A package of “truly transforming” regulatory reforms will create greater certainty in the business community and provide a much-needed spark for Connecticut’s economy.

That’s the optimistic outlook of Gov. Rell, who signed the reforms into law earlier this month, as well as more than 130 business and environmental professionals who attended CBIA’s recent Environmental Conference in Waterbury.

At the bill-signing, the Governor called it “reform we can all embrace.”  She added that the law “will make Connecticut much more business friendly [while striking] a very important balance by safeguarding our environment.”

Later, business leaders at the CBIA conference agreed. The law requires speedier permitting at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), more help to businesses with compliance, and better coordination between state agencies—all of which should help move projects more quickly from planning to reality while keeping strong environmental protections.

That’s just the kind of news Connecticut’s economy needs, said conference keynote speaker Joan McDonald, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. She pointed to a headline in the New Britain Herald that said, “State takes a step closer to ‘business friendly.’”

“We have made progress,” agreed the commissioner, “but there’s still a lot more to be done.” Identifying the “more to be done” was a major topic of the conference.  In fact, businesses heard that the law is wasting no time by fast-tracking certain improvements, such as for:

  • Establishing new permitting deadlines (the goals are 60 days for application sufficiency and 180 days for technical review)
  • Setting up a consulting services program within the DEP
  • Creating a business ombudsman within the DECD who will facilitate coordination with all state agencies 
  • Reviewing how the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act is impacting state businesses. Most of the review deadlines for these improvements are by early fall this year.

The reform movement got a big push early in the session from the Governor who created a Permitting Task Force and gave it 45 days to develop recommendations.

“The Governor heard our concerns,” said task force member Ann Catino of Halloran & Sage. “She recognized that delays in state agencies were creating delays in business development in the state.”

Passage of the reforms “is a very clear signal from the legislature to the DEP that there are things they can do better,”  said Chris McCormack of Pullman & Comley LLC, who also served on the Governor’s task force.

Still, businesses recognized that the law is asking the agency to accomplish a great deal without an increase in resources. The DEP is already using lean processes to streamline many of its operations.

For more information about the new law and its implementation, contact CBIA’s Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 or eric.brown@cbia.com.