Bills That Lived And Died In The 2024 Legislative Session

May 13, 2024

From the CT News Junkie:

HARTFORD, CT – As the 2024 legislative session came to a close Wednesday, numerous bills that sought to enact big changes in the state met with different fates.

Speaker of the House Matt Ritter offered a few thoughts about the session after the House adjourned Wednesday at midnight. He said that the legislature, by and large, did what it needed to do.

“We passed legislation that I think we felt balanced,” Ritter said. “We had probably the two largest bills deal with elder care in the state’s history in one session. In the House, we had great environmental victories, early childhood – continue to push that forward.”

Ritter added, however, that there is always a challenge to a short session.

“It’s never a perfect year, particularly in the second year of a [budget],” he said. “It’s only 90 days, but we’re pretty happy and I think you can tell.”

Ritter said that the residents of the state should be proud of their legislators, if not always the legislation that gets passed.

“The state of Connecticut should know that this place functions and functions in a bipartisan way, even when we disagree – it’s not Washington, DC,” he said.

Below are some highlights of bills that died, and those that are heading to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk for his signature.

Bills That Died

Housing Access and Security

Work Ride Live (HB 5390)

The bill would have incentivized towns across Connecticut to focus on transit oriented development that prioritized housing which connects to existing bus and train lines. The most controversial aspect of the bill would have empowered developers to skip the public hearing process when developing projects that qualified under the bill. It died on the Senate calendar.

No Fault Eviction (SB 143)

The bill would have extended current protections for elderly and disabled residents, who cannot be evicted at the end of their lease without cause. Landlords fiercely opposed the bill, stating that it would make it difficult for them to remove problem tenants and that it undermined contract law in the state. The legislation never got out of the Senate.

Climate Change Advocates

Climate Change Advocates (HB 5004)

The bill included 22 multi-faceted initiatives aimed at addressing the root causes and ramifications of climate change across various sectors. Some of the proposals included a business incubator for zero-carbon startup companies, and distributing over 300,000 heat pumps across the state. The bill made it out of the House but died on the Senate calendar.

Senate Minority Leader Stephen Harding, who also serves as a ranking member on the Environment Committee, said the “Green Monster” bill not being taken up in the Senate prior to the legislature’s midnight adjournment was “a big victory.”

Harding said “Republicans have been warning that this bill, while well-intentioned, would give unfettered authority to an unelected official: the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection,” enabling DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes to implement “basically whatever she deems fit to meet certain carbon emissions. That could mean new taxes and new government programs that Republicans would object to, but would have no say over.”

Small Business and Nonprofit Employees

Insurance (HB 5247)

The bill would have authorized employee health benefit consortiums in the state. These consortiums are available to state employees, and the bill would have extended access to them to small businesses and nonprofits. Despite having a list of bipartisan sponsors and support from small businesses across the state, the bill failed to get out committee.

Future-Oriented Regulation

Artificial Intelligence (SB 2)

The bill would have instituted several rules regarding the use of artificial intelligence, including its use in election campaigns and a prohibition on revenge porn generated by using AI. While the bill passed the House, Gov. Lamont expressed reservations about the bill’s effect on the business climate of the state and signaled he would not sign it into law.

Low-income workers hoping to retire

Retirement Security Program (SB 136)

The bill would have mase several changes to the CT Retirement Savings Program, including raising the contribution rate from 3% to 5% and reducing the amount of days an employee has to work to qualify for the program from 120 to 30. Another change would have added personal care assistants to the group of employees covered by the retirement program.

Bills That Survived

Public Health

Senate Bill 1, the Senate’s omnibus public health bill, passed with bipartisan support in both chambers. The bill was written to improve and study various aspects of health care in the state.

Higher Education

Higher Ed (HB 5523)

The bill covers the expenditure of the remaining ARPA dollars left to the state, which must be spent by the end of the year. The money was dispersed to various projects and causes, but the state’s higher education system in particular received a windfall, receiving more money than they’d initially requested. The University of Connecticut is receiving $80 million, with the possibility of an additional $20 million based on the health of the state budget.

The Elderly and Disabled

Nursing Home Bill (HB 5046)

This bill prohibits nursing homes from placing new residents in rooms with more than two beds beginning July 1, 2027. It also phases out the category of rest homes with nursing supervision, Department of Public Health action on nursing homes not complying with correction plans, updates residents on any fee changes, and update criteria for who may be appointed a receiver to remove the requirement that they must be licensed nursing home administrators.

Wheelchair recommendations (SB 308)

The House and Senate passed the bill, implementing a compromise version of the recommendations issued by a taskforce to improve the ability of residents in wheelchairs to get necessary repairs done in a timely fashion. Legislators agreed that it was a good first step for an issue they will return to in the future.

Housing Policy

Housing (HB 5474)

The bill requires all municipalities to submit an annual report to the Office of Responsible Growth containing information regarding building-permit applications that were reviewed by the municipality’s building official or were received by the planning and zoning commission. Additionally, the bill also includes provisions that would require landlords to provide at least 45 days notice prior to increasing a tenant’s rent, encourage the use of surplus land for the purposes of constructing affordable housing, and allow towns to set liens against property with unpaid zoning violations.

Connecticut Children and Families

Disconnected Youth (HB 5347)

Attached to a bill authorizing state grant commitments for school building projects, the Connecticut Preschool through Twenty and Workforce Information Network (P20 WIN) will develop a plan to establish a statewide data intermediary to provide technical support, create data-sharing agreements, and build and maintain the infrastructure needed to share data between nonprofit organizations serving disconnected youth. P20 WIN must submit a plan to the Education Committee by January 1, 2025, and annually to the Appropriations, Children, Education, Human Services, Judiciary, Labor and Public Employees, and Public Health committees.

Paid Family Leave (SB 222)

The bill includes provisions that will require employers to submit reports to the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (PFMLI) Authority, and will increase the authority’s ability to penalize fraudulent filings in the program. It includes a provision that will allow federally recognized tribes to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the governor so that employees of a tribe-owned business could gain access to the PFMLI fund. The bill also makes eligible for the program victims of sexual assault or abuse.

Road Construction Workers

DOT Bill (HB 5330)

The bill makes permanent and expands a work zone camera program to 15 work zones around the state. It also increases fines for violating traffic control and road safety orders, and allows for variable speed limits on limited access roads. In addition to improving work zone safety, the bill improves transparency by requiring hearings or advanced notice for major roadwork projects.

Labor, Employers

Stabilization Support and ARPA Replacement Fund (HB 5431)

The bill establishes the “Connecticut families and workers account,” which was celebrated by labor leaders who said labor laws are “heavily weighted in favor of employers, who have their thumbs on the scale during negotiations.” The bill – also referred to by labor as the “Striking Worker Assistance Fund” – would support striking private sector employees, labor leaders said following its passage. That includes groups like the 4,000 unionized workers from the Metal Trades Council, who build submarines at Electric Boat in Groton.

Harding and Sens. Rob Sampson and Eric Berthel issued a statement decrying the passage of the bill, which Democrats and labor leaders called the Striking Workers Assistance Fund.

Republicans say the bill will “create a slush fund” for the State Comptroller.

“Democrats just voted for one of the most absurd bills we have ever seen,” they said in a statement. “It had no public hearing. It had no definitions. It creates a slush fund for the State Comptroller. It is all about trickery and that is insulting to Connecticut taxpayers. This brazen bill epitomizes the arrogance of Democrats who control all the levers of power in Connecticut. It’s more fiscal mismanagement and another attempt to go around the fiscal guardrails. We urge the governor to veto this as soon as it hits his desk.”

All Senate Republicans voted no on the bill.