Workforce Development, Permitting, Compliance Bills Advance
CBIA began the 2018 legislative session urging lawmakers to make jobs “Job One.”
Nowhere is that more needed than in Connecticut’s surging manufacturing sector, which has an estimated 13,000 jobs waiting to be filled.
As the session heads into its final weeks, manufacturing has emerged as a key focal point with legislative committees advancing several bills.
This is after three other manufacturing-related bills, including an expansion of the apprenticeship tax credit, already moved forward.
SB 51 requires the Board of Regents for Higher Education to establish a grant program to support and expand advanced manufacturing certificate programs.
Funding comes from a portion of state income tax revenues. The board can also accept private donations.
Funds will be managed through a separate, non-lapsing account within the General Fund to be known as the Advanced Manufacturing Certificate Program account.
SB 369 requires the state Department of Economic and Community Development and the Department of Labor to review job development and training programs and their funding sources, to determine the adequacy and effectiveness of such programs, and whether they’re being funded in the most cost-efficient, equitable, and effective means.
DECD must submit a report to the legislature’s Appropriations, Commerce, and Labor committees by Oct. 1, 2018.
SB 444 requires DECD to provide $10 million in grants over the next five years to regional workforce development boards to fund training programs related to the submarine industry.
The bill also requires the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities to seek agreement with Three Rivers Community College on providing unused space for training related to the plastics manufacturing industry.
Finally, the bill requires reports from DECD every three years on the capital needs of businesses that manufacture submarines and recommendations to meet those needs.
SB 448 requires DECD and DOL to pursue opportunities to establish public-private partnerships for funding and operating one or more manufacturing mobile training labs.
DECD is required to report findings and recommendations to lawmakers by Jan. 1, 2019.
The bill also requires the state Department of Education to seek input from manufacturers when developing or updating uniform standards and curriculum for all career technical education programs offered by local or regional school boards.
Finally, the bill adds a seat for a manufacturing representative on the Board of Trustees of the Community-Technical Colleges.
SB 535 calls for $50 million in bonding to fund development and implementation of regional workforce pipeline programs through a new Apprenticeship Connecticut Initiative administered by the DOL.
The bill also requires each regional workforce development board to report to the General Assembly on pressing workforce needs within the region and identify industry sectors with the greatest needs.
SB 536 requires the University of Connecticut to undertake a variety of initiatives intended to better realign its objectives and focus with current and future workforce needs, and to create and foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the state.
SB 51, SB 369, SB 444, SB 448, SB 535, and SB 536 await action in in the state Senate.
SB 265 requires the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to modify permit forms to include a check box for applicants to designate whether the application is associated with a new businesses, physical expansion of an existing business, or production of a new line.
It further requires the agency to make reasonable efforts to schedule a meeting with the applicants within 90 days to identify any additional information required by the agency and to provide the applicant with an estimated date of a final decision.
The bill also requires an annual report on the number of these types of applications received, the average estimated time provided to them, and the average actual time for a final decision.
This bill awaits action in the Senate.
HB 5454 changes the current mandate on DEEP to make final decisions on a wide variety of permit applications within 90 days to, instead, require them to make “best efforts” to do so provided the application is complete.
The bill also changes the list of permits to which this statute applies and requires the agency to notify applicants of any deficiencies in their application within 90 days.
New language in the bill requires the agency to establish a pilot program using licensed environmental professionals to expedite the issuance of specific permits, at the applicant’s expense.
This bill awaits action in the state House.
SB 269 prohibits DEEP from assessing a civil penalty against any business with fewer than 250 employees for a first-time regulatory violation if the business takes steps within 30 days to ensure the complete remedy of the violation.
The violation also must be unintentional, does not result in harm to human health or the environment, and a penalty is not required by federal law.
SB 343 requires manufacturers and other businesses already required to annually report storage or usage of hazardous chemicals to state and federal officials—EPCRA Tier I and Tier II reporting—to update their emergency response and evacuation plans by January 1, 2019 if DEEP determines the facility is located in an area of high risk of flooding, severe weather events, or a rise in sea level under a proposed new determination method.
Updated plans must be submitted to local emergency response authorities.
SB 269 and SB 343 await action in the Senate.
HB 5264 requires the attorney general to give an opinion when requested by a business that has a dispute with a state agency concerning the application of a regulation.
HB 5266 authorizes any state agency to waive a civil penalty for a first-time, unintentional violation of a regulation that does not result in bodily injury nor pose a significant threat to human health or the environment.
HB 5264 and HB 5266 await action in the House.
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