|Pols Wanted A Peek
A bill meant to study which citizens pay what share of state and local taxes included an eye-popping provision: it would let eight members of the General Assembly request and view an individual’s personal income tax return. After Yankee Institute on Tuesday wrote about the legislation—and its strong support from organized labor—legislative leaders were questioned about it at a press conference. Representative Sean Scanlon told reporters: “That bill provision will be coming out.”
Spreading COVID Cash
After a heated debate, the Labor and Public Employees Committee on Thursday approved a proposal to spend $750 million on the “Connecticut Essential Workers Pandemic Pay Program,” which would pay certain workers up to $2,000 if they worked full-time during the state of emergency declared by Governor Lamont in March 2020.
Representative Harry Arora said the program would cost about $40 million to administer and that the bill’s criteria did not appear to consider immigration status. Arora also argued that the first-come-first-serve approach (which benefits the state’s politically wired labor unions) risks leaving a large chunk of the otherwise-eligible residents with nothing.
Committee Works For Labor
Besides the pandemic pay, Connecticut unions had a busy week in the Labor and Public Employees Committee, where labor is looking to use its significant influence in Hartford to implement otherwise-federal priorities that have stalled in Washington, D.C. Most notably, the unions are pushing a “captive audience” bill that would limit what businesses can say to workers who are thinking about unionizing. Besides the obvious First Amendment issues, the legislation would likely run afoul of the federal pre-emption of private-sector unionization rules—something about which then-Attorney General George Jepsen warned when a similar measure was introduced in 2018.
Labor is also pushing the General Assembly to let strikers collect unemployment and ban businesses from replacing workers who go on striker, among other things.
The committee is meanwhile keeping a “dummy bill” ready so it can order the state Labor Department to study—and build the case for—any of these priorities that fail to make it to the floor for votes by the entire House and Senate.
Committee Hits “Play” On Wayne’s World Tax
The Energy and Technology Committee approved a proposal to apply a “community access support” charge to streaming video services like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+. The fee is designed to boost local public access television organizations, which have taken a financial hit as more people have canceled their cable subscriptions. Lawmakers however still haven’t worked out the logistics about how the $5-to-$11 annual fee would be collected (and what would prevent people from having to pay it multiple times).