Legislation would tax short-term vacation rental units


DOVER — Lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill to place a tax on short-term vacation rental units, including campgrounds and bed and breakfasts.

House Bill 130 would expand the already-existing 8 percent public accommodation tax placed on hotels. The state estimates adding it to other dwellings would bring in between $8-$11 million on an annual basis.

The tax would be allocated in the same way as funds collected from hotels: 5 percent would go to the Delaware General Fund, 1 percent would fund the Delaware Tourism Office, 1 percent would cover beach preservation and 1 percent would go to convention and visitors’ bureaus in each county.

A short-term rental unit is defined as a place used for no more than 120 days.

“I am typically the last person to want to impose any kind of tax in Delaware,” main sponsor Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Hockessin, said in a statement. “However, in this case, I think the circumstances are different. This is a tax that is not being collected equally.

Deborah Hudson

“Hotels and motels pay an 8 percent lodging tax but no other short-term vacation rental operators contribute. It is time to ensure rentals managed by all business owners (i.e., AIRBNB, VRBO) are paying their fair share.”

Prenatal substance exposure bill

Another measure filed Thursday would provide a plan of care for children born with prenatal substance exposure.

House Bill 140 would place Delaware law in line with the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which mandates states develop policies to aid infants born with prenatal substance exposure. The proposal would create a standard response to help provide care for infants and their families, with the state offering assistance.

“We have to make sure that there is clear, consistent follow-up care for infants with prenatal substance exposure,” main sponsor Rep. Melanie George Smith, D-Bear, said in a statement. “The rising number of infants born with such exposure is heart-wrenching. Families in the throes of addiction are vulnerable and need help. Ensuring that new baby’s safety, security and health needs to be a priority for all who come in contact with the infant in those first vulnerable days. We need to make sure we are supporting families and directing them to appropriate, coordinated resources, while preserving the wellbeing of the child.”

According to the Child Protection Accountability Commission, 2016 saw more than Delaware 400 babies born with prenatal substance exposure, a number that almost tripled from 2012.

House Bill 140 is named Aiden’s Law to honor a substance-exposed child who died in 2015. Similar versions failed to pass in 2016, but this measure has bipartisan support.

An additional proposal would allow political parties and political action committees to provide donations to candidates both before a primary election and a general election.

Other groups are allowed to contribute twice, but parties and PACs are limited.

An identical bill was defeated in the Senate last year.

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