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Gov. Hogan says Maryland will end extra $300 weekly payments, other federal unemployment programs

From The Baltimore Sun 

Maryland will stop paying jobless residents an extra $300 a week soon and will end other federal pandemic unemployment programs, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday.

The changes will take effect in early July. In addition to cutting off the weekly $300 boost, Maryland will discontinue three other programs — including aid for the self-employed and gig workers — and will require claimants to show that they are looking for a new job.

The federal programs were extended until September under the American Rescue Plan Act, passed by Congress in March, but a number of Republican governors have announced that they will opt out of them early. Maryland is the 24th state to do so.

Business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have called for states to end the enhanced benefits. Read more:https://www.baltimoresun.com/politics/bs-md-extra-unemployment-ending-20210601-j5eq6dxz5jcbrjr5z3o52ctfri-story.html 

State lawmakers announce new ‘Life Science Caucus’

From: Delaware Public Media A bipartisan group of Delaware lawmakers is creating a new caucus devoted to the First State’s growing science sector.

State officials announced the creation of the Life Science Caucus Monday to address issues in industries like biopharmaceuticals and gene-editing in Delaware’s General Assembly.

The caucus will work with the Delaware Prosperity Partnership and the state’s private sector with the goal of offering incentives and facilitating tech-based economic development.

State Rep. Mike Ramone (R-21) says he thinks it’s a good strategy, given Delaware’s small size, that it should try to cater to a particular niche business sector for growth and expansion.

“I think that this bio-sector niche and what we can do in Delaware—developing partnerships with the universities and the business sector—we could be a sweet spot for this,” said Ramone.

Delaware’s life and bioscience industries already generate billions each year in economic output. They employ more than 8,000 people. The industry’s average salary is more than $100,000. Read more: https://www.delawarepublic.org/post/state-lawmakers-announce-new-life-science-caucus

Publisher’s View: Delaware’s leaders need to rethink federal benefits

From Delaware Business Times: The news that Gov. Carney and the state Department of Labor is reinstating the requirement that Delawareans on unemployment demonstrate that they’re looking for work is a good step to trying to get people back to work.

Rob Martinelli
Today Media Inc.

Delaware has 31,000 people receiving up to $400 per week from the state.  Many of us are intrigued by decisions being made in almost half of the other states to opt out of the $300 in additional weekly federal benefits. Missouri Governor Mike Parson told CNBC, “While these benefits provided supplementary financial assistance during the height of COVID-19, they were intended to be temporary, and their continuation has instead worsened the workforce issues we are facing.” Read more: https://delawarebusinesstimes.com/news/delaware-needs-to-rethink-federal-benefits/

Delaware lawmakers OK pay hikes and pension increases

From Bay to Bay News:

DOVER — Delaware lawmakers wrapped up budget markup after just two days this week, setting the stage for the final month of the 2021 legislative session.

Legislators approved a number of aspects of Gov. John Carney’s January recommendations for the operating budget, adding roughly $60 million to that spending plan to bring the total to about $4.77 billion. There’s also a supplement containing some one-time funding that comes to $221 million, which represents a sixfold increase there.

Though the Joint Finance Committee was scheduled to meet for up to six days, it only needed two. Lawmakers breezed through the budget-markup process, aided by a glut of revenue in the form of an extra $750 million or so since the governor unveiled his budget proposal.

The extra money makes the job easier for legislators in one sense because they do not have to debate cuts to services or tax hikes, though it does  demand for more funding from many areas. Read more here:  https://baytobaynews.com/stories/delaware-lawmakers-ok-pay-hikes-and-pension-increases,49182

The Summer Season is Here, But Workers Are Not

From WBOC:

DELMARVA – Business owners say say this could be the busiest summer in Delmarva’s history, and it all kicks off this weekend with Memorial Day.

Workers are needed to deal with the unprecedented crowds, and store owners say they still need more help.

Local hotel manager Benjamin Gray says the crowds will only get bigger from here.

Gray said, “It’s a recovery like I’ve never seen before. I’ve been in this industry for over a decade, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
He says staffing is the number one concern in the hospitality industry, and for his business, the cleaning staff is slim.

“Not many people want to go off of unemployment to clean rooms, so that’s the main issue we’re running into. Also front desk seems to hurt a little bit as well, but primarily housekeeping, that’s where we have the dire need for this particular market,” Gray said.

But Seacrets in Ocean City says their need is everywhere. “We’ve got something for everyone. Kitchen, bars, wait staff, even AV with all our entertainment, so you can go to our website and apply there. More and more people are coming down, so we’re just hoping to fill those spots,” said Seacrets’ Marketing Manager Jackie Weisenberg.
Read more:https://www.wboc.com/story/43971205/the-summer-season-is-here-but-workers-are-not


Delaware auditor launches effort to track Rescue Plan funds

From Bay to Bay News:

DEWEY BEACH — Whether it’s one penny or a billion dollars, governmental accountability and transparency are paramount, says Delaware Auditor Kathy McGuiness.

On Wednesday morning in Dewey Beach, Ms. McGuiness — flanked by officials from several Delaware municipalities — unveiled what she calls a historic statewide initiative to track how school districts and local and county governments spend the $1.25 billion they are receiving in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“The premise of this initiative is simple — Delawareans will be able to see and compare how their county, the municipalities and school districts are spending the millions in tax dollars they receive from the American Rescue Plan,” said Ms. McGuiness. “Through this project, I am encouraging every Delaware citizen to become a citizen watchdog. The execution of this initiative is also simple — county and municipal officials will go to the secure portal on my website and put in the details of where they have spent their ARP funds each week.”

The initiative is named “Project: Gray Fox” in honor of Delaware’s state animal, Ms. McGuiness said.

“For most Delawareans, the third stimulus payment they received this spring is likely either spent on bills or put into savings already,” she continued. “But for county and local government officials, as well as school district officials, the $1.25 billion in ARP funds they will receive have yet to appear in their bank accounts.”  Read more: https://baytobaynews.com/stories/delaware-auditor-launches-effort-to-track-rescue-plan-funds,49079

American biomedical innovation is leading the world: Why would we stifle that? | Opinion


From Delawareonline: President Joe Biden was spot on when he recently told Congress that continued investment in research and development is essential to our country’s global leadership and economic security.

Fortunately, the American bioscience sector is a shining exemplar of our nation’s unparalleled ability to nurture and produce engines of innovation that both benefit humankind and drive extraordinary economic opportunity at home through just that kind of sustained investment.

The dramatic impact of this biomedical renaissance couldn’t be clearer:  Vaccines and therapeutics developed and produced in record time and at an unprecedented scale are leading the world out of the deadly clutches of a catastrophic pandemic.

Yet, despite this historic success story, a proposal is being considered in Congress that would jeopardize this leadership by applying foreign pricing models to breakthrough medicines. Read more:https://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2021/05/21/delaware-leads-american-biomedical-innovation/5166978001/

Gov. Hogan lifts all COVID-19 capacity limits on businesses, restaurants in Maryland


From: Delmarva Now  Maryland will lift nearly all remaining COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, restaurants and venues across Maryland on Saturday as vaccines make progress in slowing the virus’s spread.

Gov. Larry Hogan said capacity limits on indoor and outdoor dining, entertainment venues, sporting events and all businesses will end in response to improving COVID-19 metrics.

“Effectively, as of Saturday, every business in Maryland will be able to open at 100% with no restrictions,” Hogan said Wednesday.

Read more: https://www.delmarvanow.com/story/news/local/maryland/2021/05/12/maryland-covid-hogan-lifts-capacity-limits-businesses-restaurants/5062563001/

With so much federal stimulus cash, state predicts surplus of $1 billion

From: Delaware Live

A state council that forecasts Delaware’s state budgets is predicting there will be a surplus of more than $1 billion in 2022.

It’s a stunning rise from the $669 million predicted in December, which was already surprising against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council’s expenditures and revenues committees heard Monday that jump came about largely because of the amount of federal stimulus money coming in, particularly checks sent to residents.

The full committee is voting on their recommendations Monday afternoon.

Withholdings from personal income tax has risen 16.4%, said David Roose, director of Research & Tax Policy for the state Department of Finance.  The sharp increase is partly because the numbers are being compared with last year, when so many people lost jobs and withholdings fell.

Net corporate income tax in April, covering the first quarter, is one of the four best Aprils in the last 25 years, Roose said. Some of the higher industries were healthcare, finance and home building.

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The state has also seen an increase of nearly $16 million in franchise tax, a 50% rise in transfer tax — a state record, and rises in general receipt taxes from retailers, general wholesalers and services as the economy has started to improve.

Amid the amazement at the rapid transformation of Delaware’s financial fortunes was worry about what happens next.

Read more:: https://delawarelive.com/with-so-much-federal-stimulus-cash-state-predicts-surplus-of-1-billion-in-2022-2/

Jewish leaders condemn Morrison post, ask to talk about Israeli attacks

From: DelawareLive: Two state representatives are among 15 Delaware Jewish leaders who have taken another Delaware state representative to task for what they describe as “hurtful and inflammatory” language describing Jewish attacks in Gaza as “ethnic cleansing.”

In a May 21 open letter to Rep. Eric Morrison, D-Glasgow, the 10 rabbis and five other leaders singled out his May 16 Facebook post, in which he calls attacks in Gaza “ethnic cleansing at best, genocide at worst.”

Among those signing the letter from the Jewish Community Relations Committee were Morrison’s fellow legislators, Rep. Deb Heffernan, D-Bellefonte, and Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman, R-Clayton. Read more: https://delawarelive.com/jewish-leaders-condemn-morrison-post-ask-to-talk-about-israeli-attacks/