Legislative Update March 11 2020
Session is Underway
It has now been one month since opening day and the legislative process is moving full steam ahead. Over the last several weeks, committees have passed their raised bill deadlines and have begun soliciting public input on a variety of important pieces of legislation. In the short period following a public hearing, a bill can be amended – clarifying data, amending sections, and responding to testimony that was submitted to the committee.
The committee then holds a meeting to “JF” bills. A joint favorable vote enables a bill to move forward out of the committee and make its way to the floor. Last session, there were over 100 bills which directly impacted Connecticut agriculture and even though this is a short session (running from February to May as opposed to January to June), there are still a large number of moving parts for the Department to keep an eye on.
In the coming weeks, the House and Senate chambers will convene more frequently to address the bills which have been voted out of committee. Both chambers will continue taking action on bills until midnight on May 6. At that point, no further action can be taken on legislation. While it feels like there is still plenty of time to go, it goes by quickly.
Most of the bills getting attention are large and controversial. Thousands of proposed concepts were brought to the committees for consideration and there are many bills relating to agriculture moving through the building. The Environment committee is hearing bills related to the Connecticut Grown program, hemp, farm wineries, and the regulation of pesticides. The Planning and Development committee is looking at property tax exemptions for farm buildings and the Commerce committee heard a proposal which would create an ecotourism map of Connecticut. At this moment, bills related to agriculture are being heard in seven different committees across many different issues. A calendar of upcoming legislative meetings and public hearings can be found on the Connecticut General Assembly website at www.cga.ct.gov.
Last week, Commissioner Hurlburt testified in front of the Environment committee on issues including farmland preservation, the processing of rabbits for consumption and Chlorpyrifos. In his testimony, the Commissioner emphasized the importance of continued support for and increased diversity in Connecticut agriculture.
Please keep in mind, due to the closure of the state capitol complex this coming Thursday and Friday, many hearings are being rescheduled and deadlines for committees will be adjusted appropriately. All rescheduling information should be available on the General Assembly website in the next couple of days.
There are eight weeks left in this legislative session and over 1,000 bills have been introduced so far. Should you have any questions about these pieces of legislation or the legislative process, please feel free to get in touch with me at Kayleigh.Royston@ct.gov.