September 25, 2020
In This Issue:
From Paddi's Desk
CT Agency Corner
Municipal Roundup
YIKES! The weeks are flying by so fast! 

With Election Day just a little over five weeks away, the Legislature is back at tweaking the rules for how to vote by absentee ballots, in anticipation of an extraordinary voter turnout in CT. As the announcement of the Special Session is supposedly being made sometime today, new proposals are in the works to fine-tune the back office process of ensuring everyone who is eligible and wants to vote can, and also to ensure that an ACCURATE and TIMELY announcement of the results happens.

While a lot of the attention is on the national election in Connecticut, it’s also a challenging time. Candidates going door-to-door are finding that CT voters are really engaged in the details of what’s happening. From new police accountability standards to the state of the state budget. From asking why students are back in the classroom but state employees are still working from home (for the most part) to the impact of the national ticket on the “down-ballot races.”

It’s interesting to listen to the state media coverage of this election and see all the attention at the national level and none of it on the state’s legislative races. I’d think that given the focus on local these days, there would be more coverage on which races are up for grabs, which races are on the bubble and which ones seem to be under control. With the retirement of three of the six caucus leaders, there’s a lot at stake in CT, and it’s kind of getting lost in the clutter of what’s going on with voter fraud, the national debates and which “toss up states” will go in which direction. With CT squarely in the Biden camp, I still think that, historically, CT votes local.

Several folks have mentioned the 5th Congressional race as one to watch. Lots of talk about Congresswoman Hayes being too much of a “DC congresswoman” instead of a “local-in-the-community congresswoman.” Her opponent David Sullivan (no relation) is somewhat unknown, but he’s focusing on being out there in the community while Congresswoman Hayes is self-quarantining due to a positive test for COVID-19. (We wish her and her family well as they get through the rest of the quarantine). I’ve got to believe she’s got the advantage of the top of the ticket and, as I mentioned, there are five weeks to go. But then again, with absentee ballots being extremely popular, NOW is the time to be out there and carrying the flag.

While some see the challenger in the 3rd Congressional District giving Congresswoman DeLauro a run for her money, common sense says that’s an uphill battle. Challenger Margaret Streicker is a very strong candidate in some ways, but there’s soooo much history in the 3rd, as well as a huge advantage of Democratic voters, that it’s more than likely going to remain Rosa’s seat after Nov 3rd. Interesting— if that’s the outcome, Congresswoman DeLauro is in line for a HUGE role as a chair of the budget-writing committee, if you believe the rumors.

Other than those two races, there’s not much chatter on the 1st, 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts. Looks like Congressmen Larson, Courtney and Himes have more than enough time to help the rest of the Democratic ticket for the next five weeks.

So back to the state races. Right now the CT Senate is at 22 Democrats and 14 Republicans. There’s some talk that some of the first-time senators are in a HOT race, and the outcomes aren’t clear at this time. We are also hearing that some long-term legislators are facing the music caused by the police accountability vote, as well as a gun safety bill from past sessions. The state budget, and the legislature’s decision to let the Governor ride shotgun over the current public health care emergency, are also bothering local voters.

Looking at the CT House of Representatives—with 151 folks up for re-election and lots of open seats—there’s more talk about what happens if the Democrats pick up TOO many seats, based on the national election results and how they impact the leadership decisions and committee chair selections. Now the House is split 91-60, and the Dem caucus is split almost down the line between the NEW Democrats and the moderate Democrats; this has been a challenge for the past two years. SO. If many of the seats are captured, but the current breed of Democratic candidates are extremely progressive and vocal, the impact might not be so much “D versus R” but “D versus D.” And that’s going to be a challenge when the CT legislature begins a full five-month session under a remote or virtual system.

Holy moly—2021 is defiantly not going to be your normal session. Hang tight and as the weeks get closer to Nov 3, we’ll see how this is all going to play out. Over and out.  
Businesses and Employees Get Additional Relief From the State for Hour Reduction Scenarios

This week it was announced that a new program to provide back-end relief for businesses during the pandemic would be launched by the State Department of Labor.

Here's a quick Q&A drafted to understand how both businesses and employees can benefit from the program:

What does the program do?

Normally, if a business needs to reduce employee hours, that reduction would be applied and the employee would not have any additional relief to help offset the reduction. Under this program, the employer temporarily agrees to cutting hours and their employees keep their jobs at a reduced schedule, keep their benefits, and are able to file for partial unemployment benefits for the lost wages.

Employer eligibility includes which businesses?

Companies with two or more workers that have hourly reductions within 10 to 60 percent of normal hours, provided that the lost hours are not related to seasonal separations. Shared Work runs for a maximum of six months for each employee.

Where would a business apply for this program?

For more information please click here
Special Session Update

In lieu of our regular municipal update, we have a special session update. We’ve been communicating with many of you over the last several weeks about the potential for a special session in September and the time has come for the call. Today the Governor will announce the call for a Special Session next week to address a variety of bills. The House is expected to go in Thursday, October 1st and the Senate on Friday October 2nd. The following items are expected to be taken up in the Special Session, which over the next few days may change as language continues to be honed, developed, negotiated and agreed upon. 

  • Energy related bills concentrating on storm response and utilities
  • Absentee ballot changes
  • School construction
  • Environmental justice
  • Fees for state marshals 
  • Failure to file taxes
  • Transfer Act changes

We have been working with many of you on several of these items and we will continue with that right up until the votes are cast. There are several ongoing conversations with leaders and individual members about the content of these pieces of legislation, but the general idea is that these bills would be overwhelmingly bipartisan, and this is an effort to move pieces of legislation that need to be taken up before the regular session starting in January. Many of these concepts have been discussed through public hearings during the cancelled 2020 Session or subsequent listening sessions that have taken place over the last several days or will take place next week.
Connecticut's Commercial Whaling Industry Ends

In the 19th century, New London, Connecticut was one of the busiest whaling hubs in the entire world, outranked only by Nantucket and New Bedford, Massachusetts. Whale oil was a crucial and versatile resource that played a huge role in powering the Industrial Revolution, serving as both fuel for lamps and as a lubricant for factory machinery. Whale bones, used to give ladies’ corsets their shapes, also commanded a high price throughout the 1800s.

In 1850, when Connecticut’s whaling industry was approaching its peak, over $1 million worth of whale oil and bones passed through the port of New London in a single year. In the later decades of the 19th century, however, the whaling industry encountered a rapid decline as decades of over-hunting had made whales harder to find, and their byproducts more expensive. Other industries successfully sought cheaper alternatives to expensive whale oil and bone: Lamps were increasingly lit using petroleum byproducts (namely kerosene) and electricity, and fashion designers turned to alternate products like steel and wooden strips to line their corsets.

Thanks to these economic pressures, by the first decades of the 20th century only a handful of Connecticut whaling vessels were still in active operation. On September 24, 1908, seasoned captain James Buddington and his crew sailed the whaling schooner Margaret out of New London. Unbeknownst to them at the time, they were embarking on the last commercial whaling voyage in Connecticut history. The Margaret’s return to port seven months later, in April 1909, marked the end of 124 years of commercial whaling in Connecticut.
Sullivan & LeShane, Inc. | (860) 560-0000