By Verity Watson
There has been a flurry of activity in the state capitol over the last few months, including the beginning of legislative session and the Governor’s State of the State and budget proposal, and Joint Finance Committee budget hearings.
Governor John Carney’s budget proposal emphasizes long-term sustainable budget growth in the midst of a historic influx of federal dollars flowing to the state. A focus on one-time spending versus growing the base budget continues to be a defining theme of his administration. The proposed operating budget would grow the budget by 4.6 percent from the current year to a total of $4.99 billion. The proposed bond and capital infrastructure budget totals $1.18 billion. Some highlights include:
The Governor highlighted initiatives in his State of the State Address that the State Chamber has been actively engaged in. The long-awaited substitute version of the Healthy Delaware Families Act was unveiled in January and incorporated many of the changes asked for by the State Chamber. The new version—which has the full backing of the Governor—was debated and released from the Senate Health and Social Services committee and is expected to be voted on by the full Senate in March. Among other changes, the new bill breaks up the types of leave that will be required to be offered depending on the size of the business. The State Chamber, in partnership with Delaware SHRM and Delmarva SHRM, hosted the bill sponsor, Senator McBride, along with representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Department of Labor, and the
Department of Finance to discuss the logistics of the proposal, the impact it will have on your business, and remaining concerns. A recording of this discussion is available at www.dscc.com/webinars.
The legislature stood in recess in February while the Joint Finance Committee worked to craft the budget for the next fiscal year. When they return the week of March 8th, there will be a new face in the chamber of the House of Representatives. The resignation of Representative Gerald Brady triggered a special election for his Wilmington seat which, due to redistricting, will relocate to the Long Neck area in Sussex County later this year.
The General Assembly is expected to work expeditiously over the coming months to pass their collective and individual legislative priorities heading into the end of the fiscal year. Given that it is the second leg of the 151st General Assembly, all legislation must be worked to enactment or will need to be reintroduced in January.
By Tyler Micik
The Delaware Manufacturing Association (DMA) recently met to discuss SB 1, the Healthy Delaware Families Act; HB 305, legalization of recreational marijuana; and HB 288, paid time off to vote.
Manufacturers like many others are facing significant labor shortages despite offering competitive wages, sign-on bonuses, good benefits packages, and more. The board met to talk about these proposals and share their feedback on the potential impact these bills, if passed, would have on the manufacturing industry--which employs more than 27,000 Delawareans.
Other topics discussed included President Biden’s vaccine mandate, which was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. The mandate would have required companies with 100 or more employees to get vaccinated or produce a negative test result on a weekly basis staring January 4th.
Lastly, the board discussed the State Chamber’s Spring Manufacturing and Policy Conference. The conference will be held virtually on March 16th from 8:30 – 11:30am. The event will feature Dr. Kelvin Lee, institute director at the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL). Dr. Lee will share how NIIMBL is working to ensure the U.S. cements its leadership in global biomanufacturing to further economic development, enhance national security, and provide improved patient access to cutting-edge therapies—today and in the future. The conference will also feature a keynote address from Governor John Carney and a discussion on the State Chamber's policy priorities to improve Delaware's economic climate and encourage manufacturers to both relocate and grow in our state. You can register for the event here.
Framework for the future
By Tyler Micik
Members of the State Chamber’s Employer Advocacy Committee met last week for their first meeting of the year. The committee was joined by Secretary of Labor Karryl Hubbard, who gave an update on the Department of Labor (DOL), sharing their policy priorities and current projects. Late last year, the DOL composed a list of five goals or pillars known as the Department of Labor Framework for the Future:
The committee was also joined by the Department’s Barry Butler and Thomas “Chip” Riddleberger who highlighted the Delaware JobLink, one resource offered by the DOL. Delaware JobLink is a self-service tool for employers to post job openings and find and hire candidates.
“Currently there’s around 19,000 active jobs posted on Delaware JobLink
Additionally, last year, the DOL hosted and assisted with over 35 job fairs throughout the state. Services like Delaware JobLink play an important role in connecting employers with job seekers at a time when employers are struggling to fill open positions. To find out more about Delaware JobLink, visit joblink.delaware.gov.
Committee members also reviewed several important policy issues, including paid family and medical leave and recreational marijuana legalization. First, SS 1 for SB 1—or the Healthy Delaware Families Act—creates a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program. This latest version has undergone substantial revisions from the original bill that was introduced last year. Employers with 25 or more employees are required to provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave and up to 6 weeks paid medical and family caregiving leave. Employers with 10 or more employees but less than 25 are only required to provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave. Under current law, small businesses, those with 50 or fewer employees, are exempt from the 1993 Federal FMLA law. Second, HB 305—the Delaware Marijuana Control Act—would allow adults over the age of 21 to legally possess and consume under one ounce of marijuana for personal use. It does not permit individuals to grow their own marijuana.
Participants on our policy committees are instrumental in helping the State Chamber review bills, develop feedback, and recommend amendments. Consider joining the conversation and help shape policy in the First State by joining a committee. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR'S EMPLOYER SERVICES: