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Tough on Business, Soft on Crime

Connecticut Halls of Power Turning into Union Halls 

On May 8, the Appropriations Committee favorably voted on two bills — benefiting ‘Big Labor’ — that will make doing business in the state more burdensome.  

S.B.1178 expands the state’s paid sick leave law in multiple ways. The current law requires certain employers with at least 50 employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave yearly to workers in certain specified occupations. If passed, starting October 1, 2023, this will apply to all private-sector employers — except for certain construction-related trade organizations and employers.  

Employers will be limited on what documentation they require employees to provide for taking leave, yet are required to pay any out-of-pocket expenses incurred.  

The bill also broadens the range of family members for whom an employee may use as an excuse to call in sick; increases the rate at which employees accrue leave; removes any waiting period before they may use it; and broadens the reasons employees may use leave. 

Additionally, the bill allows an aggrieved employee to take legal action against their employer, bypassing the normal procedure of filing a complaint with the Department of Labor.   

The second bill, S.B. 938, will allow employees — who chose to go on strike — to collect unemployment benefits after a two-week period. 

Unions want to use this benefit to pressure employers into caving into their demands. Their call to action letter states: “If employers understood that their unemployment insurance experience ratings could be impacted if a strike goes on longer than two weeks, they would be more likely to come to the table and bargain in good faith to avoid the strike in the first place.” 

According to the Hartford Courant, Gov. Ned Lamont has a better idea. He told the Courant reporter that “Fortunately, we have some of the lowest unemployment we’ve ever had in the state. That means we’re paying off our deficit in the unemployment fund. It should be paid off very soon — in less than six months. Start building a surplus in that account again, and I think we ought to focus on that before we expand any more benefits.” 

Gov. Lamont also noted, “I think unemployment is really oriented towards folks who, through no fault of their own, were laid off due to a recession, and I think that’s what the focus of the unemployment benefits ought to be,” 

Both bills are on the Senate calendar awaiting a vote, date TBD.  

Legislative Branch Now Identifies as Judiciary Branch 

The Senate passed a bill 23-13 that broadens parole eligibility for certain offenders who were under the age of 21 when they committed a crime. Lawmakers originally proposed applying this to offenders under 25. 

The current law — passed in 2015 — gave offenders serving a sentence of over ten years and who committed crimes under the age of 18 a pathway to parole. The law was passed to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court decisions Miller v. Alabama and Graham v. Florida — both cases dealt with the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. 

Sen. Heather Somers (R-18) pointed out the bill would allow the overruling of court sentences if “someone commits a vicious crime at 20 that calls for, perhaps, no parole.” In other words, the General Assembly would strip judicial power of handing out sentences without eligibility of parole to certain individuals. 

To limit the bill’s effects on the judiciary, Sen. Somers put forth an amendment that makes the seven most “egregious crimes” ineligible — including murder, death by arson and first-degree human trafficking persons. 

The amendment failed 24-12 with every Democrat voting against it. 

The Senate also voted favorably to remove certain sex offenders from the registry. Sex offenders who were released during the ten-year period prior to the sex offender registry’s implementation in 1998 

Under current law, anyone residing in Connecticut who was convicted or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect of a sexually violent offense and released between Oct. 1, 1988 and Oct. 1, 1998, must register on the state sex offender registry. 

The Connecticut ACLU supports the bill arguing that it will “remove over 800 people mandated to retroactively register for life in Connecticut.” They went on to say, “Placement on the registry, even though the vast majority of people have not recidivated, imposes a life sentence on people who have served their time.” 

Natasha Pierre, Esq., Victim Advocate for the State of Connecticut, opposes the legislation because “it undermines the information and protection available in the registry. The proposal does not provide for an evaluation or risk assessment of the offender before removal from the registry, and therefore is inconsistent with the purpose of the registry to promote victim and public safety.” 

Meanwhile, being pulled over for secondary traffic violations can soon be a thing of the past. The Senate passed a bill that will prevent law enforcement officers from stopping motorists for certain equipment-related and administrative motor vehicle violations. 

If the bill passes in the House, drivers who are following the law can commute without risk of a ticket for illegal window tinting, broken headlights and missing or broken mirrors. 

The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association submitted testimony that “this proposal comes at a time when there is renewed emphasis on traffic safety because of the dramatic increase in fatal and serious injury accidents on Connecticut roadways.”  

They also warned that “since 2019, traffic-related deaths continue to increase while traffic stops decrease. These changes will not reverse that trend.” 

If it Sounds Too Good to be True… 

There is a chance that Connecticut residents will no longer have to pay that pesky property tax on motor vehicles in the near future. The Senate unanimously passed a bill that establishes a task force to study the issues relating to the repeal of the motor vehicle tax. 

The bill had originally called for the tax’s elimination, while replacing the lost revenue by allowing municipalities to impose a licensing fee on landlords. It will also establish an annual fee for each dwelling unit or home rented, along with imposing a surcharge on insurers on the revenue generated from certain insurance policies. 

Sen. Rob Sampson (R-16) who supports the task force’s creation said, “We ought to indeed get rid of this car tax, but we shouldn’t be looking for ways to replace the revenue. We should be looking for ways for government to shrink, to reduce the burden on people to make Connecticut a competitive and viable place.” 

Fees for Thee but not for Me 

Lawmakers in the House passed a bill on Tuesday (May 9) that will stop gas stations from offering cash discounts unless the discount applies to debit cards as well. 

The proponent of the bill, Rep. Marcus Brown (D-127), said the purpose of the legislation is to “bring parity with an existing bill that the legislature passed back in 2008, which included the words debit card treated as cash.” 

Kathy Flaherty, a resident of Newington, submitted testimony agreeing with the bill stating it is too “inconvenient to carry” cash and that when a debit card is used, she is using her own money “which is immediately withdrawn from my bank account.” 

Chris Herb President of The Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA) opposes the bill because “debit cards, just like credit cards, have processing fees whereas cash transactions do not.” 

He said gas stations owners cannot afford to “absorb the cost of processing debit transactions” and that if this bill were to pass it may have “the unintended consequence of eliminating the offer of a cash discount when paying of gas.” 

Fast forward to Wednesday. Rep Brown changed his tune on the debit card same as cash argument. He voted in favor of a bill that will allow municipalities to accept property tax payments by electronic payment services. Municipalities will be able to pass the debit card processing fee on to the taxpayer. 


You Still Have Time for Your Voice to Be Heard 

Visit our Take Action Center to view bills that Yankee Institute is moderating. Simply click on the Take Action button to contact your state rep. 

CLICK HERE to be heard! 



Meghan Portfolio

Meghan worked in the private sector for two decades in various roles in management, sales, and project management. She was an intern on a presidential campaign and field organizer in a governor’s race. Meghan, a Connecticut native, joined Yankee Institute in 2019 as the Development Manager. After two years with Yankee, she has moved into the policy space as Yankee’s Manager of Research and Analysis. When she isn’t keeping up with local and current news, she enjoys running–having completed seven marathons–and reading her way through Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

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