Legislators are being urged to make priorities of several measures that could improve Connecticut's economic climate—and especially help manufacturers—before the session ends on May 4.
Under SB 301, the Department of Environmental Protection and Connecticut manufacturers would together, this year, develop regulations defining what spills need to be reported to the agency.
Because Connecticut has no defined reporting standards, businesses technically must report any spill of any material in any quantity.
And that leaves DEEP flooded with thousands of reports each year on minor spills that pose no environmental or public health risk.
SB 301, however, can help give manufacturers and other businesses greater regulatory certainty--a key component of a better business climate.
Waiving First-Time Violations
Essentially the same measure the House passed last year, but died in the Senate when time ran out at the end of the session, SB 5500 allows agencies to waive certain fees and penalties for first-time violations of state regulations if the missteps don’t cause harm to human health or the environment.
Many agency regulations are detailed, technical, and change frequently—making it easy for businesses—especially small businesses—to miss a technical detail.
Failing to hanging a no smoking sign in a specific area, for example, or placing a label on the wrong part of a container, or signing a log book with initials instead of one's full name are the types of minor violations that can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars in fines and penalties.
Protecting Small Businesses
SB 302 would bring Connecticut in line with Rhode Island and Massachusetts in identifying how proposed regulations would impact small businesses.
Short of providing a sophisticated cost-benefit or fiscal analysis, agencies would only have to consider and disclose prior to a public hearing whether the proposed regulation would have practical impacts on manufacturers and other businesses with fewer than 250 employees.
Would, for example, the regulation require businesses to conduct more reporting or record-keeping, more training, or hire professional assistance such as an attorney or a consultant?
The Connecticut State Senate passed SB 302 unanimously and the bill now awaits action in the House.
Developing a strong talent pipeline for manufacturers is key to ensuring employers have skilled workers they need to remain competitive.
Contained within both HB 5636 and HB 5046 are measures to expand the state’s apprenticeship tax credit to pass-through entities (mainly small and midsize businesses) that have manufacturing apprentices.
In addition, HB 5423 establishes a new task force to find innovative ways to get more students interested in manufacturing careers and requires the Department of Labor to update its apprenticeship website.
The Connecticut State House passed HB 5423 on a 144-0 vote and it now awaits action in the Senate.
Another task force, called for in HB 5468, creates a committee to help boost recruitment of manufacturing teachers.
A frequently heard complaint is that qualified candidates can wait months to receive a hiring offer and the over-use of substitute teachers.
While it's important to look at a long-term plan, other action must be taken to address the immediate need for qualified teachers.
This bill also passed the House and is waiting action in the Senate.
CBIA strongly urges Connecticut state lawmakers to focus on helping create a better climate for manufacturers and small businesses in Connecticut by passing all of these measures.