Legislative Session Begins at the Capitol

Posted By: Andrew Markowski Government Affairs,
The 2020 regular legislative session of the Connecticut General Assembly kicked off last month with a speech by Governor Ned Lamont outlining his priorities for his Administration and the state over the next year.  Widely viewed by many as an “optimistic” speech, the Governor encouraged the legislature to work together and focus on policy areas like economic development, workforce growth, climate prioritization, and modernizing state government processes and functions.  Notably, the Governor’s proposal for budget adjustments for the upcoming fiscal year (2nd year of biennial state budget cycle) does not contain any broad-based tax increases or significant changes to general state tax rates.
One of the Governor’s signature pieces of legislation, Senate Bill 13, is of particular interest to CHCC.  Titled An Act Expanding Economic Opportunities in Licensed Occupations, according to the Governor’s Office:  “This proposal modernizes the state’s occupational licensing system. Although that system generally protects public health and safety, consumer confidence, and employee welfare, certain outmoded requirements increase consumer costs, frustrate professionals attempting to renew their licenses, prevent lower-income and other workers from entering promising fields, and discourage skilled workers, especially military spouses, from moving to Connecticut. A report from the Obama White House concluded licensed workers under 35 were more than 20% less likely to move to a new state than their peers in other professions. The Act makes life easier for our licensed professionals, aspiring Connecticut licensees, and aspiring Connecticut residents, especially military spouses, by transitioning additional licenses to an online renewal system, allowing all classroom training to be completed through online courses, expediting the process for recognizing licenses conferred by other states, expanding access to on-the-job training, and clarifying and limiting which criminal convictions can bar applicants from a license.”
Sections 2 & 3 of SB-13 attempt to make adjustments to the application of the apprenticeship hiring ratio in certain circumstances, however CHCC is working through our statutorily appointed position on the state’s Ratio Working Group to amend this legislation further to provide additional improvements to the hiring ratio for our contractors.  
Meanwhile, the so-called “captive audience” legislation is back, again.  Senate Bill 318, cleverly titled An Act Protecting Employee Freedom of Speech and Conscience, would actually have the adverse effect of grossly limiting employerspeech, by prohibiting an employer to require its employees to attend a meeting at which any “political” matter is discussed, which includes issues concerning union organizing.  Despite the prior Attorney General issuing an opinion that similar legislation proposed in the past would likely be preempted under federal law and therefore unconstitutional, SB-318 will have an upcoming public hearing before the legislature’s Judiciary Committee.  CHCC will once again be opposing this anti-business measure, and we encourage all members to contact your state legislators and tell them to vote NO on SB-318 (captive audience)!
This year’s legislative session is the “short” session in Hartford, which is scheduled to run through adjournment in early May.  Over the next month, however, activity at the Capitol will move rapidly, with many public hearings held over the next few weeks and legislative committees holding votes at their “JF” (joint favorable) meetings later in March and early April.  At that point, the focus of the legislative process will shift away from the LOB (Legislative Office Building) and towards the Capitol, where the full House and Senate will meet in floor sessions to debate and vote on the hundreds of bills remaining before them.
Visit the CHCC 2020 Legislation Tracking Page
As a CHCC member, you have the unique benefit of being able to access and view all of the legislation that we are tracking on behalf of the HVAC industry in Connecticut.  CHCC partners with our lobbyist Andy Markowski of Statehouse Associates to bring you this real-time overview of the many bills at the State Capitol that are of interest to contractors and the association.  To review the latest list of bills, please visit CHCC’s 2020 Legislation Tracking page at the link below. 
How to Find and Contact Your State Legislators
Have a question? Want to express your opinion? Just want to know who represents you in Hartford? Go to the website below and enter your home and/or business address to look up your state legislators. All it takes is a few quick clicks and you can visit their official webpage, email them, or get their office phone number to 
make a call. 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 aem@statehouseassociates.com.