Live free, but not in Delaware
By David T. Stevenson, CRI Policy Director
Delaware ranks 43rdin the new Cato Institute, “Freedom in the Fifty States”. That is probably too generous.
The Cato report highlights several policy issues including:
- Move education spending from the state to local responsibility
- Liberalize insurance laws to encourage competition
- Limit civil asset forfeiture laws to protect citizens from police abuse
We agree these issues are important. Delaware needs more health insurers to drive down cost. More local control of education would be a bonus, especially moving control down to the individual school level, and allowing more school choice. The case of one individual having his $600 rent money confiscated during a traffic stop because it tested positive for drugs highlights the problems with our civil forfeiture laws. Essentially all money tests positive for drugs. Reclaiming confiscated money is time consuming and expensive.
Those issues are only the tip of the iceberg. Delaware has become a regulatory nightmare. DNREC is the biggest culprit. An amended carbon dioxide cap & trade regulation is being finalized that could add $630 million to electric rates between now and 2030, according to regional cap & trade group reports. That would provide DNREC with that much more revenue they can spend with no legislative oversight. A requirement that 25 percent of electricity demand be generated with renewable power by 2025 has yielded just 1.5 percent in-state generation of solar power so far according to the US Energy Information Agency with the rest coming from fuel cells powered by conventional natural gas, out-of-state solar and wind farms, and legacy biomass, and landfill gas projects. The cumulative premium cost commitment to just Delmarva Power customers is already $1 billion with more costs to come. CRI calculates, using Delmarva Power forecasts, each Delmarva residential customer in Delaware could pay about $2800 extra on their electric bills between now and 2030 for these two programs that haven’t significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
DNREC continues to require expensive, ineffective storm water ponds to reduce nitrogen runoff in new housing developments while ignoring a much less expensive, and more effective program that involves paying for agricultural cover crops. If you want to sell your home and have a septic system DNREC requires you to have an inspection, but offers no testing standards. Tests are conducted by septic system retail companies that move unrealistic amounts of water through the systems failing 70% of all systems tested, thus drumming up business. If you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, DNREC is trying to restrict those rights in state parks even though they keep losing in court.
DNREC is not the only problem.
- A bill passed in 2018 requiring anyone with a beehive to register annually with the state Department of agriculture, to pay an annual fee, and allow state inspectors on their property at any time.
- A bill passed in 2018 disallowing county, city, and town governments with Home Rule authority from adopting Right to Work laws after economically hard hit Seaford did so in 2017 to try to boost economic development.
- Anticipating the Supreme Court Janusruling, a bill passed in 2018 allows opt out from public sector labor unions only within 15 days of the anniversary date of joining the union. No help in figuring out your anniversary date is provided.
- Under the influence of Christiana Care, the State’s Health Care Resources Board has denied entry into the DE healthcare market by organizations such as Jefferson, Fox Chase, and U of Penn.
- Occupational licensing for beauticians, dental hygienists, and nurse practitioners limits competition.
- Delaware bans direct wine shipments
In general, Delaware has established a large number of protected interest groups that fund incumbents to keep their protected status. These practices will continue until voters elect people who campaign for change.