By Tyler Micik
The General Assembly carried on with their work this week with three legislative days left next week. They voted on several bills the State Chamber is following and continued to introduce a few new bills despite the short timeline. Of note was SB250, the state operating budget which appropriates approximately $5.1 billion to fund state government operations. The bill marks the first time the budget has surpassed the $5 billion mark. In addition, SB251 appropriates $378,613,700 for one-time projects through the Office of Management and Budget. Both bills passed and move to the Governor for signature. Other notable bills included:
HB409: Sick and Safety Leave. The bill requires all employers to provide employees with one hour of sick/safety leave for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 40 hours per year, which can be carried over from one year to the next and capped at 80 hours. Any employee who’s worked at least 90 days would be eligible for the benefit and are to be paid at their normal wage rate. Employers with less than 10 employees would be required to provide time off, but it would not have to be paid. The bill was voted on in the House Economic Development, Banking, Insurance & Commerce Committee on Tuesday but has not been released and remains in committee. The State Chamber testified in opposition to the bill.
HB484: Temporary Entrance Permits. The bill expedites the issuance of a temporary entrance permit for certain development projects. The bill was released from the House Economic Development, Banking, Insurance & Commerce Committee and moves to the House for a full vote. The State Chamber testified in support of the bill because it’s a crucial step in improving the permitting process.
HB487: Craft Training Requirements in Public Works Contracts. The bill removes the “buy-out” for contractors to avoid participating in apprentice programs by paying into the Apprenticeship and Training Fund, which was created in 2021. The bill was introduced and assigned to the House Administration Committee. The State Chamber is opposed to the bill. It’s scheduled for committee on Wednesday, June 29 at 1pm. You can view the meeting notice here.
HB488: Credit Card Surcharges. This bill prohibits a seller from imposing a surcharge on a cardholder who elects to use a credit card in lieu of payment by cash, check, or similar means. The bill was introduced and assigned to the House Administration Committee. The State Chamber is opposed to the bill.
SS1 for SB35: Wage Payment Collection Act. The Act defines specific violations of wage payment and collection laws under Chapter 11 of Title 19 as wage theft, provides specific penalties for these violations, and creates a new criminal offense of wage theft, with a mechanism for the Department of Labor to refer completed investigations to the Department of Justice for prosecution. The bill was released from House Appropriations and moves to the House for a full vote. The State Chamber is opposed to the bill.
HB205: Delaware Expanding Access for Retirement and Necessary Saving (EARNS). Delaware State Treasurer Colleen Davis’ proposal to establish a voluntary employee IRA savings program. The bill passed the Senate and moves to the Governor for signature. The State Chamber is neutral on the bill.
HB449: Elevator Mechanics. The Act creates a new chapter in Title 24 and establishes a regulatory State Board of Elevator Mechanics consisting of five members appointed by the Governor. Additionally, it sets forth grounds for discipline, including suspension and revocation of a license. An amendment was added to the bill that would exempt those in a manufacturing or industry facility who meet certain requirements. The bill passed the Senate and moves to the Governor for signature. The State Chamber is neutral on the bill given the amendment.
The State Chamber is continuing to monitor several other bills that did not see movement this week, including HB420, HB435, HB220, SB305, HB466 and SB280. Next week are the last days before the 151st General Assembly adjourns. Expect a robust update next week!
By Tyler Micik
With six legislative days left, the General Assembly continued to be busy at work introducing many new bills and moving several others. Here is a summary:
BILLS THAT MOVED:
OTHER NOTABLE BILLS:
The State Chamber will continue to work these bills and others as session comes to an end. If you have any feedback on how these proposals will impact your business, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If last week was any indication of what’s in store over the final days of session – buckle up. Several bills saw movement and more continue to be introduced late and some without stakeholder or industry input. Additionally, Senate committee meetings remain virtual, and the public comment portion of the meetings in both the House and Senate are often cut short due to packed agendas and time restraints – sometimes leaving the public and the business community with little input in the policy and decision-making process. Policies that if passed, will have vast implications for not only businesses, but all Delawareans.
Bills that saw movement included:
HB262 – The Data Broker and Consumer Protection Act. The bill was heard in Senate Banking, Business, & Insurance Committee but has yet to be released from Committee. The State Chamber testified in opposition to the bill. The Department of Justice has no data to validate a problem in the business community exists nor does the Department have a record of consumer complaints. Additionally, the bill goes far beyond what any other state has done and even privacy advocates view this proposal as a vast expansion of privacy law.
HB435 – The Community Workforce Agreement Act. The bill was released from House Labor. The State Chamber submitted written comment in opposition. The bill mandates that all public works projects over $3 million be subject to a Community Workforce Agreement (CWA). Meaning, all contractors and subcontractors would have to sign an agreement with organized labor to perform work on said projects. Government contracting should be based on sound, credible criteria. Public officials have a duty to be fiscally responsible and avoid favoritism in the procurement process. This is a problem for many reasons, but two are most obvious. The first is the fact that workers will come from outside of Delaware to work these jobs. That means these workers will earn wages working on Delaware projects and return home to places like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Maryland where they’ll use their hard-earned income to improve their homes and neighborhoods. How does that benefit working-class neighborhoods in Newark, Wilmington, Dover, or Bear? Put simply, it doesn’t and that’s not fair. The second reason is price and quality. All Delawareans deserve the right to earn a paycheck and have equal access to state work, regardless of organizational membership. Open competition and competitive bidding for all public projects ensures contracts are awarded to those who will do the best work at the best price.
HB371 – Legalization of Recreational Marijuana. The bill is half of Representative Osienski’ s two-part approach to legalizing recreational marijuana and regulating and taxing it in the same manner as alcohol. HB371 removes all penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, except for those who are under 21 years of age. The bill was vetoed by Governor Carney. A motion to override the Governor’s veto was defeated in the House by a vote of 20 in favor, 20 opposed, and 1 not voting. Both bills, HB371 & HB372 now remain dead until next year when they can be reintroduced.
SB305 – The Delaware Climate Change Solutions Act. The bill establishes a statutory requirement of greenhouse gas emissions reductions over the medium and long term to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions on the State, establishing a mandatory and regularly updated plan to achieve those emissions reductions and develop resilience strategies for the State, and requires State agencies to address climate change in decision-making and rulemaking. This is a major piece of legislation that will impact Delaware’s economy, and by extension manufacturers for years to come. The bill was introduced late without industry input and passed the Senate in four days. The bill now moves to the House Natural Resources Committee and has been placed on the agenda for this Thursday, June 16 at 1pm. You can register for the meeting here.
HB466 – Environmental Permits in Overburdened Communities. The Act defines certain facilities which will require an applicant seeking a permit for a new facility, or expansion of an existing facility, or renewal of an existing permit, located in an overburdened community, as defined in the Act, to provide an environmental justice impact report. The bill has been introduced and assigned to House Natural Resources Committee. It’s likely the bill could be placed on this Thursday’s agenda.
HB77 – Prohibition of Harmful Flame Retardants. The Act prohibits the manufacture, sale, or distribution of children's products, upholstered furniture used in residences, and mattresses that contain harmful flame retardant chemicals. The bill passed the House and now moves to the Senate Environment & Energy Committee. It’s on the committee’s agenda for Wednesday, June 15 at 1pm. You can register for the meeting here.
HB448 – Accessible Parking Spaces. Act adds provisions in Titles 9 and 22 to require county and municipal governments to adopt regulations and ordinances incorporating requirements for accessible parking spaces, including the requirement that property owners have a permit and process to ensure compliance for new or modified accessible parking spaces, to increase compliance and uniformity statewide. The bill has been assigned to House Public Safety and & Homeland Security Committee.
SB134 – Polystyrene Ban. Bill prohibits food establishments from providing consumers with a single-service plastic coffee stirrer, cocktail pick, or sandwich pick or with ready-to-eat food or a beverage in polystyrene containers. Also prohibits food establishments from providing single-service plastic straws, unless requested by a consumer. The bill passed the Senate and has been assigned to House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee.
The State Chamber will continue to review and work these bills as the legislative session draws nearer to its June 30 close. Please direct feedback to me at email@example.com.
By Tyler Micik
As Speaker of the House Peter Schwartzkopf stated this week at our End-of-Session Policy Conference: "It's June so we are off to the races." The Conference featured remarks from both House and Senate leadership in addition to industry experts on various bills, policies and regulations before the General Assembly as they enter their last weeks in session.
The event kicked off with the State Chamber recognizing one member of the House and one from the Senate with the Small Business Guardian award. The recipients have shown time and again that they are proactive supporters of issues that are key to the local business community.
From the Senate, Senator Bruce Ennis serves on the Agriculture, Finance, Joint Finance, Labor, and Veterans Affairs committees. He works to provide a better climate in the state for job growth and help boost Delaware's economy by eliminating burdensome regulations and laws that stifle job creation and growth. He also strives to help diversify Delaware's economy through identifying industries and new technology that would train and retain our workforce so that they possess the skills necessary to meet employer needs, global demand and competition from surrounding states.
Representative Michael Smith was our honoree from the House. He serves on the House Economic Development, Banking, and Business and Labor Committees—in addition to the House Small Business Caucus meetings where he is a constant advocate for small business. He also promotes small business in his district, urging his constituents to shop local. Rep. Smith launched the Life Sciences Caucus in response to the increasing number of start-ups in the bioscience field with the goal to guide policy development to further grow the sector. He also championed HB410, filed this year, which would provide for a tax credit for child care workers in an attempt to assist the industry in the wake of COVID.
The conference keynotes were Speaker of the House Peter Schwartzkopf and Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokola. Each provided an overview of their chamber's accomplishments thus far and what is still in the pipeline. This is a shortened list of bills reviewed:
Delaware has made great strides since the onset of the pandemic. Senator Sokola shared some positive stats:
To wrap the discussions, the agenda focused on three specific topics that are particularly important to the business community and the State Chamber's members: workforce training and development, data protection and consumer privacy, and economic development.
The Delaware Contractors Association's Bryon Short shared the challenges and opportunities for workforce development in the construction and trades industries. Although experienced in all industries, Short shared that there is a significant demographic challenge with more people leaving than replacing. Short specifically highlighted the need for a more hands-on approach to recruiting and attracting people to your industry with a focus on three core groups—students, parents, and transitioning workers.
The Delaware Workforce Development Board is conducting a comprehensive survey to identify workforce and training needs based on employer demand. The data uncovered will enable the board to identify emerging occupations/openings, uncover skills gaps and strategically invest in workforce training programs statewide. Please help us by taking the time to complete this survey >
Potter Anderson & Corroon's William Denny provided an overview of HB262, which he called a "solution in search of a problem." The bill is similar to Vermont's bill that was enacted in 2019, but with three exceptions:
You can view his presentation slides below.
The DPP's Kurt Foreman concluded the day with good news—Delaware has the fastest growing population in the Northeast over the past decade. He also shared that the Delaware Prosperity Partnership will be celebrating five years this August. In that time, much progress has been made, but more can always be done. You can view his slides below.
By Michael J. Quaranta
During discussions about raising the state minimum wage to $15, we offered that many unintended consequences might be realized. We worried that youth unemployment might lag because why would you hire a teen when you could have an adult with work experience. We shared that policy choices like this only serves to accelerate automation and eliminate jobs for the very people everyone, including us, are trying to help (proliferation of “self-check-out” technology). There are several other issues we raised, but a new issue has emerged I’m not sure anyone saw coming—the benefits cliff.
Thousands of Delawareans receive social transfer payments from the government each month. These funds help those needy families that are struggling financially to afford housing, food, utilities, child care, health care, and more. Many of these same neighbors are employed but have low incomes. Recently, some employers reported that some of their lower paid employees, when faced with promotion opportunities and the potential for higher income, refuse the promotions and better wages because that raise will make them ineligible for some of the state services they have used to cover household or family expenses. This reaction is quite logical. If you make $35,000 a year and were offered a $6,000 raise to $41,000, you might lose some of the state subsidies you had relied upon before and now must finance yourself because you are financially ineligible for further benefits. Welcome to the benefits cliff.
Few lower wage employees are going to qualify for jobs with big jumps in income. It’s unlikely you will move from $35,000 annually to $50,000 or $60,000 in a single promotion and net more income even after covering what was subsidized before. That’s the conundrum. I also wonder if there is a psychology around the predictability of life, even at those lower wages where families are in a known rhythm and taking a promotion is risky because what if it doesn’t work out? What if you don’t like the new position or boss or get let go? The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has done research on the benefits cliff, and this is something we at the State Chamber will be looking at more closely too.
This is complicated. But if we are going to help move employees from where they are to where they desire to be, the larger “we” may have to solve some knotty issues to help more people willing to take that promotion.
Benefits Cliffs: Policy Shouldn't Punish Promotion
Thursday, June 23 | 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
Chase Center on the Riverfront
JPMorgan Chase, in partnership with the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, will host a working lunch on the topic of the benefits cliff to help educate both nonprofits and employers on the challenges workers face when receiving benefits and navigating wage increases or other employment decisions. This event will be a chance to hear from Leap Fund, an organization solely focused on anticipating and solving benefits cliffs to allow workers to advance at work with financial stability. Free to attend >
By Helana Rodriguez
Intern Delaware welcomed its third cohort this week with 225 interns! Intern Delaware is one way you as an employer can help play a role in attracting and retaining emerging talent in the First State. This year we have participants who are not only in Delaware but around the country and world—they are tuning in from places like Arizona, Michigan, Texas, Colorado, and even Dublin, Hong Kong, and London.
For the next nine weeks, interns from 24 Delaware businesses will participate in and attend a series of in-person and virtual events and workshops designed to expand their networks, develop their skills, meet Delaware influencers, and learn about the unique aspects of Delaware’s economy and culture.
Our calendar includes:
June 7 - Senior Executive Roundtable at CSC Station
June 8 - Virtual Coffee & Conversation
June 15 - Opportunity in Delaware panel discussion (virtual)
June 16 - In-Person Coffee & Conversation at Buccini/Pollin Group
June 21 - Bus trip with DYPN to Legislative Hall
June 23 - Psychology of Money Lunch & Learn at Goldey-Beacom College
June 30 - Landing the Job: The Foundations of Career Readiness panel discussion (virtual)
July 7 - Conversation with Governor John Carney (virtual)
July 8 - In-Person Coffee & Conversation at Hyatt Place Dewey Beach
July 12 - The Hard Facts About Soft Skills Lunch & Learn at CSC Station in partnership with the DYPN & LDI
June 29 - Wilmington Blue Rocks Game in Bank of America's Suite
July 15 - Volunteer at the Food Bank of Delaware
July 20 - In-Person Coffee & Conversation at Painted Stave Distilling
July 27 - Virtual Coffee & Conversation
August 2-4 - Millennial Summit
The program is curated to help your interns truly experience what Delaware has to offer when the time comes to decide where to launch a career and build a life. Help give them a head start in building a sense of community in a place that is ideal to live, work, and play by registering them for Intern Delaware >
THANK YOU TO OUR CORPORATE PARTNERS
The Chemours Company
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware
Potter Anderson & Corroon
Bank of America
Belfint, Lyons & Shuman, P.A.
Delaware Prosperity Partnership
Delmarva Corrugated Packaging
University of Delaware
Interested in learning more? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.