by J.L. Haynes, Public Policy & Advocacy Manager
After a busy legislative session, the first half of General Assembly 152 ended on Friday, June 30th with exciting fanfare, swearing in of a new Speaker of the House, and electing new House Majority Leadership.
Representative Peter Schwartzkopf announced that he would be stepping down as Speaker of the House but continue to fill his commitment to the residents of the 14th District by finishing his term as a state representative. The House elected Representative Valerie Longhurst to take over as Speaker of the House beginning on June 30th. Speaker Longhurst is the First Woman Speaker in Delaware History. House Leadership is rounded out with the election of Representative Melissa Minor-Brown as House Majority Leader, and Representative Kerri Evelyn Harris as the House Majority Whip.
As a review, DANA prioritized the following policy issues this session:
- Increase state investment to Nonprofits
- Affordable Healthcare Access for Nonprofits via State’s Benefits Plan
- Statewide Contract Reassessment for Nonprofit Contracted Service Providers
Increase in Funding for Nonprofits
This legislative session started with Governor Carney’s State of the State address claiming the State of Delaware was strong providing generous investments in housing, education, and the state’s workforce. However, many nonprofits were concerned with the level-funded Grant-In-Aid allocation in the Governor’s Recommended Budget. Additionally, the budget of departments contracting with nonprofit service providers included little to no increases for those contracts. So, the position of nonprofits remained unchanged at the outset of this year.
Following the March Delaware Economic Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) meeting, the administration and leadership in both the House and Senate adopted a very fiscally cautious outlook as projections were trending down for FY24 and the years following. At the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce End of Session Policy Conference, Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf and Senate President Pro-temp David Sokola spoke with concern about the State’s fiscal position and told of active efforts to suppress legislation with large ongoing costs as projections given reduced revenue and increases in Medicaid costs, read more about the remarks and event here.
June’s DEFAC meeting yielded an extra $84 million in revenue projected for FY24. This resulted in the adoption of the General Operating Budget for FY 2024, totaling $ 5.6-billion dollars and a $1.4-billion-dollar Capital Infrastructure and Bond Bill. Within that bill is $45 million for nonprofit and local town capital initiatives. The Grant-In-Aid bill totaled just under
$72 million, more than the Governor’s recommendation of $58 million. First responders realized sizeable increases both in their regular section and in one-time allocations. One-time allocations are down versus last year as there were no last-minute bills that needed funding. We were pleased to see many organizations were awarded grant increases, and new nonprofits were awarded Grant-in-Aid funds.
Senior Centers + 3%
One-time allocations to nonprofits +15%
Nonprofits Serving Aging Citizens +14%
Arts/Historical/Culture + 7%
Disability/Health/Labor + 7%
Family/Youth Services +20%
Alcohol/Drug & Abuse + 3%
Neighborhood/Community Centers + 6%
Veteran Organizations +22%
Access to Affordable Healthcare
A solution to the growing problem of affordable healthcare for our sector has been a long uphill battle. None of the progress we’ve made so far would have been possible without the partnership of our champion, Senator Sarah McBride, who fought incredibly hard for nonprofits’ access to affordable healthcare options and the advocacy efforts of our members. The bill Senator McBride drafted, the survey our members filled out to provide the Administration with essential information, and the consistent pressure kept on legislators and state officials by our members, the DANA team, and Senator McBride led to epilogue language in the Grant-in-Aid bill and an opportunity to pursue an Association Healthcare Plan (AHP).
DANA has spent the last year in conversation on this initiative and we will continue to work with the Delaware Department of Human Resources on the possibility of access to state employee benefits. One thrilling aspect of the Grant-In-Aid bill was epilogue language affirming the Carney Administration’s dedication to helping expand the nonprofit sector’s participation in the State’s benefits plan. DANA will work with the administration on establishing guidelines so this can become a reality.
Though nonprofit entry into the state plan is not yet secured, we are pleased to report that the administration has endorsed DANA to create an Association Healthcare Plan (AHP) for the nonprofit community with a one-time investment through ARPA funding. We are so excited to be able to offer our members a more immediate solution to the healthcare problem while we continue to work with the State.
Statewide Contract Reform
Our other policy goal, contract reassessment, has also picked up some traction within different agencies. We will continue to work with the Administration while the Legislature is out of session to make progress on this important policy goal. Thank you to all those who filled out our contract survey, we will be finalizing the results and reporting out soon.
The legislation this session was abundant and covered a wide array of policy areas such as environmental packages, health, and Medicare bills, etc. Listed at the end are a number of bills that passed both houses which impact the nonprofit sector in different ways.
This is just the first leg of the two-year General Assembly which can be felt in not only the volume of legislation introduced this year but also in the more relaxed atmosphere this June has had. In January 2024 we expect to see legislators pick up where they left off, but with more urgency coming into an election year.
We also feel that sense of urgency around DANA’s policy work as we continue to advocate for the needs of nonprofits outside of the legislative season. To become more involved with DANA’s policy efforts you can join us monthly at our Public Policy Community of Practice. If you specifically want to engage in the discussions around Contract Reassessment, join our coalition here. Please join us at our upcoming policy events, EARNS Townhall with State Treasurer Davis, and stay tuned for a Grant-In-Aid Workshop with Controller General’s Office in the Fall.
If you have any questions always feel free to reach out the J.L. Haynes, Public Policy, and Advocacy Manager at [email protected].
DANA Bill Tracking 2023 –
|Bill Number||Bill Title/Description||Status|
|HB 195||General Operating Budget Bill for Fiscal Year 2024||Signed by Governor|
|HB 196||One-time Supplemental Appropriation for Fiscal Year 2024||Signed by Governor|
|HB 197||Grant-in-Aid Bill||Signed by Governor|
|SB 160||Realty Transfer Tax Bill Clarifies that the exemption from the realty transfer tax for conveyances to or from an organization exempt from tax under § 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code when the purpose of the conveyance is to provide owner-occupied housing to low and moderate-income households- applies to rehabilitating residential properties and reselling the properties without profit and to constructing residences on properties and reselling the properties without profit.||Signed by Governor|
|HB 154||Single-Service Plastic Implements and Polystyrene Container Ban in Food Establishments Bill 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 a consumer requests it. These restrictions take effect on July 1, 2025.||Awaiting Action by Governor|
|SB110||Courthouse Municipality Fee Bill Increases the courthouse municipality fee assessed on limited liability company (LLC) filings and corporate filings from $20 to $40.||Awaiting Action by Governor|
|SB51||Single-Service Plastic Implements and Polystyrene Container Ban in Food Establishments Bill 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. These restrictions take effect on July 1, 2025.||Awaiting Action by Governor|
|HB160||Behavioral Health Crisis Intervention Services (988 Hotline) Adds a monthly behavioral health crisis intervention services surcharge of 60 cents per month imposed by providers on subscribers of telecommunications services in this State.||Awaiting Action by Governor|
|SB43||Display of Human Trafficking Public Awareness Signs||Awaiting Action by Governor|
|SB 87||Realty Transfer Tax Bill Clarifies that the exemption from the realty transfer tax for conveyances to or from an organization exempt from tax under § 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code when the purpose of the conveyance is to provide owner-occupied housing to low and moderate income households- applies to rehabilitating residential properties and reselling the properties without profit and to constructing residences on properties and reselling the properties without profit.||Awaiting Action by Governor|