Lawmakers in the House gave bipartisan approval to a bill that begins sunsetting a law that is holding up the redevelopment of environmentally contaminated property in Connecticut.
The bill, which passed 143-0 Wednesday, still requires approval by the state Senate and Gov. Ned Lamont.
An unusual coalition of environmentalists and economic development officials have long sought changes to the Connecticut Property Transfer Act, which ties the clean-up of environmentally contaminated properties to the sale or transfer of those properties. The bill looks to replace that process with a “release-based” system requiring chemical spills to be cleaned up as they happen.
“It is a pro-economic growth, pro-environmental protection bill that makes changes to the Transfer Act that will help spur economic development and growth in our cities while at the same time protecting human health and protecting our environment by allowing more properties to get cleaned,” Rep. Caroline Simmons, D-Stamford, said as she introduced the bill.
The act impacts some 4,200 industrial sites in the state, of which only about a quarter have been cleaned up. A Connecticut Economic Resource Center study concluded that transactions held up by the Transfer Act would have generated $178 million in local tax revenue in 2019. Simmons said executing those transactions could potentially create 7,000 jobs.
“Especially right now, when we’re facing such a difficult economic downturn due to the unfortunate economic consequences of COVID-19, we need to pass this bill more than even. Over half a million people have lost their job. Our cities and our towns are facing severe budget constraints,” Simmons said.
Rep. Stephanie Cummings, R-Waterbury, said the current law prohibits many out-of-state businesses from purchasing sites in Connecticut.
“This bill really seeks to strike a balance between removal of red tape that is plaguing all of our small businesses and making sure that we are protecting the environment,” she said.
The bill establishes a working group, which will work with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to draft the regulations on the new “release-based” system.