February 19th, 2021
In This Issue:
From Paddi's Desk
CT Agency Corner
Municipal Roundup
From Inside The Golden Dome
Behind the Scenes
This Day in CT History
Border wars. It’s on!

Remember last year when Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo teamed up to form a “coalition” so our two states could battle the pandemic? Both men argued that rather than spending time one upping each other on prevention strategies that they should work together to resolve issues that come from one state doing “X” while the other is doing “Y” and watch the impact of folks crossing the border for entertainment, sports and other recreational outings. It seemed to work at first and made everyone in the northeast feel like we were all in this together.

Well, fast forward to now...

That strategy worked for that moment in time but as reality settled in that the pandemic would be a long term concern for all states—it all seemed to feel more local and there was statewide pressure to react to it all individually, rather than within a coalition. By mid-summer each state began to make decisions based on their positivity rates and with Connecticut being the size of a midsized city and New York having a ton more complications, Governor Lamont seemed to forge his own way in order to keep our state safe and the economy slugging through the dog days of August. At times he would join with the governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and other states to massage and update COVID protocols. Other times he stuck to his guns and led Connecticut the best way he could—by being transparent, direct and honest through his daily media briefings and updates.

Then the border crossing started. Real estate in Fairfield and Litchfield Counties exploded. Anyone who wanted to sell ended up with a bidding war for their home. Agents were scouring new listings while hundreds of New York license plates started to appear in Westport, Fairfield, Danbury, Roxbury and my favorite spot—Goshen! All these New York transplants provided us new neighbors, but also a whole bunch of new issues.

Several months ago many were speculating about the status of the relationship between Governors Lamont and Cuomo. Also being mentioned was the ongoing pushing and pulling of how to deal with remote workers living here in Connecticut but working for NYC companies who were previously taxed by NYC. With NYC employees thinking they could live anywhere and still retain their jobs, the issue of who gets their income taxes started to cause some friction between the two states.

It surfaced this past week when the Governor’s newly appointed Revenue Services Commissioner Mark Boughton and the legislature dipped their toes into the moving waters by proposing a buffer for the growing number of Connecticut residents who worked remotely for out-of-state employers so they weren’t double taxed, all while a little known court case finds its way through federal court. It seems as if the issue isn’t so new or so easy.

According to a recent Hartford Business Journal report, it’s been out there for a while now and centers on the convenience rule of taxation. Historically there was a gentleman’s agreement (and Connecticut law to back it up) that said if you live in Connecticut but work out-of-state you pay the income taxes to the state where you work and then claim a credit on your Connecticut tax return. Things seemed to be working out fine until remote work took over “telecommuting” and in-office work. There is a new Connecticut law passed in 2019 in reaction to the increased amount of telecommuting happening across the state that said if your company was a Connecticut company, regardless of where you worked, you owed Connecticut taxes. It’s not just CT and NY who are struggling with this issue, Massachusetts and New Hampshire are also in a tussle over who pays what taxes, where and when. Connecticut has taken the side of New Hampshire, while New York has sided with Mass. Interesting, huh?

The fiscal impact to Connecticut is gigantic. As the HBJ reported, it’s up to $400 million for Connecticut folks telecommuting from CT to NY and another $60 million for Connecticut residents telecommuting from Massachusetts, with a net loss of about $200 million to the Connecticut budget.
So as a new coalition of the Democratic and GOP leaders, Finance Committee co-chairs, the DRS Commissioner and Governor Lamont look to help residents get some short term relief from double taxation (hey, wasn’t a war fought over that?), all eyes are on the federal courts to see how they will resolve this latest interstate fighting.

Seems as if the legislature has it right and our new neighbors should see this as a “welcome wagon.” Just another pandemic-related change we will all have to adjust to going forward. 
How COVID-19 is Modernizing the DMV

Is your license going to expire soon? There’s good news in your future especially in COVID-land.
Governor Lamont and the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced a new initiative that will enable residents to renew their driver’s licenses and non-driver ID cards online without having to visit an office in-person! The announcement is part of Governor Lamont’s broader initiative to modernize state government and add more convenience for residents by making services available online.

The DMV’s new online renewal option has already been offered to residents whose driver’s license or non-driver ID expired within the last 45 days. As part of the soft-launch of the new service during the last two months, more than 20,000 individuals have already successfully renewed online.

So how does it work? 

Residents eligible for the service (determined as part of a screening process by DMV) will receive an invitation by postal mail or email to complete their transaction online and make an electronic payment via credit or debit card. Upon successful completion of the online renewal, the license or non-driver ID will be received by mail within 20 days.

Important to note that the REAL-ID verification process will not be included in this process since that requires verification with your passport and a social security card. That said, keep in mind your local AAA does enable you to process a REAL-ID verification relatively quickly and any domestic airline travel will require a REAL-ID license in order to board a flight!

Want to see how to start the process? Click here for more information.
How Will the Budget Affect Municipalities?

As organizations, legislators and now towns and cities review the Governor’s proposed budget and its potential impact on them we’ll start hearing more about the potential opponents and supporters of the biennium budget currently under review by the legislature. The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) released their first comments this week which were generally supportive. In their statement, CCM “commends the Governor for protecting municipal aid and dedicating federal relief dollars to education and to some of our hardest-hit communities, as Connecticut continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic as well as significant long-term fiscal challenges.” They added their concerns in that they are “concerned about the Governor’s proposal to delay both the Municipal Revenue Sharing Account grants and the scheduled increase in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funds,” which have been supplanted with federal dollars. This potentially creates a hole in the budget that in years the next legislature and potentially the next administration will have to tackle when those one time federal dollars are no longer there to access.
A Virtual 24 Hour Public Hearing
The major event occurring virtually "from" the Legislative Office Building (LOB) this week was the 24 hour public hearing in the Public Health Committee. The Committee heard two bills related to eliminating religious and nonmedical exemptions from vaccine requirements. This issue has been debated for the past few years and typically brings out large crowds to testify, filling the halls and seating areas of the LOB. This year given that all legislative business is being done virtually, many were interested to see how a public hearing on such a big topic would run.

The Committee staff registered close to 2,000 members of the public to testify, and almost that many submitted written testimony that was posted on the committee's website. However, given the 24 hour time limit that was imposed, only 236 of those testifiers were actually able to speak before the time was up. This frustrated many members of the public because the speaking order was determined by a random lottery and only those towards the top of the list were able to present their testimony live. Both CT-N and YouTube Live streamed the hearing so that it was accessible to all from 9 am Tuesday through 9 am Wednesday.

Committee leadership was able to virtually pass the role of conducting the hearing back and forth so that members could take short breaks, and several members of the committee were present for the majority of the hearing and actively engaging with the speakers. Most speakers were able to successfully unmute and turn their video camera on when it was their turn, and a few had trouble and had to be passed temporarily and come back to once they were able to sort out the issue.

The technical infrastructure of the virtual session was certainly tested during this hearing, and all in all fared well.
Freshmen Legislator Profile: Eleni Kavros DeGraw (D-Avon)

Eleni Kavros DeGraw was one of the first freshmen legislators our team met with following last November's election. After a close but unsuccessful race in 2018, Avon and Canton residents elected Eleni in 2020 to represent them at the State Capitol. She is one of a few Freshmen Democrats who've been assigned Vice Chair roles on committees. Here is a little bit more about Rep. Kavros DeGraw in her own words:

I am excited to serve on behalf of the Avon and Canton communities. Prior to my role as a state representative, I served as an active board member for Hands on Hartford for six years, led initiatives and built teams to raise funds and secure resources for schools, food banks, and child advocacy groups, and currently am the Giving Team Coordinator for Foodshare. As the co-founder of two local grassroots organizations in the Farmington Valley, ForwardCT and 100 Women Who Can – Farmington Valley, I am very passionate about educating and inspiring residents to support critical causes including equity, poverty, healthcare, refugees, education, and the environment.
I have been a resident of the Farmington Valley for more than 20 years, with my three children and husband who is the founder and CEO of a service-disabled veteran-owned small business. This year I am serving as the Vice-chair of the Finance Committee, and as a member on the Energy and Technology, and Public Health Committees.
Fun Background Info: 
  • My Father, Grandfather and husband have all served for the U.S. Navy.
  • I was born in Honolulu, however this was not because my dad was in the Navy. This was the same hospital that Barack Obama was born in.
  • Some of my favorite movies include The Princess Bride, Dave, and The Birdcage.

-Rep. Kavros DeGraw
February 19th, 1863. Roger Sherman Baldwin: Governor, Senator, But Most of All, Abolitionist.

Today in 1863, in the midst of a bloody Civil War that pitted Americans against each other over questions of slavery and freedom, scores of Connecticans mourned the passing of Roger Sherman Baldwin. One of Connecticut’s most accomplished politicians and perhaps its most ardent abolitionist lawyer, Baldwin had lived just long enough to witness the Emancipation Proclamation, ending the Southern slavery that he had fought so hard against for so long, go into effect – only one month before he died.

Baldwin was born in 1793 to a well-to-do Connecticut family, the grandson and namesake of Connecticut’s greatest Revolutionary-era statesman, Roger Sherman. After graduating from Yale with high honors in 1811, he attended the Litchfield Law School, and entered the legal profession in 1814, setting up his own practice in New Haven. Admired for both his legal mind and oratorical skills, Baldwin succeeded at both law and politics.

Committed deeply to the abolition of slavery, Baldwin worked early in his career to defend and secure the freedom of an escaped slave. In 1831, he joined another abolitionist, Simeon Jocelyn, in facing an angry mob on the New Haven green who were opposed to the creation of an African American college there.

Here is a link to the full article - Provided by CT Humanities Council.
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