Controversial Proposals Dominate in the State Legislature

May 24, 2013

Hartford, CT – State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) raised concerns over several controversial proposals that were considered this week during the legislative session and also successfully advanced a bill that would improve school safety measures.

“With less than two weeks remaining of the legislative session, several controversial proposals came up for a vote this week,” said Senator Boucher. “Businesses, families and individuals have raised concerns about these proposals that will make an economic recovery more difficult and could potentially lead to cases of fraud.”

Three of the controversial measures that were considered this week include:

House Bill 6495, AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE MOTOR VEHICLE STATUTES. This bill allows people who cannot provide the state Department of Motor Vehicles with proof of legal residence in the U.S. or a Social Security Number to obtain driver’s licenses for driving purposes only. While the bill states that the licenses cannot be used for federal identification purposes, such as boarding a plane, or as proof of identity to vote, the measure has raised concerns about voting, employment and benefits fraud. This week, it was debated throughout the night in the House of Representatives and finally passed by a vote of 74 to 55 at 5:48 a.m. It will likely be brought up for a vote by the majority democrats in the senate soon.

Senate Bill 387, AN ACT INCREASING THE MINIMUM FAIR WAGE. This bill would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.00 per hour by 2015. Small businesses submitted testimony opposing the proposal due to increased costs that could slow hiring and reduce available work hours.

“Studies have shown that increased minimum wages often end up harming workers, especially teenagers and minorities,” said Senator Boucher. “To make up for the increased wages, businesses are forced to adjust by cutting employees and work hours, reducing benefits and charging higher prices to consumers. Considering the significant challenges facing our state, I raised concerns that this proposal will further slow our anemic economic recovery and limit job creation.”

According to Harvard University economist Greg Mankiw, “The minimum wage has its greatest impact on the market for teenage labor. The equilibrium wages of teenagers are low because teenagers are among the least skilled and least experienced members of the labor force.” Mark Perry acknowledged that “work habits are learned from their first job. Showing up on time, being courteous to customers, learning how to use technology – such habits are often more valuable than the actual paycheck. Studies confirm that when teens work during summer months or after school they have higher lifetimes earnings that those who do not work.” Labor costs are one of the most significant components of the cost of doing business and living in a state. The last thing the legislature should be doing in this economy is to further reduce jobs opened to our youngest workers and drive up Connecticut’s high cost of living even higher.

Senate Bill 1154, AN ACT CONCERNING THE ACCIDENTAL FAILURE OF SUIT STATUTE. This bill allows someone whose malpractice case was dismissed for failure to meet this requirement to file a subsequent case once under the accidental failure-of-suit statute, even if the dismissal was for a reason not currently covered by that statute. Under current law, a personal injury lawyer already has 60 days to correct an inadvertent or an excusable error to properly re-file a lawsuit. If the personal injury lawyer was negligent in following the statutes, the client could file a legal malpractice case against the lawyer. Many are concerned that this bill would provide near immunity against the personal injury lawyer for failing to properly file the claim. There is a belief that if this bill were to pass, more stress and costs would be placed on Connecticut healthcare. Connecticut has already become less feasible for doctors to set up practices. The state’s medical profession and healthcare institutions have testified that they are finding it difficult to attract and retain doctors under the current unfavorable medical malpractice laws that favor the legal profession.

State Senator Toni Boucher represents the 26th Senate District, including the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton. She is the Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Education, Higher Education and Transportation Committees and also serves on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.