Rundown: Business-related legislation from 2018

By Jon Hurdle
Special to Delaware Business Times

For the last few months, businesses have kept their eyes on Dover as lawmakers considered a slew of bills related to doing business in the First State. The 2018 legislative session, which ended June 30, tackled minimum wage, paid family leave, sexual harassment training, equal opportunity in the workplace, corporate registration, offshore drilling and other issues impacting the business landscape.

The following list includes laws passed by the legislature or signed by Gov. John Carney during the 2018 state legislative session.

House Bill 483, sponsored by Republican Rep. Michael Ramone and signed on July 1, raises the state’s minimum wage by 50 cents to $8.75 an hour from Jan. 1, 2019.

HB 475, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Quinton Johnson and signed on July 1, authorizes the state to issue $218 million in general obligation bonds in fiscal year 2019, up from $207 million in fiscal 2018, to pay for projects including capital improvements and transportation funding.

HB 426, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Trey Paradee and passed on July 1, sets financial penalties for tax preparers who violate tax laws, and permits courts to prevent preparers from understating a client’s tax liability.

HB 355, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Ed Osienski and signed on July 1, allows a state agency to accept electronic and online bidding for the procurement of material and non-professional services.

HB 360, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Helene Keeley and passed on July 1, strengthens federal protections for workers against sexual harassment by defining it as an unlawful employment practice, and requiring companies with more than 50 employees to conduct sexual harassment training every two years.

SB 191, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Harris McDowell and passed on July 1, eases a requirement on Delmarva Power and Light to file Integrated Resource Plans with the Public Service Commission. The new law extends the filing time for future IRPs to those occasions when Delmarva is planning a significant change in the source of its electricity supply.

SB 200, sponsored by Republican Sen. Ernesto Lopez and passed on July 1, prohibits drilling for oil or natural gas in Delaware’s Coastal Zone or its territorial waters, and prevents DNREC from issuing permits for offshore drilling.

SB 207, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Stephanie Hansen and passed on June 30, opposes drilling off the Delaware coast and directs state officials to enforce Delaware’s rights on offshore drilling under federal
and state environmental laws.

SB 144, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Brian Bushweller and signed on June 30, reduces a number of taxes on gaming, including table games and slot machines, to help keep the industry competitive with proliferating competition in other states.

SB 183, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Bryan Townsend and passed on June 30, amends a law relating to the creation, regulation, operation and dissolution of domestic and foreign limited liability companies.

SB 159, sponsored by Democratic Sen. David McBride and signed on June 30, protects motor vehicle franchise owners by amending the Delaware code on commerce and trade. Provisions include prohibiting carmakers from recovering their costs for compensating dealers by reducing the amount due to a dealer or imposing a charge.

HB 409, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Michael Mulrooney and passed on June 26, requires certain large employers to give their employees adequate notice when they go out of business, close a plant or lay off a large number of employees. The bill also requires the companies to inform the state of such cutbacks so that officials can help laid-off employees retrain for other work.

HB 406, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Byron Short and passed on June 28, provides more health insurance options in the insurance market place for small companies with five or more employees.

HB 369, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Ed Osienski and signed on June 27, expands the offense of falsifying business records by including the act of altering or modifying and creating false medical records.

HB 393, also sponsored by Rep. Short and passed on June 26, amends license and bond requirements for brokers of viatical settlements, under which a life insurance policy is sold to a third party for more than its
cash surrender value but less than its death benefit.

HB 334, sponsored by Rep. Paradee and passed on June 20, amends an existing statute to allow the state to conditionally permit captive insurance companies to do business while their applications for authority are being considered.

HB 412, also sponsored by Rep. Short and passed on June 19, clarifies that existing limitations on pledging money to banks and trust companies apply to securing guarantees, credit exposures, or other potential liabilities, in addition to borrowings.

HB 377, sponsored by Democratic Rep. John Mitchell and signed on June 14, permits a county government to charge a lodging tax of no more than 3 percent on rooms in unincorporated areas.

HB 332, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Stephanie Bolden and passed on June 12, requires reporting to state authorities by certain employees of broker-dealer or investment-adviser firms who have a reasonable expectation that an eligible adult has been financially exploited.

HB 318, sponsored by Rep. Short and passed on June 5, updates the Delaware Insurance Guaranty Association Act which protects customers if a claim arises from the insolvency of an insurance company.

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