Posted on May 6, 2019 by jdooley
We are half way through the legislative session and I wanted to give you an update on some of the major pieces of legislation that concern me and have made it through the committee process.
In the Transportation Committee, three toll proposals were voted out of committee. The proposals approved lacked specific details and frankly didn’t address many questions raised by the people I represent. Questions raised that have yet to be answered included, how much would the average citizen be expected to pay and how much revenue would they generate? How much revenue does the State of Connecticut need for transportation projects and where is the list of prioritized projects? It is my position that implementing tolls is just another tax on our residents that we simply cannot afford. Tolls would also divert traffic off the interstate and onto our neighborhood roads which raises significant safety concerns.
Also passed out of committee was the Paid Family Medical Leave program.
This proposal would mandate employers offer up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to their employees. To fund the program, virtually all employees would be compelled to pay .5 percent tax on their income (a new payroll tax) into a new FMLA fund, whether they take the leave or not. State employee union members and municipal employees will be exempt from paying for or receiving the state’s benefit unless the unions choose to negotiate it into their contracts. According to legislation, 103,600 employers with approximately 1,456,000 employees would be affected. The new state program would cost $20-30 million to implement.
I am very sympathetic for the need in caring for a family member and know all too well the hardships we face when circumstances arise. But I am concerned that adding another mandate on businesses and a new payroll tax on employees will result in fewer jobs and put an additional tax burden on already struggling families. As a member of the conservative caucus we recognize the importance in caring for family members and we have offered a more affordable alternative to the paid family medical leave program that would not be a state mandate. Instead of a mandate, employers would be empowered to offer the benefit to employees as they do with other types of insurance and employees can voluntarily purchase such coverage if they found it to beneficial to their family circumstances.
One of the most disturbing bills passed out of committee is the Erasure of Criminal Records
The bill would require that a person’s criminal history record related to any misdemeanor be erased 3 years after the completion of the person’s most recent prison sentence and for a felony conviction it will be erased after 5 years. Some of the crimes eligible for automatic criminal erasure would be driving while intoxicated, criminally negligent homicide and assault, all of which expunged without any say by the victim of the perpetrated crime.
As a member of the Appropriations committee, we have yet to see a proposed state budget to vote on in committee and one wonders what the plan would look like after seeing all the other proposals flying around the State Capitol.
All these bills now will receive a full House and Senate debate. They must pass both chambers with a majority of 76 votes in the House of Representative and 19 in the Senate by June 5th or the bill is considered dead and the legislative process must restart again in the 2020 session.
As always, feel free to contact me on these issues or any other questions or concerns at Gale.Mastrofrancesco@housegop.ct.gov or call 860-240-8700. You can sign up for my email updates by visiting my website www.repmastro.com.