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Twelve bills to love during the 2017 legislative session

Connecticut may be in dire straits at the moment, but some lawmakers are looking to turn things around by sponsoring bills that can help Connecticut get back on the right track. To be sure there are many more pieces of legislation introduced that deserve credit but for now, here are twelve bills in particular that will make the necessary reforms for Connecticut and its residents to grow and thrive.

Senate Bill 268: An Act Requiring State Employee Collective Bargaining Agreements and Arbitration Awards to be Approved by the General Assembly
Introduced by Sen. Leonard Fasano, R-Wallingford, and Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton
This very important bill would require public employee collective bargaining contracts to be voted on in the General Assembly. Connecticut is one of only 5 states in which the legislative body has no say in state employee contracts. Employee pay and benefits is the single biggest taxpayer expense in the budget and therefore the people of Connecticut deserve a say in the legislature.

House Bill 5552: An Act Excluding Retirement Benefits from Collective Bargaining by State and Municipal Employees
Introduced by Rep. Fred Camillo, R-Greenwich, Rep. Mike Bocchino, R-Greenwich, and Livvy R. Floren, R-Greenwich
This bill would remove retirement benefits from closed-door collective bargaining agreements made between unions and the governor. Instead, retirement packages would be set by statute requiring a vote by members of the General Assembly. The legislation extends to municipal retirees – like teachers and members of the Municipal Employee Retirement System – whose benefits are also set at the state level. The taxpayers of Connecticut pay for those benefits so they deserve a vote made by their senators and representatives.

An Act Concerning Terms Pertaining to the Constitutional Spending Cap
Introduced by Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam, Rep. William Petit, R-Plainville, Rep. Christopher Davis, R-Ellington, Rep. Laura Devlin, R-Fairfield, Rep. Robin Green, R-Marlborough, Rep. Pam Steneski, R-Milford
A number of identical bills were introduced by different lawmakers to implement a strong spending cap for Connecticut, something voters have been waiting on for 25 years. These bills – and others – would finally define what expenditures are under the constitutional spending cap and how much the cap can be raised each year. This is long overdue for Connecticut.

House Bill 6211 and Senate Bill 432: Increasing the Prevailing Wage Mandate
Introduced by Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, Rep. Laura R. Hoydick, R-Stratford, Rep. Tom O’Dea, R-New Canaan, Rep. Arthur J. O’Neil, R-Southbury, Sen. Leonard Fasano, R-Wallingford, Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton
Two bills sponsored by a number of lawmakers would ease the costs to municipalities by increasing the prevailing wage threshold for public projects. This measure would save towns money by not forcing them to pay higher rates to complete town projects and ease the state mandate burden. These bills have been supported by a number of town leaders and is part of the governor’s budget proposal.

House Bill 6461: An Act Concerning Unemployment Compensation
Sponsored by Rep. Dave Rutigliano, R-Trumbull, Rep. Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford, and Rep. Christopher Davis, R-Ellington
This bill would increase the minimum an individual has to work in order to qualify for unemployment payments from $600 to $2,000, exclude anyone currently receiving severance pay and count construction workers’ highest three quarters of pay. The earning threshold for receiving unemployment benefits has not been changed in fifty years and it is time to make some reforms to keep the program solvent and ease the unemployment insurance burden on businesses.

House Bill 6209: An Act Concerning Union Stewards and Compensation from The State
Introduced by Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, Rep. Laura R. Hoydick, R-Stratford, Rep. Tom O’Dea, R-New Canaan, Rep. Arthur J. O’Neil, R-Southbury
Introduced by the House Republican Caucus, this bill would require union representatives to use their vacation, sick or personal time if they are conducting union business during their regularly scheduled shift. Union leave time cost Connecticut $4.2 million in 2015 and some union representatives spent over 200 days on leave conducting union business. The state should not have to pay them when they are working for a union.

House Bill 6457: An Act Limiting Wage Increases in Arbitration Awards
Introduced by Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, Rep. Laura R. Hoydick, R-Stratford, Rep. Tom O’Dea, R-New Canaan, Rep. Arthur J. O’Neil, R-Southbury
This bill would place a 2 percent wage increase limit on binding arbitration rulings when a town and a labor union cannot come to an agreement on a contract. Since municipalities are forced to engage in binding arbitration it is only fair that they should have some protection in that process and not be left with wage increases they can’t afford.

Governor’s Bill 793: An Act Concerning Fairness for Municipalities and Local Taxpayers
Introduced by Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven, Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, Rep. Joe Aresimowisz, D-Berlin, Rep. Matthew Ritter, D-Hartford
The Governor’s bill, part of his budget proposal, would ease some restrictions on municipalities across the state. It includes reforms to the prevailing wage threshold, binding arbitration between towns and unions and allowing municipalities to negotiate the amount their employees must contribute to the Municipal Employee Retirement System.

Senate Bill 746: An Act Amending the Municipal Employee Retirement System for Newly Hired Employees
Introduced by Sen. Leonard Fasano, R- Wallingford
This bill would reform the Municipal Employee Retirement System for new hires by excluding overtime from pension calculations, increasing the retirement age to 62, increasing employee contributions and limiting cost of living increases. These changes will help keep costs to municipalities down and ensure the MERS system does not fall into the same hole as the state’s pension fund.

House Bill 5149: An Act Concerning Certain Minimum Fair Wage Provisions
Introduced by: Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam
This bill would allow a young person under the age of 19 to work up to 1,000 hours for below the state’s minimum wage. It expands on current law and gives young people more opportunity to get work experience and begin climbing their way up the business ladder.

Proposed Bill 191: An Act Concerning the Department of Consumer Protection and Occupational Licensing
Introduced by Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk
This legislation would require the Department of Consumer Protection to examine all the occupational licenses it issues and make recommendations for which ones could be cut or are no longer necessary. It would also require the department to streamline the remaining licensing procedures. This would be a great step toward allowing people to pursue their dreams without all the red tape.

Raised Bill 920: An Act Concerning Occupational Licensing for Members of The Armed Forces, Veterans and Their Spouses.
Introduced by the Veteran’s Affairs Committee
This bill would give the Commissioner of Consumer Protection discretion in issuing occupational licenses for members of the military, veterans and their spouses. Military families that have to relocate to the state shouldn’t need to jump through occupational licensing hoops to do the same job they were doing in another state.

Marc E. Fitch

Marc E. Fitch is the author of several books and novels including Shmexperts: How Power Politics and Ideology are Disguised as Science and Paranormal Nation: Why America Needs Ghosts, UFOs and Bigfoot. Marc was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow and his work has appeared in The Federalist, American Thinker, The Skeptical Inquirer, World Net Daily and Real Clear Policy. Marc has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Western Connecticut State University. Marc can be reached at [email protected]

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