CTNJ file photo
State Capitol (CTNJ file photo)

This week several legislative committees will reach their deadlines to forward legislation to another committee or to the floor of the House or Senate.

In total, there are eight legislative committees with deadlines this week with several important pieces of legislation pending. Deadlines for the two budget writing committees, and the Judiciary Committee, are the first week in April.

The Commerce, Education, Energy and Technology Committee, Government Administration and Elections, Human Services, Planning and Development, and Public Health Committees all have deadlines this week.

Some of the legislation pending includes bills regarding the recommendations made by a task force that was asked to weigh the public’s right to know with victim privacy, and the Education Committee will decide whether to forward controversial legislation to delay implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

The Public Health Committee also has to decide what to do with a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with a lethal dose of medication and another bill that would put a number of restrictions on nonprofit hospitals seeking to become for-profits.

Meanwhile, the Environment Committee finished up its work Friday, March 21. One of the bills that didn’t make it out of the committee would have imposed a nickel deposit on juices, teas, and sports drinks.

The Energy and Technology Committee also finished its work two weeks ahead of schedule, approving a bill that would allow electricity regulators to study how information is conveyed to customers who have complained about the lack of transparency regarding their rates.

The Public Safety Committee finished up its work last week, turning a deaf ear to a bill that would have called for the regulation of decibel levels in movie theaters.

Bills that would suspend the consolidation of state police dispatch centers and give towns a better idea of how much funding they will need to contribute to their resident state trooper programs were forwarded by the committee last week to the Senate.

Dora Schriro, the new Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner, will hold a press conference today at 11 a.m. to discuss the future of the state police.

The Public Safety Committee also forwarded a bill that would repeal the game of keno from the state budget. There are three bills this year that would repeal the game.

A bill that would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017 and another that would create a public retirement account passed the Labor and Public Employees Committee. Legislation that seeks to find a way to allow the state to pay down some of the money businesses owe to the unemployment compensation fund also was approved by the committee.

The committee raised the bill after House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero used a parliamentary procedure to get around Democratic opposition. The bill would eliminate the additional monies businesses have been paying since the fund went bankrupt, and the state had to borrow nearly $1 billion from the federal government to shore up the unemployment insurance fund. The bill passed the committee 7-3 with bipartisan support.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration is looking at how it can pay down principal, rather than just interest, on the 2009 loan without penalties. Until now, the unemployment program has been funded entirely by taxes on businesses, but the amount businesses have to pay is expected to continue to rise as a result of the nearly $1 billion borrowed in 2009. Right now, the state owes about $595 million.

Statewide, businesses paid an additional $30 million in unemployment taxes in 2012, an additional $60 million in 2013, and they’ll pay an additional $90 million this year. The amount will continue going up until 2016 when it’s scheduled to be paid off.