On the advice of Attorney General George Jepsen, Connecticut's Senate did not take up the captive audience proposal (HB 5460) this year.

The attorney general notified lawmakers that federal labor law appears to pre-empt the measure.

Prior to Jepsen’s letter of advice to lawmakers, Charles Cohen, a Clinton appointee to the National Labor Relations Board who served from 1994 to 1996, wrote a four-page legal opinion that said the bill "ignores decades of federal law on employer free speech rights."

"This legislation runs afoul of federal labor law and is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act," said Cohen.

Attorney General Jepsen apparently decided to look further at the legislative proposal and came to the same conclusion.

HB 5460 prohibited much of what employers can talk about at required company meetings. Employers would have been barred from addressing such issues as health insurance, employee wages and benefits, and any local, state or federal news impacting the company and jobs.

Even talking about a company’s charitable and community service projects would have been off-limits.

Two weeks ago, after an 11 hour debate, the House approved HB 5460 by a close (78-65) margin. 

The bill is another example of poor legislation at a time when Connecticut needs to stimulate economic growth and job creation.

“It's a bad time — while the recession still lingers — for the legislature to pile on business,” saysThe Hartford Courant. “Employers ought to have the right to speak to workers about issues pertinent to unionization without threatening them.”

 “Lawmakers should say no to … jobs-killing legislation."

For more information, contact CBIA’s Kia Murrell at 860.244.1931 or kia.murrell@cbia.com.