By Tyler Micik
The General Assembly returns on Tuesday, January 11th for the second leg of the 151st session. It’s likely a large portion of business will be conducted virtually--at least for the first few months--given the rise in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant.
It is an election year and a variety of bills are expected to be considered, all of which offer implications for businesses, large and small, across every industry. Among these proposals are Paid Family and Medical Leave and recreational marijuana legalization which were first introduced last year.
As the General Assembly gavels into session next week, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce offers our 2022 policy priorities, which focus on four pillars that are important to maintaining and creating a healthy business environment in Delaware: workforce, fiscal policy, economic development, and environmental policy. Guided by our leadership and members, these represent our top areas of focus in 2022 and will serve as a roadmap for the policies and regulations we plan to support.
Providing us your feedback, sharing your stories, and joining one of our committees is the best way to help us shape policy in the First State. Working together to cultivate an environment where companies can grow and invest in Delaware. This is the best way to secure Delaware’s economic future. Join us.
By James DeChene, Armitage DeChene & Associates
The General Assembly continues its work meeting virtually. This week was relatively quiet with the introduction of HB166, Elevate Delaware. This bill builds on State Chamber efforts related to workforce training focusing on decreasing the skills gap and positioning Delawareans for new careers.
In addition, this week saw SB12, the SEED+ bill, pass the Senate. This bill increases eligibility for SEED scholarships and funding for Delawareans to attend Delaware Tech, even if they are not recently graduated from high school. SB95 also passed the Senate, which increases the Inspire scholarship for Delaware State University.
Discussions continue around pending legislation like Paid Family Leave (for more info, or to give feedback, contact Tyler Micik), and next week will be the Chamber’s webinar on marijuana legalization featuring representatives from the Association of Washington Business, and SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) providing feedback on the impact marijuana legalization has had on employers in other states. To register, click here.
Next week, the General Assembly is in recess, but the Bond Committee will meet.
The following week is the State Chamber’s Small Business Day in Dover 2-day virtual event. Many bills remain to be acted on, including marijuana legalization, increasing Delaware’s minimum wage, and more. Small Business Day is a great opportunity for you to meet with your elected officials to let them know the impact these bills will have on your business and your employees.
By James DeChene, Armitage DeChene & Associates
The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce respectfully offered a number of policies to the 151st General Assembly that, if enacted, would assist the business community in rebounding from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, while at the same time help Delaware workers find new opportunities.
TAX CREDIT FOR RAPID WORKFORCE TRAINING & REDEPLOYMENT INITIATIVE HIRES
This past summer, Governor Carney issued Executive Order #43, which established the Rapid Workforce Training and Redeployment Initiative, a time compressed curriculum to be focused on in-demand industry sectors and/or occupations. The program will make available certificate programs, certification programs and access to the Today’s Reinvestment Around Industry Needs (“TRAIN”) program to help prepare Delaware workers who may have been displaced by the impact of COVID-19 find a new career path. The State Chamber recommends a refundable tax credit be made available to employers who hire graduates from these programs much the same as the credit for hiring veterans and those with disabilities.
ENGAGE IN CREATING PROCESS-RELATED EFFICIENCES IN OVERSIGHT AGENCIES
In recent years the State Chamber has focused on the process log jams that serve as impediments to development in Delaware. By working with agencies like DelDOT, the Chamber worked to streamline plan review process, resulting in simple project submission documents for a number of common projects, like curb cut-outs and driveway access. The Chamber has commitments from DelDOT to continue to find ways to streamline these processes, and now will be working with DNREC to do the same. These partnerships serve to find innovative solutions to issues without sacrificing public input and holding accountable applicants with incomplete application submissions.
FOCUS ON CHILDCARE
It is estimated nationally 30% of childcare facilities will not reopen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact to employers and employees will be felt across all sectors and become a challenge for all to overcome. Access to childcare in increasing in importance as businesses continue to reopen and expand operating capacity. While not a crisis in Delaware yet, the State Chamber urgers a proactive response by the General Assembly to prepare for this eventuality.
In addition, the State Chamber will be working with our Federal delegation to make much needed changes the CARES Act. A top priority change would be to extend the deadline for spending appropriated funds. Many programs Delaware directed CARES dollars towards, including expanding rural broadband, are a long-term investment due to construction needs, etc. While the State can appropriate these dollars, it is next to impossible to actually spend the money prior to the current deadline. Other priorities include an expansion of COVID-19 testing to help ensure businesses remain open, which in turn helps state finances and negates a need for tax increases next year.
2021 is bound to be a period of flux and transition. With the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic still being felt, the possibility of a vaccine being developed and distributed, along with a new President, Congress, Administration, and our own General Assembly, the business community should prepare itself to be more nimble than ever with change happening at lightning speed.
Provided by Delaware Technical Community College
On August 3, 2020, Governor John Carney signed Executive Order #43 (E043) creating the Rapid Workforce Training and Redeployment Initiative to assist Delaware workers and their families who have lost jobs and income due to the COVID-19 crisis. In partnership, the Delaware Department of Labor, Division of Employment and Training, and Delaware Workforce Development Board issued a funding opportunity to provide guidance on the workforce training services.
Through this program, known as the Rapid Workforce Training and Redeployment Training Initiative, Delaware Technical Community College was awarded funding to provide free workforce training in the areas of healthcare, technical training, and transportation between October 2020 and March 2021. All training programs are offered at no cost to students.
Healthcare programs include training for certified nursing assistants, hemodialysis technicians, dental assistants, and more. These courses will be offered in partnership with Polytech and Sussex Tech Adult Education divisions. For more information on the healthcare courses, visit http://go.dtcc.edu/WorkforceHealthcare.
The technical training and transportation programs include construction technology, HVAC technician, and transportation. More information on these programs can be found at http://go.dtcc.edu/TechnicalTraining.
The programs are offered at campuses across the state. Courses are offered in a hybrid format, with students participating in both remote and in-person instruction.
“Delaware Tech is proud to offer this training at a time when many Delawareans are seeking educational opportunities to gain skills and access to jobs,” said Paul Morris, associate vice president of Workforce Development and Community Education. “We look forward to working with our partners and the State to provide the high-quality training that our workforce demands.”
For more information on all of the Rapid Workforce Training offerings, visit https://www.forwarddelaware.com/.