HARTFORD, CT – The 2020 legislative session started Wednesday with the filing of Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget adjustments and 48 pieces of legislation from the governor and various legislators.
Since this is a budget adjustment year, most of the legislation is raised by committees that are just beginning to meet to raise concepts. The legislation is also supposed to be restricted to changes in the budget, but lawmakers are looking to have policy discussions about dozens of issues.
Citizens Election Program
One of the governor’s proposals that didn’t receive any attention on Wednesday would guarantee the Citizens Election Program could be used to cover childcare expenses.
Last April, the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) ruled that privately raised campaign funds may generally be spent to pay for childcare costs, but candidates participating in the landmark Citizens Election Program can not spend any money on childcare once they qualify for the clean election grant.
Lamont, who didn’t participate in the CEP, wants to change what a permissible expenditure is for clean election candidates.
Fairfield resident Caitlin Clarkson Pereira sued the SEEC in the fall. Pereira’s lawsuit has been slowing winding its way through the court system after several delays.
“Had SEEC ruled in our favor, they would have been following precedent set by the Federal Election Commission and ten other states,” Pereira has said. “We are now in the 2020 election cycle and every day that goes by without a ruling means that Connecticut could potentially be losing qualified and energetic candidates to run for office – both women and men – because they are unsure if they will be able to run a race without the personal financial burden of childcare for their children.”
On Wednesday Pereira thanked Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz for the legislation, and said it “acknowledges how important it is to have diverse candidates run for office – especially women.”
Senate Democratic leadership has made lowering the cost of insulin it’s number one priority. SB 1 is entitled “An Act Concerning the Manufacturing and Distribution of Insulin.”
The bill seeks to allow the Commissioner of Consumer Protection to consult with the Commissioners of Social Services and Insurance to impose a fee “on the manufacture and distribution of insulin.”
AARP said it’s “underwhelmed” by the lack of detail in the proposal.
As the legislation makes its way through the legislature it’s expected to cap the cost of insulin at $100 per month by limiting the amount insurance companies can bill. At least five other states are considering similar proposals this year.
The governor’s budget also includes $97,000 for the Department of Consumer Protection to help implement a program for reimporting Canadian prescription drugs. The program will require the state to apply to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture by July 1, 2021, outlining policies and procedures for testing.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The governor’s budget also calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero from electricity generation by 2040, and he wants the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to investigate California’s medium- and heavy-duty vehicle emissions standards to see if Connecticut should adopt them.
He also wants to figure out what should happen with the 3.5 million tons of municipal solid waste the state creates every year. At the moment most of that is incinerated at five waste-to-energy plants that were built in the 1980s. However, the last publicly owned facility managed by the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (MIRA) in Hartford needs a significant capital investment.
Still, a group of environmentalists gathered at the state Capitol Wednesday to say Lamont’s proposal doesn’t go far enough. The group expressed opposition to a natural gas plant in Killingly that has been approved, but has yet to be built.
Instead, environmentalists want the state to expand residential and commercial energy efficiency, retrofit all government buildings to lower energy waste, and support expanded access to renewable energy.
Lamont also touted the state’s investment in off-shore wind turbines Wednesday during his speech.