Last week, the House of Representatives held our second Special Session of 2020, since the shutdown began. Once again, our debates went into the night as we rushed to draft legislation and emergency certify bills on measures that are not true emergencies. Governor Lamont extended his Executive Powers at the beginning of September — effectively sending the message that he does not need the legislature to govern. The bills that were voted on were not Covid-19 related and were not emergencies. These bills could have been taken up during a proper legislative session with public hearings and debates.
Follow the video link below to view the Special Session in its entirety.
An important piece of legislation that I supported was HB 7006, AN ACT CONCERNING EMERGENCY RESPONSE BY ELECTRIC DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES, THE REGULATION OF OTHER PUBLIC UTILITIES AND NEXUS PROVISIONS FOR CERTAIN DISASTER-RELATED OR EMERGENCY-RELATED WORK PERFORMED IN THE STATE. This will now require the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to develop a framework that will be used to regulate performance-based metrics on electric utility companies such as Eversource and United Illuminating. It also provides guidance for PURA to adjust the rate tables and create balanced and fair rates for consumers. We as lawmakers needs to be the voice of the residents in Connecticut and make certain these companies are held accountable so no consumer goes weeks without power or have fear again that they are not able to afford the bill to keep power to their home.
I also could not support HB 7005, AN ACT CONCERNING A MUNICIPAL ELECTION MONITOR AT THE 2020 STATE ELECTION AND PROCESSING OF ABSENTEE BALLOTS FOR THE 2020 STATE ELECTION, as it also adds a new fiscal burden to towns and municipalities per contracts approved through the Secretary of State for election monitors. These monitors will be in place to conduct investigations and to open and inspect absentee ballots up to four days prior to election day (held November 3rd). Current law states that individuals have the right to rescind their absentee ballots up until the evening proceeding Election Day; however, that too will now change and voters will only have until 5:00 p.m. on the fourth day prior to Election Day (Friday, October 30, 2020) to retrieve their absentee ballot. Eliminating a voter’s opportunity to recast or replace their absentee ballot with in-person voting hinders their constitutional right to a fair and ethical vote cast.
Many of my colleagues and I are currently running for re-election and are on these ballots. Making serious and impactful changes to an election process a mere five weeks prior is improper and I cannot stand behind a bill that does so. We cannot take the voice from the people.
HB 7008, AN ACT CONCERNING ENHANCEMENTS TO THE STATE’S ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE LAW, increases the already heavily regulated process essential businesses and utility industries are required to abide by when requesting new or expanded permits. Facilities such as water treatment and waste management currently provide local notice, hold public hearings, consider public testimony, and fall under regulations of review by municipalities, state, and federal agencies. I believe the state must continue to enforce the existing public notice requirements for new facilities. At the same time, the state must be sensitive to the fact that there comes a point that too much regulation can have the effect of stifling necessary, new development. For this reasoning, I could not in good faith, support this bill.
Below are additional bills voted on during the House’s Special Session:
HB 7001: An Act Revising Provisions of the Transfer Act and Authorizing the Development and Implementation of a Release-Based Remediation Program
HB 7002: An Act Concerning Certain Fees and Expenses of State Marshalls When Serving Process
HB 7003: An Act Revising the State Hemp Program in Accordance with Federal Requirements
HB 7004: An Act Concerning Eligibility for the Supplemental Collapsing Foundation Loan Program
HB 7009: An Act Concerning the Deadlines for Certain Property Tax Exemptions and Municipal Matters
HB 7010: An Act Concerning the Authorization of State Grant Commitments for School Building Projects
Please continue to reach out to me, at my legislative office, with your questions, concerns, and state-related issues. As always, I will continue assist in any way I am able to and will make certain your voice is heard in Hartford.