must take at the outset of each new general assembly and lays out rules governing how and when the Senate convenes, conduct, committees, voting procedures and all other actions taken during each session day.

The 29 rules listed in the resolution, any one of which can be changed or suspended by majority vote, are identical to those passed in previous years. Rule 19, governing standing committees, has changed the most from year-to-year as senators have entered and departed the chamber.

While committee changes generally involve reshuffling chairs and membership, the 149th General Assembly began with more structural changes, as Sen. David McBride moved to consolidate 23 separate standing committees into 17 as part of an effort to improve transparency, efficiency and public access.

In addition, McBride modified the Senate’s committee schedule to make hearings more predictable and to eliminate unnecessary scheduling conflicts for senators whose committee hearings overlapped with one another. Both changes have survived into the 2019 session.

McBride, who was formally re-elected president pro tempore Jan. 8, announced committee assignments after the vote.

Sens. Harris McDowell and David Sokola will co-chair the Joint Finance and Capital Improvement Committees, respectively. Freshman Sen. Laura Sturgeon, a 24-year public school teacher, will chair the Senate Education Committee. Freshman Sen. Darius Brown will chair the Senate Judicial Committee.