March 9th, 2018
Welcome to In the Loop!

From Paddi's Desk

This week can be summed up as STORMY - both inside and outside the Capitol.

We all face storms in life. Some are more difficult than others, but we all go through trials and tribulation. That's why we have ... a lobbyist! - Rev. Billy Graham

Okay, so I took a little liberty on that one, but it could not be truer of this week under the dome. From the weekend's weather causing thousands to be without power on Sunday to the blockbuster storm that hit Connecticut Wednesday and Thursday, it was a total juggling act at the Legislative Office Building (LOB).

The week already was packed with the trifecta - committee meetings, public hearings and both Chambers needing to deal with items on their calendars with drop-dead deadlines that had to be met. It was the perfectly choreographed dance, and then it started to fall apart.

The schedule began to unravel with missing members from Fairfield County who got hit the worst over the weekend, along with committee chairs who were being pulled away with school vacations. By the time the next storm - a real nor'easter - was headed to Connecticut, Senate and House sessions were being moved, therefore committee public hearings had to adjourn or recess to accommodate the legislature's joint rules. Everyone in the building were chasing down clients, committee members and legislative leaders to figure out who was on first, what was on second and where did third go!

To top it all off, there were several large rallies and legislative "Capitol Days" on the calendar, all having to be juggled and accommodated.

By Tuesday, legal staffers and legislative aides were trying to accommodate the several hundreds of folks wanting to testify in public hearings that were scheduled at the same time the Senate session was going to be held. Expectations were being managed by telling those testifying that the hearing would recess and reconvene when the Senate session was concluded. A comforting option was given to those lobbyists who had clients in the building or members of the public who knew the culture of the Senate - convene, go to caucus, then hours later return to the Chamber and start its business. While Senate leaders were assuring committee chairs that this day would be different, it was finally resolved that with all caucuses and legal advisers on the same page, the hearings would continue minus the Senate members. For those at the LOB, this was a great solution.

On Wednesday, the juggling continued when legislative leaders decided to close the LOB, and committee clerks were left juggling committee meetings and hearings once again. Everyone was hustling to beat the traffic out of Hartford ahead of the storm. Thursday started slowly as folks, some without power, returned to the business at hand while adjusting to a very last minute and frantic cancellation of the House session.
Today seems to be running a bit more regularly, with JF committee meetings on time and the House finally in session to meet its deadlines. Phew!


Storms make the oak grow deeper roots - George Herbert

While all the weather was creating havoc inside the Capitol with schedules and deadlines, the pending approval of Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald as the court's top judge began to get interesting.

Several longtime colleagues of Justice McDonald created a PAC and started robo-calls to Senate and House members' constituents. By week's end, this newly formed PAC had produced and started to use TV advertising to condemn those who would not support the Governor's nomination. Governor Malloy continued to push for his nomination by striking out at those who would condemn Justice McDonald because of his personal lifestyle or his connections to the Governor. Today, the Governor informed all that he would not "pull" his recommendation and would continue to put pressure on the Senate to approve it.  

Unlike the outside storm, this inside storm is not over, and no one knows when or if it will end with a power outage.

CT Agency Corner   

Malloy Walks a Careful Line Discussing Gradual $15 an Hour Minimum Wage 

by Mike Johnson

This week, Governor Malloy endorsed proposals to raise the minimum wage higher that it's current $10.10 rate. He did not, however, come out and completely support a proposal filed that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021.
The proposal is being led by the state labor groups as a way to help raise income levels and the proposal has strong support from various Democratic legislators that are pushing an ambitious worker agenda for 2018. Their main talking point has been that the state has not passed an increase in four years and states such as Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island are now surpassing Connecticut in their minimum wages which are $10.40, $11 and $10.50 respectively.
With Democrats looking for "wedge issues" to create gaps between them and Republicans on certain topics, there are a lot of people wondering if Connecticut will take the aggressive step of creating a path to a $15 an hour minimum wage. The proposal for a gradual raise that high has a lot of opposition from the retail and small business communities and there will likely be moderate Democrats who believe a jump that high is too much. That being said, all politics is local and this could become an issue that candidates for office need to pay close attention to how their constituents feel about the bill.
Did You Know?

This Week in History

Alexander Graham Bell Patents the Telephone, 1876

On this day in 1876, 29-year-old  Alexander Graham Bell receives a patent for his revolutionary new invention-the telephone.

The Scottish-born Bell worked in London with his father, Melville Bell, who developed Visible Speech, a written system used to teach speaking to the deaf. In the 1870s, the Bells moved to Boston,  Massachusetts, where the younger Bell found work as a teacher at the Pemberton Avenue School for the Deaf. He later married one of his students, Mabel Hubbard.

While in Boston, Bell became very interested in the possibility of transmitting speech over wires. Samuel F.B. Morse's invention of the telegraph in 1843 had made nearly instantaneous communication possible between two distant points. The drawback of the telegraph, however, was that it still required hand-delivery of messages between telegraph stations and recipients, and only one message could be transmitted at a time. Bell wanted to improve on this by creating a "harmonic telegraph," a device that combined aspects of the telegraph and record player to allow individuals to speak to each other from a distance.

With the help of Thomas A. Watson, a Boston machine shop employee, Bell developed a prototype. In this first telephone, sound waves caused an electric current to vary in intensity and frequency, causing a thin, soft iron plate-called the diaphragm-to vibrate. These vibrations were transferred magnetically to another wire connected to a diaphragm in another, distant instrument. When that diaphragm vibrated, the original sound would be replicated in the ear of the receiving instrument. Three days after filing the patent, the telephone carried its first intelligible message-the famous "Mr. Watson, come here, I need you"-from Bell to his assistant.

In This Issue:
The Real Scoop

Yet twist and turn has trickled it's way down from the federal level, that being President Trump's proposal to impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. 

How would this increase affect our states domestically, specifically Connecticut? The Brookings Institute takes a deeper dive to analyze the possible domestic impact. 

Read more here:  here.


by Ryan Bingham

There was a lot of rumbling in New Haven this week as Mayor Harp started a discussion about a lawsuit against the state for perennially underfunding or eliminating the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) line item. 
The PILOT program was created to fund municipalities that had colleges, hospitals and other publicly beneficial organizations that are tax exempt due to their federal non-profit status.  These organizations are not required to pay local property taxes. 
This discussion is not new. As recently as last year, Mayor Luke Bronin of Hartford traveled  around greater Hartford to talk to his neighboring communities about the lack of taxable properties in his city, which includes the state Capitol and several state office buildings.  There have also been several proposals in the legislature to allow communities to levy a property tax or local fees on non-profit buildings, but to no avail.  This week Mayor Harp renewed the call to action, to which many people thought she was trying to tax Yale, which sits on a $27 billion endowment.  Mayor Harp vehemently denied the accusation, saying "We're not going to sue Yale," and that "Yale is not the culprit here, the culprit is the state," which she believes is not living up to their end of the bargain under the PILOT funding formula.

Behind the Scenes

By Chelsea Neelon

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with with Representative  Melissa Ziobron of the 34th House District to hear more about his time as a legislator and some thoughts on the 2018 legislative session. 

What are some of your legislative priorities for the session?
The state budget, the state budget, the state budget, the state budget. Is that pretty clear? 

What legislation are you most proud of getting passed?
- Over the past couple of years, there have been a few pieces of legislation, starting with the Passport to the Parks program. We have to keep an eye on it. We have presented policy and asked a Governor who does not support the policy to implement it, which is problematic, so we need to make sure it is indeed being implemented with the legislative intent that was behind it when we created it.

- Another one that I'm proud of was a bill for cottage foods to allow regulations to be drafted. Regulations were drafted, I almost think purposely, not abiding by the spirit of the law so they were rejected by the Regulations Review committee. So, here we are four years later without an ability for our folks who choose to create a cupcake business or a jelly business, something where there is no hazardous involved. They are twiddling their thumbs because they cannot enter the workforce, possibly creating their own business as an entrepreneur because we still don't have regulations. It is an example of how the bureaucracy of the building drags things down, even though it was passed into law.

What is your favorite memory as a legislator?
- Obviously, I would have to say it was when I brought out the Republican budget for the first time in history. It was 20 minutes of craziness because we had started with the concept that we were going to be presenting the Republican budget in opposition to the majority, and instead I found myself in a position where I was bringing out the budget on the floor of the chamber then to be questioned by the majority in the chamber. I think that was a historic day for the state and for me, personally.

What is your favorite late night session snack?
- You know, Vinny Candelora is known to constantly pass me Reese's Peanut Butter cups.

Upcoming Events:

No upcoming events!

Check back for updates soon!