YEAR IN REVIEW: Local politicians look back at 2014 [Norwalk Hour]

December 30, 2014

Article as it appeared in the Norwalk Hour

NORWALK – As the new year looms, local legislators took time to reflect on their accomplishments in 2014.

State Sens. Bob Duff, D-25, and Toni Boucher, R-26 and state Reps. Gail Lavielle, R-143, and Chris Perone, D-137, touted their work on advances in business, conservation and consumer protection and said the 2015 session will bring a heavier workload.

“In many ways, it was a short session,” said Lavielle. “That’s not when you get a lot done in terms of policy.”

Despite the short session, Lavielle said she was proud of her work on “An Act Concerning The Grant Of Property Interests In Property Held By The Departments Of Agriculture And Energy And Environmental Protection And The Establishment Of A Public Use And Benefit Land Registry.” The act moves to protect land that the state acquired for conservation purposes.

“That passed with flying colors, and we’re all proud of that,” she said.

Boucher, who was endorsed by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club during the 2014 election, said the 2014 session included “a lot of really good environmental legislation. For instance, a fracking waste moratorium, which became effective on July 1, controls hydraulic fracking waste as a hazardous waste and imposes licensing and information disclosure requirements, according to the Office of Legislative Research.

The Wilton state senator said 2014 was also a year in which much progress was made in early childhood education, and she was “particularly proud to be involved in those issues.” The legislature passed numerous new laws to create early childhood education grants that help municipalities create preschool programs.

Perone, house chair of the commerce committee, said several laws passed in 2014 assisted businesses. One law made it easier for for-profit businesses to give some of their revenue to nonprofits by creating a benefit corporation status. Perone said the state also extended tax credits for new businesses and put more funds into small business expense programs.

Duff, the incoming senate majority leader, said one particular bill that stuck out to him from the 2014 legislative session was “An Act Concerning Electric Consumer Protection and Clarifying the Property Tax Exemption for Certain Solar Thermal or Geothermal Energy Renewable Resources.” The bill requires suppliers to notify customers in advance of rate changes and prohibits suppliers from raising rates for the first three billing cycles. The bill also increases restrictions and decreases the cap on termination fees.

He said the bill provides “greater transparency” and makes electric companies give consumers more insight into the way electricity is priced.

All of the politicians interviewed agreed that they have a lot more work to do in 2015, and The Hour will take a look at the upcoming session in Monday’s edition.