Legislators to Meet This Week to Address Tax Glitch, Not Climate or Elections | CT Examiner

June 23, 2024

As published by the CT Examiner:


A call for state legislators to return to the Capitol this week to fix a technical glitch has left some lawmakers wishing they could also have addressed larger issues — like election reform and climate change — that weren’t voted on this spring.

Lawmakers said time ran out on the clock in the 2024 session to address that error, which will count commercial vehicles as personal property rather than motor vehicles. This will cause the taxes on commercial vehicles in urban communities to spike. In Hartford, for example, taxes on commercial vehicles would more than double, with spikes in Waterbury and Bridgeport as well.

“We want to go back and fix the problem so that, number one, commercial vehicles don’t have an adverse impact on their taxes and, number two, so that municipalities don’t see a big revenue loss in the car tax as they are transitioning their method of assessing car taxes,” said House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford.

Asked if he’d be open to a future discussion on repealing the car tax altogether, Candelora told CT Examiner, “I think politicians like to bring it up and it sounds like a good goal to achieve, but, it’s a bridge too far, as you’ve got to replace that tax with something else.”

The State Senate will meet in the Capitol Wednesday morning for the special session and the state House will meet Thursday morning.

The governor’s call – or charge – for the special session is very narrow and includes eight specific items:

  • Fixing the commercial tax problem.
  • A banking bill that would change the classification of certain banks, with the goal of enticing more banks to relocate to the state.
  • Narrowing the ability of towns to bring in managers for school construction projects.
  • Reducing the administrative costs of the state’s publicly available retirement savings program by authorizing the State Comptroller to enter into cooperative agreements with other states that have similar programs.
  • Providing more certainty to the state’s insurance industry by establishing that the annual assessment on domestic insurance companies to fund certain insurance-related state offices and programs should be calculated based on those companies’ total taxes, prior to any adjustment for tax credits, from the year immediately preceding the prior calendar year instead of the calendar year itself.
  • Relieving employers, including tax-exempt organizations, that kept employees on payroll throughout the pandemic and received the federal Employee Retention Credit from the burden of interest payments.
  • Supporting the preservation and redevelopment of historic properties by streamlining the process by which the State Historic Preservation Office reviews such properties.
  • Amending the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority to permit the authority to acquire water companies outside its current service area.

Those items are free from controversy, members from both sides of the aisle said.

“[The special session] will be quick,” Democratic Speaker of the House Matt Ritter told CT Examiner. “They should be very quick in both chambers.”

But Ritter said there was another issue he would have liked to bring up, given the opportunity – House Bill 5004, a bill on climate change, which was approved earlier this year in the State House, but failed to get a vote in the State Senate.

“We’ve already passed it in the House and it’s a good bill,” Ritter told CT Examiner this week.

The climate bill would have declared that Connecticut is in a climate crisis and would have required the state to lower its greenhouse gas emissions to at least 65 percent below its 2001 levels by 2040, and 85 percent below by 2050. The bill also included provisions to address energy efficiency, fee waivers, and a tax rebate program,

State Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, meanwhile, said that there needed to be urgent attention focused on elections, particularly given the recent ballot fraud allegations in Bridgeport and the arrests 

Sampson pointed to a Thursday press conference by four top Republican lawmakers, including himself, in which they called for strengthened election security and a bipartisan commission that would review and make recommendations to improve the security of the state’s electoral process. 

“I would say that we ought to be addressing election integrity as an actual emergency; that’s the real emergency,” Sampson told CT Examiner recently. “I’m just disappointed that this is the kind of thing the majority uses the special session for. They ought to manage their time during the regular session [better].”