Along with leaders from the business community, the State Chamber’s Infrastructure & Transportation Committee met last week to discuss recommendations on how the State should invest the additional $1 billion its set to receive from the federal government. As Bob Perkins of the Delaware Business Roundtable put it, and I’m paraphrasing, “These are unprecedented times, it’s raining money in Delaware and the business community has a real opportunity to provide input that will shape the future of our state.”
This is pivotal moment in Delaware’s future. The decisions made on how to invest these funds will have an impact on businesses, their employees, and all Delawareans. Leaders offered several ideas such as funding site readiness and infrastructure projects, creating a multi-university center, and achieving 100% broadband coverage across the state. The State Chamber plans on offering recommendations to the Governor who is seeking feedback from the business community.
The State Chamber is uniquely positioned to bring all parties to the table. Together we can find solutions and offer ways to create jobs, promote business, and improve the quality of life for all Delawareans. If you have any recommendations and would like to be part of the conversation, contact Tyler Micik at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (302) 576-6590.
The Delaware State Chamber is excited to welcome our newest team member, Regina Donato who will serve as the program and communications manager. In this role, Regina's talent and energy will assist in the execution of events and communications strategies.
GET TO KNOW REGINA:
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in North Wilmington, Delaware. I graduated from Concord High School in 2017. Raiders together, raiders forever!
You’re graduating from the University of Delaware this weekend. Congratulations! What did you study?
During my time at the University of Delaware, I majored in Media Communication and minored in Advertising and Sport Management. I graduated a semester early, so I finally get to walk (in person!) this weekend!
What most excites you about this position and working at the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce?
I’ve lived in Delaware for the majority of my life, so having the ability to give back to my community in some way is such an honor. I didn’t previously know much about what chambers of commerce do previous to starting my position here, but my first week already has me incredibly excited to get to know State Chamber members and the community. This is my first job out of college, so I’m looking forward to asserting myself professionally and gaining experience in the communications field.
You’ve had several internships before joining the State Chamber. Which was your favorite internship and why?
During my last full semester at University of Delaware, I had a marketing internship with the Delaware SPCA. Not only did I receive a crash course on the inner workings of a nonprofit for the first time but I also got to play with dogs and cats as a part of my job! I really enjoyed finding new ways to creatively market animals available for adoption, especially the long-term residents. As an animal lover, nothing is more rewarding than seeing one of your favorite dogs find their forever home!
I also hold a game day staff position with the Philadelphia Eagles, which has taught me so much about customer service! They’re my favorite sports team, so working with them has been such a pleasure.
Do you have a favorite quote?
A favorite quote of mine is actually one from a lesser-known Beatles song, I’ll Follow the Sun. The lyric, “But tomorrow may rain so I’ll follow the sun,” has always stood out to me. I always try to follow the “glass half full” mentality in both personal and professional settings. Optimism inspires me into action so I can productively tackle any task in front of me.
What do you love most about Delaware?
Growing up, I didn't appreciate how small size of Delaware. Every venture to the grocery store or the mall resulted in seeing at least someone’s mom or a person from high school. However, the older I get, the more I like the small and intimate nature of the First State. Studying at UD with many out-of-staters only made this sentiment stronger. I also love our incredible state parks system and the plethora of opportunities they provide to get outdoors. The state parks system were a life-saver for me during the peak of the pandemic.
Do you have a favorite Delaware spot?
My favorite place in Delaware is definitely the Point at Cape Henlopen State Park. For the majority of the year, the north end of the park is closed due to endangered bird nesting. Come September, the Point opens for surf fishing and drive-on access. It’s something my dad and I have done together for years. Sunsets there are unbeatable, and you can see both the Harbor of Refuge and Delaware Breakwater lighthouses at once.
What podcast are you listening to right now?
I love listening to the Office Ladies podcast. If you're a fan of The Office, this is a fun listen during your drive to and from work. Each week, Jenna and Angela (cast members from The Office) will break down an episode and give exclusive behind-the-scene stories that only two people who were there, can tell you.
By James DeChene, Armitage DeChene & Associates
It was a busy week in Dover. Monday was the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council's (DEFAC) May meeting. The Council revised its revenue forecast to add an additional $429 million dollars split between FY2021 and FY2022. In large part this comes as a result of conservative forecasts during prior meetings, and the COVID-19 pandemic not having as large an impact on revenues as predicted. The current forecast only takes into consideration stimulus money received in calendar year 2020, so the current American Rescue Plan impact has yet to be calculated. With many capital and infrastructure improvement projects planned using this stimulus money over the next two years, expectations are that Delaware will remain on secure fiscal footing, barring any extravagant spending by the General Assembly. Currently concerns remain low that inflation will play a large impact, though it was note the cost of consumer goods and commodities are on the rise.
In the General Assembly two State Chamber priority pieces of legislation saw movement this week.
Also of note this week was the release of SB93 from Senate Banking, Business and Insurance Committee related to auto-renewing or “Evergreen” contracts. The bill, among other things, establishes notification requirements from businesses to consumers that a contract is set to auto renew. Two amendments have been proposed, but have yet to be attached to the bill.
HB91, which establishes the definition of “unfair practice,” was also released from Senate Banking, Business and Insurance Committee. As previously noted, this bill was one where the Chamber, and other groups, weighed in to achieve a compromise amendment. This bill is now headed to the ready list for a full Senate vote.
The General Assembly will be out for the next two weeks for budget markup, and will return the week of June 7.
By Timothy M. Holly, Connolly Gallagher, LLP
Welcome to the discussion.
In an article available here, I raised what might be a controversial topic.
Specifically, I asked, what if you discovered that the bill seeks to compel a private business to demonstrate a plan that, rather than requiring truly equal employment opportunity for all and forbidding discrimination against any who are of a protected class under the law, focuses on the hiring specifically of men and people who are not “of color”? Let me be more specific in my hypothetical. How would you feel about a bill that provides for preference in granting necessary business licenses to those who convince the State that they have a plan that, rather than providing for recruiting and hiring on an equal opportunity basis (without sex or race serving as even motivating factors), which is a laudable and certainly lawful practice, focuses specifically on the hiring of men and people who are not “of color”?
Is that any better? Many would find that shocking and disturbing. Indeed, many would argue that enables and even encourages and causes sexism and racism in hiring by private employers. Would such a law even be constitutional?
The marijuana bill is different from the hypothetical in that it actually requires, as part of criteria for competitive scoring to determine who can obtain a necessary license, a “social responsibility plan” to show “diversity goals” and a plan to hire “people of color, women, and veterans.” So the urged/ required focus proposed in the bill is indeed based on sex and color, but the favored groups are different from my hypothetical.
Does the chosen sex and color to receive favor make the bill less offensive or more appropriate than the hypothetical?
As of January 29, 2021, Delaware has a provision in its Constitution that includes a “Equal Rights” provision pertaining to race, color, and sex. Neither color nor sex are limited to just one shade or sex. Moreover, multiple laws (e.g., the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1981) make it unlawful to hire or contract with sex, color, or race being even so much as a “motivating factor.” The same is true of numerous categories knowing as “protected classes.” Equal rights at least supposedly do not favor only a few who are born part of a segment of the spectrum that is, for whatever reason, favored – even if for benevolent reasons – during any slice of time. Nonetheless, this bill arguably favors one particular sex and only some shades of skin color, in the context of a business with no operations history at all.
Some may feel it is “socially responsible” to hire based on “diversity goals” (meaning making a motivating factor based on sex, race, and color), with particular focus on hiring women and “people of color.” Others may consider that code for – and an indicator of – discrimination, and find the relevant provision of the bill irresponsible based on a view that discrimination is repugnant no matter which person is penalized for what they are (male/female, any color, etc.).
Whether “socially responsible” or not, businesses should consider that, if they are a new business with no history at all – much less no history of discrimination (where perhaps a carefully constructed affirmative action plan might allow for what amounts to lawful discrimination) – and they obtain a license and follow through on a plan to hire women because of their sex or anyone because of their color, they face a high risk of legal liability from anyone of a different sex or color who is not hired. These “social responsibility plans” are likely to become evidence in any such case. So beware!
I most certainly am not urging lawmakers (through more careful drafting) or employers (through pretext) to better hide an intent to urge others or take action to discriminate. Far from it. What I mean to communicate is that law makers and employers should not support, require, urge, or perform discrimination at all. Stated differently, outside the very narrow bounds of formal affirmative action programs (which do not apply nearly as broadly as many people seem to believe), private employers should take great care to not allow any attribute constituting a class that is protected by law to serve as even a motivating factor in any employment-related decision. That is true no matter the sex, color, race, etc. of the person.
In my own personal opinion, it would be very disingenuous for a law maker to claim to be repulsed by difficult-to-identify institutionalized headwinds that are believed to result in discrimination, and to claim to dream of a day when people are judged by the content of their character, but then to support a bill that expressly institutionalizes a form of discrimination. I submit for consideration that, if we want a society where discrimination does not exist and where systems are not built that nearly certainly will result in discrimination, a law that urges and perhaps even requires discrimination should be rejected.
I am in that camp, and that frankly has nothing to do with the issue of marijuana.
Passionate feelings are sure to compete on this issue. Join the conversation and let your representatives know how you feel.
Disclaimer: Any and all opinions contained in the above article and blog post are those of the author. They are not reflective of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce's official stance on HB150.
The realities of life and work are ever present, and employers are always trying to balance their workforce and competitive needs against the backdrop of economic factors and life events. The subject Senator Sarah McBride has taken on is very complicated and gets exponentially more challenging as smaller businesses are brought into the discussion. Many of these businesses do not have full time, dedicated human resource managers, or benefits policy experts.
The State Chamber has a broad and very diverse membership and our position on comprehensive changes to business operations, like this proposal, takes time to develop.
The State Chamber has met with Senator McBride to discuss her goals for this bill and will continue to communicate with her as this issue develops. Last week, we sent the Senator a letter that outlined our initial reactions around eligibility, benefits and protections, and implementation.
We appreciate the deliberative approach Senator McBride has taken with us. Our position may further evolve as our members offer additional insights and analysis into how this proposal would impact their employees and businesses.
Michael J. Quaranta
President, Delaware State Chamber of Commerce