The Connecticut General Assembly concluded the 2021 session on May 4th. It was a fast and furious session that began and concluded in just 90 days. Large issues were tackled in a lingering COVID environment. Children’s mental health and the budget were the two main priorities of the session. Come November, all Constitutional office holders as well as the entire House and Senate are up for election, so much of what passed had implications for both Republicans and Democrats as they seek re-election. Below is a listing of some of the bills we faced this session:
The Connecticut legislature and Governor Ned Lamont agreed on a biennial $24.2 billion state budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023. The budget cuts taxes by $600 million and dedicates money to initiatives including mental health care, property tax relief, and an extended consumer gas tax holiday until December. Just two Republicans in the House and Senate voted for the deal negotiated between Lamont and Democratic leaders of the General Assembly. Funding in the budget reduces Connecticut’s unfunded state employee/teacher pension liability by $3.5 billion. In an effort to reduce the burden on businesses – $40 million in federal pandemic funds are being allocated to reduce the estimated $493 million debt in the state’s unemployment trust fund. That’s in addition to $155 million in federal funds apportioned last year.
-SB 4: Connecticut Clean Air Act (Passed). This was a governor’s bill which would allow DEEP to adopt California’s medium and heavy-duty motor vehicle standards and requires DEEP to amend them as the regulations are changed in California effective July 2022. These standards would be stricter than current Connecticut emission standards. The bill would require manufacturers to produce cleaner, more efficient, and more expensive vehicles. It should be noted that the governor passed through executive order a MOU with regional states, Multi-State ZEV Task Force, to examine and create an action plan on this topic. The MOU was signed in July 2020. Members of the LDAC will be meeting with CT DEEP regarding the adoption and potential implementation of these standards next month
-SB 163: Protecting Employee Freedom of Speech and Conscience (Passed). This proposal allows employees to bring civil actions against an employer if the employee is required to attend a meeting they subjectively believe is discussing political matters, including legislation or regulations that impact business operations or employer involvement in civic or community events. This bill passed in Concurrence with the Senate and has been signed by the Governor. There may be a lawsuit filed in regards to this measure as there are differing opinions as to the legality of this bill.
–HB 115: Extended Producer Responsibility for Consumer Packaging (Failed). This proposal seeks to establish an extended producer responsibility (EPR) mandate for packaging and printed material.
-HB 5249: Non-Compete Agreements (Failed). This bill invalidates all non compete agreements if the employee is a non-exempt (hourly) employee, the employee is an exempt employee earning not less than three times the minimum wage, is an independent contractor earning less than five times the minimum wage, or if the employee subjectively believes the employment relationship ended for good cause attributable to the employer.
-HB 5353: Fair Work Week Schedule (Failed). This bill requires employers in the retail, restaurant, or hospitality industries that have 500 or more employees, or where all franchisees collectively have 500 or more employees, to provide 14 days’ notice to employees of their work schedules. Any deviation from that schedule results in financial penalties to the employer.