January 3, 2020
The latest from the folks across the street from the Capitol

From Paddi's Desk
by Paddi LeShane

2020. Election year. Clear vision. Election year. Leap Year. Did I say election year? New decade.

As we all gathered with family and friends this past week and cheered the thrills of victories and the agony of defeats for 2019, we then awoke to a new chapter. So many ideas popped into my head for this week's article! First and foremost, it's an election year!! Yup! What's at stake here? There is a Presidential race in case you've missed that, our five U.S. members of Congress are up for re-election, along with the entire CT legislature. Governor Lamont and other statewide officials enjoy a four-year term, so they are set for another two years. Both nationally and CT wide, a lot is at stake.

I think everyone has their opinions on the race for the Oval Office, but there's also the race to maintain (or take back) control in Congress. Everyone has their theories, but what sticks in my mind is that unless folks start to talk about their vision and what they can do to keep the economy running while keeping America strong and maintaining our values, we all might once again be shaking our heads the morning of Nov 4th asking, "What just happened?" There are too many Democratic candidates for my taste and too few Republican candidates out there to give folks a real choice. I get there's something to be said about choice, but how often do you go into a Chinese restaurant pick the same item? For me, it's pork lo mein, but for others it's General Tso's chicken or sweet and sour pork. It happens, and it could happen in 2020 if the pool of candidates on the Democratic side doesn't narrow and the pool of candidates on the Republican side doesn't expand. Say it ain't so, Joe.

It looks like CT will continue a tradition of sending Democrats to U.S. Congress to represent us. There are a few names surfacing as opponents, but it doesn't seem as if there's a red wave within the congressional races and the incumbents are real good on constituent issues. Some say there will be a robust challenge in the 5th district, as the newly elected Congresswomen Jahana Hayes faces re-election with a new voting track record. So watch out for the local rumblings in the next four months to see if anything gets traction, but so far there hasn't been much.

Over in the CT legislature, now that's another story. With the impending tolls fight being carried over from last session and now some controversy over a regional increase in the gas tax to give folks a
"motive" to drive less, it's going to be busy right off the bat. Of course, there is still the pressure on the budget with the continual costs of operating government rising well above the tax revenues. 2020 will have a short but action packed session. The issues that the legislature decide to take up will decide the temperature of CT's voters when it comes to who should be in charge of the state's economy and public policy.

What's at stake in the caucus leadership within the four caucuses? There's the ever-present rumors of retirements in the Senate. For the past two elections cycles, folks have mentioned both Senator Looney and Senator Fasano not seeking re-election, but it's way too early to make that official. In the House, Speaker Joe Aresimowicz definitely will not be seeking re-election and will leave an opportunity for another legislative to be elected as the next Speaker of the House. Majority Leader Matt Ritter looks like the hands down favorite, if the Democrats can maintain control of the House, to make history as all anticipate his election as Speaker will make him and his father, former Speaker Tom Ritter, the first and only father/son tag team in the House's highest power seat. That leaves the Majority Leader seat wide open if the Democrats can retain control of the House for a good old-fashioned "let the best man or woman win."

While many in the know will certainly not speculate on this until at least when the session ends and legislation is finalized, there a lot scurrying around to see who will end up in the next most powerful leadership role. Will it be Republican Minority Leader Themis Klarides? Will it be one of the numerous sitting legislators who have started to lobby their current colleagues for their support? It appears that with the split Democratic caucus this past year, we will see at least two members face off for the Majority Leader spot. Seems as though there will be one from the more moderate side of the Democratic caucus and one (or more) from the progressive side of the Democratic caucus. The success of key issues related to workforce/labor, taxes, environment and social issues this session might tilt the race for Majority Leader either way, depending on the outcome.

So that's the scoop on 2020 as the election year! Look out for vision next week (get it- haha) and I'll wrap up the lead up to the 2020 session with Leap Year though the following week!

Hope it's a year filled with promise and good will towards all!

CT Agency Corner
Legislation on the Horizon
by Michael Johnson

The New Year brings legislators out of their local winter festivities to go back to their LOB desks to start writing some legislation.
Here are some of the ideas that have already been rolled out by some lawmakers and state agencies that will be some of the bigger issues to address in 2020:
Legalizing Marijuana
Certainly a debate that's been regionally deafening has been the movement to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Connecticut has already taken up decriminalizing possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana and also legalized medical use of the drug, but lawmakers will now be evaluating a full expansion to allow anyone under the age of 21 to purchase and use it.

Sports Gaming in Connecticut
What's been described as a "regulatory rollercoaster ride" summarizes where CT stands in permitting residents to place bets online on sports games at the professional and collegiate level. Three years ago, the Supreme Court granted states the ability to pass laws regulating  gaming and collection of revenue from it. That being said, CT has failed to gain consensus from the state's tribal entities and other stakeholders on the best way to allow it to happen. There will be even larger anticipation as other states have begun to collect large amounts of revenue from permitting third parties to register with the state and pay a portion of their profits back to the state.
Banning the Sale of Flavored Vape Pens
The Department of Public Health has proposed a similar ban that has already been passed in New York which would prohibit any vape device manufacturer from selling a flavored vape pen in CT. This would be considered a significant step in regulating vape devices. However, states such as Massachusetts have instituted a moratorium on the sale of any vaping products and there will likely be legislators this session who will want to explore this moratorium.

Affordable Prescription Drug Regulation
Last session, legislators introduced a number of health care proposals which included a plan for CT to introduce a public option and another that would allow for prescription drugs from Canada to be imported into the state for sale. This, in addition to legislation regulating the price of vital drugs such as Epipens, are expected to also be introduced.

2020 Session
Committee JF Deadlines
In Order by Date of Deadline

A/B Committee JF Deadline
Aging 3/12/2020
B Children's 3/12/2020
B Housing 3/12/2020
B Veterans 3/12/2020
  Legis. Management 3/16/2020
B General Law 3/17/2020
B Higher Ed 3/17/2020
B Public Safety 3/17/2020
B Banking 3/19/2020
B Commerce 3/19/2020
B Insurance 3/19/2020
A Transportation 3/20/2020
A Education 3/23/2020
A Planning & Dev. 3/23/2020
B Energy 3/24/2020
B Labor 3/24/2020
A Environment 3/25/2020
Government Admin. &
B Human Services 3/26/2020
A Public Health 3/27/2020
A Judiciary 3/30/2020
A Finance 4/2/2020
A Appropriations 4/3/2020

In This Issue:

by Ryan Bingham

In New Haven, Mayor Justin Elicker took the oath of office Wednesday to become New Haven's 51st mayor. The new mayor's inaugural speech promised an era of change. Mayor Elicker promoted a few key items in his mayoral campaign: generational change and governmental change. He promised new faces, new approaches to old problems and a new emphasis on tighter controls over spending. Along those lines, Elicker has scheduled an informal City Hall "Open House" instead of a formal mayoral ball. He has also done away with paying police officers to drive him to events.
Mayor Elicker also pointed out that right now, New Haven is seeing change in terms of population growth with 3,000 new residents over the past few years and 1,000 new housing units built since 2014, as well as another 4,000 in the pipeline. "We must lean into this wave and create an environment that encourages growth ... that benefits every single person in this community," Mayor Elicker said during his inaugural speech.
Also, we'd like to give a plug for a wonderful Op-Ed written by Jonathan L. Wharton, who is an associate professor of Political Science and Urban Affairs at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. He wrote an opinion highlighting the need for residents to take more time to attend public meetings. The concentration area, in his opinion, was in the New Haven region, but the message resonates well for the entire state. He suggests, maybe even as a New Year's resolution, to "Do what democracy requires you to do. Attend public meetings at your city or town hall. Half of anything in life is showing up, even if your party or local news media are not centering their attention on what is going on in your town. Involve others to attend at least one meeting a month." As someone who has been a public official, I can say firsthand that it is critical to good governance that the public is involved and part of being involved is being present. The full Op-Ed can be found here.

Legislative Scoop
by Chelsea Neelon

New year, new laws! With the start of a new decade, there are more than two dozen laws that will go into effect at the start of the New Year. Below are some of the highlights to be aware of as we go into 2020:
Sales Tax Expanded
The 6.35% sales tax will be expanded to new goods and services, including parking, dry cleaning and laundry, interior design and safety apparel. Included as part of the two-year budget adopted by Gov. Ned Lamont and lawmakers in June, the new taxes are estimated to bring in $25 million the first full year they are collected.
Business Entity Tax Eliminated
The $250 business entity tax, collected every two years from all companies that do business in Connecticut, will be eliminated.
Fewer Trips to the DMV
Wahoo! Connecticut drivers will be able to make fewer trips to the DMV with an extension of the time between renewals for driver's licenses and motor vehicle registrations. The six years between license renewals will expand to eight, and the two years between registration renewals will expand to three. The accompanying fees will increase proportionately.
Expanded Coverage for Breast Ultrasounds
Health insurance policies will be required to expand coverage for breast ultrasound screenings to include all women who are 40 and older, regardless of whether they have a family or personal history of breast cancer. Out-of-pocket expenses for covered breast ultrasounds and mammograms are also prohibited, with certain exceptions.
For more information on legislation that went into effect Jan 1st, 2020, read more here.

Upcoming Events

Rep. Joe Gresko Re-Election Fundraiser
Tuesday, January 14
Two Roads Brewery
Stratford, CT

Majority Leader Matt Ritter Re-Election Fundraiser
Wednesday, January 22
Home of SOTS Denise Merrill, 135 Elizabeth St, Hartford

Rep. Chris Rosario 2020 Campaign Kickoff
Thursday, January 23
Omanel Portuguese Restaurant
Bridgeport, CT