Delaware moves to crack down on workplace fraud, improve oversight of contractors

WILMINGTON – Gov. John Carney signed a bill Tuesday that will clarify and enforce workplace fraud rules and create a new registry to oversee contractor activity in the First State.

Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 95 passed the Delaware General Assembly earlier this year with nearly unanimous support and incorporates recommendations from a 2018 review of workplace fraud enforcement.

“Ensuring that the Department of Labor has the tools and resources it needs to enforce employment laws in Delaware is crucial to maintaining a fair economy,” said Sen. Jack Walsh, D-Stanton, prime sponsor of the bill. “Specifically, this bill addresses the underhanded, anti-worker, race-to-the-bottom tactics that we’ve seen from some of the more unscrupulous contractors out there. By barring unfair and illegal practices at the entrance to the marketplace and strengthening back-end enforcement, we can make contractor work in Delaware better for employers, employees, and customers all in one go. That’s a massive accomplishment and I am thankful to the many people who helped us get this bill to a signing ceremony today.”

Advocates inside and outside of Legislative Hall who pushed for the bill complained that some contractors in Delaware had long used a controversial method of employee misclassification to undercut competitors. In most cases, that meant hiring employees but listing them as independent contractors – workers who should be completely independent – to avoid paying for worker’s comp, unemployment, and other benefits owed to traditional employees.

The most significant change under the new law seeks to address misclassification and other types of workplace fraud by establishing a new Delaware Contractor Registration Act. This new way of tracking contractor activity will do all of the following:

1. Require contractors to pay a small annual fee and apply for a certificate of registration to engage in construction activities in Delaware.
2. Requires registered contractors to establish compliance with State labor and revenue laws.
3. Requires that all contractors who work on a public works contract comply with the new contractor registration requirement.

“This is important legislation that places the focus of the DOL and our work place fraud act on protecting the rights of workers and discouraging unscrupulous companies that, through deflated labor costs, unfairly compete with law abiding companies,” said Sen. Anthony Delcollo, R-Elsmere, who co-sponsored the bill in the Senate. “I am proud to have contributed to a bi-partisan solution that brought together labor, business owners, and many others in improving the system for businesses and workers alike.”

The bill signed into law by Gov. Carney on Tuesday differed from the original SB 95 in a few key ways, a product of the many negotiations that took place before the final floor votes. In addition to a handful of minor changes, Senate Substitute 1 lowered registration fees for contractors that do not hold public works contracts, established a right to request a hearing for contractors targeted by the DOL for violating the law, and required contractors to disclose if anyone involved or invested in the company has been convicted of fraud or other prohibited trade practices in the past.

Labor Secretary Cerron Cade worked closely with legislators leading up to the vote and hailed it as an important step forward for Delaware’s laborers.

“The Contractor Registration Act of 2019 reforms Delaware’s construction industry by disincentivizing fraudulent business practices and protecting the rights of workers,” said Sec. Cade. “The Department of Labor looks forward to working together with leaders of labor and industry to ensure successful implementation of this vital new law.”

Supporters and labor advocates – some from opposing sides of past debates on labor law – say that eliminating corner-cutting will benefit the contractors who follow the rules.

‘Today, another signing of a great piece of legislation long overdue in Delaware,” said Delaware State AFL-CIO President James Maravelias. “Going forward, unscrupulous contractors will no longer make Delaware their safe haven to operate in.”

The new law will go into effect on October 1, 2020, giving time for DOL to craft and execute a statewide information campaign for Delaware businesses.

Governor Carney Signs Legislation Establishing Infrastructure Fund to Create Jobs

Delaware is investing $3.9 billion to modernize transportation infrastructure through 2025

WILMINGTON, Del. – In front of the Christina River Bridge, Governor John Carney on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 61, legislation that establishes the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund (TIIF) to allow businesses to make roadway infrastructure improvements that will support job-creating projects in Delaware.

TIIF aims to attract new businesses to Delaware, expand existing Delaware businesses, and create jobs. Governor Carney called for the creation of a new Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund in his 2019 State of the State Address. Senator Stephanie Hansen and Representative Ed Osienski sponsored the legislation in the Delaware Senate and House.

“This legislation is really about creating good-paying jobs for Delaware workers and their families,” said Governor Carney. “As I said in my State of the State Address in January, TIIF will allow us to react quickly to important economic development projects that require upgrades to roads or other infrastructure. This new fund is just part of our efforts to modernize Delaware’s transportation system – and to fix roads, bridges, and potholes across our state. Investments in our transportation infrastructure make it easier and safer to travel across Delaware, and help us attract development from new and existing businesses. I want to thank members of the General Assembly for their partnership on this important issue.”

“Under Governor Carney’s leadership, DelDOT has been committed to streamlining our review process for businesses that want to locate and expand in Delaware,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan.  “TIIF is another tool in our toolbox that will assist us in attracting businesses and grow our economy.”

Through 2025, the State of Delaware will invest $3.9 billion to modernize Delaware’s roads and bridges, improve safety, alleviate congestion on Delaware roadways in all three counties, and attract new business development and good-paying jobs.

The Fiscal Year 2020 budget includes $10 million for the new infrastructure fund. The fund will be managed by the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund Council, a nine-member council established by the legislation. The council will consider applications and make funding recommendations to Delaware’s Transportation Secretary and the Secretary of State.

“Senate Bill 61 meets the needs of businesses looking to bring jobs to Delaware in a way that balances the interests of all parties,” said Senator Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown, prime sponsor and chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “It is part of a smart growth strategy that we have been envisioning since I was on County Council and I am excited that we are taking this step forward today. In the past, small hurdles in upgrading existing infrastructure near already developed areas forced new businesses to leapfrog out into green and undeveloped spaces – a practice that didn’t suit anybody particularly well and which caused a lot of friction in our long-term planning process. With this new tool, we can catalyze infrastructure improvements and smart development in the places where businesses want to be, attracting new jobs and building a better state for everyone along the way.”

“When developers and businesses choose Delaware to grow or locate, their primary capital infrastructure concerns are their facilities even though there may be road impacts in the area. The fund created by SB 61 will bolster economic development by helping to address those roadway impacts faster, at the same time businesses address their infrastructure needs,” said Representative Ed Osienski, Chair of the House Transportation/Land Use and Infrastructure Committee. “I am proud to be a sponsor of this legislation, which will enhance infrastructure, support economic development and make a difference in the First State.”

“On behalf of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Delaware and its nearly 1,000 practicing engineers in Delaware we are thrilled to support infrastructure investment in our state,” said ACEC President, Dave DuPlessis. “Infrastructure connects households to higher quality opportunities for employment, healthcare and education. It is critical to the success of our state. We look forward to designing the next wave of projects that will benefit from the TIIF.”


Bill Signing Promotes Savings in the First State

Senate Bill 143, signed today by Governor Carney, will increase savings plans education


Treasurer Colleen C. Davis, bill sponsors Sen. Trey Paradee and Rep. Krista Griffith, and children from Brilliant Little Minds Learning Academy celebrated today as Governor John Carney signed Senate Bill 143 into law. This legislation allows the Plans Management Board and the Office of the State Treasurer to increase awareness of the benefits of saving through the 529 Education Savings Plan and through ABLE Plans for those with disabilities.

Also joining the event were Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, Secretary of Finance Rick Geisenberger, Rep. Mike Smith, Rep. Bryan Shupe, and members of the Delaware Department of Education and the Plans Management Board. The Governor and legislators talked about their own experiences with the savings plans and discussed the importance of the bill. Treasurer Davis asked the kids from Brilliant Little Minds Learning Academy what they want to be when they grow up. “Whatever you want to be when you grow up, you have to work hard in school and save your money to make it happen. I’m so glad that we could have young people here with us as we take this step towards expanding economic opportunity and educational attainment.”

Senate Bill 143 allows the Board to pursue methods of increasing savings plan enrollments outside of the high-income earning households that traditionally participate by allowing for incentive-based marketing. Possible avenues of promotion include a scholarship program or a match plan, as seen in other states. These options will be explored by the Board at future meetings. Additionally, new promotions aimed at increasing awareness of using 529s for adult educational attainment and for non-college costs, such as apprenticeship programs, will be integrated into future marketing efforts.

“The costs of education are skyrocketing, but national enrollments in 529 plans have gone down,” Treasurer Davis said. “In Delaware, we have worked hard to share the benefits of these plans with our residents and are continuing to see new enrollments. Our nearly 22,000 accounts represent growth of 4% over the last three years, and this bill will allow us to continue to expand. Like these savings plans, Senate Bill 143 is an investment in our future.”

“America is facing a crisis when it comes to saving money for the future,” said Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, who works as a financial advisor. “Right now, 40 percent of U.S. adults don’t have enough savings to cover even a $400 emergency – a brutal fact, which is leaving too many families one missed paycheck from a financial nightmare. We need to be doing all we can to encourage people to take advantage of savings plans, particularly the favorable products offered by our state. This bill is aimed at raising awareness of those products and examining how we can better position them to help working families in need.”

“Given the daunting cost of college education, the state of Delaware needs to do everything it can to promote college savings. Delaware has made great strides in creating accounts for those for disabilities, which will allow them to save money without sacrificing services they depend on,” said Rep. Krista Griffith, D-Fairfax. “This bill will allow Treasurer Davis to increase outreach about Delaware’s 529 plan and make more Delawareans aware of the benefits so they can invest and plan for their futures. I’m always looking to help improve accessibility to these accounts and I look forward to continued efforts in the General Assembly.”

Both tax-advantaged savings plans are available to the public, easy to open, and offer investment options so that savings can grow over time until they are used for associated costs. Learn more about our savings plans at 529.Delaware.Gov and ABLE.Delaware.Gov.

DNREC ECU seeks public help in identifying suspect illegally dumping at Polly Drummond Hill Yard Waste Site

This Toyota Tacoma pickup was captured on surveillance camera entering the Polly Drummond Hill Road Yard Waste Site in Newark twice Sunday evening and illegally dumping material other than yard waste. DNREC’s Environmental Crimes Unit is seeking information about the identity of the truck’s driver. /DNREC photo.

NEWARK (July 31, 2019) – Natural Resources Police Officers with DNREC’s Environmental Crimes Unit are seeking the public’s help in identifying the driver of the red Toyota Tacoma pickup truck pictured above who was twice seen on surveillance cameras Sunday, July 28 illegally dumping solid waste at DNREC’s Polly Drummond Hill Road Yard Waste Site in Newark.

The Polly Drummond Hill Road Yard Waste Site, which is open from 8 a.m. to sunset Saturdays and Sundays, does not accept any materials other than yard waste. Yard waste is defined as plant material that comes from lawn maintenance and other gardening and landscaping activities. This includes grass clippings, leaves, prunings, brush, garden wastes, Christmas trees, and tree limbs up to four inches in diameter. Dumping other materials at the site is illegal.

DNREC’s Natural Resources Police Environmental Crimes Unit ask that anyone with information about this case to call 1-800-662-8802 or 302-739-9401.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 206

DNREC confirms finding Asian longhorned tick for the first time in Delaware

DNREC’s tick monitoring program confirms finding Asian longhorned tick for the first time in Delaware in northern New Castle County

DOVER – The Asian longhorned tick has been found for the first time in Delaware, DNREC’s new tick surveillance program within the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Mosquito Control Section announced today. This tick is a known or suspected vector of various pathogens or diseases affecting humans, wildlife, and livestock in other parts of the world, particularly in its native eastern Asia. In the United States, only two instances of Asian longhorned ticks attached to humans have been confirmed, and there have been no reported instances of disease transmission to humans or animals.

Asian longhorned ticksDuring tick sampling initiated this spring by DNREC’s statewide tick program, a total of five Asian longhorned tick nymphs – immature ticks – were found in late June in northern New Castle County. Dr. Lauren Maestas, the state’s tick biologist, visually identified the ticks, and his finding was confirmed through genetic analysis by the Center for Vector Biology at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

With the Asian longhorned tick confirmation, Delaware now has seven tick species of human or domestic animal health concern, with five species of primary focus: black-legged or deer ticks, lone star ticks, American dog ticks, Gulf Coast ticks, and now the Asian longhorned tick (also known as the cattle tick or bush tick). Delaware’s finding brings the total number of states with recognized Asian longhorned tick populations to 12.

The Asian longhorned tick was first observed and identified in North America on sheep in New Jersey in 2017, although the Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases at Cornell University subsequently determined that the species has been present in the US since 2010. The range of this invasive tick species has spread quickly, and now includes neighboring Pennsylvania and Maryland as well as New Jersey.

The Asian longhorned tick expanded beyond its native China, Korea, and Japan to New Zealand and Australia, before arriving in the United States through a variety of possible routes. This tick is native to regions with a climate similar to the northeastern United States, allowing it to survive and overwinter here.

DNREC’s tick program advises taking simple steps to avoid the Asian longhorned tick, as well as other tick species, such as using insect repellent containing DEET, spraying clothing with permethrin, and wearing trousers tucked into your shoes along with long-sleeved clothing that covers extremities.

While there have been no reports of Asian longhorned tick-borne illness occurring in the United States, in other countries, bites from these ticks have made people seriously ill. According to Infectious Disease Epidemiologist Paula Eggers of the Delaware Division of Public Health, no disease-causing agents for people have been found to date in Asian longhorned ticks collected in the United States. Prevention is key to reducing tick-borne disease in humans. Checking your body for ticks daily, properly removing ticks, and showering soon after being outdoors all help to prevent tick attachment, and hence transfer of tick-borne diseases. The Division of Public Health urges anyone who develops a fever, rash, or other symptoms following a tick bite to contact their health care provider.

With regard to its effects on domestic animals, the Asian longhorned tick is known to swarm livestock and horses in great numbers, leading to substantial loss of blood and, if the ticks are not removed, possible death of the animals, according to Deputy State Veterinarian Dr. Karen Lopez of the Delaware Department of Agriculture. Dr. Lopez added that no disease-causing agents for animals have been found to date in Asian longhorned ticks collected in the United States. Animal owners should consult their veterinarian about methods of tick prevention, and contact a veterinarian immediately if they notice signs of illness in their livestock, horses, or pets.

Asian longhorned ticks have been reported infesting wildlife, including mammals and birds. The impact of the Asian longhorned tick on wildlife health in the United States, and the role of wildlife in its spread, is currently unknown.

DNREC’s tick program notes the Asian longhorned tick’s three post-egg life stages (larva, nymph, adult) can be found on a range of small-to-large size mammal hosts. The species also is known to reproduce without a mate. Primary habitats for these ticks in the United States are meadows and grassy areas near forested locations. In other areas, the ticks have been found primarily outside the coastal plain, which could indicate that Delaware’s piedmont region located north of I-95 is at greatest risk for establishment of this species. However, the tick could spread into Delaware’s coastal plain south of I-95, though it has yet to be found there. Distribution of the Asian longhorned tick in Delaware may change and is subject to various factors, including host availability, environmental conditions, and movement by people, pets, wildlife, and livestock.

For more information about:

  • Tick biology/management – Contact the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Mosquito Control Section tick program at 302-739-9917.
  • Tick-related human health or medical issues – Contact the Delaware Division of Public Health at 888-295-5156.
  • Tick-related agricultural or livestock issues – Contact the Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only).

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.