by James DeChene
This week the Sussex and Kent County Advisory Committees met. In Sussex, attendees heard from DELDOT Secretary Cohan, who gave an overview of pending infrastructure projects across the state, particularly across Sussex. Updates included hearing the latest timeline for the 301 project, plans to improve Rt. 24 and Rt.9, and how the Lewes Transportation Improvement District is working to improve beach travel.
At the Kent County meeting, along with an overview of pending legislation in Dover, members enjoyed a gemütlich conversation on the recent Kent County Economic Development strategy session to help make Dover, and the surrounding areas, an economic development powerhouse for Delaware.
JFC continues to meet to formulate the state’s budget. So far, cuts have been made to the senior citizen property tax credit, along with a few other programs. Meetings continue into next week, and then the General Assembly goes back into session on June 6th for its sprint to the finish for this year.
Don’t forget our upcoming End of Session brunch on June 7th. It’s a great way for members to develop a healthy gemeinschaft with their elected officials and other Chamber members.
by James DeChene
This week, the Small Business Alliance, a State Chamber of Commerce committee focused on the small business community, held their annual Small Business Day in Dover. More than 50 business leaders heard from veteran lobbyist Bobby Byrd, of The Byrd Group, as he gave attendees a primer on how best to convert their message to legislators by effectively lobbying. After, attendees participated in the House Small Business Caucus meeting, which has an excursus on the impacts of the pending budget issues (including education funding, tax increases and the need for expenditure cuts), followed by individual meetings with legislators, a tour of Legislative Hall, and watching the House and Senate conduct their respective business during session.
There was much thoughtful discussion surrounding issues facing the business community, including the impacts of legalizing recreational marijuana, apprenticeship requirements on state procurements, budget issues and modernizing the Coastal Zone Act.
Also this week, the first revenue package to address Delaware's $382 million budget shortfall passed the House. HB 175 would raise $116 million from increases to the corporate franchise tax, and other associated fees. Bills related to apprenticeship mandates and escheat were tabled in committee, to be worked after the upcoming two-week Joint Finance Committee break.
by James DeChene
In an unceasing effort to keep our members au courant on the goings on in Dover, this week’s post is being written from the belly of the beast, in Legislative Hall.
On Wednesday, May 10, HB110, legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Delaware, cleared the House Revenue and Finance Committee by a 9-2 vote. The bill now goes to the House floor for a vote sometime in June. The sponsor, Rep. Helene Keeley, has invited feedback on how to ensure employers are protected from liability and related human resources issues. If you have suggestions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That hearing, along with a few others, sucked (pun intended) the oxygen from Legislative Hall this week. Next week, DEFAC will meet on Monday. That revenue forecast will be the one budget writers will use in crafting the FY17 budget. Also next week, committee hearings will be held on SB79, a bill making technical corrections to the Unclaimed Property legislation passed earlier this year; along with SB49, the Homeless Bill of Rights; and SB76, a bill mandating apprenticeship training programs for companies performing state contract work; as well as the yearly package of bills related to corporate law updates.
by James DeChene
Last week and this week Chamber Board of Directors have met with Leadership, and other members of the General Assembly, discussing the Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 legislative priorities. Items of discussion included efforts to modernize the Coastal Zone Act, education reform and workforce development challenges, strategies on how to structurally reform Delaware’s ailing budget and deficit situation, and what our members are seeing in Delaware around permitting issues and other impediments to economic growth. Major takeaways are that some of these priorities, like CZA, will see passage this year, while others, like some of the structural reforms, will be done over time.
Some of those reforms were started last session, as part of the DEFAC Taskforce on Revenues, and included modifications to how corporate income tax is calculated along with the expansion of the R&D tax credit. There remain important future changes to be made, and the Chamber welcomes member input on areas they feel could use revision, both from a taxation perspective, and if your company works with/for state government and can offer suggestions to increase efficiencies or identify other process impediments.
Also this week in Dover, a bill was tabled in committee that would have raised LLC registration fees by $25 (HB101). Next week expect the marijuana legalization bill to be heard in committee – the potential is high for Pecksniffian arguments surrounding the imperative for legalization, rather than a focus on the potential revenue to Delaware.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.