Another zoom week at State Capitol
Next up, Governor’s budget address
CRMA raises issues to help small retailers
CT COVID-19 updates
Other news and notes from around the state
- As we complete the last week of the first month of the long legislative session, the Connecticut General Assembly is becoming more comfortable with this “virtual” session.
- While the hard work of holding public hearings is just beginning, as we watch the session unfold, we see Committees, and the clerks that handle the behind-the-scenes work of the Committees, are doing a better job handling the nuts-and-bolts of Committee work.
- And while last week we noted that the session was getting off to a little bit of slow start, this week they certainly made up for the slow start by listing hundreds of bills that individual members and committees have filed.
- For CRMA it remains a challenge, like all others who work the Capitol, to make sure we remain in contact with legislators and legislative leadership. So, we are going to need your help in that process too.
- Over the next month or so, CRMA will be attempting to put together a grass roots program that links up retailers with legislators in their districts for virtual meet-and-greets. Those meetings will be critical to ensuring that even during this unprecedented session we will remain the Voice of Retail in CT.
- Our friend Ken Dixon of Connecticut Post/HearstCT Media has look at what it’s like to lobby during a virtual session.
Governor Lamont’s budget address
- The next big event on the Legislature’s calendar is the Governor presenting his 2022 – 2023 budget. He will do that virtually, rather than in front of a joint session of the House and Senate, of course.
- The Governor will present his new two-year budget on February 10th, but already these is tension building between the Governor and the Legislature over the use of Federal funds that the state received as part of a COVID-19 relief package.
- Those funds are earmarked for specific items, as Keith Phaneuf of the CT Mirror outlines in this article, and some legislators are worried they won’t have a say in where that money is spent or that Lamont will take undue credit in funding some projects.
- Add to that, the fact that last week the Legislature and the Governor worked out a deal that extends his executive powers until April – and you have the potential for a classic executive branch vs. legislative branch tug of war. Our friend Kevin Rennie has a good look at that story.
- Meanwhile, the state of the state’s finances are better than everyone anticipated, and Governor Lamont told the CBIA what he told us back in November: he is not looking to raise any taxes. You can hear read more about that here.
- Finally, we will keep you posted on what we hear about the Governor’s budget as we know it, but keep in mind that after the Governor drops his budget, the Legislature will really kick into gear.
CRMA raises issues to help independent retailers
- Because CRMA represents retailers of all sizes, we keep our eyes open for all opportunities to help smaller, independent retailers with their bottom line.
- To that end, during this session we are asking the General Assembly’s Insurance Committee to consider two issues that can help.
- One would be to allow CRMA to establish an Association Health Care Plan. AHP’s would allow CRMA is negotiate on behalf of smaller members to gain discounts on group health insurance.
- The other issue would make it easier for groups like CRMA to form Self Insured Workers Compensation Groups, so that we can help members lower their workers comp insurance rates.
- We are hopeful that the Legislature will work with us on these issues, so that we can hopefully achieve some relief in some key cost areas for their retail businesses.
CT COVID-19 update
- Connecticut COVID-19 hospitalizations are dropping, as are positivity rates, but state’s total number of deaths due to the virus has now surpassed 7,000. The Hartford Courant has the latest numbers here.
- And Connecticut’s vaccine supply is increasing, but the state is still looking for more. The Courant has the details here.
News and notes from around the state
- The State and the Women’s Business Development Council have announced a new grant program aimed at women and minority-owned businesses. Fairfield Business Journal has the story here.
- The pandemic has decimated child care businesses across Connecticut, according to a new report. Hartford Business Journal has the story here.
- Lamont is looking to expand broadband access across Connecticut. He announced his plan this week. Hartford Business Journal has the highlights here.
- The town of Plainfield is considering a property tax deferment to encourage property improvements and attract new developers. Norwich Bulletin has the details here.