by James DeChene
The second half of the 148th Legislative Session convened on January 12th, with a full docket of legislation carried over from last year to parse through, along with new legislation requiring action. Right out of the gate, the House faced a Suspension of Rules vote, brought by Rep. Kowalko, to override Governor Markell’s veto of HB 50, the “Opt Out” bill the State Chamber has opposed. That vote failed 13-26, but the bill has been placed on the Ready List, meaning it can be brought up for a similar vote at any time.
In good news for Delaware business and overall economic development policy for the state, HB235, the Delaware Competes Act, passed the house last week with an overwhelming majority 36-2 with two not voting. The bill changes how corporate income tax is calculated in Delaware, changing from a multi-factor to a single sales factor calculation. Delaware is currently only one of nine states still using the multi-factor assessment, and the only one east of the Mississippi. This bill will ease the tax burden on companies looking to expand personnel and investments in property and infrastructure in Delaware, and has been endorsed by the State Chamber. The bill has its Senate hearing this Wednesday with a full floor vote on Thursday. It is expected to pass handily, and will be signed by the Governor.
Also this week will be a hearing on SB 39, a bill to increase Delaware’s minimum wage by $.50 a year between 2016 and 2019, and then by $1.20 a year until 2023, where it will be $15.05 an hour. The State Chamber stands in opposition to this bill for a variety of reasons, including the impact on small businesses and potential loss of full time jobs, as seen in locales such as Seattle and Los Angeles. The bill is expected to clear the Senate Labor Relations Committee, where it will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote, as soon as Thursday.
Plenty more to come in the coming months, so stay tuned.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.