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SECRETARY OF STATE / DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Article 12 of the Constitution of 1776 calls for the President and Privy Council to appoint the Secretary, the Attorney General, Registers, etc and calls for them to “remain in office during five years, if they behave themselves well…”. This is particularly interesting because the President could only serve one three year term and could not be reelected until he had been out of office for 3 years. The 1792 Constitution of Delaware calls for the appointment of a Secretary in Article III, Section 15. Under Section 14 of the 1831 Constitution the Secretary of State became the third person in line for the Governorship should the office become vacant. The Secretary becomes Governor if the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House are both unable to server. Since 1792 the Secretary has been appointed and serves at the pleasure of the Governor. The 1897 Constitution added that the appointment must be approved by the State Senate. Long held duties carried over to the Department of State in 1970 include serving as official custodian of all records of and laws passed by the General Assembly; publishing said laws; keeping the Executive, or Governor’s Register (a record of all the official acts of the Governor, such as appointments to public offices and the approval or veto of bills); preparing all commissions of office for signature by the Governor; keeping the great seals of the State, affixing it to all official documents as prescribed by law; and administering Delaware’s corporation laws.1 The Secretary of State kept the official weights and measures which are the standard of the state and checked the duplicates maintained by the Sealers of Weights and Measures, until this duty was transferred to the Department of Agriculture in 1970.2 By virtue of the office, the Secretary of State served on the Boulevard Commission, and serves on the Board of Pardons and the State Board of Education.3 The Secretary of State was a member of the Permanent Budget Commission from 1941 until its abolition in 19634 and on the Board of State Supplies until it was abolished in 1929.5

From 1909 to 1929 the Secretary of State’s responsibilities included licensing motor vehicles. From 1929 to 1939 the Secretary served as the Motor Vehicle Commissioner of the Motor Vehicle Department. In 1939 a law passed creating a separate Motor Vehicle Commissioner to administer the Motor Vehicle Department and removing this responsibility from the Secretary of State. 6

1970 brought an executive branch reorganization that established the Department of State. The Secretary of State remained to serve as administrator and head of the new department. The Division of Corporations, the Division of Archives and Cultural Affairs, and the Council on Archives and Cultural Affairs were placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of State. That same year, all powers and duties vested in the Public Archives Commission, the Portrait Commission, and the Delaware Archaeological Board were transferred to the Department of State and the standing commissions became advisory bodies to the Department.7 The State Bank Commissioner along with his responsibilities was transferred from the Department of Administrative Services to the Department of State in 1982.8 The Commission on Veterans Affairs was created and placed within the Department of State in 1986.9

An Executive Order (EO), issued on March 31, 1969, established a Delaware State Arts Council. In 1978, in order to incorporate the arts program more directly into the structure of government, EO 50 transferred the administrative responsibilities of the Arts Council to the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The State Arts Council experienced major reorganization in 1989. In that year the Division of Arts was created within the Department of State as an advisory, coordinating, and implementing agency for the promotion of the arts in Delaware.10

As part of the budgeting process for FY 1992 the Division of Libraries and the Office of Human Relations were transferred from the dismantled Department of Community Affairs to the Department of State.11 In July, 1992 the Human Relations Commission was given responsibility for enforcement of the Fair Housing Act which is intended to eliminate all forms of discrimination from the sale, rent, or exchange of housing offered to the public.12

In 1999, the 140th General Assembly amended the code making the Delaware Public Archives a separate Division of the Department of State, separating the unit from the then still existing Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.13

As part of the 2006 Budget bill passed June 30, 2005 the Department of State gained 7 new agencies through an executive reorganization.14 Agencies added to the Department were the Division of Professional Regulation, Merit Employee Relations Board, Office of Disability Affairs, Office of the Public Advocate, Public Employment Relations Board, Public Integrity Commission and Public Service Commission. At the same time the Government Information Center (DGIC) a program unit in the Department of State authorized by the passage of legislation in June 1999 was established as a separate agency within this Department. 15

The mission statement for the 2005-2006 Department reads:

§ Promote Delaware’s economy and generate state revenue

§ Manage and facilitate citizen access to governmental, educational and recreational information

§ Preserve and promote Delaware history, art and culture

§ Assist and provide direct services to Delaware veterans and their families

§ Promote equal opportunity and protection for all persons

§ Administer the State’s public and merit employment relations and governmental ethics laws

§ Provide regulatory, licensing, investigative and consumer services to protect the public’s health, safety and economic welfare

HB 335 of the 143rd General Assembly expanded the responsibilities of the Department and the Veterans’ Commission by authorizing the operation and/or administration of a Delaware State Veterans' Home by the Delaware Commission of Veterans' Affairs. 16

SECRETARY OF STATE / DEPARTMENT OF STATE

1 Messersmith, George S. The Government of Delaware. 1908. pp. 149-150.

Bing, Arden Ellsworth. Delaware Blue Book. 1957-1958. p. 11.

Liberman, Cy and James M. Rosbrow. The Delaware Citizen. 1952. pp. 52-53.

1792 Constitution of Delaware, Article III, Section 15.

1831 Constitution of Delaware, Article III, Section 15.

1897 Constitution of Delaware, Article III, Section 10.

2 57 DL, ch. 368.

3 Messersmith, George S. The Government of Delaware. 1908. pp. 149-150.

Bing, Arden Ellsworth. Delaware Blue Book. 1957-1958. p. 11.

Liberman, Cy and James M. Rosbrow. The Delaware Citizen. 1952. pp. 52-53.

1831 Constitution of Delaware, Article III, Section 15.

1897 Constitution of Delaware, Article III, Section 10.

4 43 DL, ch. 284. DC 1953, ch. 63.

5 36 DL, ch. 73.

6 25 DL, ch. 120; 36 DL, ch 10; 42 DL, ch. 167.

7 57 DL, ch. 570.

8 63 DL, ch. 195.

9 65 DL, ch. 232.

10 67 DL, ch. 128.

11 68 DL, ch. 84.

12 68 DL, ch. 311.

13 72 DL, ch. 91

14 75 D. ch. 88

15 75 DL, ch. 88 §131

16 75 DL, ch. 266

jmm; September 13, 1988; November 25, 1988; jam, Feb. 2, 1992; July 8, 1992; March 4, 1993; jam, August 26, 2005; jam, August 15, 2006