Bill Tracking


2017 Legislative Overview

The 2017 legislative session was dominated by three issues, the budget crisis, the razor thin margins in the House and tied Senate, and the approval of a third casino. All three of these factors contributed to a session that saw a significant decrease in the amount of bills passed for the first year of the two-year legislative cycle.

The House and Senate adjourned without voting on a budget. The House leadership had let it be known to the press that they were not going to rush budget negotiations to meet the June 7th deadline. The State is expected to run as much as $2.3 billion deficit in the next fiscal year and $2.8 billion in 2018-19. With the Senate tied 18-18 and the Democrats holding a narrow 79-72 majority in the House, the legislative leaders and the governor have been hard pressed to find consensus on how to address the state’s fiscal crisis.

The House and Senate passed a joint resolutions allowing for special session to pass an eventual agreed upon budget. The fiscal year begins July 1st; if the two political parties and the governor cannot agree upon a budget compromise, the governor will have to operate the state under the current budget allocations. It is highly unlikely that a budget agreement will be reached before the June 30th deadline. The legislature did erase the $317 million deficit for fiscal 2017, using most of the state's rainy day fund, withholding $19.4 million in casino proceeds from cities and towns, and sweeping revenue from other funds.

Because of the equally divided Senate and slim majority the House Democrats hold, along with the budget concerns, legislation possessing a fiscal note had very little chance making it to the Governor’s desk for his signature. During the committee process, very few bills were voted forward if they had a negative fiscal impact on state agencies. Those bills that did move forward with a fiscal note where priority bills for the committee leaders and eventually were reworked avoiding a fiscal impact to the state.

The leaders of the House Democrat Caucus adopted a policy where bills that held a fiscal note were note moved on the house floor because of the implication on the budget negotiations. House leadership allowed debate on bills that where priorities for caucus members but which did not have enough votes to pass the chamber. These bills usually held large public policy implications, like the creation of highway tolls, pay equity in the private sector, or legalization of cannabis to name a few. These controversial bills where eventual pulled from the floor for debate.

The Senate also did not take up bills that possessed fiscal notes. The amount of legislative activity in the Senate was also hampered by the inability of the Republican and Democratic caucuses to find consensus on bills to bring up for a vote. When the Democrats pushed to pass legislation or needed to defeat hostile amendments called by the Republican senators, Lieutenant Governor Wyman would vote to break the tie. She voted an unprecedented eleven (11) times during the session. The Senate became a bottle neck where priority bills from the House eventually died on the Senate calendar because the session ended.

The legislature wrestled with the details for expanding the number of casinos in the state. The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations were successful in swaying both the Senate and the House in adopting legislation to allow for a jointly developed casino to compete with an MGM Resorts International casino under construction in Springfield. MGM was unsuccessful in convincing legislators to consider a competitive process when authorizing the development of a third casino. MGM intends to challenge the legislation awarding a casino license without competition as a violation of the Equal Protection and Commerce clauses of the U.S. Constitution.


View Bills Tracked and End of Session Status


Legislative Highlights:

  • The Governor was successful in the passage of a transportation funding lockbox and legislation to combat the opioid epidemic.

  • Connecticut car dealers were able to beat back a third attempt to allow Tesla to sell cars directly to consumers to Connecticut.

  • Paid Family Medical Leave legislation made it to the senate chamber for a debate but was eventually tabled, ultimately causing the legislation to “die” on the senate calendar.

  • The State Comptroller successfully advocated for legislation to increase the level of transparency in the state’s practice of offering tax credits to the private sector.

  • Democratic legislative leaders were unable to secure enough votes to pass to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2022.

  • The Senate refused to take up a House bill that tried to test the limits of states’ ability to regulate campaign finances in the post-Citizens United era by imposing rules intended to end the use of untraceable dark money in Connecticut elections.

  • The General Assembly passed legislation supporting the growth of small business in Connecticut by allowing investments in additional types of businesses to qualify for the angel investor tax credit.

  • There will be significant policy implications associated with the eventual passage of the state’s budget. The governor and the Senate Republicans have offered separate line-by-line budgets, while the House Republicans and legislative Democrats have put forward budget outlines. All four existing proposals differ significantly. The governor’s budget and the Democrats’ outline rely on $1.5 billion in labor concessions over the next two years. The Republicans are asking for more labor savings. It is expected when a budget is finally agreed upon by the legislature and the governor, the vote will be on a strict party-line.

Political Environment – State Legislature

The 2017 legislative session was unique in how the General Assembly conducted its business. With the Senate being split evenly between the two parties and the House having a 7 seat margin in favor of the Democrats, the legislative pace was full of fits and starts.

During the committee process, Republican Senators flexed their parliamentarian muscle when taking votes on legislation they did not support by splitting joint committees into a house and senate committee and holding separate votes on legislation. This maneuver allowed the Republican Senators, who shared committee control with their Democratic colleagues, to prevent legislation from moving forward by pushing for a tie vote when the committee was split between the two chambers. Even with the House Democrats holding a one or two seat advantage on the committees, legislation where the senate tied on a vote and the house passed the legislation on a party-line vote, the legislation in question effectively “died”. Senate Democrats were able to take advantage of the Lieutenant Governors ability to break a tie vote in the senate chamber to advance legislation not supported by the Republicans. These parliamentarian skirmishes increased the level of animosity between the two parties.

The close margin in the House Chamber caused many pieces of legislation to not be taken up after advancing from committees. This was due in part because House Democrats did not hold a majority in the chamber on certain days because Democratic legislators were unable to be present for a vote for a variety of different reasons.

Throughout the legislative session both parties were operating with an eye on the 2018 election. The next election will determine which party holds outright control of the Senate and whether the Republicans can flip control of the House. This reality was on display when legislators took votes and debated legislation, with both parties framing up issues in preparation for the 2018 election.


Legislative and Government Relations Activity

TCG and CTAA’s Government Relations Committee (GRC) were very active during the 2017 legislative session.

This was the first year of a revamped GRC, which organized around subcommittees to oversee critical pieces of government relations activity. TCG worked closely with the chair of GRC in developing the responsibilities for each subcommittee. TCG also assisted with creating the content for the committee to discuss in terms of mapping out a legislative agenda and implementing action steps to advance the agenda items. This included overseeing a Legislator Introduction Campaign, creating a legislator target list surrounding issues, drafting a campaign plan around priority issues, and increasing engagement with the National Apartment Association’s (NAA) government relations team. CTAA, with the assistance of TCG, coordinated congressional meetings, and participated in NAA’s national Lobby Day.

The GRC activity for the 2017 legislative session, with the guidance of TCG, predated the start of session, when TCG initiated discussions with staff from the General Assembly’s Office of Program Review and Investigation (PR&I) to address concerns with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights handling of fair housing complaints. Members of the GRC met with PR&I staff and answered questions that ultimately were captured in the PR&I’s report entitled Commission on Human Right and Opportunities: Discrimination Complaint Processing. Once the report was released, TCG assisted with the crafting of the testimony that GRC members delivered at the public hearing held in December of 2016.

TCG facilitated a successful meeting with the Chairs of the Housing Committee, which built off the good will created during the 2016 legislative session. The relationship between CTAA and the House Democratic Chair of the Housing Committee was strengthened, and CTAA positioned itself as a resource for the committee chair. This improved relationship is expected to assist CTAA in shepherding policy initiatives beneficial to its members.

TCG worked closely with NAA staff in researching submetering and the concept of Ration Utility Billing Systems (RUBS). This exercise was undertaken to craft model language to clarify if RUBS billing was legal in Connecticut. Ultimately, TCG and GRC members concluded that the RUBS initiative would be put on hold in an effort to gain more information from NAA and craft a more targeted policy campaign for the 2018 session.

Another issue that TCG pursued on behalf of CTAA was examining legislative means to address the Emotional Support Animal designation for tenant pets. An effort was undertaken to engage with key constituent groups active in the disability community, along with members of the general assembly who were champions of service animal policies. Meetings were held with the Governor’s Liaison to the Disability Community, the House Democratic Chair of the Children’s Committee, who is a champion for policies surrounding service animals, and the House Democratic Chair of the Housing Committee. The concept, examining the potential abuse by tenants using the emotional support anima designation was positively received, but there were challenges in landing on a consensus in addressing the issue. In the end, the Democratic Chair of Housing indicated he needed more definitive language to raise the concept as a committee bill.

TCG identified and tracked over fifty (50) pieces of legislation impacting Connecticut’s apartment industry. The policies tracked over the course of the session were numerous, wide-ranging and touched upon critical areas to the industry. These bills were comprised of policies impacting labor law, building code and zoning regulations, affordable housing, landlord / tenant interactions, and the complaint process with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. TCG gave advance notice to GRC members of legislation slated for public hearings and assisted in the crafting of testimony. CTAA submitted testimony on a variety of bills including, An Act Concerning the Cost of Removal and Storage of Property of Evicted Tenants and Foreclosed Property Owners, An Act Concerning Inclusionary Zoning, An Act Concerning the Provision of Essential Services by Landlord, and an Act Concerning the Administration of the CHRO and the Resolutions of Complaints filed with said Commission.

During the last month of session, a concerted effort was undertaken to kill HB 7303, Act Concerning the Administration of the CHRO and the Resolutions of Complaints filed with said Commission. TCG crafted a “mini campaign plan” utilizing a number of different strategies to educate legislators on the negative impact HB 7303 would have on the industry. These strategies included utilizing NAA’s “Call to Action” grassroots email platform, direct emails to targeted legislators, recruiting allies to lobby against HB 7303, and direct lobbying by TCG to ensure the bill would not be called by the Democratic House Leadership. This effort was successful with the result having the legislation die on the House Calendar.


Bills Tracked and End of Session Status

HB 6874

AN ACT CONCERNING THE TIMING OF DISCLOSURE OF HOUSING DISCRIMINATION AND FAIR HOUSING LAWS TO PROSPECTIVE PURCHASERS OF CERTAIN RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY.

Bill Description:

To require sellers of certain residential property to disclose housing discrimination and fair housing laws to a prospective purchaser at the time such purchaser executes a purchase agreement, option or lease containing a purchase option with respect to such property rather than at the time of closing.

Status: HB 6874 died on the Senate Calendar

HB 5123

AN ACT ELIMINATING A REQUIREMENT CONCERNING THE DISCLOSURE OF HOUSING DISCRIMINATION AND FAIR HOUSING LAWS.

Bill Description:

To eliminate the requirement that a landlord selling, leasing with an option to buy or exchanging a rental property provide a disclosure form to the prospective purchaser or lessee.

Recent Action Taken:

Referred to Joint Committee on Housing (1/4)(Died)

Landlord / Tent

SB 923

AN ACT CONCERNING THE POSSESSIONS OF DECEASED TENANTS.

Bill Description:

To modify the process by which a landlord may regain possession of a rental unit, without an eviction action, after the death of a sole tenant who lived in the unit.

Recent Action Taken:

Signed by the Governor (6/6)

HB 6881

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROVISION OF ESSENTIAL SERVICES BY LANDLORDS.

Bill Description:

To reduce the time period that tenants are without essential services provided by landlords from two business days to forty-eight hours.

Recent Action Taken:

Public Act 17-171 (6/19)

HB 7295

AN ACT CONCERNING MINOR REVISIONS TO THE RENTERS REBATE PROGRAM.

Bill Description:

To implement minor revisions to the renters rebate program administered by the Office of Policy and Management.

Recent Action Taken:

On Consent Calendar / In Concurrence (6/7)

HB 6929

AN ACT CONCERNING THE STORAGE OF POSSESSIONS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS OF EVICTED TENANTS.

Bill Description:

To provide mandate relief to municipalities.

Status: HB 6929 received a public hearing in the Housing Committee, the bill was killed

HB 5448

AN ACT CONCERNING THE COSTS OF REMOVAL AND STORAGE OF PROPERTY OF EVICTED TENANTS AND FORECLOSED PROPERTY OWNERS.

Bill Description:

To alleviate an unfunded mandate on municipalities with regard to removal and storage of property of evicted tenants and foreclosed property owners.

Status: HB 5448 received a public hearing, the Housing Committee did not take up the bill.

HB 5121

AN ACT PERMITTING ADVANCE RENTAL PAYMENTS.

Bill Description:

To make rental payments more convenient for tenants.

Recent Action Taken:

Change of Reference, Senate to Committee on Judiciary (1/26)(Died)

HB 6427

AN ACT CONCERNING FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SERVICE ANIMALS OF TENANTS.

Bill
Description:

To make state law consistent with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's interpretation of federal law.

Recent Action Taken:

Change of Reference, Senate to Committee on Environment (2/1)(Died)

SB 752

AN ACT REQUIRING A STUDY OF CONNECTICUT'S HOUSING INVENTORY AND CURRENT AND FUTURE HOUSING NEEDS.

Bill Description:

To (1) increase the publication of data on housing production; (2) develop projections of regional affordable housing needs; (3) require municipal planning for reaching recommended apportionment of affordable housing needs; (4) involve the state and other stakeholders in developing regional housing need estimates for municipalities; (5) increase data transparency on subsidized housing investments; (6) provide housing authorities with the option to expand housing authority jurisdiction; (7) increase the amount of funding used on mobility counseling; and (8) integrate subsidized housing by requiring marketing across lines of race and income.

Recent Action Taken:

Favorable Report, Tabled for the Calendar, Senate (5/24)

HB 5534

AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPALITIES AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING.

Bill Description:

To allow municipalities that have made good faith efforts to develop specific areas in such municipalities the ability to prohibit new affordable housing in such areas, provided such good faith efforts were made prior to any application for such affordable housing.

Recent Action Taken:

Public Hearing 02/16 (2/10)(Died)

HB 6954

AN ACT ESTABLISHING A TASK FORCE TO STUDY INSPECTIONS OF RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS BY LOCAL FIRE MARSHALS.

Bill Description:

To (1) study ways to improve the inspections of residential buildings by local fire marshals, and (2) provide that municipalities shall not be liable for damages resulting from the failure of a local fire marshal to inspect a building under certain circumstances.

Recent Action Taken:

Tabled for the Calendar, House (4/11)

HB 6461

AN ACT CONCERNING UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION.

Bill Description:

To update and reform unemployment compensation and ensure that the Unemployment Trust Fund remains solvent in future years.

Recent Action Taken:

Tabled for the Calendar, House (5/15)

HB 6456

AN ACT INCREASING THE MINIMUM FAIR WAGE.

Bill Description:

To establish a minimum wage of fifteen dollars per hour in the State of Connecticut.

Recent Action Taken:

Referred to Joint Committee on Labor and Public Employees (1/23)(Died)