The 2020 Legislative Session continues to move along at a rapid pace with committee meetings and public hearings.
Criminal Justice: The Chairs of the Judiciary Committee held a press conference this week announcing the committee would be expanding on Governor Lamont’s “clean slate” legislation. Governor Lamont’s plan would allow for the erasure of some misdemeanor convictions, in order make it easier for people with a criminal record to gain better access to education, jobs, and housing and education. The plan announced by the chairs of the Judiciary Committee would allow for the erasure of all misdemeanors and some C and D felony convictions. In addition, there would be provisions to make employers and landlords accountable if they discriminate against those with criminal records. Details of the bill are being worked out.
Healthcare: Mandatory vaccination bill update: The Public Health Committee voted to send to the House, the bill that eliminates the religious exemption to vaccinations for some children. HB 5044 was amended to grandfather in any child that currently has an exemption. There continues to be much controversy around this bill with a vote in the house predicted around the end of March.
Labor committee: The Labor committee held a public hearing on a bill Yankee opposed–HB 5270 would grant state government union officials greater access to private employee information, including phone numbers, home and work addresses, email addresses and work shifts. In addition, this bill grants the union the power to meet with employees during the workday to discuss “grievances” and “other” workplace issues, the right to meet with newly hired employees for up to 2 hours, without charge to the pay or leave time of employees. The bill amounts to an attempt to push back against the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME that allows public sector employees to opt out of union membership without being forced to pay any union fees. Also on the agenda was SB 227 that would require employers in certain industries to post employee shift schedules 14 days in advance and then pay various penalties for any changes to the posted schedules with less than 14 days’ notice. A bill that would expand workers’ compensation benefits for certain mental health conditions to Correction Department staff, emergency medical technicians and dispatchers is also under consideration (SB 231).
Finance Committee: Yankee took a position on the following bills: HB 5034: Bill would eliminate the estate tax beginning on January 1, 2020; HB 5063: Bill would eliminate certain business filing increases; We Opposed: HB 5090 : Which would impose a surcharge on capital gains and a reduction of the personal income tax rates on certain incomes. Also on the agenda was a bill that would impose a 35% excise tax on ammunition (HB 5040). The bill drew a huge crowd, with the overwhelming majority opposing the bill.