2019 Legislative Session - Mid-Session Update (3/27/19)

Hartford Capitol Building

2019 Legislative Session - Mid-Session Update (3/27/19) - By Amy Blaymore Paterson, Executive Director  

Updated 4/15/19*

With the 2019 legislative session at a mid-way point, we have mixed news to share with respect to CLCC’s conservation priorities.  

Setback 

Legislation:  HB 5254, An Act Establishing a Pilot Program Authorizing Municipalities to Impose a Buyer’s Conveyance fee on Real Property to Fund the Purchase and Stewardship of Open Space 

CLCC's Position:  Support 
Status:  Despite overwhelmingly positive testimony at the February 4 public hearing, the Environment Committee did not schedule HB 5254 for a vote at their meeting on March 25, effectively killing the bill.  (Although the JF deadline for the committee is Friday [3/29], the co-chairs announced that they would not be scheduling any additional meetings.) 
Next steps:  To say that this is a disappointment is a major understatement, but we'll continue to explore with legislators and the administration whether there are other avenues to pursue a municipal open space funding option this year and will keep you posted of any developments in that regard.
Of note:  The advocacy efforts in support of HB 5254 put forth by land trusts, statewide and regional conservation partners, municipalities, and individual grassroots activists from across the state has been nothing short of extraordinary.  Thank you for standing together with the 15 towns seeking to participate in this pilot program and speaking up in favor of this important legislation. 

View CLCC’s Testimony >>
View CLCC’s Commentary published in the CT Mirror >> 
View CLCC’s Municipal Funding Option Homepage >>

 Of Concern 

Legislation:  Governor’s House Bill No. 7148, An Act Concerning the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June Thirtieth 2021, and Making Appropriations Therefor (Governor’s Budget Proposal for FY 2020-21) 

CLCC's Position:  Opposed to section related to Community Investment Act funds. 
Status:  At the Appropriations Committee public hearing on February 27, CLCC raised concerns with respect to a proposal in the Governor’s budget to transfer the Community Investment Account from an off-budget dedicated account, to a line item in the General Fund.  By way of follow-up, we have met with leadership and other members of the Appropriations Committee to underscore our concerns -- in particular sharing the importance of the CIA to the viability of the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant program.  
Next steps:  We will continue to monitor the Governor’s Budget proposal and plan to testify in opposition of Sections 6 and 7 of SB 872 which would implement this change to the Community Investment Act. 
*Update:  The Appropriations Committee held a public hearing on SB 872 on April 5. 
Of note:  The Governor’s Budget is supportive of the Passport to the Parks Program – proposing to utilize the funding as intended to support state park maintenance as well as the Council on Environmental Quality, the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the Environmental Review Team. 

View CLCC’s Testimony on HB 7148 >> 
*View CLCC's Testimony on SB 872 (Sect. 6 & 7) which would implement this change to the Community Investment Act >> 

*Legislation:  HB 7408 (section 6), An Act Concerning Municipal Revenue and Stormwater Authority, Studies of the Pilot Grants Program and Property Tax Exemption for Machinery and Equipment, and Enterprise Zones.  

CLCC Position:  Oppose
Status:  At the Finance, Committee and Bonding Committee on April 10, CLCC raised concerns about section 6 of the bill which would allow municipalities to require non-profits (including land trusts and other non-profit land holding organizations) to pay a “public safety and infrastructure benefit charge” for police, fire, emergency services, and road maintenance.
Next Steps:  We will continue to lobby members of the committee to remove section 6 and oppose any proposal to allow a municipal fee on land trusts.  

View CLCC's action alert >>
View CLCC's Testimony >>

Good News 

Legislation:  SB 1061, An Act Concerning the Restoration of Funds to the Community Investment Act

CLCC’s Position:  Support 
Status:  On March 25, the Environment Committee voted to approve SB 1061, which would restore a portion of the $5 million that was diverted from the Community Investment Act account as part of previous deficit mitigation adjustments. 
Next steps:  As of 4/17/19:  The bill has appeared on the Senate Calendar. Since the bill proposes a $5 million loss to the budget for the current fiscal year, it will necessitate a referral to the Appropriations and/or Finance Committees. It’s fate is uncertain until the budget is resolved.. 

View CLCC testimony >> 

Legislation:  HB 7345, An Act Concerning the Community Investment Act Account and Combatting Invasive Plant and Animal Species 

CLCC’s Position:  Oppose 
Status:  The Environment Committee failed to act on HB 7345 before their deadline, thereby killing the bill.
Next Steps:  Watch to ensure the bill language does not get tacked on to another bill later on in the session. 

View CLCC testimony >> 

Legislation:  HB 6637, An Act Requiring An Invasive Species Stamp For The Operation Of A Motorboat On The Inland Waters Of The State

CLCC’s Position:  Support 
Status:  The Environment Committee voted to approve HB 6637, which would establish a funding source to assist municipalities, which struggle to find consistent resources to study, prevent, and treat these infestations, as well as for education and other programs to help address this insidious problem. 
Next Steps:  The bill will move to the House floor for a vote  We’ll continue to monitor the progress of the bill. 

View CLCC testimony >> 

Legislation:  SB 1062, An Act Authorizing Municipal Climate Change and Coastal Resiliency Reserve Funds 

CLCC’s Position:  Support
Status:  The Environment Committee voted to approve SB 1062, which enables municipalities to establish climate change and coastal resiliency reserve funds and investment strategies that can be used to support projects, including for land acquisition, which mitigate impacts of climate change.
Next steps:  The bill will move to the House floor for a vote. 

View CLCC’s Testimony >> 

Legislation:  HB 7157, An Act Concerning Funding for Bikeway Paths, Recreational Trails and Greenways 

CLCC’s Position:  Support 
Status:  The Environment Committee voted to approve HB 7157, which would authorize bonding for the state’s Recreational Trails & Greenways program.
Next step:  The bill will move to the House floor for a vote. 

View CLCC’s Testimony >> 

Legislation:  HB 7347, An Act Exempting Senior Citizens And Veterans From The Passport To The Parks Motor Vehicle Registration Fee 

CLCC’s position:  Oppose
Status:  The Environment Committee did not raise HB 7347 at its final meeting, thereby killing the bill. 
Next Steps:  Watch to ensure the bill language does not get tacked on to another bill later on in the session. 

View CLCC’s Testimony >> 

View all of CLCC’s Testimony >> 

If you have any questions with respect to the foregoing, or any other priority on our 2019 Conservation Agenda, please do not hesitate to contact me.  We will continue to keep you apprised of developments regarding these and other bills we are tracking.  

Thank you for continuing to be vocal, strong and relentless in our advocacy in support of these and other bills that will protect our land, water, and other natural resources.  

Best,

Amy

Amy Blaymore Paterson, Executive Director
abpaterson@ctconservation.org

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