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.