by James DeChene
BREAKING: Obama DOL's Overtime Rule Struck Down
A Texas federal judge on Thursday invalidated the Obama administration’s controversial rule expanding overtime protections to millions of white collar workers, saying the U.S. Department of Labor improperly used a salary-level test to determine which workers are exempt from overtime compensation.
In other news, the Adult Use Cannabis Taskforce meets for the first time next week in an effort to learn more about the possibilities and ramifications, positive and negative, of legalizing recreational marijuana. The State Chamber has a representative on this taskforce, and if you have questions, concerns, feedback on the issue, send it to me, and I will pass it along. The Chamber has expressed concerns related to labor law, including increased workplace-safety problems, higher worker-compensation costs, reduced productivity/attendance issues, and practical issues such as how to test for “under the influence” (or “impairment”).
An Executive Order by Governor Carney to create an offshore wind taskforce was signed this week. There will be a business representative (unnamed as of yet) on the taskforce, and the State Chamber will be monitoring its progress.
Next week is ChamberChase, the Chamber’s golf outing. Wednesday night before there will be a networking event at Lucky’s Alley & Eats. If you’re in Lewes, or nearby, come join us. We’re fun.
And from Forbes this week, “If you live in Delaware and you compare your current paycheck with one from a year ago, you might notice that you've made a couple of extra bucks. Over the past year, Delaware was the U.S. state that recorded the greatest growth in hourly earnings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people employed in private industry in Delaware saw their average hourly earnings increase 11.7 percent from $23.85 to $26.64 between July 2016 and July 2017.”
by Michael Smith
University of Delaware Director Strategic Initiatives/Partnerships, College of Health Sciences
Tuesday morning, August 22, we topped off the new Tower on the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus. Many in the business community are used to the groundbreaking and the ribbon cutting, but the top off is something that is extra meaningful for UD.
Historically, this started with the Scandinavian religious rite of placing a tree atop a new building to appease the tree-dwelling spirits displaced due to construction. Today, the top off symbolizes community, partnership, research, education and innovation. UD’s impact goes beyond the classroom and today this top off showcases our commitment to Delaware’s future and the impact the University of Delaware will have on economic development for the state of Delaware. This is a milestone moment for the community, University of Delaware and the state, as we continue to transform the former Chrysler Manufacturing plant into a new hub that mixes research, education and industry into the innovations of tomorrow.
The College of Health Sciences will occupy floors 2-7. Floors 8-10 will be spec space for outside companies. There will also be ground floor space available for amenity businesses. The college space will include a 300-person auditorium for events and classes, demonstration kitchen, child nutrition lab, and sleep lab. It will also house augmented reality and simulation space, innovation and maker space, research space, conference rooms and office space. The Tower will create a unique environment for the collision and collaboration of industry and partnering organizations that will drive economic development for the state of Delaware.
The Tower will open August of 2018. Come see it for yourself. As we inspire, impact and innovate, we need you to partner, dream and collaborate with us to drive STAR Campus, UD and the state of Delaware forward. The sky is the limit!
by James DeChene
A mostly quiet August is upon us so far, and this week, the excitement came at the beginning when Gov. Carney signed HB 226, establishing a Public Private Partnership focusing on economic development and bringing/retaining jobs in Delaware. As many of you know, this was a top priority for the State Chamber, and we are pleased to have the bill become law, but now the real work begins.
Murmurings over next year’s budget, and an almost certain shortfall, are making their way through the state. Expected increases in school enrollments and Medicaid expenses (combined last year to be $150 million) are driving what could be another $300 million budget gap. How this hole will be filled is unclear as of now, but the hope is to have discussions prior to the start of legislative session to work out possible solutions.
The Adult Use Cannabis Taskforce meets for the first time on September 6. I’m interested in any feedback from the business community on what legalizing recreational marijuana would mean for your business operations. Feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
On August 1, 2017, The Mill and Innovincent presented the first Millenial Summit (#MillSummit), a full-day event held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. Over 250 attendees, representing a variety of industries and passions, came together to network, learn from topic experts and explore the diverse community that Wilmington has to offer. The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce was pleased to have its Delaware Young Professionals Network involved with the event's planning committee.
The event kicked off with Sara Fischer, Axios media reporter, who took the audience through the data and trends of technology use among millennials. A panel on crafting one's personal brand followed, with Governor Carney giving closing remarks for the morning session. The keynote address was given by Ambassador Vlora Citaku, Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo to the U.S. Her compelling journey from refugee to ambassador made for an inspiring speech, and a dynamic Q&A session with the audience.
Multiple breakout sessions and panels were held throughout the day. DSCC's Events Manager and Program & Communications Specialist, Kelly Wetzel, served as a panelist on leadership through nonprofit and community involvement; and James DeChene, Senior VP Government Affairs, moderated an afternoon discussion with some of the youngest elected officials in Delaware about political and legislative engagement. To see the day's full lineup of panels and speakers, visit millsumit.com.
by James DeChene
Today, Wednesday, August 2, 2017, Governor Carney signed into law HB190, legislation modernizing Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act. The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Governor Carney, legislation prime sponsors Representatives Osienski, Heffernan and Gray, and Senators Townsend and Pettyjohn, along with the 52 members of the General Assembly who voted for the bill, for their efforts in passing such important legislation.
The State Chamber of Commerce would also like to thank our members who took the time to weigh in with their support for the legislation, and for recognizing the positive impact it will have on Delaware’s economy.
“I appreciate the efforts of our partners in the business and labor community coming together to help get this bill across the finish line,” said Rich Heffron, President of the Delaware Chamber of Commerce. “These types of partnerships will be key to securing Delaware’s long-term economic future.”
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.