CTUCC Advocating on a Number of Issues with Legislature

5/16/2019
By Drew Page

The 2019 Legislative Session of the Connecticut General Assembly ends on June 5, and Connecticut Conference Legislative Advocate Michele Mudrick has been hard at work lobbying legislators on justice and compassion issues outlined by the Conference’s approved resolutions. She has attended meetings with legislators, including organizing a meeting with the state’s 4 UCC-affiliated legislators, and she continues to review the raised bills, write testimonies and and organize churches and their members to take action and exercise their own voices in the legislative process.
 
There are several key issues developing in this year’s session.

Casino Expansion and Gambling

The CT Conference has been opposing expansion of gambling in the state for several years, particularly as it applies to development of new casinos. Last year efforts opposing legislation furthering the development of new casinos failed to stop the house from voting to approve a system of receiving proposals for new casinos, but the legislation was tabled at the end of the session.
 
There are several proposed bills in process in the General Assembly in the 2019 session, including a bill authorizing a facility in East Windsor (SB 11) and a bill which creates a gambling commission and a bidding process for a resort casino (HB 7055).
 
The CT Conference has resolutions opposing gambling and has submitted multiple testimonies in opposition to legalizing legalizing sports and online gambling, and expanding casinos. Despite opposition, the current East Windsor bill does appear to have enough initial support in committee to be brought to the senate floor. For more information on the expansion of Casinos, visit the No More Casinos in Connecticut website.

House  Bill 7290  is an Act Concerning Studies of the Effects of Legalized Gambling and CTUCC is in support of this, as long as the study is conducted by a truly independent, objective party that has no ties to the Mashantucket or Mohegan Tribes or anyone in the casino industry. 
 
House bill 7334 is an Act to Establish a Commission on Gaming. CTUCC is opposed to the Establishment of a Gambling Commission because from data from other states that have them, the Gambling Commissions are set up with members that are pro gambling expansion.

Environmental Issues

Mudrick has submitted testimonies in support of two environmental initiatives this year so far. The first concerns a state-wide ban on fracking activities. The senate bill (SB 753) does seem to have lots of support in committee. Connecticut towns have a history of increasing opposition to fracking waste. In 2017 a government report listed 19 towns with ordinances banning fracking waste. As of September of 2018, more than 50 towns had ordinances opposing disposal of fracking waste.
 
The second issue Mudrick has testified in support of is the further development of off-shore wind energy. House Bill #7156 authorizes the state’s Energy Commissioner to solicit proposals from off-shore energy providers. The bill has already passed the house and has moved to the senate calendar with a favorable report from the Committee on Energy and Technology.

Economic Issues

In addition to supporting efforts to create a public option for health insurance for smaller employers and individuals who buy their own insurance, Mudrick has been busy with other bills that may have an economic impact on the people and churches in the state.
 
One senate bill (SB 2) proposes an increase in the states minimum wage to $12 in 2020 increasing to $15 in 2022, as well as proposing a formula for calculating future increases relative to changes in the national minimum wage. A house bill which passed the house on May 9 (HB 5004) proposes similar changes, though a slower rate of increase culminating in an increase to $15 in 2023 with similar future formulas beginning in 2024.
 
Senate Bill #1 seeks to establish a paid family and medical leave system in Connecticut. The bill has mixed support in the Appropriations Committee but was moved forward to the senate calendar. House Bill #5003 has similar language and mixed support in the house. The Connecticut Conference has a resolution on Workplace and Family Life that supports public policy that protect child welfare through programs such as medical and leave benefits.
 
Two recently submitted testimonies oppose efforts to circumvent the federal tax-exemptions for 501(c) organizations by levying fees under differing methods. A senate bill (SB 1137) calls for these entities to pay the state annual “deposits” for “community development” accounts in a new state credit union. House Bill #7408 calls for municipalities to levy a new “public safety and infrastructure benefit charge” on 501(c) tax-exempt entities. The “charge” would be calculated by towns and cities in accordance with their existing personal property tax rates and collected in the same manner. The CT Conference testimonies oppose both of these bills on the grounds that these new fees would be a financial hardship for churches and endanger the many local services churches are currently providing in their communities.

Gun Safety

CTUCC is advocating for gun Safety. House bill 7218, which would require the safe storage of all firearms, whether loaded or unloaded, in a home with a minor under 18. That bill passed the House on May 7, and House bill 7223, concerning safe storage of firearms in vehicles, passed the House on May 8.  House bill 7219, which would ban guns without serial numbers and regulate those which are sold in a form requiring the purchaser to finish assembly, or that are homemade or 3-D printed, passed the House on May 7.

Adoptee Rights

Senate Bill 972 An Act Concerning Access to Original Birth Records by Adult Adopted Persons is tabled for a vote in the Senate. This bill would grant access to original birth records to all adopted persons eighteen  years of age or older who were born in CT regardless of date of birth. Mudrick encourages everyone to call their state senators and ask them to bring this bill up for a vote.
 
You can read all the activity and full language of these bills by searching for the bill numbers at the bottom of the Bill Information Page on the Connecticut General Assembly website.
 
To learn how you can exercise your voice in these issues and read the testimonies submitted by the Legislative Advocate, please visit the Economic Justice page of the CT Conference website.  To receive updates from Mudrick on how to get involved, sign up for the CT Advocacy Corps on the subscription page.  Please email Michele at michelem@ctucc.org  to let her know if you do make calls or have conversations with your legislators.