Posted on October 7, 2020 by cthomas
HARTFORD – September 30, State Rep. Noreen Kokoruda joined her colleagues at the House of Representatives in a Special Session called by Governor Ned Lamont. Representatives met to discuss various legislation, either in their offices and voting remotely or social distancing in the House Chamber.
Among this legislation was a bill colloquially called “the Energy Bill,” or HB 7006. This bill increases the accountability of our electric, gas and other utilities by creating a performance-based rate setting process. It also outlines new punitive measures should their response to a storm be deemed inadequate. This includes a 4% penalty out of their annual distribution revenue (to be credited to customers), a $25 per-day credit to customers who lose power for over 96 hours, and $250 in compensation to customers who lose power for over 96 hours in order to replace spoiled food and medications. The bill passed 136-4 with 11 members not voting.
“I was glad to vote in favor of this bill because I believe that the utility companies in our state need to be more accountable to their customers,” said Rep Kokoruda. “However, I also believe that once we see the results of the PURA investigation early next year, we will be able to make these measures more robust and also ensure that we do not pass legislation that increases rates for our constituents as we, as lawmakers, have done in the past.”
Another piece of legislation passed was HB 7010, known as the “School Construction Bill.” This bill allots grants to school districts to aid in school construction projects. The bill included a subsection allotting the Norwalk School District a large grant to rebuild Norwalk High School. The section includes matching 80% of the total cost of funding, while most projects receive 50%. The school district was also given an extension to submit their application, as they missed the June 30, 2019 deadline to be considered for this process.
“It was disappointing that this particular project was able to bypass the typical process and get approved, especially considering its magnitude,” Rep. Kokoruda commented, citing the $189 million projected cost. “Our state is not in the financial position to make these decisions, and this should have been discussed more at a later date.”
Rep. Kokoruda joined 37 other legislators in voting against the School Construction Bill, though it ultimately passed. A total of nine bills were passed in the House and Senate and await the governor’s signature.
“The most surprising thing about this particular Special Session was the agenda,” she concluded. “I was disappointed that there were no bills pertaining to the pandemic, state and school reopening, public safety or the dire fiscal state of Connecticut.”
“Everything we spoke about certainly could have waited until we reconvened in January, not only rendering this Session unnecessary but allowing these bills a chance to go through the legislative process, including the public hearings and committee votes that typically vet legislation.”