Posted on June 30, 2021
Business and Jobs
HB 6633: An Act Restructuring Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Improving Fund Solvency
- Description: As Connecticut’s business community emerges from COVID, House Republicans were able to attract wide bipartisan support for long-sought reforms to the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund. The fund, paid for by businesses’ unemployment taxes, was depleted during the pandemic as jobless claims soared. This bill, praised by industry and labor leaders alike, reformed the taxable wage base and unemployment benefits delivery to ensure the long-term health of the fund.
- Outcome: Passed both chambers
- Connecticut Business and Industry Association: ‘Historic’ Unemployment Reforms Win Final Legislative Approval
SB 668: An Act Concerning a Fair Work Week Schedule
- Description: Originally introduced as a proposal to prohibit “on-call” shift scheduling, this bill began as a broad mandate on all CT businesses with at least 250 employees (including franchisees of eligible businesses) that would require them to post all employees’ schedules at least 7 days in advance or face fines and other penalties. Although the Senate narrowed the scope of businesses required to comply with the bill, the Connecticut Restaurant Association and other groups estimate that it would likely lead to more workers being scheduled fewer hours and ultimately drive more companies to leave the state.
- Outcome: Passed the Senate, but no vote taken in the House
- CTPost Op-Ed: CT law could leave more workers with fewer hours
Zoning and Housing Affordability
HB 6107: An Act Concerning the Zoning Enabling Act, Accessory Apartments, Training for Certain Land Use Officials, Municipal Affordable Housing Plans and a Commission on Connecticut’s Development and Future
- Description: Zoning reform proposals became a flashpoint of the 2021 legislative session, as housing activists were often pitted against local planning officials and residents in a debate over the scope of more state government control in our towns. Although the provisions of the final bill were narrowed following statewide advocacy efforts by Republican lawmakers and local leaders, it still opens the door to forced regionalization and future encroachment on local control. It requires all municipalities allow the construction of accessory apartments, limits local parking requirements and replaces town “character” with “physical site characteristics” as the justification for future zoning regulations. It also establishes a commission tasked with studying future state intervention in zoning and affordable housing policy.
- Outcome: Passed both chambers and signed by Governor (Public Act No. 21-29)
HB 5027: An Act Establishing a First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account
- Description: I co-sponsored this bill, introduced by members of the Banking Committee, which would create a new tax deduction for individuals or couples pursuing home ownership. Those eligible could invest in a First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account at any in-state or out-of-state bank and use the funds to make a down payment or offset closing costs. Contributions to the account would be tax-deductible each year up to $2,500 for single filers and $5,000 for those filing jointly.
- Outcome: Passed the House
- Connecticut Realtors’ Association testimony before the Banking Committee
HB 6688: An Act Concerning A Highway Use Fee
- Description: In previous sessions, proposals to institute tolls on Connecticut roadways have been repeatedly defeated by Republican lawmakers and met with public resistance. Earlier this year, the Governor pushed for a new mileage-based highway on heavy trucks to be included in the state budget. The highway use fee was ultimately adopted as a standalone bill, despite concerns from Republican legislators, truckers, and residents that it would raise consumer prices. While one amendment was adopted exempting dairy carriers from the tax, House Republicans offered amendments to also exempt commercial carriers of food supplies and pledge car sales tax revenues to offset the balance of the Special Transportation Fund. But proponents of the bill were unwilling to limit the bill’s added financial burden on working families any further, and the two additional amendments failed.
- Outcome: Passed in both chambers
SB 884: An Act Reducing Transportation-Related Carbon Emissions
- Description: Connecticut joined Rhode Island, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia in late 2020 in signing a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to pursue the Transportation and Climate Initiative Plan (TCI), a regional agreement that would require the implementation of climate-based law in each member state. Under the Governor’s TCI bill, Senate Bill 884, the state would begin collecting new “emissions allowances” from gas stations and gas wholesalers within the first year, with the number of allowances purchased by these businesses expected to increase each following year. It is expected that within the first year, the plan could increase gas prices for Connecticut drivers by as much as 26 cents per gallon. Following a sustained public outcry, where Republican legislators led roadside rallies alongside residents in opposition to the new gas tax, the Governor and legislative leaders withdrew their plans for consideration of TCI during the 2021 regular session.
- Outcome: Passed Environment Committee, died in the Senate
Law and Public Safety
SB 1201: An Act Concerning Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis
- Description: Following the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana in 2011 under Gov. Malloy, a number of bills have repeatedly been introduced in the legislature seeking to legalize recreational use. Despite facing bipartisan resistance in both chambers – along with media scrutiny of the appearance of impropriety in the wording of the 295-page bill – it was called for a vote during a June special session and approved 76-62 by the House. Starting July 1st, 2021, the possession of up to one-and-a-half ounces of cannabis will now be legal, with retail sales expected to begin in late 2022.
- Outcome: Passed both chambers, signed by Governor
SB 1019: An Act Concerning the Board of Pardons and Paroles, Erasure of Criminal Records for Certain Misdemeanor and Felony Offenses, Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Erased Criminal History Record Information and Concerning the Recommendations of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission with Respect to Misdemeanor Sentences
- Description: This bill would automatically erase all misdemeanors from an individual’s record seven years after a conviction, while Class D and Class E felonies, including possession of a weapon on school grounds, would also be erased after ten years. Although House Republicans offered an amendment that would prevent individuals convicted of hate crimes and other serious offenses from having their records automatically erased, this amendment was ultimately rejected.
- Outcome: Passed both chambers