With the close of the 151st General Assembly on June 30th, AARP is celebrating several big wins that will improve the lives of Delawareans 50+. Our Advocacy Team of volunteers worked tirelessly to help make it all happen!
"Our volunteers who have a presence at Legislative Hall in Dover are the face of AARP," said AARP Delaware State Director Lucretia Young. "We celebrate their achievement in working alongside our team to make life better for Delawareans."
AARP Delaware's top volunteer, State President George Meldrum, was instrumental in providing leadership for the advocates and connecting AARP to those who help make a difference. "I fully support the work of AARP Delaware, and was so pleased to see our many accomplishments this year. It's been quite a fight!"
Bills passed this session will expand access to retirement savings, prevent age discrimination, allow family caregivers with jobs to take paid leave, improve traffic safety, and protect access to voting. Here’s a list of our most significant “wins” this year:
- Delaware EARNS (HB 205) – Employees of small businesses will have access to an Auto-IRA, so they can save for their future through automatic payroll deductions.
- Anti-Age Discrimination (SB 211) – Employers may not ask job applicants for their date of birth or other age-related questions on an initial job application. This will prevent automated systems from screening out older workers.
- Paid Family and Medical Leave (SB 1) – Employers must provide paid leave for workers facing a serious illness, welcoming a new child into the family, or caring for a loved one. Employees will pay into the program, similar to Worker’s Compensation.
- Everyone Gets Home (SCR 94) – This resolution endorses the DE Strategic Highway Safety Plan’s “Vision Zero” goal -- reducing fatalities and serious injuries on Delaware roadways to zero. The bill directs Delaware’s DOT, State Police, and Office of Highway Safety to adjust programs to meet the goal.
- Mail-In Voting and Same-Day Registration (SB 320 and HB 25) – All Delaware voters will have the option to cast their ballot by mail, and voters will be able to register up to and including on election day at the polls. These bills will remove obstacles for voters with transportation or mobility challenges, those who work multiple jobs or have caregiving duties, those without access to a computer or the internet, and those who move prior to election day. There are many changes to voting this year. Learn more at AARP Delaware’s Voting Guide: https://states.aarp.org/delaware/election-voting-guide AARP’s voting tool is here: https://votingtool.aarp.org/
AARP is especially proud of helping to pass Delaware EARNS. We know workers are 15 times more likely to save when they can do it through payroll deduction, yet almost half of private sector workers in Delaware do not have access to a workplace savings plan. Delaware EARNS will make that option widely available.
The program will also help small businesses compete with larger employers for talent. A state-facilitated plan like Delaware EARNS can be a great solution for small business owners who often find it costly and difficult to offer a 401(k) to their employees. Workers set aside their own savings, and there is no cost to employers. The program not only helps employees and small business owners -- it benefits taxpayers, too. When people have a nest egg in place, they are less likely to rely on costly government programs when they retire.
AARP hosted a Lobby Day in Dover last month and brought bestselling author and award winning finance journalist, Jean Chatzky, to talk with legislators about Delaware EARNS. Sheila Grant, AARP Delaware’s Advocacy Director said “Jean is a trusted voice on financial matters, and we were thrilled to have her as a guest for Lobby Day.” Chatzky also talked to AARP members on a tele-town hall, along with State Treasurer, Colleen Davis.
Grant says Delaware EARNS is a gift to future generations. “AARP members know how important it is to start saving when you’re young, so we wanted to help pass this bill to make saving easier for the next generation. Many of today’s retirees had pensions or stayed with one employer for many years and built up their savings. Most workers today don’t have pensions, and many switch jobs often or work in the gig economy. Delaware EARNS accounts will be portable, so they’ll move with the employee when they change jobs.”
The Governor is expected to sign each of these bills in the coming weeks.