January 2021 CHCC Government Relations Update
New State Legislative Session Begins…In Hartford… And Virtually Across The State
The Connecticut General Assembly is officially underway as of January 6th…
2021 is the “long” legislative session in Connecticut, and a budget year…
New leadership announced for key committees…
As the 2021 regular state legislative session recently convened, there are still some outstanding questions about what the legislative session will ultimately “look” and “feel” like as lawmakers, staff and advocates alike are all adjusting to a new way of doing business during these times of social distancing. Legislative rules have now been changed to allow for virtual committee meetings and public hearings, which will accept testimony through electronic formats, including written and video. Legislators will be allowed to conduct floor sessions in a “hybrid” mode, with some lawmakers present in the chambers while other lawmakers will be able to participate remotely (but only if on campus of the Capitol and Legislative Office in their individual offices) while logged into the electronic voting system. Even though the state capitol remains closed to the public, lawmakers are able to continue to work and meet in the building as necessary.
This year also begins the start of the “long” legislative session in Connecticut, during which, one of the primary responsibilities of the legislature is to adopt a biennial state budget. Governor Ned Lamont is expected to present his budget proposal to the legislature in early February, and the legislature will have until their Constitutional adjournment in early June to pass a budget for the next two fiscal years.
State budget issues aside, the legislature will also likely focus on the following “big” issues in 2021: Covid-responses, including debates of continuing Executive authority, allocation of federal funding, and business assistance programs, among other related issues; sports gaming; cannabis legalization; public option healthcare; transportation funding, and housing/zoning desegregation. Some advocates will also likely continue to turn their attention to issues like workplace scheduling, hiring practices for those with criminal backgrounds, and measures to enhance the strength of a union, despite the ongoing pandemic and economic situation.
This column in the last edition of CHCC’s Comfort Connections newsletter reported on the many new faces in the legislature, but particularly those who have been chosen by their legislative peers as the new caucus leaders for the House Democrats, House Republicans, and Senate Republicans. These new (and returning) legislative caucus leaders have since been busy making appointments to their leadership teams as well as to the important roles of committee chairs and ranking members for the start of the 2021 session. These legislative committee leaders are vital players in helping shape legislative policy and conducting the daily work of lawmaking during the legislative session.
Key legislative committees for some of CHCC’s specific policy interests include the following:
The General Law Committee, which oversees all matters relating to the Department of Consumer Protection, including the apprenticeship hiring ratio, occupational licensing issues, and home improvement work, among others, will once again be led by co-chairmen Rep. Mike D’Agostino (D-Hamden) and Sen. James Maroney (D-Milford), and ranking member Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-Canton). New to the ranking member position on the house side but not new to the committee will be Rep. Dave Rutigliano (R-Trumbull).
The Labor & Public Employees Committee, which oversees all matters relating to the Department of Labor, including the state’s apprenticeship programs, unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, wages and industrial safety/OSHA, among other issues, will once again be led by co-chairs Rep. Robyn Porter (D-Hamden) and Sen. Julie Kushner (D-Danbury). Both ranking members will be new on the republican side, with Sen. Rob Sampson (R-Wolcott) and Rep. Harry Arora (R-Greenwich) being appointed.
The legislature’s powerful Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee, which oversees all matters related to state finances, revenue, capital bonding, fees and taxation, will have some new leadership as well. Sen. John Fonfara (D-Hartford) returns as co-chair but will be joined by new co-chair Rep. Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford). New ranking members will include Rep. Holly Cheeseman (R-East Lyme).
The Public Safety & Security Committee, which oversees all matters related to the state police, emergency preparedness, fire marshals, fire safety and the state building code, among other issues, will see a new house co-chair with the appointment of Rep. Maria Horn (D-Salisbury), who will join returning senate co-chair Sen. Dennis Bradley (D-Bridgeport). The co-chairs will be joined by new house ranking members Rep. Robin Green (R-Marlborough), as well as senate ranking member Sen. Dan Champagne (R-Vernon).
The Energy & Technology Committee, which oversees all matters related to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, including the Public Utility Regulatory Authority, as well as energy policy, infrastructure and permitting matters, will not have any leadership changes. Sen. Norm Needleman (D-Essex) and Rep. David Arconti (D-Danbury) will return as co-chairs along with Sen. Paul Formica (R-East Lyme) and Rep. Charlie Ferraro (R-West Haven) as ranking members.
Finally, the Government Administration & Elections Committee, which oversees all matters related to the Department of Administrative Services, including leasing, construction, maintenance, purchase and sale of state properties and facilities, will see Sen. Mae Flexer (D-Killingly) and Rep. Dan Fox (D-Stamford) return as co-chairs. They will be joined by returning ranking member Sen. Rob Sampson (R-Wolcott) and newly appointed house ranking member Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco (R-Wolcott).
The 2021 State Legislative Session Has Begun! Now Is The Time To Speak Up And Educate Your State Lawmakers - Tell Them What Matters To You And The HVAC Contracting Industry! Ask Them To Support More HVAC Jobs!
Last year’s elections are over and 2021 is a new year, but state legislators still need to be educated on the needs of their constituents – YOU – so with the legislative session now underway in Hartford, it is a great time to introduce yourself and tell them about your business and the needs and concerns of the HVAC industry.
Don’t know what to say? All it takes is a quick email - Simply introduce yourself, tell them about CHCC’s top advocacy issue – the need make changes to the state’s restrictive hiring ratios so HVAC contractors can hire additional apprentices - and ask them to support workforce development for your trade! All legislators need to be educated and informed about this important jobs issue for your industry and other similarly situations trades as well (plumbing, electrical, fire sprinkler, etc.).
Have a question? Want to express your opinion? Just want to know who now represents you in Hartford? Go to the website below and enter your address to look up your state legislators; with a few quick clicks you can visit their official webpage, email them, or get their office phone number to make a call. Remember – as a CHCC member, your voice matters!
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 CHCC Office or CHCC’s Lobbyist Andy Markowski of Statehouse Associates at: (860) 707-3620 or firstname.lastname@example.org.