The General Assembly was in session this week, with a number of bills related to business either in committee or being worked on the House or Senate floor.
Of note, HB409, while released from House Labor Committee, will be amended based on State Chamber input. The bill would modify how, and when, companies notify Delaware Department of Labor of significant layoffs. HB406, which would allow companies with five employees or more to offer ERISA style health plans, cleared the House Economic Development Committee, and will now be heard on the House floor. A bill to lower the age for servers in restaurants to serve alcohol from 19 to 18 was also heard in the House this week.
Additionally, the State Chamber’s Small Business Day in Dover was yesterday, May 10. Over 70 business representatives came to Legislative Hall to hear from lobbyists on the issues facing Dover, met with their elected officials, and had the opportunity to watch the General Assembly conduct their business during legislative session.
The General Assembly is in recess for three weeks, and returns on June 5. They will then work straight through to the end of June.
As part of our Spring 2018 survey, we asked participants to list their top three policy concerns. We posed a similar question in our Fall survey with comparable results. Last survey, 50% of our survey respondents said that the Cost of Health Care was their #2 policy priority. We heard you loud and clear and are addressing this issue by working with partner organizations and stakeholders around the state.
With that question out of the mix in our current survey, members are telling us that Economic Development remains the #1 policy concern. That is followed education/work force development and permitting delays/regulatory issues.
by Mark DiMaio
Over 230 State Chamber members took our 10-question survey on Delaware’s economic health and key policy issues. The survey is an important tool in taking the pulse of our membership’s view of the national and local economy as well as level setting their policy priorities.
by James DeChene
This week the General Assembly passed the Angel Investor tax credit bill, and it is on its way to Governor Carney for his signature. You may recall that the bill provides a tax incentive for investors to fund Delaware startups. The Chamber is supportive of the legislation and is looking forward to hearing success stories in the future.
SB170, which would raise the minimum wage in Delaware in increments topping out at $10.25, was heard in committee this week and is currently awaiting further action. The Chamber, other business groups, and business owners testified against the legislation. It is unclear on the timing of when it will reach the Senate floor for a full vote. The Committee also released SS1 for SB76, which mandates employers working on certain public works projects have Department of Labor certified apprenticeship training programs in place. The bill, opposed by the Chamber, would disproportionally hurt small businesses and companies that are open shop.
The General Assembly is in next week, and will then break for three weeks, returning June 5. The Chamber’s Small Business Day in Dover is next Thursday, May 10. Click here to register.
by James DeChene
This week, the Senate passed an amended version of the Angel Investor tax credit legislation, and it’s on its way back to the House for a vote. The bill would provide a refundable tax credit for qualified investors investing in qualified Delaware companies, and is meant to encourage investment in startups. The State Chamber has been supportive of the bill and is looking forward to House passage.
In the House Labor Committee, the vote was deferred on legislation mandating employee sexual harassment training. Concerns were raised on proposed length of training time, how training would take place, liability protections for employers, as well as how independent contractors would be trained and protocol for their would-be-new ability to bring a complaint against a contract holder. The bill sponsor is working on an amendment, and the Chamber will continue to provide feedback through this process.
Next week Senate Labor committee will hear SB170, the latest version of a minimum wage increase.
by James DeChene
The General Assembly returned from Easter Break this week and worked on a few bills related to the
business community. HB310, a voluntary program to be established by the Secretary of State’s office for companies to certify their sustainability programs, was not heard, but will likely reappear soon. HB 170 (State Chamber supports), which establishes a refundable tax credit for qualified angel investors and companies, has passed the House, and was released from Senate Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee yesterday.
Also yesterday, Governor Carney signed HS1 for HB287 (State Chamber supports), which renames the modified diploma individuals with intellectual disabilities receive upon graduating from high school so they can check the “diploma” box on job applications. This effort, was in part, driven by the inability of current high school graduates to claim they have a high school diploma due to how it’s named. The name change has no impact on the course work required to graduate.
Next week, the General Assembly is back in session. The State Chamber is watching a number of bills, and will report on activity, if any, next week.
by Mark DiMaio
Over 250 people attended the State Chamber’s annual Spring Legislative Conference & Manufacturing Brunch. This year’s conference, called “The Future Is Now: Reinventing Manufacturing in Delaware,” highlighted Delaware’s commitment to energizing its manufacturing base.
"Manufacturing makes Delaware stronger," said Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester during her opening remarks highlighting the importance of manufacturing in Delaware. The conference keynote speaker was lean manufacturing expert Gary Convis, formerly with the Toyota Motor Corporation and now a senior advisor at Bloom Energy. Mr. Convis brought the “Toyota Way,” a management and manufacturing approach that offered streamlined processes and leadership that is committed to continuous employment for its workforce. He spoke to the importance of developing leaders that create an environment that empowers their employees to stop a manufacturing production line if they detect a problem.
Governor John Carney provided the brunch keynote speech focusing on working together in a bipartisan manner, like the creation of the public-private Delaware Prosperity Partnership to enhance Delaware’s high quality workforce. The Governor also highlighted the importance of a regulatory and tax environment that encourages manufacturers to grow and locate in Delaware. A special thank you to Dr. Mark Brainard for hosting the conference at Delaware Tech’s Del-One Conference Center.
The General Assembly is currently on Easter Break, and when it returns, it will address several issues important to the business community. Below are a few issues to keep an eye on.
In regards to the budget:
by James DeChene
This was another week where the primary focus was firearm legislation, but a few bills of note related to business have been either acted on or introduced.
Of note, a new minimum wage bill was introduced this week, SB170. This would raise the minimum wage $.50 a year, starting in 2018, for 4 years, bringing the wage to $10.25 in 2021. Also, rumor has it a bill raising the rate to $15 will be introduced later in session.
A bill offering a tax credit to businesses that supply a defibrillator in the workplace made it through the Senate and out of House Committee. It sits on the House ready list awaiting action. The bill offers a one-time $100 tax credit for companies that purchase a machine.
The General Assembly is on Easter Break for two weeks and will return on April 17.
by James DeChene
This week’s legislative work was cut short a day to due weather. Bills that were to be heard in committee will be heard in the coming weeks. Of note, on Tuesday the Senate defeated SB10, which, as amended, would have raised the minimum wage by $1.00 over two years. It is expected that after work is completed providing casinos tax relief, the minimum wage bill will be reintroduced and voted on. Stay tuned.
In other news, DEFAC met earlier in the week and added $101 million in additional revenues for FY2018 and projected 2019. It is rumored that in the next meetings that number could grow even larger. This means a new round of budget fights this year—only this time on how to spend this windfall.
It is worth noting, however, that the two primary increases came from personal income tax (PIT), and fewer claims on abandoned property. The abandoned property money is already earmarked for returns, no matter the pace, and is not what you base a budget around. As PIT has increased from the federal GOP tax plan, corporate taxes (CIT) have declined. One bright side is that Delaware may be due a onetime windfall as companies bring back money parked overseas to take advantage of the lowered US corporate tax rate. The IRS is still working to publish guidelines on how this tax money will reach the states. More to come.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.