THIS WEEK IN DOVER
By James DeChene, Armitage DeChene & Associates
This week saw a number of bills heard in committees important to the business community:
The General Assembly meets next week, and then will be on Easter Break.
STATE CHAMBER HOSTS SPRING MANUFACTURING & POLICY CONFERENCE
By Tyler Micik, Delaware State Chamber of Commerce
The State Chamber and its Delaware Manufacturing Association (DMA) held their Spring Manufacturing and Policy Conference earlier this week. The event featured a roundtable discussion on recreational marijuana legalization from experts in states (California and Oregon) where marijuana is already legalized and its impact on manufacturers. The discussion was held just before the bill was heard in the House Health and Human Development committee.
Governor John Carney provided updates to attendees on Delaware's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans to invest more in Delaware’s economic infrastructure, and continued support towards workforce development and training initiatives like Forward Delaware. Manufacturing keynote, Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute commended Governor Carney for supporting and investing in workforce development/training. Yet she pointed out that manufacturers face many challenges when it comes to filling manufacturing jobs, including changing perceptions about what modern manufacturing really looks likes. You can watch her presentation here.
By James DeChene, Armitage DeChene & Associates
This week the Delaware Senate passed SB15, which increases Delaware’s minimum wage starting in 2022. As previously reported, the increases are as follows:
The bill now goes to the House to be assigned to committee. More to come on that.
The updated version of HB150, a bill that would legalize marijuana was introduced this week. We will be reviewing the bill for any changes from prior versions and update you. In the meantime, if you have not yet registered for next week’s Manufacturing & Policy Conference, a reminder that there will be a marijuana roundtable to explore the impacts on employers. We also expect to hold another in-depth seminar on the issue soon. More info to come.
Also this week, the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) met and revised upwards revenues for FY2021 and FY2022 for a total of $322 million. The revision is largely due to strong performance in Personal Income Tax (PIT), Corporate Income Tax (CIT), and the Franchise Tax. In fact, year over year incorporation numbers rose from 12,000 to 15,000 new entities formed. The gains in PIT should largely negate argument this year on HB64, which would create new PIT levels for high earners.
Lastly, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan, Delaware should see another $1.4 billion to help with coronavirus relief efforts. Cities and towns are also expected to receive significant monies that can be allocated towards lost revenues along with water, sewer and broadband improvement projects.
This week the General Assembly returned from budget break. Of note was the introduction of SB15, legislation to increase Delaware’s minimum wage. If passed, starting in 2022 the minimum wage would be $10.50, $11.75 in 2023, 13.25 in 2024, and reach $15.00 in 2025.
A few months ago the Chamber sent a survey to members asking the impact these wages would have on their businesses. If you have current feedback based on these numbers and timing, please let Tyler Micik know. In addition you can provide public comment at next week’s Senate Labor Committee (time TBD) to let legislators know how SB15 will impact you and your employees.
The State Chamber’s Environmental Committee also received a win this week. The committee recently came to an agreement with DNREC regarding their proposed changes to the Brownfields Development Agreement (BDA). The DE Brownfields statute was enacted in the early 1990s to promote the redevelopment of historically contaminated and abandoned sites, and by all accounts the program has been a success. The State Chamber advocated against revisions in the language of the agreement that would impose greater liability on brownfields developers than the original statute, potentially deterring the development of abandoned sites. The State Chamber’s recommendations were taken into consideration and the problematic revisions were dropped. This is good news for brownfields developers because it continues the liability protections contemplated by the original Brownfields legislation.
By James DeChene, Armitage, DeChene & Associates
Marijuana has been in the news recently as both New Jersey and Virginia have legalized its recreational use. Here at home, articles in the News Journal and the Delaware State News have reported that legislation will be introduced this month in order to legalize its recreational use in Delaware. While specifics haven’t been released on the latest draft, the State Chamber is bracing itself to make the same arguments protecting its members from a number of issues seen in prior versions. Most notably there is still no instant spot test to gauge impairment, and historically these bills have not included protections to employers from liability stemming from accidents or other issues related to employee use.
While supporters may point to New Jersey, Virginia, and other states as proof that legalization works, it remains important to note that for the business community there remain significant issues surrounding legalization. In fact, those issues will be the focus of a Marijuana Roundtable discussion at the the State Chamber's Manufacturing and Policy Conference taking place on March 24th. Attendees will hear from representatives from states with legalization on the books and learn about the challenges employers faced with implementation and their new marijuana reality. Speakers include:
• Moderator: Rustyn Stoops, Executive Director, Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership
• Thomas Sanford, CEO, Eagle Precision Sheet Metal and Turk Manufacturing (invited)
• Mitch Magee, Director Global Advanced Manufacturing Technology, PPG Aerospace
• Anthony Macherone, Senior Scientist, Agilent Technologies
For more details, and to register, click here.