As a result of the pandemic, Connecticut’s 2021 legislative session is operating differently this session. This means that committee meetings—as well as one-on-one meetings with lawmakers—will take place remotely. There are no more walk-and-talk conversations with legislators or staffers as they head from one committee room to another, nor are there opportunities to go to a legislator’s office, or check in with a committee clerk to get information. Communications are limited to video conferencing, phone calls and text messages.
However, despite the differences in how the Capitol operates the General Assembly has pushed ahead. Over 2,000 bills have been introduced this session, and leaders in the state House and state Senate have indicated that they plan to address many significant policy issues. Here is some of the legislation that has been proposed:
- Legalized sports betting and iGaming: Connecticut might authorize legalized sports betting and iGaming. In an informational hearing held on gaming issues, representatives from Connecticut’s Native American tribes, Sportech, and the Connecticut Lottery softened their stances on resorting to litigation if the gaming framework doesn’t end up exactly as they’d like it.
- Health care reform: Lawmakers have proposed legislation that will re-institute a tax on insurance carriers that was phased out federally, in an effort to provide subsidies to individuals struggling to afford health insurance. Insurance carriers oppose this legislation strongly.
- Mansion tax: Based on a new proposal being pushed by Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-11, individuals who own houses worth more than $500,000, would pay an additional $50-per-year year in taxes. Additionally, those who own houses worth $1 million would pay an extra $400. The funds raised—estimated at $73 million—would be used to reimburse cities for lost tax revenue tied to nontaxable property (e.g., hospitals, universities, nonprofits, and government buildings) within the cities’ limits.
Depending on the committee, the deadline to introduce additional bills is Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, or Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. Also, Gov. Ned Lamont is slated to introduce his budget package on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, which likely will include a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana and address the state’s transportation infrastructure issues.
James Woulfe, Esq.
James Woulfe, Esq., is the director of Government Affairs, The Connecticut Group LLC. He is PIACT’s lobbyist. James joined The Connecticut Group in November 2016. In 2013-14, while attending law school in the evenings, James worked at a Hartford-based nonprofit and led a successful grassroots campaign to drive passage of Connecticut’s benefit corporation statute. In 2015, he was appointed by then-House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz to the Commission on Connecticut’s Leadership in Corporation and Business Law, where he drafted a comprehensive plan to make Connecticut a national leader in the social enterprise sector. In 2020, he was appointed by Gov. Ned Lamont to the board of the Metropolitan District Commission. The MDC provides quality water supply, water pollution control, mapping, and household hazardous waste collection to eight member municipalities. In 2021, he was appointed by Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin to serve on the board of the Hartford Housing Authority. James received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2009, and his Juris Doctor from Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2015.