The 2018 General Assembly session saw passage of a number of proposals intended to address Connecticut's urgent need to grow its manufacturing workforce.
As the session came to a close May 9, the House and Senate approved bills on education reform, expedited permitting, and tax credits for hiring and training apprentices.
Major bills in these areas now awaiting the governor's signature include:
Education, Training, Apprenticeships
SB 261 extends the existing apprenticeship tax credit to pass-through tax entities, which includes LLC, LLPs, and S corporations.
The current tax credit is available only to C-corporations.
A significant number of manufacturing business in Connecticut are smaller businesses whose taxes are based on personal income.
This measure will help build a larger apprenticeship workforce in the state.
SB 352 extends the current exemption for certain types of educational institutions from undergoing state approval for new or modified education programs.
CBIA supported this bill, which provides these institutions with greater flexibility to implement training programs designed to address immediate workforce needs in their area—including manufacturing.
SB 448 requires the Department of Economic and Community Development, in collaboration with the Department of Labor and the Manufacturing Innovation Fund Advisory Board (which includes several smaller manufacturers), to issue requests for proposals for the operation of one or more mobile manufacturing training labs and a variety of services designed to motivate and educate students.
This innovative and cost-effective initiative will encourage middle and high school students across the state to consider and pursue manufacturing careers.
SB 455 includes measures to remove obstacles to teacher certification, in addition to several provisions designed to recruit and retain more minority teachers.
Specifically, the bill allows an alternative path to receive an initial educator certificate when receiving a satisfactory evaluation on a state approved subject area assessment for which the applicant has completed advanced coursework.
Similar provisions for temporary teacher certifications are contained in a section of SB 183.
The bipartisan budget adjustments adopted on the last night of the session maintain current funding for the labor department's apprenticeship program and $1 million in funding for the Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative.
Section 45 of the bonding package creates a new Apprenticeship Connecticut Initiative designed to expand manufacturing workforce pipeline programs, which focus on training and placing qualified entry level workers throughout the state.
Under the initiative, DOL will issue a request for qualifications to solicit proposals from regional industry partnerships for funding.
Permitting, Regulatory Reform
SB 265 among other things, establishes a new system for expediting permit applications before the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection associated with business expansion and new manufacturing production lines.
This helps spur innovation and investment by manufacturers, giving them confidence and greater certainty that permits required for growth and innovation will be a priority—including receiving a time estimate for permit approval from the agency.
HB 5440 expands the state's online business portal so businesses can create one account that communicates with all state agencies for addressing permitting, fees, reporting or other business functions.
SB 268 makes changes to state and municipal brownfield remediation programs, including extending the maximum period for repaying certain loans from 20 to 30 years, and extends existing tax benefits for current owners to future purchasers.
HB 5453 prevents any future general liability insurance policy issued for or applicable to an underground storage tank from being cancelled or denied renewal solely due to the policy's applicability to an underground storage tank.
HB 5454 amends a 2017 statute that required DEEP to process applications for any of 45 permitting or certification programs within 90 days or the permit or certification would be deemed approved.
This bill eliminates the law's applicability to certifications, significantly reduces the number of permits to which the law applies, and changes the "deemed approved" language to "shall make best efforts."
SB 7 establishes a new state target for the reduction of greenhouse gases (45% below 2001 levels by 2030), and requires new flood resiliency requirements for projects that receive state funding located in areas deemed to be at risk due to flooding or other natural disasters.
HB 5348 directs DEEP to consider a new energy portfolio standard for thermal energy that may include biodiesel that is blended into home heating oil.
Learn more about these changes and their implications at CBIA's 2018 Energy & Environment Conference, May 18 in Farmington. Featured speakers include U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection commissioner Rob Klee.