Constitutional amendment passed in Delaware requiring state legislators to live in their districts

The Delaware General Assembly passed a constitutional amendment that would require state senators and state representatives to reside in the legislative districts that they represent for the duration of their term in office. 

Rep. Paul Baumbach (D-23), who sponsored the bill, said, “We expect that when we elect an official to represent us, they live in the district they serve. We discovered that this is not required in Delaware, and so over multiple years we are completing the steps to correct this oversight. HB77 ensures that your elected members of the legislature live in the district they serve. In Delaware, a state of neighbors, we want to ensure that we are represented by a neighbor.”

House Bill 77 would include language in the Delaware Constitution that would require state senators and state representatives to continuously reside in the district they represent during their term of office. This provision would not apply if a representative or senator no longer resides in the district they represent due to redistricting, as well as due to a “reason of an event that can be neither anticipated nor controlled.”

Article II, Section 3 of the Delaware Constitution currently requires that state senators and representatives must have lived in the district they are representing for at least a year prior to their election, but does not require the senator or representative to continuously live in the address of the district they are serving in.

To amend the Delaware Constitution, a two-thirds supermajority vote in each legislative chamber is required. The amendment passed the House by a vote of 39-0 on March 16, 2023, and passed the Senate by a vote of 20-0 on April 6.

Delaware is the only state in the country where amending the constitution does not require voter approval, whereas voter approval is required to amend the constitution in every other state. The current constitution has been amended over 100 times, with the most recent amendments being passed by the General Assembly in 2018 and 2021.

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Forms of direct democracy in the American states