2019 Legislative Session - Update as of May 6

Hartford Capitol Building

2019 Legislative Session - Session Update (5/6/19) - By Amy Blaymore Paterson, Executive Director

** Additional Updates as of 5/25/19

April was a busy month at the Capitol. Bills that have made it out of committee now move on for action by the House or Senate. Bills not voted on by committee deadlines are dead; but proposals may still be resurrected as amendments to other bills that have moved on to either chamber.  

During the week of April 30, the Appropriations Committee voted on a proposed biennial budget. The Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee also voted on a bond package and proposals for taxes and other revenues for the next two fiscal years. In addition to advocating for protection of the Community Investment Act, Passport to Parks, and funding for other important conservation programs, with your strong support, we opposed several bills which would have required land trusts and other nonprofits to pay local and state taxes, despite their tax-exempt status. 

The following are updates and suggested action steps you can take with respect some of CLCC’s conservation priorities.  

Good News (with a caveat)

Legislation:  SB 872, An Act implementing The Governor's Budget Recommendations For General Government

CLCC's Position:  Oppose Sections 6-9 and 18 of SB 872 (a bill to implement the Governor's budget) which transferred the Community Investment Act (CIA) account from a dedicated off-budget account to the General Fund

Status:  The Appropriations Committee Budget released on April 30 restored the CIA to its current status as a dedicated off-budget account.

View CLCC's testimony >>

Legislation:  HB 7408, An Act Concerning Municipal Revenue and Stormwater Authority, Studies Of The Pilot Grants Program and A Property Tax Exemption For Machinery and Equipment, and Enterprise Zones

CLCC's Position:  Oppose Section 6 of HB 7408 which allowed municipalities to require nonprofits (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.

Status:  Section 6 has been removed. View Joint Favorable Substitute Language >>

View CLCC's Testimony >>

** CLCC is working with The Nature Conservancy and leaders of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee to amend Section 1 (previously Section 7) so that owners of open space, forest land and farmland (including land trusts) are exempt from fees assessed to fund a municipal stormwater authority.  View Joint Favorable Substitute Language, specifically Section 1 (c), which we are seeking to change >>

 Legislation:  SB 1137, An Act Concerning Deposits in Lieu of Taxes (Section 1) and SB 1138, An Act Concerning Community Restoration (Section 5)

CLCC's Position:  Oppose Section 1, SB 1137 and Section 5, SB 1138 which would require nonprofits, including land trusts, with "significant" savings accounts, endowments or pension funds to pay into a state "community development account" the equivalent of 25% property tax.

Status:  SB 1137 was not acted upon by the committee (i.e. the bill is dead) and Section 5 of SB 1138 was replaced in its entirety with new language which would make any payments by nonprofits, towns, and the state into the community development account voluntary. Joint Favorable Substitute Language will be posted when available.

View CLCC's Testimony >>

Legislation:  SB 876, An Act Authorizing and Adjusting Bonds of the State for Capital Improvements, Transportation and Other Purposes.  

CLCC's Position  Support bonding for land conservation and water programs

Status:  The Finance, Bonding and Revenue Committee approved a bond package which included $4 Million for the Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Fund (DEEP's funding source for its recreation and open space lands purchases); $3 Million for the CT Recreational Trails and Greenways Account, and $75 Million (FY 20) and $84 Million (FY21) for the Clean Water Fund.

View CLCC's Testimony in support of funding for the CT Recreational Trails and Greenways Account >>

** 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. NOTE: the bill has been amended to include nonprofits as being eligible for grant funding for the purposes set forth therein. View Joint Favorable Substitute Language >>

Next Steps:  The bill is on the House Calendar

View CLCC testimony >> 

Of Concern

The Appropriations Committee Budget includes a raid of Passport to the Parks Program

The Governor's Budget was 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. However, the Appropriations Committee Budget released on April 30 includes diversion of $300,000 in funds from the Passport to Parks Program for non-state park purposes - a proposal we oppose.

Read Hartford Courant article (5/1) >>
Read Op Ed by Eric Hammerling, Connecticut Forest & Park Association (5/4) >>
** View CLCC's Action Alert >>

**Of Note:  Stay tuned for more information on the status of State Water Plan (HB 7194) and Green New Economy Legislation (SB 5002).  

View previous updates >>

View all of CLCC's 2019 Testimony >>

Keep up the good work ... and don't let up, conservation advocates!

Your advocacy on these and other bills thus far this session has been extraordinary.   Your efforts -- including submission of an unprecedented volume of testimony -- absolutely made a difference in defeating proposals which would have undermined your conservation work.  

Keep up the good work!  With just weeks left in the legislative session, continued communications with your legislators is critical to ensuring that good bills are passed and harmful proposals are defeated! 

Caveat!  While this news is good, we will need to watch carefully to make sure the proposals we opposed do not get tacked on to other bills that have moved on to the House or Senate. Stay tuned for action alerts and other news from the Capitol, and please contact me anytime with questions, comments and suggestions.

Thank you for continuing to be vocal, strong and relentless in your advocacy on legislation and policies that will protect our land, water, and other natural resources.  

Best,

Amy

Amy Blaymore Paterson, Executive Director
abpaterson@ctconservation.org

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