‘Capitol Connection’ – Session in Full Swing

May 23, 2013

A Sikorsky S-92 helicopter landed at the State Capitol in recognition of Manufacturing and Technology Day on Wednesday, May 15th.

After countless hours of committee meetings and public hearings over the past several months, the General Assembly is now currently in full swing with legislators debating and voting on hundreds of bills that made it through the sometimes challenging legislative process. It may be hard to believe, but there are only two weeks remaining of the 2013 legislative session. This week, I would like to provide a budget update and share information about several bills and other happenings at the State Capitol.

First, the $43.9 billion state budget remains under negotiation between legislative Democrats and the governor’s office, and many have expressed concerns that the final product may not be available for a vote before the end of session. Unfortunately, legislative Republicans have not been invited to take part in these negotiations and I believe that is a disservice to the taxpayers.

Last week, a major focus was the proposal to raise the state’s spending cap to allow for spending levels that would violate the limits outlined in our state constitution. It is unfortunate that the governor and Democrat leaders seek to change the rules by bypassing a constitutional amendment to increase spending. Other than the budget, there are many interesting bills currently being considered in Hartford.

One bill concerning a mattress stewardship program would require a fee paid on all mattresses sold in the state and would prohibit towns from imposing a fee for solid waste disposal of mattresses that is not in conformity with the mattress recycling council that would be created. One of my concerns is that once we establish a program for mattresses, other large items could be added, such as couches or rugs.

While we have heard much about the arrival of cicadas, another insect has recently been the subject of legislation. Senate Bill 952, An Act Concerning the Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants Regarding Bed Bug Infestation passed in the Senate last week. It would require landlords to pay for professional pest control treatments but would also hold tenants responsible for additional treatment costs depending on access to apartments and treatment requirements.

Another bill that passed last week was Senate Bill 1113, An Act Eliminating Certain Municipal Mandates. Many bills place the burden of unfunded mandates on our towns and cities and local taxpayers are expected to cover these costs. This bill would get rid of several mandates and modernize the requirements expected of towns. For example, it would allow local fire marshals to email requests to the state fire marshal instead of the current requirement that these requests are mailed.

In addition, legislators also recognized the importance of our state’s manufacturing and technology companies and the fast-growing brewery and winery industries. Many companies were in attendance, including Miller Foods, Inc./Oma’s Pride Pet Food of Avon and the Cambridge House Brew Pub of Granby. One of the exciting highlights was the landing of a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter on the Capitol grounds. The event served as a great opportunity to showcase the incredible work of Connecticut companies.

With three weeks remaining before sine die, the Latin term for the adjournment of the 2013 legislative session, there will be many more bills coming up for consideration at the General Assembly. If you would like to stay on top of the debate, I encourage you to watch from home by tuning into the CT-N television channel or online by visiting www.ctn.state.ct.us.