Session Summary

        2014 Connecticut Legislative Session Summary

Sierra Supported

SB 237 Fracking Waste

Imposes a 3 year moratorium on imports or processing, calls for DEEP regulations a year later, some troubling/ ambiguous language.  Although not a permanent ban like Vermont passed in May 2012, it gives us time to keep pushing for the outright ban.  Albeit somewhat divisive, it’s something.  Passed

SB 46 Pesticides Expands K-8 ban to K-12.

The first ban, which covered K through 8th grade, took years to get through the legislature.  This bill would have extended those protections through 12th grade.  It protects the health of our children and envisions safe and effective organic methods rather than toxics.  Failed

SB 443 Pesticides and GMO Grass

Extends pesticide ban to parks, playgrounds and other places where children are found.  Bans use of GMO grass, which would dramatically increase toxic pesticide use.  Failed

HB 5408 Utility Company Enhanced Tree Trimming Program

This bill provides a better balance between tree cutting to preserve the grid and preserving our natural environment.  This bill would improve the tree trimming process conducted by electric utilities.  Notification of land owners will be clarified and more tree expertise will be brought to the tree trimming process.  One size does not fit all in tree trimming.  Landowner notification will be improved and the objection and/or modification process to the tree trimming proposals will be clarified.

In addition, the bill emphasizes that healthy trees compatible with utility infrastructure should be retained and that tree pruning must retain the structural integrity of trees.  It requires DEEP to review the utility companies’ tree removal plans, establishes a mediation process that includes stump grinding and places the burden on the utility to prove that a tree should be cut or trimmed.  Passed

HB 5410 Methane Gas Leakage

Will have the electric utilities act to prevent a significant source of potent greenhouse gas emissions.  Passed

SB 353 Community/Shared Solar  (Formerly HB 5412)

Community/Shared Solar would have established a program to allow subscribers to benefit from a solar install.  This would have allowed more people to enjoy the benefits of clean solar power, including shaded residences, renters, and condo occupants.  There was strong electric utility opposition.  Failed

SB 70 State Open Space Lands   An Act Concerning the Grant of Property Interest in Property Held by the Departments of Agriculture and Energy & Environmental Protection and the Establishment of a Public Use and Benefit Land Registry. This Act with the very long name was actually pretty short.  It affirms the authority of DEEP and Department of Agriculture Commissioners to better protect your public lands with a conservation restriction, and creates an online registry providing more public information about the protected (or not) status of your state-owned and other conservation lands.  Passed

HB 5424 Water Planning

Provides a framework for finally devising a decade’s overdue state water plan through the Water Planning Council.  Passed

SB 126 Chemicals of Concern to Children

This bill provides a framework for identifying the most toxic chemicals to children.  Industry opposition has been extremely heavy on this bill for several years.  It appears they want to keep the status quo in stone.  The chemical industry also fights this kind of bill at the national level.  Industry should welcome this guidance, if they care.  Failed

SB 336 Vulnerable Users

Promotes non-vehicular transportation by protecting pedestrians, bicyclists through enhanced penalties for injury by at-fault drivers.  The fine for injuring a pedestrian, bicyclist, equestrian rider, skateboarder, farm tractor, etc. would be $1000.  Passed

SB 455 Citizens Election Program Funding

The Supreme Court notwithstanding, ensures that our public campaign program, a model for the country, has secure funding.  Passed

SB 357 State Recycling and CRRA Reform 

New recycling initiatives, goals, complete overhaul of CRRA (formerly SB 27).  Passed

Budget            State Parks Funding 

We received funding to cover 9 new positions in the State Parks! (3 Park Supervisors and 6 Park Maintainers).  This is tremendous progress.  Next year we will (probably) go for at least half of the cabin rental fees to go toward cabin maintenance instead of getting lost in the general fund.

The Preserve (1,000 acres) coastal forest in Old Old Saybrook received $2 million in funding that was earmarked from the Recreation and Natural Heritage Fund.  This funding, combined with other funding sources, preserves the last real coastal forest between New York and Boston.

The Community Investment Act remained intact and unraided!  And the Dept. of Agriculture and CT DEEP budgets for farmland and open space preservation will continue at last year’s strong levels.

HB 5126 National Popular Vote

Necessary for Connecticut to be relevant in election of the President.  Failed

Sierra Opposed

HB 5358 Review of state regulations

Recommends repeal of regulation if obsolete or onerous, with no regard to benefits.  Died

HB 5580 Pesticides Study ordered by Pesticide Advisory Council (not been active for years) is not necessary. IPM used in wrong settings can be very toxic.  Died

SB 405 Public Hearings for Subdivisions

Would have prohibited public hearing for subdivision applications.  Public interest requires every opportunity for public engagement.  Died

HB 5307 Fuel boom requirement

Would have removed requirement for protective booms during marine fuel transfer operations.  Died