by James DeChene
This week the General Assembly returned from Easter break and the State Chamber, in partnership with its Small Business Committee and the Association of Chambers, hosted the 5th Annual Small Business Day in Dover. Over 70 people, including Chamber representatives, businesses leaders and elected officials, attended the event. The agenda included meetings between business owners and their legislators, and participation in the Small Business Caucus monthly meeting. Policy items of focus included HB80--Earned Income Tax Credit (Chamber supports), SB65—FAST Training (Chamber supports), HB15—New Personal Income Tax brackets (Chamber opposes), and the legalization of recreational marijuana (Chamber oppose).
This week in Legislative Hall, HB130, related to single use plastic bags, was released from the House Natural Resources Committee. And SB74, with a technical correction to the New Economy Jobs tax credit (Chamber supports), left the Senate Banking and Business Committee.
Next week, SB21—Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund (Chamber supports) is in committee. More to come as we learn more.
Lastly, the Chamber is working to update its database to identify Chamber members that qualify as Diverse Suppliers. If you carry a Diverse Supplier designation please email Chuck James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Categories are Woman-Owned Business Enterprise, Minority-Owned Business Enterprise, Veteran-Owned Business Enterprise, Disabled-Owned Business Enterprise, Historically Black Colleges & Universities, LBGT-Owned Business Enterprise, Historically Underutilized Business (HUB), and Small Business Enterprise.
by James DeChene
The General Assembly was out this week, and will be back on Tuesday. Last week I highlighted a number of bills having seen action so far this year, and below is the second half of that list.
SS1 for SB37: Expungements
This bill makes a number of misdemeanors eligible for mandatory expungement based on the passage of time with no subsequent offenses. The bill has also been amended to make more than two misdemeanors eligible for discretionary, rather than mandatory, expungement. The Chamber was involved in the process insofar as to make the case that employers have a right to know an applicant’s history balanced with the fact that an offender has paid their debt to society and should have the opportunity for gainful employment. The amendment makes the bill better, and has passed the Senate unanimously. It makes its way over to the House to be heard in committee.
HB80: Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
The Chamber supports this bill making the EITC a refundable credit in Delaware. This type of measure does more to support low income workers than minimum wage increases. A 2007 study by the University of New Hampshire found that seven out of 10 economists agree that the EITC is the best antipoverty program available to us, while only one out of 10 said the same thing about minimum wage hikes. The bill makes the EITC a refundable tax credit for Delaware state returns, an initiative the Chamber’s Tax Committee supports.
HB130: Plastic Bags
This bill expands upon the existing at-store recycling program regarding the use of single-use plastic bags. The existing requirements will continue, however stores subject to this program will now be limited from providing single-use plastic bags for only specific uses thereby encouraging a shift to reusable bags. The purpose of the bill, as detailed in the preamble, is to clean up Delaware’s communities and watersheds, reduce storm water and trash management costs to taxpayers, and promote the health and safety of watersheds, wildlife and humans, and the ecosystem’s food chain. On January 1, 2021 this bill enacts a ban on stores providing single-use plastic bags at check-out.
Legalization of Recreational Marijuana
While no bill currently has been introduced, the State Chamber of Commerce membership was polled and 71% of our members oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana. Consistent responses to the survey highlighted issues ranging from the availability of a drug free workforce, concerns about liability in the workplace (offices, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, construction sites, delivery drivers, etc.), the lack of a “spot test” to determine impairment, and on the potency of edibles and other delivery systems.
All of these issues will be discussed in depth next Thursday at our Small Business Day in Dover event. Click here to register.
More to come next week when the GA is back in session. Stay tuned.
"It's typically a specific bill or issue that brings small business owners to Legislative Hall and it's intimidating. It's great to have the Chamber on your side for this," said Kim Gomes of The Byrd Group.
As a small business owner, we recognize that you may not have the ability to go to Dover for every piece of legislation. But the State Chamber does and we're here for you. Capitalize on the membership benefit of having a full time lobbyist for your business interests through DSCC.
Our annual Small Business Day in Dover on May 10, kicked off with a panel discussion featuring Kim, Rick Deadwyler of DuPont, Lincoln Willis of The Willis Group and Kim Willson of Ruggerio Willson & Associates. Our lobbyists shared with attendees advice and best practices for navigating Legislative Hall and working alongside their legislators. Some key takeaways:
Following the panel, we participated in the House Small Business Caucus meeting, chaired by Representatives Quinn Johnson, Daniel Short and Michael Ramone. Guests heard from Dr. Kara Odom Walker from the Department of Health and Social Services who provided an update on the state of health care in Delaware.
Our 80 attendees were then able to tour Legislative Hall and meet with their legislators in person.
Thanks to sponsors MilliCare by EBC, Environmental Alliance, Inc., Offit Kurman Attorneys at Law, Santora CPA Group, Vandemark & Lynch, Inc., and the Delaware Division of Small Business.
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.
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 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
Last week was the 2nd Annual Small Business in Dover day hosted by the State Chamber’s Small Business Alliance. Over 50 employers came to Legislative Hall, first to attend a Small Business Caucus meeting, and then to meet with legislators prior to the start of the day’s legislative session.
Attendees heard from Small Business Caucus co-chairs Representatives Daniel Short (R-Seaford) and Quinn Johnson (D-Middletown) about upcoming legislation impacting the business community. In addition they heard from other attending legislators including Ruth Briggs-King (R-Georgetown), Rich Collins (R-Millsboro), Paul Baumbach (D-Newark), Bryon Short (D-Highland Woods), Jeff Spiegelman (R-Clayton), Mike Ramone (R-Middle Run Valley) about the best ways to interact with their legislators. Feedback included favoring personal outreach through either telephone calls or email, and Representatives urged the business community to be vocal about the issues important to them adding that it is important to contact legislators representing both your business and residential addresses. The most important voice in the legislature is yours.
After the Small Business Caucus meeting business representatives had the opportunity to meet with their legislators to make that personal contact and to share stories about their companies. Afterwards attendees were able to watch both the House and Senate go about their legislative business of the day.
If you missed Small Business Day, join us on June 7th for our Small Business Conference & End-of-Session Legislative Brunch. Attended by members of the General Assembly, this is another opportunity to showcase your business and tell the story of how pending legislation will impact your business. For more details visit our website.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.