When the General Law Committee held two alcohol-related bills Wednesday morning, it wasn’t because they didn’t support the concepts, it was because the Environment Committee had overstepped its bounds by penning them, said Rep. Joseph Taborsak, D-Danbury.
Taborsak said the measures, concerning wine festivals and the sale of locally grown wine at farmers markets, were essentially duplicate bills of two that had already been passed out of General Law. But he also said the Environment Committee should stick to what it knows.
“What people need to know is that our rules provide [the General Law Committee] with the primary cognizance over all issues related to alcohol. Wine is obviously included in that category,” he said.
By generating bills outside of its area of expertise, the Environment Committee risks confusing the public about the functions of the legislature’s various committees, Taborsak said. Passing the measures would set a bad precedence, he said.
“We would be saying ‘yeah, sure, the Environment Committee or any other committee can act on and push legislation changing laws related to alcohol in the state,’” he said.
General Law Passes BPA Ban
The General Law Committee did pass along a bill from the Environment Committee which would ban the use of the harmful chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in cash register receipt paper.
However, before approving the measure, the committee voted to delete a section of the bill that would have required the quasi-public Innovations Institute to compile an annual list of potentially harmful chemicals.
The institute was created last year by the legislature to foster green jobs and safer workplaces through “green chemistry” and assist businesses and state agencies in finding alternatives to harmful industrial chemicals. Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford, said the hope was that the institute would enable the state to take a broad look at the issue of harmful chemicals.
During a February public hearing on the BPA measure it was noted that the institute has had a difficult time finding funding to accomplish that mission.
But on Wednesday the committee’s decision not to add another task to the institute’s agenda seemed rooted in concerns over the impact an annual list of harmful chemicals may have an the state’s job market.
Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, said that in researching the measure, he reached out to the Lego toy company, a major employer in his district, for their take on the bill. Lego had no problem with the ban of BPA in receipt paper but did have concerns about the annual list, he said.
“So at least one of my major employers will be very happy that this amendment [to remove language regarding the list] goes through. I think in this environment we need to be conscious of what the folks that are employing our constituents are concerned about,” he said.
Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, said now is not the time to be passing legislation that could negatively impact the job market.
“This is not a minor step to place something on a toxic list and I just think, under the current circumstances where we lost another 6,000 jobs last month and our rate is up, I’m just very concerned about our economy in the state of Connecticut,” he said.
Rep. Frank Nicastro, D-Bristol, said removing the list requirement would give the bill a better chance at becoming law. If the language were left in, he and other supporters stood a very good chance of losing the bill altogether, he said.