The Connecticut General Assembly convened this week in a special sessopm to act on a range of legislation, approving nine of the 10 bills on the agenda.
There were two policy reforms that drew the most attention.
First, HB 7006 gives the Public Utility Regulatory Agency greater oversight and accountability over the state's public utility companies.
The second, most discussed policy reform was HB 7001, involving changes to the Connecticut Property Transfer Act, which currently hampers the clean-up of environmentally contaminated properties.
The bill replaces the current transfer system with a release-based system similar to that adopted by 49 other states.
Other legislation considered during the special session ranged from changes to the absentee ballot process to the authorization of up to $100 million for school construction projects.
Public Utility Oversight (HB 7006): . The measure grants PURA more authority to regulate public utility companies. The bill sets new performance-based standards for electric rates and allows PURA to consider customer credits for loss of food and goods in a power outage.
Transfer Act (HB 7001): Simplifies assessing liability for pollution on properties as they are sold. The rewrite of the current Transfer Act followed a study that was completed in February.
Lawmakers gave bipartisan approval to a bill that begins sunsetting a law hampering the redevelopment of environmentally contaminated property in Connecticut.
Businesses and economic development officials have long sought changes to the Connecticut Property Transfer Act, which ties the clean-up of environmentally contaminated properties to the sale or transfer of those properties.
CBIA supported the measure and believes the release-based system will result in a more equitable and efficient process for cleaning up contaminated properties, thus fostering a better environment for businesses to expand and grow.
Absentee Ballots (HB 7005): Quickens the counting of absentee ballots and creates an election monitor for Bridgeport. Registrars of voters and town clerks have the option to open the outer envelope of absentee ballots at 5 pm on Friday, Oct. 30. Currently, they are not permitted to open the envelope until 6 am on Election Day.
School Construction Projects (HB 7010): Authorizes $500 million in borrowing for school construction. Specifically, this bill authorizes 12 school construction grants totaling $209.2 million toward total project costs of $501.3 million.
Environmental Justice (HB 7008): Updates the state’s environmental justice law to require public notice and community benefit agreements in certain circumstances.
Allowance of Certain Property Taxes (HB 7009): Extends by five years the deadline for Bridgeport’s Steel Point Infrastructure Improvement District to issue bonds. Second, the bill permits some late property tax exemptions to be considered timely filed.
Occupational Safety (HB 7007): Changes how the prevailing wage is set, and was intended to provide for greater protection for employees in occupations engaged in construction on certain non-residential building, heavy, or highway works projects in Connecticut. The measure was not taken up in the state House.