CHCC Government Affairs Report
The Results Are In…
State elections complete as lawmakers look toward 2019 legislative session
Closely watched Governor’s race goes well into the next day
Much like the 2016 presidential election, even after the clock struck midnight and into the early morning hours of November 7th, Connecticut still did not know who the next Governor would be in what was one of the most hotly anticipated state elections in recent memory. After all the votes were finally tallied, by mid-morning, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski called winner and Democratic candidate Ned Lamont to concede the election. As Governor-elect Lamont proceeds to set up his administration in advance of his inauguration on January 9th, all eyes will be watching who he appoints as agency commissioners as well as other key posts in the executive branch of state government. Additionally, the Governor-elect and his team are busy developing, reviewing, and refining various policy proposals for the new administration; key among them, the development of a new biennial state budget, which the Governor will have to propose to the legislature in early February.
Balance of power shifts “left” in state legislature
In addition to the Governor’s race, legislative candidates battled for control of the General Assembly as all 187 seats were up for election. Heading into the elections, the balance of power hung in the air as the state senate was tied for the past two years (18 Democrats to 18 Republicans) and the state house was very close as well (80 Democrats to 79) Republicans. But like many state legislatures along the east coast (for example, Maine, New Hampshire, and the New York Senate all flipped to Democrat control), Connecticut saw a shift to the “left” following election night as several longtime incumbent Republican legislators were defeated by their Democratic challengers and Democrats did well in capturing several open seats previously held by Republicans. Despite numerous recounts of extremely close races and at least one race that is still subject to a legal challenge in court, when all the dust is settled it looks like the new legislature will be comprised of 23 Democrats to 13 Republicans in the state senate (a net gain +5 for the Democrats); and 92 Democrats to 59 Republicans in the state house (a net gain + 12 for the Democrats).
State budget, tolls, and new employer mandates among top agenda items for 2019
Looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, while there are many new faces in the legislature, the topics of licensure, regulatory reforms, taxes, employer mandates, and workforce development will continue to be part of the legislative agenda. Additionally, with a new Governor, while there are many unknowns, the topic of workforce development will indeed be a focus for the next Administration and the session will always present opportunities and challenges to look at program ant policies governed by DOL and DCP.
Aside from the state budget, which is likely to dominate much of the agenda in Hartford, the new legislators and the Governor-elect have already promised to consider legislation to increase the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour; as well as propose the creation of a state-run paid “FMLA” (family medical leave act) program that would apply to all businesses with 2 or more employees. The topics of tolls will also be considered again in 2019, this time, however, Governor-elect Lamont has stated that he desires “trucks only” to be subject to any tolling brought back to Connecticut.
The 2019 legislative session convenes in Hartford on January 9th, and the new Governor is slated to deliver his budget proposal to the legislature in early February. The session is scheduled to run through early June.
DCP Proposed Regulations – New Residential Fire Sprinkler License
Recently the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) proposed draft regulations that would establish a new limited license for performing work on residential fire sprinkler systems. Essentially, the proposed regulations would create a new limited license category solely for residential work (defined as one and two family homes, as well as mobile/manufactured housing stock). The regulations would allow current plumbing license holders (P-1, P-2) to earn a new limited license (F-5, F-6) to perform fire sprinkler work by taking a simplified "certificate" course, to be determined by DCP.
While Connecticut does not have a residential fire sprinkler mandate (yet), it is something that fire marshals and others have been advocating for in the legislature and through the state building code adoption process for the last several years. Most recently, the homebuilders and others managed to defeat a code proposal that would have required fire sprinklers in new townhouses. It is likely that all of these proposals will be back again in 2019 and beyond, and therefore plumbing contractors should keep a close eye on these proposed regulations in anticipation of such a mandate in the future.
DCP will be accepting written comments on the proposed regulations up until the close of business on December 27, 2018. More information, as well as a full copy of the proposed regulations can be found online at:
DPH and DCP Considering Revisions to Geothermal Regulations
The Department of Public Health (DPH) and DCP have been in discussions recently to consider updates and revisions to Connecticut’s “Well Drilling and Geothermal Systems” regulations. While no draft proposals have been issued yet, the Departments were expected to meet in early December along with members of the Plumbing and Piping Work Examining Board and others to discuss updating the regulations. Some of the potential revisions under consideration include addressing separation distances between sources of pollution and water supply.
As always, if you have questions on legislation or regulations or if you would like more information on an issue, please feel free to contact the Government Affairs committee or CHCC’s lobbyist Andy Markowski at: (860) 707-3620 or aem@statehouseassociates