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Spring Showers Bloom Legislative Actions

photo of Melissa Hopkins

That is how the saying goes, right? Spring in Delaware offers rain, second winter for a few weeks, and a plethora of legislative activity. It is hard to believe that we are mid-way through the 2021 legislative session, and that despite the General Assembly not meeting in person, it has been a very busy season. Legislators, staff, and advocates are navigating video-based meetings better than a year ago, and it allowed us all to return to the business of the people with only an occasional chorus of “You’re muted!” New General Assembly members add their unique commentary to the debate, and we see the resulting shifts in policy. DANA is monitoring and advocating on behalf of nonprofits on several bills and draft initiatives.

SB 15 will raise the Delaware minimum wage to $15.00 by 2026. This made its way through the Senate in March and is currently being considered by the Delaware House of Representatives. DANA’s position has been that Delaware nonprofits would like to support a robust living wage for our employees but that requires a true partnership with the state in terms of increasing the wage rates for contracted and grant funded services. Regarding impact to our state’s nonprofits, Representative Michael Smith raised great questions about the costs associated with reassessing contracts and grant supported work with nonprofits. The bill was considered by the House Economic Development Committee on April 21st, and was released from committee with a vote of 8 yes, 5 no. The bill proceeds to the Appropriations Committee for consideration given the size of the fiscal note associated with the bill. Now is the time to outline economic impacts to your organization. Carolyn Fredericks, of Modern Maturity Center did a wonderful job in her remarks in the House Economic Development Committee, and she was able to provide the year over year costs to feed and serve senior citizens.

We are also watching the federal discussion on minimum wage rate increases. NPR reported today that President Biden may issue an executive order for federal contracts pay their employees at or above $15 by 2022.

There are several other proposed initiatives that are due to be introduced soon, which will impact Delaware nonprofits.

Senator Sarah McBride is circulating a working draft of the Comprehensive Paid Family and Medical Leave Law. This bill would provide paid leave for the following:

  • Serious health condition,
  • To care for a family member with a serious health condition,
  • A new baby (including newborn, foster adopted),
  • To secure safety in a domestic violence situation; or
  • To address family needs during a military deployment.

Employees who have been on payroll 90 days or more would be provided 12 weeks of paid leave for a covered purpose with no more than 16 weeks of leave in a 12-month period. While on leave, covered workers will receive 80% of their average weekly wage, at a maximum benefit in the beginning of $900. This program would run like the Unemployment Insurance program with an office dedicated to managing. While employers may provide a private plan, and opt out of the state’s plan, the private plan must offer benefits and coverage equal to or better than the state’s plan.

The program is funded through a .8% payroll contribution, split equally between the employee and the employer at .4% each. Businesses and nonprofits with less than 20 employees will not be required to pay the employer funded share of the payroll contribution.

Senator McBride has been working with us to ensure that the program provides coverage to employees of nonprofits without becoming too burdensome. Please reach out to me and let me know your perspective. I know Senator McBride is open to feedback. She may be reached at [email protected].

A far more concerning proposal is regarding Data Brokers and Consumer Protection. Sponsored by Representative Krista Griffith, this bill is in draft form but will be introduced very soon

Organizations that collect data for 500 or more Delawareans and share it for “consideration” will be considered a data broker. Those data brokers will be required to register with the state, pay a registration fee, and follow a process for managing the data. This means any nonprofit that shares information for invitations to a fundraiser with a mail house will be considered a data broker. Charter Schools that take information in for purposes of conducting an admission lottery becomes a data broker. Should a nonprofit have agreements with sponsors for events that they provide the attendee list with contact information, then they also become a data broker. There is a lot to understand from this bill and we look forward to working with Representative Griffiths to get a clear understanding regarding the impact to nonprofits.

Nationally, we continue to learn how various Covid-19 relief initiatives such as the American Rescue Plan Act will impact Delaware nonprofits. The SBA announced yesterday the reopening of the Shuttered Venues Operator Grant. In addition, the SBA is opening another round of Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) which nonprofit can apply. We continue to remain in touch with the Delaware federal delegation and will alert you of any new initiatives forming.

Aside from legislation, we are just a few weeks away from JFC Budget Markup which begins May 24th. Our Community of Practice: Public Policy will be working together to ensure the policy environment supports Delaware nonprofits. The group meets every other Friday, with the next meeting on May 7th. If you have an interest in learning more about public policy activities in relation to our nonprofit sector please register here.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, please reach out to me at [email protected] or 302-777-5500.