Utility Storm Response To Top Agenda At Forthcoming Special Legislative Session

Posted By: Andrew Markowski Government Affairs,

Utility Storm Response To Top Agenda At Forthcoming Special Legislative Session


Last month and again earlier this month the legislature's Energy & Technology Committee held, virtually, informational hearings or public listening sessions to examine Eversource’s & United Illuminating's responses to the recent prolonged power outages and damage across the state from Storm Isaias, as well as ask about recent rate increases.  In addition to hearing from the state's two major electric distribution companies, representatives from DEEP, PURA, ISO New England, Dominion Energy, Norwich Public Utilities and other municipal officials also presented and answered questions.  During the first hearing, lasting more than 12 hours, legislators on the Committee spent much of their time questioning utility executives, particularly Eversource, about their response to customers and the overall utility operations and preparedness, as well as rates and profits.  Several ideas were mentioned and discussed for areas of possible future improvement surrounding grid resiliency, including undergrounding and a greater establishment of micro-grids.  


The focus of the second hearing was to examine policy ideas put forth by the legislative leaders of the Energy & Technology Committee as part of draft legislation being referred to as the "Take Back Our Grid Act".  This legislative proposal, currently in draft form and contained in LCO # 3920 “An Act Concerning Storm Response” would examine and attempt to mitigate costs for electric ratepayers, reform electric distribution company operations, promote grid decentralization, among other issues. 


This legislation, along with legislation to authorize and finance additional local school construction, will likely be voted on in a special session of the legislature, tentatively planned for the weeks of September 21st for the State Senate and September 28th for the State House.  This would be only the second time the full legislature will have met since it shutdown due to Covid-19 in the spring, having previously met in a special session in July during which only four bills were debated and voted on (police accountability; insulin availability and pricing; expanded telemedicine; absentee ballot access). 



State Launches New Paid Leave Authority Website – Employers Should Review


This week Governor Lamont, in conjunction with the new Connecticut Paid Leave Authority, announced the launching of a new website, CTPaidLeave.org, with a goal to helping all state residents and employers understand the new state Paid Family & Medical Leave Act (PFMLA).  The Connecticut Paid Leave program is set to begin on January 1, 2021, making the new website a vital tool for all impacted employees, employers, sole proprietors and self-employed individuals to understand their roles and responsibilities. Paid Leave program benefits become accessible to qualified employees beginning on January 1, 2022.


The new website serves as more than just an informational guide to the new PFMLA legislation, but also provides many of the tools needed by employers, employees, third-party administrators and healthcare professionals to begin preparing for and implementing the changes necessitated by this new program.


Some of these tools include:


  • Downloadable fact sheets, video guides and timelines specific to employer, employee and sole proprietor/self-employed individuals' needs.
  • An estimator tool to help employees anticipate payroll deductions. (The program is funded through payroll deductions.)
  • Resources for sole proprietors and self-employed individuals interested in opting in to the program.
  • Resources for employers interested in applying for an exemption from the program.
  • Resources specific to all business types on how to register with the CT Paid Leave Authority.
  • Frequently Asked Questions that are updated periodically to include the most common inquiries as this new program is rolled out.



Election Season Is Here - Tell Legislative Candidates Your Workforce Needs!


All 187 state legislative seats are up for election this November, and as state candidates hit the campaign “trail” this fall, whether in person or virtually, it is the perfect time to remind them of CHCC’s top advocacy issue – the need make changes to the state’s restrictive hiring ratios so HVAC contractors can hire additional apprentices.  While CHCC continues to lead efforts behind the scenes at the state Capitol along with representatives from other open shop trades as part of the statutorily appointed Ratio Working Group per Public Act 17-76, all legislators and legislators-to-be need to be educated and informed about this important jobs issue.  For a complete list of candidates in Connecticut running in the November elections, and for more election-related information, please visit the Secretary of State’s Elections & Voting homepage.   



Now Is A Good Time to Find and Contact Your State Legislators Working At Home During Covid-19


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.  Remember - as a CHCC member, your voice matters!  And, now more than ever, with many lawmakers stuck working at home during Covid-19, they want to hear from you more than ever, so please take a moment and reach out on behalf of your industry!   





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.