By James DeChene, Armitage DeChene & Associates
The General Assembly finished its first round of the 151st Session early in the morning July 1st. Much like last year, the work performed was largely conducted virtually, but with a much larger breadth and scope of legislation considered this year than during the height of COVID-19 in 2020.
That work included many bills we supported such as bills around our top priority of workforce development, passing the Clean Water Act — which the State Chamber has been working on for roughly four years — and a site readiness fund. Others bills that passed and impact businesses include increasing the minimum wage and expanding the plastic bag ban. It’s important to note that for bills that did not pass this year — like the legalization of recreational marijuana and Paid Family Medical Leave -- those bills remain “live” and will be worked on next year.
A brief overview of bills that passed are:
SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Beginning late this summer and into fall will be the continuation of the State Chamber’s member-to-member meetings. These meetings are between Chamber members and members of the General Assembly. They consist of office visits or facility tours to showcase not only your business but also share how your company works and the impact various legislation will have on your bottom line. With the large numbers of newly elected members who have yet to meet many of their constituent businesses due to COVID-19, these conversations are more important now than ever.
These meetings will continue to highlight important pending legislation that will be worked on next year like: HB 150, legalization of recreational marijuana; SB 1, the Healthy Delaware Families Act; HB 205, Delaware EARNS Act; HB256 which will raise income taxes; and HB 94/HB266, which is related to tipped wages, will be considered next year. All of these bills have a direct impact on Delaware employers.
The General Assembly will be on recess until this fall when votes on redistricting will begin. The impact of redistricting will play a major role in the next 10 years of Delaware politics and policy, and always has the potential to see a few new faces. It’s largely believed that lower Delaware will pick up a House seat. It’s also probable a Senate seat will be moved from New Castle County to either Kent or Sussex. Then, in January, the second leg of the 151st Session will begin, which is also an election year.