By Tyler Micik
The General Assembly returned to session this week and several bills the State Chamber is engaged on saw movement.
Of note, HB104 passed the Senate and now moves to the Governor for signature. The bill accelerates the process for economic development projects in Delaware with some exemptions from the PLUS process. A project located in Investment Level 1 or 2 under the Strategies for State Policies and Spending that is consistent with local zoning and any local comprehensive plan that will create full-time jobs is exempt from the pre-application process unless required by the local government or requested by the applicant.
The bill is part of a package of four bills (HB101 – 104), sponsored by Representative Bush, which are aimed at improving and expediting the permitting process for economic development projects in the state. HB104 now joins HB102 as awaiting the Governor’s signature. The State Chamber would like to thank all the sponsors, especially Representative Bush and Senators Walsh and Mantzavinos, for their leadership and support in passing this legislation, which has been a top priority of our members.
Another bill that saw movement was HB154, the Delaware Personal Data Privacy Act, which passed the House and now moves to the Senate. Two amendments, HA1 and HA4, passed with the bill. We appreciate the sponsor taking our concerns into consideration and implementing some changes to the legislation based on our feedback and others. However, the State Chamber still opposes the bill and is seeking additional amendments.
Unlike the public sector, if a consumer doesn't like how one company is using their information, they have options to go elsewhere. It’s in the best interest of businesses to be responsible data handlers. Additionally, the Department of Justice has no data to validate a problem in the business community exists. Nor does the Department have a record of consumer complaints, or actions resulting in fines or prosecution of businesses that did not live up to their stated privacy policies. This is a staff-driven proposal that would cost businesses money, increase their exposure to lawsuits, and require the State to hire more personnel.
Our concerns with this proposal are the following:
HS1 for HB160 was pulled from Thursday’s House agenda. The substitute was introduced on Tuesday, released from House committee on Wednesday, and scheduled to be heard on the House floor Thursday. The bill would impose a 60-cent surcharge per line, per month on residential, business, wireless, and nontraditional services to help address suicide by creating a well-functioning 988 system that may help support individuals having trouble. While we recognize the importance of mental health, the State Chamber has concerns around the surcharge amount, number of lines, and broad scope of the bill.
Other bills that saw movement included:
By Tyler Micik
Today ends the first of two weeks in which the General Assembly is on break for Joint Finance Markup. They’ll return to session on Tuesday, June 6, a day before the State Chamber’s End-Of-Session Policy Conference. When the General Assembly returns, there will be 13 legislative days remaining, and there are many bills they're still working through. Here’s an overview of the bills the State Chamber is following and their status:
DATA PRIVACY & TECHNOLOGY
Pending legislation, which has not been introduced yet, includes mandatory paid sick and safety leave and a bill that would redefine domestic violence, sexual offense, and stalking as it applies to employment discrimination in a more holistic and trauma-informed way rather than relying upon the definitions in the criminal code.
If you have feedback on any of these bills, we want to hear from you! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Tyler Micik
Another busy week wrapped up in Dover! After next week, the General Assembly will go on break for JFC markup. They return on June 6, the day before our End-of-Session Policy Conference. Notable bills that saw movement this week include:
HB102 (Entrance Permits) – Passed the Senate and now heads to the Governor for signature. This bill is part of a package of four bills sponsored by Rep. Bush that are aimed at improving Delaware’s permitting process. HB104 is on the Senate Ready List and HB101 and HB103 await consideration in the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee. The State Chamber supports all four bills in the package.
SS1 for SB72 (Personal Income Tax) – Released from Senate Labor Committee and now moves to Senate Finance. This bill differs from the original bill, SB72, in that it provides members of a labor organization to claim a tax deduction, rather than a tax credit for their membership expenses. Sen. Poore, the bill sponsor, announced the change from a tax credit to a deduction at the beginning of the bill’s committee hearing on Wednesday. The State Chamber was opposed to the original bill and is reviewing the substitute bill.
Several bills in a package of eight environmental bills aimed at trying to cut emissions and reduce the state’s carbon footprint (which the Governor announced during a press conference on May 2nd) saw movement as well. The State Chamber is in the process of reviewing the bills and gathering feedback. Those bills include:
HB8 (Clean Construction Preferences for Public Works) – Released from House Natural Resources and Energy Committee and placed on the House Ready List. The bill directs state agencies to collaborate on the development and implementation of “clean construction preferences” that will allow for the incorporation and consideration of sustainability and carbon impact data in the award of public works contracts. The bill also establishes a Clean Construction Preferences Committee, which would be tasked with reviewing clean construction preferences annually and providing contractors with data and best practices on the types of construction materials they should consider using on public works contracts.
HB9 (Statewide Fleet) – Released from House Natural Resources and Energy Committee and now moves to House Appropriations. The act requires that all passenger and light duty vehicles owned and operated by the State be zero emission vehicles by 2040.
HB10 (Electric School Buses) – Released from House Natural Resources and Energy Committee and now moves to House Appropriations. The act establishes targets for annual purchase of electric school buses through fiscal year 2030 and requires the Department of Education to submit an annual implementation report through 2029 as well as a comprehensive report in 2030 detailing future recommendations for electric vehicle purchases and other measures to reduce the carbon and environmental impact of the State’s school transportation fleet.
SB103 (EV Charging for Residential Dwellings) – Released from Senate Environment, Energy and Transportation Committee and now placed on the Senate Ready List. The act requires newly constructed single-family and multi-family residential dwellings to be built in a manner that would make it easier and more convenient for residents that own an electric vehicle to charge one in their homes. Placing the proper electrical equipment in the dwelling at the time of construction versus trying to install it post construction could save Delawareans time, money, and help avoid potential cosmetic issues that come with adding in the needed electrical equipment.
Other bills in the package, which did not see movement and await consideration in committee include:
HB11 (Solar Roofs for Commercial Buildings) – Requires new commercial buildings with a foundation footprint of 50,000 square feet or greater to meet certain requirements to ensure that their roof can support solar energy infrastructure.
HB12 (EV Rebate Program) – Creates an Electric Vehicle Rebate Program which may incentivize Delawareans to purchase and lease new and used electric vehicles. All-electric vehicles shall receive a rebate of no more than $2,500 and hybrid vehicles shall receive a rebate of no more than $1,000.
HB13 (Availability of Residential EV Charging Stations) – Directs DNREC, in consultation with DOT, to publish an assessment of the availability of residential charging stations for electric vehicles, which shall include strategies to deploy additional charging stations in high-need areas. This act further directs DNREC to develop an incentive program that will improve the electric vehicle charging infrastructure based on gaps identified in the report, with a focus on single-family homes without access to designated off-street parking and multi-family dwellings.
In addition to the bills listed above the State Chamber continues to follow other legislation. To find out more about the bills the State Chamber is following or if you have feedback on any of the bills mentioned above please contact me.
By Tyler Micik
Today we celebrated National Small Business Week by hosting Small Business Day in Dover with our Small Business Alliance (SBA) committee. The event began with a workshop around key issues impacting the small business community—economic development, child care, data privacy, and more. We also focused on the importance of building meaningful relationships with members of the General Assembly. Then attendees were joined by the House Small Business Caucus where several topics impacting the business community were discussed such as affordable housing, the worker shortage, and recreational marijuana, among others. The event ended with scheduled meetings between policymakers and attendees and a tour of Legislative Hall.
Two bills that the State Chamber is prioritizing saw movement this week. House Bill 102 (Entrance Permits) and House Bill 104 (PLUS) were released from committee in the Senate and now head to the Senate for a full vote. Both are part of a package of four bills sponsored by Rep. Bush that are aimed at improving Delaware’s permitting process.
According to a 2019 KPMG report, Analysis of Delaware Permit Competitiveness, Delaware has an opportunity to be more competitive if its permitting processes were strengthened through streamlined communication between state agencies, greater transparency and cost predictability, and a fast-track approval program for high-priority projects, among other recommendations. Delaware is in a fight for economic development projects. This package of bills goes a long way towards Delaware’s ability to compete for projects, which in turn may create good paying jobs and opportunities for Delawareans.
The other two bills in the package, House Bills 101 and 103, have been introduced and await consideration in the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee.
Also of note, House Bill 99—the Delaware Climate Change Solutions Act—was released from House Natural Resources and Energy Committee and has been placed on the House Ready List. The legislation creates a framework for implementing the Governor’s Climate Action Plan. The State Chamber testified saying the following statement:
“The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce is not yet in a position to support House Bill 99. We hope to continue working with the sponsors to enact legislation that improves the environment while allowing Delaware’s economy to prosper for the benefit of all employers and their employees. We acknowledge the intent of the legislation to create a framework for addressing climate change. However, further amendments are needed to ensure the bill provides certainty and predictability to the business community and all stakeholders. We’re all in this together. We all want clean air and clean water and all of us, businesses included are good environmental stewards and we hope the General Assembly will enact policy in a balanced way that makes progress, embraces new technology, and creates jobs.”
With 18 legislative days left of session, the State Chamber continues to follow these bills and other legislation that could impact the business community. To learn more about the SBA or bills we’re following, reach out to me at email@example.com.
small business day in dover | may 4, 2023
By Tyler Micik
The General Assembly returned to session this week after a two-week break. Two bills of note, which the Chamber opposes, were released from committee:
Senate Bill 51, known as the polystyrene bill, was released from House Health & Human Development Committee. The bill now moves to the House for a full vote. If passed, the Act would prohibit food establishments from providing consumers with ready-to-eat food or beverages in polystyrene foam containers or with single-service plastic coffee stirrers, cocktail picks, or sandwich picks. It also prohibits food establishments from providing single-service plastic straws, unless requested by a consumer.
Some republican members of the House of Representatives expressed support for an amendment to make the bill applicable to fire companies, health-care providers, nonprofit organizations, and others who are currently exempted from the bill. Their reasoning for the amendment is that the law, if passed, should be applied equally to all.
The State Chamber opposes the legislation. Businesses of all sizes recognize the need to use more eco-friendly products, and many businesses are already taking steps to do so because they see it as a benefit to the environment and communities they serve, and some of their customers prefer it. Forcing businesses to switch to products not made of polystyrene, could present challenges for some because such products are often more expensive and in turn could cost consumers more.
Lastly, House Bill 127 was released from the Housing Committee in the House and now heads to the full House for a vote. The bill enables each county to establish a fire protection fee and the money collected would go to support fire companies. The decision on whether to impose the fee would be up to each county individually, and the bill doesn’t contain any language regarding a specific amount or limit on the fee a county could charge. Additionally, the fee would apply to all businesses, including nonprofits and universities and grants the county the authority to establish penalties for failure to pay the fee. The State Chamber strongly opposes the bill due to the vast scope of businesses it will impact as well as the broad and ambiguous authority it gives each county to impose and collect the fee.
By Kelly Basile
It all comes down to relationships. Building real connections is the key to progress—and that is done when we sit down together and listen. This is not a new concept, but it can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start.
I loved this latest conversation on the State Chamber’s podcast so much that when I heard it back this week, I found myself taking notes—even though I was the moderator of the original conversation! This exchange between myself, Senator Sarah McBride and Verna Hensley of Easterseals Delaware & Maryland’s Eastern Shore was so organic and stimulating, that I decided to write down and share my key takeaways:
BUILD RELATIONSHIPS BEFORE YOU NEED SOMETHING
Don’t wait until you have an ask to develop a relationship. Those initial touches (invitations to events like a ribbon cutting, coffee meetings, attending their constituent meeting, etc.) become the basis of the relationship. And remember that policymakers are people too. Something as simple as sending a note—a quick text, email, or comment on social media—shows you’re paying attention to what they’re doing and appreciate their work, and it can go a long way.
GET TO KNOW POLICYMAKERS IN AND OUTSIDE YOUR DISTRICT
Remember that the policies worked on at Legislative Hall don’t just impact the district you live or work in, they impact the entire state. Getting to know the legislators who represent where you live and work is incredibly important. But so is building relationships with the policymakers who sit on the committee related to the topic you care about—health care, transportation, environment, veterans’ affairs, and more. Do not limit yourself to a relationship with one or two people, there are 62 members of the General Assembly who can be your advocate.
FIND THE THINGS YOU BOTH CAN AGREE ON
Quoting Senator McBride here: Remember we can disagree agreeably. There are many things two parties can still agree on, and identifying what those things are is how you build a base level of trust. That preexisting relationship allows you to navigate through tougher conversations. And it’s so important to have more than one opinion and ways of thinking respectively at the table because that is how real and good work gets done.
BALANCE FACTS AND DATA WITH EMPATHY AND COMPASSION
The power of storytelling is real. As Verna so eloquently explains in the episode, if you want to have a lasting impact, the relationships you form will help legislators see a face when they think of an issue. Yes, data is important when making a point and showing the significance of a topic, but empathy and compassion allow for people to truly connect.
Give this episode of Conversations with Kelly a listen. It may inspire you, like it did for me. You can play an active role in shaping the future of Delaware. When we have conversations and learn from each other, it results in not only better policy but a better path to progress.
LISTEN TO THE EPISODE:
Powered by RedCircle
WATCH THE EPISODE:
By Tyler Micik
Today wraps up the final week before the General Assembly goes on break for two weeks, returning on April 25th.
Two bills of importance, House Bills 102 and 104, passed the House and now move to the Senate for debate. The bills are part of a larger package of four bills, sponsored by Representative Bush, which are aimed at improving and quickening the permitting process for economic development projects in Delaware.
HB 102 expedites the issuance of temporary entrance permits for commercial and economic development projects. HB 104 accelerates the process for economic development projects in the State of Delaware with some exemptions from the PLUS process. A project located in Investment Level 1 or 2 under the Strategies for State Policies and Spending that is consistent with local zoning and any local comprehensive plan that will create full-time jobs is exempt from the pre-application process unless required by the local government or requested by the applicant.
According to the KPMG report released in 2019, Analysis of Delaware Permit Competitiveness, the state’s PLUS process adds approximately three months to the permitting process. This report was commissioned by the Ready in 6 Coalition--of which the Delaware State Chamber is a member--to identify strategies like this to streamline the permitting process in a way that doesn’t comprise public health or safety. The report concluded that concludes that Delaware has an opportunity to be more competitive if its permitting processes were strengthened through streamlined communication between state agencies, greater transparency and cost predictability, and a fast-track approval program for high-priority projects, among other recommendations.
The other two bills in the package--House Bills 101 and 103 have been introduced and await consideration in the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee.
The State Chamber supports all four bills because they are a crucial step in strengthening Delaware's competitiveness when it comes to attracting economic development projects and creating good jobs.
By Tyler Micik
Today wraps up a busy week in Dover. Of note was the Senate’s passage of House Bill 1 (HB1) and House Bill 2 (HB2), legalization of recreational marijuana. Both bills now move to Governor Carney for signature.
The Governor vetoed the bill last year and it’s uncertain whether he will again. If the Governor were to veto the bill, it’s likely the General Assembly would have the required number of votes to override his decision. A veto can be overridden with a three-fifths majority vote in both chambers, meaning the General Assembly would need 13 votes in the Senate and 25 in the House in favor of the legislation to override a veto. HB1 passed the Senate by a vote of 16 to 4 and in the House by 28 to 13. HB2 passed the Senate by a vote of 15 to 5 and the House by 27 to 13. Both bills already received several votes over the three-fifths needed in both chambers to override a potential veto—assuming those in favor don’t switch their vote in response to the Governor's decision. It’s also possible the Governor could take no action; in which case the bill would still become law.
So far, 21 states—along with Washington, D.C. and Guam--have legalized recreational marijuana. Should Delaware become the 22nd state, next steps will be for the state to stand up the structure laid out in the legislation to regulate the new industry. HB2, specifically, establishes a marijuana commissioner position under the Department of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, which would also be expanded to create an Office of the Marijuana Commissioner and Appeals Commission.
Today, the State Chamber was glad to see the package of four bills related to Ready in 6 were introduced. They are House Bill 101, 102, 103, and 104. The State Chamber supports these bills because they are an important part of the Ready in 6 initiative and a crucial step in improving and speeding up the permitting process for economic development projects in Delaware. All four bills have been assigned to House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee. HB102 and HB104 have been placed on the committee’s agenda for Wednesday, April 5th at 12pm.
Senate Bill 51, known as the polystyrene bill, saw movement this week as well. The Act prohibits food establishments from providing consumers with ready-to-eat food or beverages in polystyrene foam containers or with single-service plastic coffee stirrers, cocktail picks, or sandwich picks. It also prohibits food establishments from providing single-service plastic straws, unless requested by a consumer. The bill was released from the Senate Environment, Energy, & Transportation Committee on Wednesday and is now on the senate ready list. The State Chamber testified in opposition to the bill.
The State Chamber is engaged in conversations and continues to follow other legislation such as the Climate Change Solutions Act and Data Privacy Bill—both of which have yet to be reintroduced this session, but we’ve received draft copies of the bills. If you have any comments or questions about the bills the State Chamber is following, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Tyler Micik
Today wraps up a light week in Dover when it comes to legislation the State Chamber is following. House Bill 1 & House Bill 2, legalization of recreational marijuana, were released from Senate committee. Both bills have been placed on the Senate ready list, making recreational marijuana in Delaware one step closer to passage. To date, twenty-one states and D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. We thank Representative Osienski for engaging in conversation with us, listening to our concerns, and adding language into the bill that gives businesses the flexibility to keep and maintain their policies pertaining to drugs and alcohol. You can view a copy of the amendment here.
Next week the General Assembly is out of session for Bond break. They’ll return to session on Tuesday, March 28, which is the date of our annual Manufacturing and Policy Conference. You can learn more about and register for the event here.
As the General Assembly continues to introduce legislation important to you, make sure you have a copy of our 2023-2024 Legislative Roster. Here you will find names and contact information of members of the Delaware General Assembly, the Congressional delegation, and state and local government leaders. Also included are listings of Senate and House committees and their members, district maps, seating charts, voter registration information, and more. New this year, you can now access the roster at the touch of your fingertips via the State Chamber’s mobile app. Click here to learn more and order yours.
By Tyler Micik
The Delaware General Assembly returned to session on Tuesday after a five-week break. Of note this week:
SB58: Removal of Copay Requirements for Delaware Families In Need – Provides financial support to Delaware families seeking childcare by removing copays for Delaware families earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level and reimburses Purchase of Care (POC) providers for 15 absent days per child per month. This bill may help employers attract new workers and retain current employees who may be faced with the choice of working or staying home with their children. It’s also a benefit to early childcare centers in that it will increase the number of paid absent days for POC recipients which in turn could incentivize more early childhood providers to accept POC children. Increasing the number of paid absent days will go a long way to helping early childhood providers maintain financial stability within their centers.
State Chamber Position: Support
Status: Released from Senate Health & Social Services Committee and assigned to Senate Finance
SB59: Act to Establish a Statewide Rate of Purchase of Care for Child Care Providers – Directs the Department of Health and Social Services to pay a statewide rate to all childcare providers that is aligned with the New Castle County rate (as determined by the 2021 Delaware Local Child Care Market Rate Survey) through existing program funds. Childcare providers are struggling to find and attract talent because they are unable to compete for workers due to funding limits. Kent and Sussex County childcare programs currently receive 40% less than those in New Castle County – while they face the same costs for staff and supplies.
State Chamber Position: Support
Status: Released from Senate Health & Social Services Committee and assigned to Senate Finance
SB43: Display of Human Trafficking Public Awareness Signs - This Act adds additional State facilities and categories of establishments to § 787 of Title 11, which would be required to display public awareness signs about human trafficking. Such facilities and categories include state service centers, wellness centers, residential childcare facilities, transitional and independent living service providers for youth aging out of foster care, shelters for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault or individuals experiencing homelessness or food insecurity, hotels, convenience stores along a major highway, gas stations along a major highway, casinos, restaurants with liquor licenses, poultry processing plants, bus or train stations, bars, massage establishments, and shopping malls. The Act includes specific locations on the premises where establishments must display a public awareness sign and adjusts the process by which the Delaware Anti-Trafficking Action Council may designate establishments required to display public awareness signs. Additionally, it allows the Council to promulgate regulations to designate other categories of establishments that must display public awareness signs, designate a specific location on the premises for a category of establishments where a public awareness sign must be displayed, and change requirements for what must be included in a “public awareness sign”, as defined in this Act. It also establishes an enforcement process, including the requirement that establishments will receive a warning before any civil penalties are assessed. If an establishment does not correct the noncompliance, its owner is subject to a civil penalty of up to $500 for their first offense and up to $2,500 their second.
State Chamber Position: Opposed
Status: Released from Senate Judiciary Committee and assigned to Senate Finance
HB41: Digital Right to Repair - Currently when an electronic product such as a phone or electronic game breaks, it is only allowed to be repaired by the manufacturer. Parts are not available whether you are a consumer or a local repair shop. This Act requires the manufacturer to make parts, documentation, tools, and updates available on fair and reasonable terms.
State Chamber Position: Engaged and gathering feedback
Status: Released from House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee and moves to the House for a full vote
HB1 & HB2: Legalization of Recreational Marijuana – Would legalize and tax recreational marijuana in the same manner as alcohol. HB1 removes all penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and HB2 is the “regulation and tax” piece. The State Chamber thanks Representative Osienski for taking our concerns into consideration and incorporating language into the bill that gives employers the flexibility to keep and maintain their policies regarding drugs and alcohol. You can view a copy of the amendment here.
State Chamber Position: Neutral based on amended language
Status: Both bills passed the House and have been assigned to committee in the Senate
We expect to see movement on more bills next week such as SB51, known as the Polystyrene bill, and we will continue to keep our members updated as these proposals move forward. As always, if you have feedback on any of the bills mentioned above or others, please contact me at email@example.com. We want to hear from you!