Governor’s Weekly Message Transcript – Veterans Opportunity Tax Credit – Hiring Veterans Makes Business Sense


This week I’m at JPMorgan Chase signing a bill to help Delaware businesses put more veterans back to work.

Last year I had the opportunity to go to Afghanistan to visit members of the Delaware National Guard serving our country and over the years I’ve had the chance to meet thousands of Delawareans serving in a variety of all the armed forces serving our country and fighting for us.

When they come home we have a responsibility to do everything we can to put them back to work and that’s why I’m so grateful to the people from JPMorgan Chase and so many Delaware employers who are working hard to give our veterans a real shot.

The statistics, unfortunately, are frightening. Veterans have had a hard time finding work when they come back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

That’s where this bill comes in. With this bill, businesses will actually get a tax credit by putting veterans back to work in this country. The bill can only go so far.

What we really need is a partnership with businesses throughout our state and throughout our country who recognize not only the service that our veterans have provided but also the unique skills they’ve developed through their training and through their work. By working together, with our businesses and our veterans, together and collectively, we can make sure that we keep Delaware moving forward.


Week 5 Results for Checkpoint Strikeforce

Dover – Seventeen (17) people were arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or drugs during the fifth weekend of the 2012 Checkpoint Strikeforce DUI prevention campaign.  This brings the total DUI arrests made as part of the campaign to 59.  Statewide, there have been over 2,800 DUI arrests made in Delaware this year.

In addition to the checkpoint DUI arrests last weekend, officers issued 3 citations for underage drinking, issued 1 cell phone citations, apprehended 9 wanted individuals, made 3 drug arrests, issued 7 seat belt citations, and issued 73 citations for various other traffic violations.

Three checkpoints are scheduled to take place the weekend of August 3rd.   They are scheduled for:

Friday August 3rd –  Wilmington – (DSP)- checkpoint

Rehoboth Beach- (multi-jurisdictional effort)- checkpoint

Saturday August 4th –  Seaford- (multi-jurisdictional effort)- checkpoint

Checkpoint Strikeforce is a regional sobriety checkpoint campaign aimed at arresting DUI offenders, by using high visibility enforcement to deter those who would otherwise choose to drink and drive.  The campaign, a six month long effort running through New Year’s Eve, involves setting up weekly DUI checkpoints statewide.

For more information on Checkpoint Strikeforce visit www.ohs.delaware.gov, www.DUIRealTime.com and follow regular campaign updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DEHighwaySafe and Facebook www.facebook.com/ArriveAliveDE.

 


Governor Signs Bill to Put Veterans to Work

Veterans’ Opportunity Tax Credit Helps Businesses Hire Recent Combat Veterans

WILMINGTON – Standing with veterans, members of the Delaware National Guard and legislative leaders, Governor Jack Markell signed legislation creating a new effort to help put recent combat veterans to work when they return from service. The “Veterans’ Opportunity Tax Credit” will give companies a $1,500 annual tax credit for each recent veteran they hire.

Veterans Tax

“Putting Delawareans, including our veterans, back to work is critical,” Governor Markell said. “Our Veterans’ Opportunity Tax Credit supports veterans in finding a job when they return home.  It’s the right thing to do for them, for our country and for business. ”

Traditionally, veterans have an unemployment rate that’s below the national average, but that has not held true for veterans who have served since 2001. In fact, their unemployment rate nationally has actually been higher– averaging more than 12 percent in 2011. As recently as January 2011, the unemployment rate for recently returning veterans was a disturbing 15.2 percent. The January 2012 national unemployment rate among recently returning veterans was 9.1 percent, still well above the national average of 8.3 percent.

Rep. Earl Jaques, the lead sponsor of the bill, chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and himself a 36-year veteran of the Delaware National Guard, said that encouraging businesses to help returning veterans will have a positive effect on both the companies and the veterans.

“One in six homeless people are veterans, and with all of our military members returning home, we don’t want those numbers to swell,” said Rep. Jaques, D-Glasgow. “Today’s veteran is not from your father’s military. They are technologically savvy and have operated in some of the worst conditions imaginable, so companies who hire them will get an outstanding employee. I appreciate Governor Markell support through the signing of this bill into law.”

The Veterans Opportunity Tax credit will allow any business can take a tax credit of 10 percent of the gross wages paid to qualified veterans, with a cap of $1,500. The cap will continue for three tax years, so the total benefit to the employer could be $4,500 per veteran hired. The credit can be taken by any private sector business, and can be credited against personal income taxes, corporate income taxes, bank franchise taxes and insurance premium taxes. Because the tax credit is refundable, businesses without tax liabilities can use the tax credits immediately.

“We know veterans have a lot of skills that employers value – they are disciplined, willing to work and take responsibility,” said Sen. George H. Bunting Jr., D-Bethany Beach, who is a decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War and the lead Senate sponsor. “This incentive might give an employer the nudge they need to help our returning veterans land on their feet with a good job and I am grateful for the Governor’s support.”

Because the Veterans’ Opportunity Tax Credit is more significant than some other job creation programs launched during the Markell administration, businesses would not be able to double-count a qualifying veteran as a new hire under the New Economy Jobs Program tax credit, or tax credits for qualified investment in business facilities and targeted areas.

“This is an example of how support continues from our local legislators for our military,” said Maj. Gen. Francis D. Vavala, adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard. “The economy is still a challenge and it’s this type of action that is beneficial to our military and especially small businesses. We are appreciative and applaud the initiative.”

JPMorgan Chase, the site of Tuesday’s bill signing, is one company that has taken the lead in putting Delawareans back to work. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to expand its operations in Delaware and add up to 1,200 new jobs in the state. In addition, they are committed to helping our returning veterans find employment. Early in 2011, JPMorgan Chase established its Office of Military and Veterans Affairs charged with developing a firm-wide, comprehensive strategy focused on jobs, military and veteran homeownership, and education. The company has committed resources across the company to address the issues facing service members, veterans and their families.

Veterans Opportunity

“We applaud the governor’s leadership in providing incentives for Delaware businesses to hire veterans,” said Keith Schuck, an Army veteran and president of Chase Bank, NA. “I am proud of JPMorgan Chase’s efforts, which are not simply about hiring veterans but providing them with the skills and training they need to turn that job into a meaningful career. Since 2011, we have hired nearly 100 veterans in Delaware, thousands more around the country and are committed to hiring more veterans through the 100,000 Jobs Mission.”

The credit focused on helping combat veterans, would be available only for hiring a veteran who has served recently in a hostile theatre, as evidenced by receipt of an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (which covers the Middle East, portions of Africa, and many other countries).  Those medals are available to service members who served 30 continuous days (or 60 days if non-continuous) in the relevant theatre. The time requirement is waived for service members who took part in combat or were wounded in the line of duty while in theatre.


Governor Signs Two Bills to Combat Bullying and Help Protect Our Children

Proposals from Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor and Education Committee Chairs Become Law

Wilmington – Two bills that implement components to combat bullying were signed by Governor Jack Markell today at George V. Kirk Middle School in Newark.  Today’s efforts are the direct result of work done by the Lt. Governor and Attorney General in cooperation with the strong sponsorship of House and Senate Education Chairs Sen. David Sokola and Rep. Terry Schooley.

“Education is one of my top priorities,” said Governor Markell, “and having a safe, secure learning environment is fundamentally important to a child’s education.  These bills will increase the safety of young people in our schools.”

SB 193 will result in the implementation of the state’s first uniform policy to combat cyberbullying in public schools.

Lt. Gov. Matt Denn and Attorney General Beau Biden began the process of drafting the statewide cyberbullying policy this spring by holding statewide public hearings to gather factual evidence from school administrators and parents about the type of off-campus activity causing disruption in our schools.

Shortly after signing of this bill, the state’s Department of Education will propose by regulation a statewide cyberbullying policy that has been drafted by the Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor, based upon the testimony at their hearings.   After considering public comment, the Department of Education will issue a final cyberbullying policy and each public school and charter school will have 90 days to adopt the policy.  Significantly, the bill also allows the Attorney General’s office to defend school districts and charter schools if they face a legal challenge after implementing the new statewide cyberbullying policy.

“As I have visited middle schools and high schools over the past two school years, cyberbullying has consistently been raised with me by principals and teachers as a real problem that stops them from focusing on educating kids,” Lt. Governor Denn said.  “This statewide policy will allow schools to clearly tell students what type of social media conduct is unacceptable, and it will provide legal support from the Attorney General’s office for districts where the policy is challenged.”

HB 268 protects students against bullying by adding consistency in how bullying incidents are reported by schools.

The legislation addresses a lack of consistency in how bullying incidents are reported by school districts.  Under this legislation, the state Department of Education will begin auditing a small number of public schools each year to ensure that schools are properly investigating and reporting suspected incidents of bullying.  Additionally, school districts will now be required to report both substantiated and “unsubstantiated” incidents of bullying to the state Department of Education, so the Department can determine if some schools or districts are failing to properly investigate or report claims of bullying.

“There is a huge variation in how our schools report bullying,” Attorney General Biden said.  “We have some small elementary schools that report many times the number of bullying incidents as major high schools.  If we are going to combat bullying, we need to know where it is happening, and this legislation will ensure that we have that information at hand.”

Nationally, 8.2 million students are bullied each year and 1 million are cyber-bullied. About 160,000 students stay home from school on any given day because they’re afraid of being bullied. In Delaware, nearly 20 percent of students surveyed last year reported that another student issued a verbal threat against them, while 30 percent reported that they said something to another student to hurt them.

Sen. David Sokola (D-Newark), SB 193’s lead sponsor  has long been a champion of efforts to keep schools safe and to create a good environment for students to learn. The new laws, he said are a continuation of those efforts.

“Today’s technology creates educational opportunities that have never been available before but that same technology can create challenges never before anticipated. Our districts need assistance in navigating the unique legal issues related to cyberbullying to help foster a good environment for our children,” Sokola said. “Taken together, these new laws aim to move our schools’ handling of cyberbullying forward in a manner that is consistent throughout the state and to help our children have the safe and nurturing environment they deserve.”

Rep. Terry Schooley (D- Newark), who was the lead House sponsor of both bills, said that bullying has become a serious problem in schools, and with more and more students using social media, bullying has progressed beyond playground taunts. The two bills will help increase reporting of all instances and address the emerging issue of cyber-bullying.

“Bullying in any form creates fear and intimidation in our schools, and it leads to students performing poorly, not going to school for fear of being bullied or in some cases, committing suicide,” said Rep. Schooley.  “When you take into account that means of communication such as social media, computers and cell phones post information far more publicly than previous generations could ever imagine, the issue becomes even more serious. By signing these bills into law, we are trying to increase reporting and stay ahead of the curve to protect our children and grandchildren.”

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Governor’s Weekly Message Transcript: Delaware State Fair – Our Agricultural Tradition


I’m here at a great Delaware tradition: the Delaware State Fair.

Governor’s Day at the Fair is truly one of my favorite days of the year.  I love coming and reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones.  I love doing the rides in the Midway, I love going to the Grange and the Farm Bureau to eat delicious food.  I love going to the barns to see the animals the kids have raised and are showing.  I like spending time the FFA and 4-H students.

They have so many incredible projects.  Everything from displaying vegetables and growing vegetables to doing science projects about all kinds of issues affecting water quality, agriculture and the like.

In fact, the highlight of coming to Fair is to see these kids because they are the next generation.  Many of them will go on to different fields but some of them will become farmers which is critically important to a big Delaware industry.

Agriculture is a really significant Delaware industry and of course poultry is the biggest of all.  75% of the money in Delaware agriculture is poultry and there are more than 11,000 jobs in that industry.  It’s been important in our past, it’s important right now and it’s going to continue to be an important industry in our future.

Having all those kids learn from the ground up from being really young kids through their teenage years means we’re going to be very well positioned to grow that industry as we all work together to move Delaware forward.