Government red tape, say many businesses, has delayed economic development projects in Connecticut. In response, the jobs bill includes several measures that will hopefully lead to streamlining state government and unlocking development.

For example, the new law requires the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to explore the feasibility of taking a new approach to its permitting and enforcement programs (HB 6801, Section 6).

DEEP must study the feasibility of a tiered system of permitting and enforcement that would expedite activities which “pose the lowest level of risk to the environment.” The study is due to the legislature’s Environment and Commerce Committees by Feb. 1, 2012.

Leaning the state

More focus on streamlining government is included by requiring the state to hire a consultant to apply lean practices and principles to the permitting and enforcement processes in DEEP and three other state agencies: the departments of Economic and Community Development (DECD), Administrative Services (DAS), and Transportation (DOT) -- characterized as the agencies “most frequently utilized by business entities” (Section 10). The consulting work has to be done within existing state funding.

Three of the four agencies (except DAS) must recommend to the legislature by Feb. 1, 2012, any programs or statutes they believe are obsolete or should be revised to make them more efficient. (Section 11).

Brownfields

Brownfields redevelopment gets a boost with $20 million in bonding to “identify, market and remediate five state-owned brownfields selected by DECD from a priority list.” The list will be developed by DECD according to specific criteria (Section 25) and posted on a new website dedicated to marketing and promoting state-owned brownfields (Section 26).

Energy efficiency

The new law also creates a new program to encourage the repair and replacement of oil furnaces and boilers at nonprofit organizations and housing authorities (Section 50).  The program will be administered by the Fuel Oil Conservation Board established earlier this year and will be supported by up to $10 million in bonding (Section 49).  The membership of the Board is also significantly revised in section 51.

Public-private partnerships

The governor will have to approve up to five projects for public-private partnerships no later than Jan. 1, 2015, with annual reports to the legislature beginning in Jan. 2013. 

These partnerships will allow state agencies to contract with private companies to finance, design, construct, develop, operate or maintain public works and transportation projects that generate revenue as a public infrastructure. (Sections 80 – 88). 

State support of a partnership agreement will not be able to exceed 25% of the project's cost and the law exempts from municipal property taxes any property developed, operated, or held by a private entity within the partnership agreement.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 or eric.brown@cbia.com.