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.
By Tyler Micik
Today wraps up another busy week for the General Assembly as they head into break over the next two weeks for Joint Finance Committee (JFC) markup. The JFC is responsible for drafting the state’s annual operating budget and grant-in-aid acts. The committee met in February and held public hearings to discuss Governor Carney’s recommended budget and will finalize the budget over the next two weeks. The General Assembly will return to session on Tuesday, June 7, which is also the State Chamber’s End-of-Session Policy Conference.
The Conference will be held at Delaware State University from 10am – 12:45pm. Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokola and Speaker of the House Peter Schwartzkopf will discuss the current state of affairs in the 151st General Assembly as we near the end of the legislative session. The conference will also feature presentations on key topics including consumer protection, Ready in 6 and site readiness, and workforce development. You can learn more and register here.
Several bills saw movement this week. Of note was HB420. This bill is the first of three expected proposals from Representative Bush to improve efficiency within the states permitting process for economic development projects. The bill would make the state's Preliminary Land Use System (PLUS) process optional. The State Chamber is supportive of the bill because it as a crucial step in improving the permitting process for economic development projects here in Delaware. According to the KPMG report on permitting efficiency, the state’s PLUS process adds approximately three months to the permitting process. The speed of decisions is critical, and this proposal improves efficiency without putting health and safety at risk. It would also help Delaware compete for economic development projects, which in turn provides good paying jobs and opportunities for Delawareans. The bill passed the House and now heads to Committee in the Senate.
Other bills that saw movement:
The State Chamber will continue to review and work these bills as the legislative session draws nearer to its June 30 close. As always, please direct feedback to me at email@example.com. We also hope to see you on June 7 at our End-of-Session Policy Conference where these bills and more will be discussed. Register by clicking the image below.
By Tyler Micik
Last week was busy for the General Assembly as several bills saw movement and were introduced.
First, Senate Substitute 2 for Senate Bill 1, the Healthy Delaware Families Act was signed by Governor Carney on Tuesday, making Delaware the 11th state to offer a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program. It offers eligible Delaware workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to address a worker’s own serious health condition; to care for a family member with a serious health condition; to bond and care for a new child; or to address the impact of a family member’s military deployment. The legislation takes effect on January 1, 2025. You can read the full press release and watch the signing ceremony here.
Other bills that saw movement:
Newly introduced bills included:
Bills the Chamber continues to monitor:
Lastly, the Delaware Retail Council (DRC) met for their quarterly meeting and discussed Organized Retail Crime (ORC) in addition to several other issues facing the retail industry. Organized Retail Crime was mentioned as problem for many retailers here in Delaware, especially given Delaware’s position along the I-95 corridor. Also, HB212, an act known as the “plastic bag ban” which passed last year was discussed. The bill required a phased in approach to limit the use of single-use plastic bags. The final phase takes effect July 1st and makes restrictions applicable to stores regardless of size.
The State Chamber is always looking for feedback from members on how any of these proposals may impact your company or employees. Please direct feedback to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Tyler Micik
A proposal known as the Community Workforce Agreement Act has yet to be introduced, but will likely surface soon as the General Assembly returns to session next week. A draft version of the bill has been released, which you can view here.
The proposal mandates that all public works projects over $3 million be subject to a Community Workforce Agreement (CWA). This means that 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.
Members from the Delaware Manufacturing Association (DMA) such as John Gooden, president of M. Davis & Sons, stated the following about the proposal:
“Statements like, ‘Community workforce agreements, therefore, give Delaware an effective
This proposal is just one of many that will have an impact on the business community and Delawareans. HB262, the Data Broker and Consumer Protection Act, deters innovation and places burdensome reporting requirements on businesses that sell data. The State Chamber is opposed to the bill and submitted a letter in opposition, which you can view here. Several organizations have signed onto the letter thus far, including:
- Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce
- Consumer Data Industry Association
- Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement
- Delaware Business Roundtable
- Delaware Hotel and Lodging Association
- Delaware Restaurant Association
- Georgetown Chamber of Commerce
- Internet Coalition
- New Castle County Chamber of Commerce
- Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce
- State Privacy and Security Coalition
If you have feedback on any of these proposals or others, please direct it to me at email@example.com.
By Tyler Micik
This week was a busy week for the General Assembly and the last before they go on Easter Break for two weeks. Several bills are worth mentioning:
HB262: The Data Brokers and Consumer Protection Act was released from House Appropriations on Wednesday and now heads to the House for a full vote. If passed, it would require businesses that sell data to pay a fee, register with the Consumer Protection Unit of the Department of Justice, and answer a series of questions regarding their use of personal information that would be published on the departments website to inform consumers. The State Chamber sent a multi-organizational letter to Rep. Griffith (the bill sponsor), the House Appropriations Committee, and leadership in opposition to the bill which you can view here. You can view a copy of the bill here and amendment here. If you would like your organization added onto the letter, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HB371 & HB372 also saw movement this week. Earlier this year, Rep. Osienski introduced HB305, which would have legalized and taxed recreational marijuana in one proposal. Given the new tax, it required a 3/5 majority but was defeated having received an insufficient number of votes. These two bills, HB371 & HB372, are the latest round of proposals to legalize recreational marijuana. 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 released from House Health and Human Development on Wednesday and now moves to the House for a full vote. HB372, or the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, regulates and taxes marijuana in the same manner as alcohol. The bill was also released from House Revenue and Finance on Wednesday and now heads to House Appropriations. HA1 to HB372 has been placed with the bill. The amendment is supported by the State Chamber and gives employers the flexibility to keep and maintain their policies regarding drugs and alcohol.
Other bills that saw movement:
The Chamber is always looking for feedback from members on how any of these proposals may impact your company or employees. Please direct feedback to me at email@example.com.
By Tyler Micik
Although this week was a fairly quiet week in Dover, the State Chamber hosted our annual Spring Manufacturing and Policy Conference on Wednesday, March 16th. The half-day, virtual conference featured keynote remarks from Governor John Carney and NIIMBL's Director Kelvin Lee, two panel discussions, and the chance to network.
The first panel, Where Did All the Workers Go?, addressed the labor shortage here in Delaware and across the country. Scott Malfitano, chair of the Delaware Workforce Development Board moderated a conversation with Nakishia Bailey of Dot Foods; Taryn Dalmasso from Edgewell Personal Care; Dale Cook of Mountaire Farms; and the National Association of Workforce Board's (NAWB) Ron Painter. The discussion highlighted several factors that are impacting the labor market: aging population, automation, adult learning, and the need for funding.
By 2030, all baby boomers will be 65 or older. With low birth rates and immigration, the exchange rate of people entering the workforce is not keeping up with the exit. In addition to the knowledge and skill gaps that manufacturers are experiencing, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for nighttime/weekend shifts to be filled with workers due to the fact that child care isn't offered during those hours. Lacking the skills and experience to have the leverage to choose their hours over more senior employees, low-skill and entry-level workers are often forced to stay home and care for their children instead of working.
Automation was also discussed. Ron Painter referenced a study out of Canada which found that low-skill and high-end positions increased due to automation while middle skill roles and management decreased. He stressed that with this sort of knowledge, manufacturers need to rethink how they onboard and upskill their workforce when the traditional method of “moving up the ranks” is no longer an option with technology replacing those middle level roles. NAWB estimates that estimates it will cost $80 billion to upskill the American workforce to meet global needs and standards.
So, what’s the solution? The panelists stressed that businesses need to lead on identifying alternative funding and training solutions that work for their people. Investing in your own talent is a sure way to grow your workforce.
The second panel, Playbooks for the Future, turned toward “what’s working” and how we can build upon successful workforce programs like Zip Code Wilmington, Delaware Pathways, Intern Delaware, and Elevate Delaware. Michael Fleming, president of the Delaware BioScience Association moderated a conversation with Desa Burton of Zip Code Wilmington; Kelly DeCurtis of Delmarva Power; M. Davis & Son's John Gooden; and Steve Jackson from Aviation High School in New York City.
How can Delawareans build upon successes like these and replicate models that work to address the needs in manufacturing and other industries important to the state? This is a conversation the State Chamber will continue to explore.
The Delaware Manufacturing Association held their quarterly board meeting after the event to talk about the conference, discuss issues manufacturers are facing, and talk about possible solutions.