April 13th, 2018
Welcome to In the Loop!

From Paddi's Desk

"Don't count the days.... make the days count." - Muhammad Ali 

That's our theme going into the final weeks of the 2018 session. It's looking a lot like a power shutdown for many of the initiatives and legislative proposals facing the House and Senate. This week is historically crazy, filled with long days and packed committee referrals. Both the House and Senate surprised folks when they completed their business in record time, adjourning before 5 PM.
Rumors abound that until the final revenue numbers pop on April 21st, there's no need to come back to Hartford. Next week, we're guessing that Wednesday is going to be dedicated to approving the various nominations made by the Governor to fill vacant spots on several boards and commissions. The Governor's newest nomination for the Chief Justice spot hasn't yet come through the Judiciary Committee, but we anticipate that to take place maybe next week as well.  With 12 working days plus a weekend session, the CT General Assembly needs to clear more than 298 remaining bills on the Calendar - 99 have been approved by both the House and Senate, many of those being judicial nominations.
There's speculation that the current budget for 2018-2019 will be short at least $200 million.  With a dozen or more current legislators either running for higher office or deciding not to seek re-election, no one wants to challenge the "tax gods" and raise taxes.
So, what do they do?
Until State Comptroller Kevin Lembo announces his budget projections and they are verified with the Office of Policy and Management and the Office of Fiscal Analysis, not much is going to happen in Hartford. That's the biggest challenge for the 187 sitting legislators without a clear path to resolution. 
So let's not count the days - let's make those days count.

CT Agency Corner   

DEEP and the Legislature Make an Attempt to Amend Existing 90-Day Permit Law 

by Mike Johnson

A recent law that pitted the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection agency and permit applicants against each other might be headed towards a resolution this session.  
This session, the Environment Committee is pursuing a bill that seeks to amend a law passed last session requiring them to make final determinations for permits within a 90-day timeframe. The language compromise created by the committee would add the words "make best efforts to" in front of the 90-day requirement and also add an additional caveat that states that the application must be complete in order to move forward. As part of the compromise, DEEP would be required to establish a pilot program allowing two licensed environmental professionals (LEP's) to expedite the issuance of permits. Despite this containing a cost, DEEP cites that they would look to the permit fees to help offset the expense of these consultants.
For years there have been disputes between DEEP and permit applicants on the length of time it's taken to process permits filed at DEEP, with some extreme cases citing multiple years before a permit has been approved. In a response to this problem, the legislature included a provision in the budget that instituted the 90-day language and went further by requiring an approval if the decision is not made within 90 days. After last session, DEEP and the legislature ultimately have worked on this alternative language as what's commonly called a "fix-it" bill.
The language was very popular in the Environment Committee and actually passed unanimously. The question now remains though if the bill can get through the legislative process and pass both the House and Senate before May 9th.

Did You Know?

This Week in History

Civil War Begins, 1861

The bloodiest four years in American history begin when Confederate shore batteries under General  P.G.T. Beauregard open fire on Union-held  Fort Sumter in South Carolina's Charleston Bay. During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President  Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern "insurrection."

As early as 1858, the ongoing conflict between North and South over the issue of slavery had led Southern leadership to discuss a unified separation from the United States. By 1860, the majority of the slave states were publicly threatening secession if the Republicans, the anti-slavery party, won the presidency. Following Republican Abraham Lincoln's victory over the divided Democratic Party in November 1860,  South Carolina immediately initiated secession proceedings. On December 20, the South Carolina legislature passed the "Ordinance of Secession," which declared that "the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved." After the declaration, South Carolina set about seizing forts, arsenals, and other strategic locations within the state. Within six weeks, five more Southern states- MississippiFloridaAlabamaGeorgia, and Louisiana-had followed South Carolina's lead.

In February 1861, delegates from those states convened to establish a unified government.  Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was subsequently elected the first president of the  Confederate States of America. When Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, a total of seven states ( Texas had joined the pack) had seceded from the Union, and federal troops held only Fort Sumter in South Carolina, Fort Pickens off the Florida coast, and a handful of minor outposts in the South. Four years after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the Confederacy was defeated at the total cost of 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead.
In This Issue:
The Real Scoop

In a time of extreme polarization, the national political scene has seemingly had more ups and downs in the past few years than it has in the past few decades.

With the democratic left struggling to find their message, the Trump presidency seemed to be an epic blow for their party. As time as gone on, it seems the Trump presidency invigorated and mobilized the left in a time where the Democratic party needed it most.

How will this wave play out in the upcoming fall elections? Will there be a shift in energy, or will the left continue to gain momentum? 

Read more on  here


by Ryan Bingham

In the municipal world, there doesn't have to be sweeping reform legislation, sometimes a win in the legislature can be as little as satellite dish nuisance bill.
That's the case this week with the Waterbury legislative delegation. The delegation pushed legislation out of the Housing Committee seeks to address that very issue. In Waterbury, and for many other urban communities in CT, there are some multi-family houses and apartment buildings with 12 satellite dishes affixed to the roof and sides of the building. This, according to Representative Reyes, is "blight, pollution, and affects the quality of life in the inner cities."  HB 5377 is a study to look at addressing that problem which suggests that there is no easy fix to sometimes small problems, but it's a step in the right direction according to those delegation members.  It passed the House with 83 voting in favor of the bill and 61 voting against it. Now, it heads to the Senate. Hey, a little win is still a win.
In a more sweeping tone, legislation that would look to protect municipal budget reserves also moved successfully to the Senate floor.  The CT Conference of Municipalities (CCM) has been pushing an ad campaign urging lawmakers to take up this piece of legislation, arguing that it would protect municipalities from expensive bond rating downgrades.  The bill would prohibit an arbitrator from considering municipalities' budget reserves when determining the ability to pay in labor contract disputes.  This would be qualified by the fact that it would be 15 percent of less of the municipalities' annual budget.  Those reserves are meant to be for emergencies such as natural disasters or mid-year revenue holdbacks, which the state has been more frequently using through the last several tough budget cycles.

Behind the Scenes

By Chelsea Neelon

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with with Representative Tom Delnicki of the 14th House District to hear more about his time as a legislator and some thoughts on the 2018 legislative session. 

What are your legislative priorities for the session?
- The crumbling foundations problem. It is a huge issue in my community and its directly affecting my constituents.

What legislation are you most proud of getting passed?
- The fact that we have legislation to start a program to address the problem of crumbling foundations in my community and the communities around mine is my most proud achievement, to be a part of that team that got that done.

What is your favorite memory as a legislator?
- Probably Opening Day, that is one of my fondest memories so far. And of course, getting a bill passed. This was regarding the casino bill in East Windsor. Someone told me it is actually very rare that a freshman legislator gets their name on a bill as a sponsor, not a co-sponsor and gets it passed.

What is your favorite late night session snack?
I try not to snack! It's probably coffee.

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