By James DeChene, Armitage DeChene & Associates
The General Assembly returned to session in January remaining in virtual format. A number of bills were introduced that will have an impact to business, including an increase in Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standards, the Governor’s recommended budget, and several bills related to wages in Delaware.
First, SB33 increases the amount of renewable energy sources to be included in the mix of energy the regulated utilities in Delaware provide, up to 40% by 2035. The current percentage stands at 25% by 2025. Long-term forecasting shows a drop in the cost of renewables over time, becoming roughly $1.00 added to the cost to the average utility bills, where the current add-on cost is roughly $8.00. The bill passed the House and Senate, and is now in front of the Governor for signature.
Another bill, HB64, creates new personal income tax brackets for high earners, starting at 7.1% for those making $125,000 and topping out at 8.6% for those earning $500,000. Bills have also been introduced to remove the youth and training wage from the state’s minimum wage, and to raise Delaware’s minimum wage to $10.50 in 2022, with yearly increases reaching $15 by 2025.
The Chamber is looking for feedback from members on how any of these proposals may impact your company or employees. Please direct feedback to Tyler Micik.
The General Assembly is in recess through the month of February for Joint Finance Committee meetings.
This week Governor Carney signed into law a number of bills important to businesses throughout Delaware.
SB95 creates a contractor registry for commercial and residential contractors as a way to combat improper use of 1099 labor. In addition, it allows for contractors to sub out portions of their work to other contractors, bringing Delaware in line with surrounding states.
House Bill 130, the Plastic Bag Ban bill was signed and goes into effect January 1, 2020. The bill bans most plastic bags for retailers over 7,000 square feet or that have three locations, each being at least 3,000 square feet. But it does allow the continued use of bags to enclose raw meats and vegetables, along with restaurant carry out bags and containers.
SB61, the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund bill, was also signed. This DSCC-backed bill creates a fund to help offset infrastructure requirements on commercial development projects.
Also this week was a Senate pre-file of legislation impacting Delaware’s renewable portfolio standards. Important because of how it mandates the ratio of renewable energy Delaware power companies must offer, the legislation increases to the use of renewables to 40% by 2035, of which 7% must come from solar. The DSCC is currently reviewing the language to provide feedback.
by James DeChene
This week saw action on bills important to the Chamber. First, SB74 provides employers taking advantage of the New Economy Jobs credit to prorate the credit over 12 months, rather than using the calendar year (Chamber supports). This would allow employers making hires at the end of the year a full 12 months to spread out the credit. SB21, creating the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund was released from House Transportation Committee (Chamber supports). A bill banning certain flame retardants in consumer products (HB117-Chamber opposes) was tabled in committee. A bill banning single use plastic bags (HB130) passed the House and now goes to the Governor for signature. The effective date for implementation is January 1, 2021.
This session’s HB110, an act to legalize recreational marijuana, was introduced this week. As drafted the Chamber still opposes the language and will be working to insert language to protect employers. As previously noted, 71% of Chamber members oppose legalization.
Last week the Chamber attended a working group focused on what the next round of renewable portfolio standard goals would be post-2025. The Chamber expressed concerns over how increasing renewables would impact Delaware commercial energy users, and to make sure that as technology continues to improve, Delaware doesn’t lock itself in to a certain type of renewable source.
The General Assembly is off for the next two weeks before returning for all of June.
by James DeChene
The General Assembly returned from Easter Break this week and worked on a few bills related to the
business community. HB310, a voluntary program to be established by the Secretary of State’s office for companies to certify their sustainability programs, was not heard, but will likely reappear soon. HB 170 (State Chamber supports), which establishes a refundable tax credit for qualified angel investors and companies, has passed the House, and was released from Senate Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee yesterday.
Also yesterday, Governor Carney signed HS1 for HB287 (State Chamber supports), which renames the modified diploma individuals with intellectual disabilities receive upon graduating from high school so they can check the “diploma” box on job applications. This effort, was in part, driven by the inability of current high school graduates to claim they have a high school diploma due to how it’s named. The name change has no impact on the course work required to graduate.
Next week, the General Assembly is back in session. The State Chamber is watching a number of bills, and will report on activity, if any, next week.
Maybe it’s a continuation of my turkey coma, but I saw a lot of positive things happening this week in and around Delaware you may have missed. Chamber member, and Taste of Delaware participant, Waggies by Maggie & Friends, a Wilmington nonprofit dog treat company that employs people with intellectual disabilities, has won the $10,000 grand prize in M&T Bank’s first Understanding What’s Important Business Challenge. Maggie’s has been a great friend of the Chamber, and everyone here is so pleased at their award. Congrats!
The announcement of a sports arena to be built by the Riverfront, with a connecting bridge to area attractions like Iron Hill and Frawley Stadium, is huge for Wilmington. Above and beyond what it can bring for economic development, it’s a major quality of life project for an area of the City that desperately needs one. Kudos to Governor Carney, Mayor Purzycki, and BPG for working together to bring this project to Delaware.
Speaking of Governor Carney, you may have read about the release, a bit early, of his Wilmington schools plan. While the plan will undergo a number of changes, what struck me was the Governor taking the time to visit residents of Wilmington in person, urging them to participate in the process and to educate them about what his plan will mean for Wilmington kids and families. Door knocking can be hard, and at times even unpleasant, but it’s also one of the best ways to sell your message. Color me impressed.
Lest you think I’ve lost my Grinch-esque ways, let me end by saying we’re following chatter that there’s an effort afoot to build support in order to increase Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50%, with an 8% carve out for solar generation. Currently, Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are established by the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act (REPSA), which provides that utilities procure an increasing percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, leading up to 25% of energy derived from renewable sources by 2025. Obviously we’ll be watching this closely.