By Tyler Micik
A wise man once said that elections have consequences and the fate of most issues is decided on Election Day. While this sentiment still holds true, oftentimes the fate of elections are decided in September during the primaries instead of election day in November. According to the Delaware Department of Elections, as of January 2022, Delaware has 754,025 registered voters. That consists of 359,413 registered Democrats; 207,655 registered Republicans; and 163,579 Independents. Democrats hold every statewide office, have a 14-7 advantage in the Senate and a 26-15 majority in the House.
With every House and Senate seat up for election, this once-in-a-decade election is a crucial time for Delawareans to select the people into office who reflect their goals and interests. Voters will have a lot on their minds as they head to the polls. Gas and food prices, the cost and availability of child care and baby formula, and more are all direct and weekly expenses that challenge many Delawareans. In addition to household costs and expense issues, we expect these issues to resurface in 2023.
PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS
Project Labor Agreements (PLAs)—also known as Community Workforce Agreements—are collective bargaining agreements between labor organizations and contractors that govern the terms and conditions of employment for construction projects. Although the bill did not pass, legislation was introduced this past session with the objective to mandate that all public works projects over $3 million be subject to a PLA. Supporters of the legislation claim that PLAs advance efficiency, quality, and timeliness of public works projects. The concern for all Delawareans should be that non-union contractors account for over 80 percent of the construction work performed here in Delaware. Therefore, workers will come from outside Delaware to work jobs with PLAs.
Paid leave is a challenging topic, and every employer struggles when an employee is ill. In the last session of the General Assembly, proposals were circulating that would have mandated paid sick leave. Every business leader we know cares about their employees and their health, and they have policies to manage through times when people are ill.
They need people at work as most businesses are still struggling to find and fill available vacancies. If there ever was a time when business managers were being as flexible as practically possible, this is it. For most companies, the last couple of years have been an “all-hands-on-deck” sort of time. Businesses offer policies that afford employees time away when they are sick, and employees understand what those policies are when they begin their employment. Many employers compensate employees for time away due to an illness, and others do not, based upon the economic realities of the company, the industry and more.
CLIMATE ACTION PLAN
Legislation known as the Delaware Climate Change Solutions Act was introduced and heavily debated this past session. The legislation will likely appear again along with other proposals aimed at reducing emissions to combat climate change and create policy that aligns with the recommendations outlined in the Governors Climate Action Plan. While many businesses have taken steps on their own to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help create a better environment for their employees and the communities which they serve, support for mandated greenhouse gas emissions targets and reductions continue to grow and future legislation needs to be drafted with input from all stakeholders.
LEGALIZATION OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA
Advocates of legalization view it as a moneymaker for the state and argue it is a social justice initiative. Despite an amendment that would allow employers to keep and maintain a zero-tolerance policy, some employers still have concerns. Opponents question the long-term health and economic impacts of recreational marijuana use, in addition to concerns regarding testing for impairment.
These important issues and many others will likely be worked on in 2023. Remember to vote—primaries are on September 13 and the General Election is on November 8—and reference the new district maps to learn more about the candidates running to represent not only the community where you live but also where you work. If you are interested in which candidates the State Chamber is supporting, feel free to contact me.