At the start of every legislative session, members submit a blizzard of new bills for consideration. Many of them are either merged into other bills or blessedly forgotten, but they’re all still worth looking at to see what’s on lawmakers’ minds. This year, it’s all about taxes and the economy.
Many of the new bills for this short session are about taxes, which isn’t surprising given GE’s move out of state and the grumpy mood of the electorate lately. For example, Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, is sponsoring one of many bills that would repeal the business entity tax. This is a fairly minor fee that businesses have to cough up every time they file with the state, so it’s essentially a tax they have to pay just for existing. Business owners hate this thing, and have been trying unsuccessfully to get rid of it for years. Repealing what has to be a relatively small income stream would help mend fences with the business community in this state, but I doubt it’ll happen this year.
Quite a few bills want to scrap taxes on hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, such as HB 5060, which is being proposed by Rep. Ben McGorty, R-Shelton. This would make life easier for hospitals, especially as state money to hospitals begins to dry up. Of course, a lot of the larger hospitals are ridiculously profitable, so they may be hurting less than they say.
Rep. Rob Samson, R-Wolcott, is proposing a bill titled “An Act Eliminating State Taxes That Cost More to Administer Than Is Gained in Revenue,” which turns out to be exactly what it says on the label. This seems like an obvious thing to do, though I’m sure there’s some sort of hideous catch because nothing is ever that simple.
Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich, among others, wants to repeal the estate tax. Somehow there’s not a lot of pressure from towns like Hartford or New Haven for that sort of thing, it’s always from somewhere in lower Fairfield County. Can’t imagine why.
Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, actually wants to put a tax on sugary drinks, like one that was unsuccessfully proposed in New York a few years ago. I will go to Massachusetts for my slightly cheaper Dr. Pepper if I need to, just so you know.
Lastly, Rep. Stephen Harding, R-Brookfield, wants to give businesses that hire unemployed or self-employed people a proposing a bill that would establish an annual bond cap. This would definitely make our debt a lot more manageable, but the flipside is that we’d never be able to afford a lot of the much-needed infrastructure upgrades we’re planning. It would also be much more difficult to build, say, a railroad museum in Thomaston, which is something Rep. John Piscopo, R-Thomaston, wants, or a black box theater in Stratford, which Reps. Laura Hoydick, R-Stratford, and McGorty would like. Be careful what you ask for.
State employees also are in the Republicans’ sights, quite a number of them are privatize the DMV, which seems like the only way to make a dysfunctional agency worse. Rep. Kathleeen McCarty, R-Waterford, wants the Department of Children and Families to reimburse towns hosting nonresident children, which strikes me as a way for towns to weasel out of hosting DCF facilities. And Rep. Ziobron, who clearly likes getting bills in early, wants to do away with legislators’ “franking” privileges — which is what allows your representative to send you mailers about what they’ve been up to that look suspiciously like ads. I’m for it.
There are a few bills that might breathe on the embers of the culture wars, like a proposal by Rep. Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven, to, well, legalize it. Despite the world not ending in the few states that have made legal marijuana available, I doubt that’s going anywhere.
But by far my favorite bill I’ve seen so far is one raised by the Planning and Development Committee that would let people opt out of unsolicited newspaper delivery. Fingers crossed!
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
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