Posted on December 16, 2020
HARTFORD — House Republicans on Wednesday pointed to the dire need to help Connecticut’s bars and restaurants while announcing they’ll introduce legislation aimed at providing relief to these business owners who have been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The bars and restaurants on our main streets are critical to local economies, drawing people to our communities and nearby businesses while providing vital income for thousands of residents,” said state Rep. Vincent Candelora, House Republican Leader-elect. “They’re hanging on by a thread—taking action as early as possible in the legislative session could be critical to the survival of many of these businesses, most of them desperate for the state to take action that will show them that we’re partners in securing their future.”
House Republicans say their legislation, focused on bars and restaurants, will seek to:
- Establish a $50 million targeted pandemic relief grant fund for those with qualifying monetary losses;
- Install yearlong suspensions of liquor permitting fees, and food licensing fees for certain restaurants;
- Delay by 90 days the due date for municipal real and personal property tax payments;
- Direct the state’s Department of Economic & Community Development to partner with financial institutions to create a low interest loan program.
“By and large these businesses fortunate enough to remain open have followed the state’s often cumbersome guidelines every step of this journey, in many cases spending significantly to reinvent how they operate, only to find that their government hasn’t matched their effort,” said state Rep. Holly Cheeseman (R-East Lyme), Ranking Member of the Finance Committee. “We can and should change that immediately. More than 600 restaurants have closed—this is an issue that should unite all of us, and I’m hopeful for a bipartisan push toward recovery by a re-engaged legislature.”
Wednesday’s announcement from House Republicans comes amid a lack clarity from Gov. Lamont, who hasn’t spelled out how he’ll use remaining CARES Act dollars or whether he’ll deliver the monetary aid he’s pledged to the industry. Candelora and his colleagues have proposed shoring up the unemployment compensation fund to blunt unemployment tax increases, and they’ve shared frustrations from employers who say they’ve found life difficult under restrictions established through the governor’s executive power.
“Our Governor and legislature needs to begin managing the economic side of this crisis because Connecticut businesses and workers, and in particular those in the sector we’re talking about today, will feel the pandemic’s financial imprint long after the vaccine has been distributed and we’ve regained a sense of normalcy,” said Candelora (R-North Branford.) “The livelihoods and futures of thousands of individuals are on the line, and as other states continue to take action, we’re looking forward to our newly-seated legislature not just reasserting itself as a governing body, but also moving quickly to fast-track issues tied to the recovery of our business community. The financial well-being of our state depends on it.”
[WATCH PRESS BRIEFING HERE VIA CT-N]