Summer Ends But Is There Any End In Sight For Tolls And Other Issues?

Posted By: Andrew Markowski Government Affairs ,

As the summer season comes to a conclusion in Connecticut, several hot policy issues at the Capitol have neither reached conclusion nor consensus.  After much debate and discussion amongst state lawmakers, the public and the media, the legislature adjourned in June without taking any action on what are arguably three of the most hotly discussed issues in the state – tolls, sports gaming and expanded casino gambling.  While there was some discussion of a possible “special” session of the legislature on any or all of these issues, legislators did not return to meet in Hartford over the summer.  Governor Lamont and others still continue to advocate for implementing tolls, however, so there is a possibility that the legislature could return in special session sometime this fall to take up the issue, if an agreement can be reached. 

 Meanwhile, many new state laws will be taking effect on October 1st, including the first of several scheduled increases in the state’s minimum wage.  Below are some highlights of a few other important upcoming new laws of note for CHCC contractors, associates, and the general business community, all taking effect on October 1st:

 

State Set Aside Program Eligibility Changes – Public Act 19-117, Sec. 348

A new law increases the number of businesses eligible to bid on small contractor and minority business set-aside contracts by increasing the annual gross revenue limit for eligible small contractors from $15 million to $20 million.  By law, state agencies and certain municipal contractors must annually set-aside or reserve (1) 25% of their contracts for exclusive bidding by state certified “small contractors,” and (2) 25% of that amount (6.25% of the total) for exclusive bidding by small contractors that are certified minority business enterprises (i.e., those owned or operated by minorities, women, and people with disabilities). 

State Contractor Prequalification – Public Act 19-126

A new state law modifies the required contents of the application form used by the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to prequalify state public works contractors. It requires applicants to additionally provide information concerning any legal or administrative proceedings concluded adversely against them, or their principals or key personnel, within the last five years concerning the nonpayment or underpayment of employee wages or benefits during the performance of any public or private construction contract.

State “Prompt Pay” Laws – Public Act 19-141

A new state “prompt pay” law shortens the timeframe in which state agencies, quasi-public agencies, and certain municipal contractors must pay a small contractor under the small and minority business set-aside program from 30 days to 25 days from the date payment is due. This new law also applies to commercial construction contracts and requires general contractors to pay any subcontractor or supplier for labor and materials within 25 days of receiving payment from the owner (rather than 30 days under prior law) and to also include comparable provisions in each of their subcontracts. 

Workplace Sexual Harassment & Training Mandate – Public Acts 19-16 & 19-93

This year the legislature, on a bi-partisan basis, made several key changes to laws concerning workplace sexual harassment and related issues. Most notably, the training requirements have been expanded to now include all employers with three or more employees as well as all supervisory employees.  Additional changes include the following:

  1. Expanding requirements for employers on training employees about sexual harassment laws and requiring the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) to make related training materials available to employers at no cost (in the form of a free online training and education video or other interactive materials for employers to use);
  2. Expanding the definition of “discriminatory practice” in the CHRO statutes to include an employer’s failure to provide sexual harassment training as required;
  3. Generally allowing employers to modify the conditions of an alleged harassment victim’s employment only with that person’s consent;
  4. Allowing employees more time to file a complaint with CHRO alleging employment discrimination, including sexual harassment;
  5. Increasing the fine for employers who fail to post notices about nondiscrimination laws; and
  6. Allowing CHRO representatives, under certain circumstances, to enter an employer’s business during normal business hours to examine the employer’s sexual harassment training materials and conduct compliance checks related to certain notice posting requirements.

Business owners should consult with their human resources personnel and/or legal counsel to be sure they have a plan in place to be in compliance with this new law. 

  

Federal Notice of Rulemaking – Performance Standards for Residential Gas Furnaces & Boilers

On August 20, 2019, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to consider establishing performance requirements for residential gas furnaces and boilers. The agency is considering developing a rule to reduce carbon monoxide leakage, thereby reducing the risk of injury and death. 

The CPSC states “Gas-fired central furnaces and boilers historically have been among the leading causes of non-fire CO poisoning deaths associated with consumer products.  To address this risk, CPSC staff reviewed incident data for residential gas furnaces and boilers and determined that residential gas furnaces and boilers were involved in a significant number of fatalities and injuries from CO poisoning.” 

The agency seeks comments concerning the risk of injury associated with the products, the proposed regulatory alternatives discussed in the ANPRM, as well as any other information about existing voluntary standards or additional alternatives the agency should consider. Written comments are due to the CPSC by October18, 2019.  Additional information, as well as a summary of the proposed performance requirements, can be found online in the Federal Register

 

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!   

https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp

 

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.