CT business association issues legislative scorecards

State legislators Gail Lavielle, Will Haskell and Tom O’Dea discussed school regionalization and other issues at last year’s Wilton League of Voters legislative breakfast. This year’s breakfast is Saturday, Feb. 1.

State legislators Gail Lavielle, Will Haskell and Tom O’Dea discussed school regionalization and other issues at last year’s Wilton League of Voters legislative breakfast. This year’s breakfast is Saturday, Feb. 1.

Patricia Gay /Hearst Connecticut Media

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association issued its legislative scorecards for 2019. Wilton’s legislators were scored as follows:

State Rep. Tom O’Dea (R-125) —100 percent.

State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) — 86 percent.

State Sen. Will Haskell (D-26) — 25 percent.

Scores were determined by a member’s votes on 10 that affected Connecticut employers and job growth.

“I firmly believe that the only way Connecticut can recover is to dramatically increase the number of private-sector jobs,” O’Dea said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this past session was arguably the most unfriendly session in our history for businesses with the number of new mandates and the nearly $2 billion in new taxes contained in the state budget.

“We are the only state that has less jobs than we had before the recession, the only state with a negative GDP over the last decade, and the only state in which someone makes more in the public sector than the private sector for the same job. I want my constituents to know that I will continue to be a voice for fiscal discipline and economic opportunity,” he said.

Lavielle agreed with O’Dea, saying she had “not seen a session as unfriendly to business as this one during my time in the legislature. The majority’s policy agenda was driven by a national playbook that completely ignored Connecticut’s specific financial issues and fragile business climate, and the result was particularly devastating for the small businesses that are so important for our state’s economy. The CBIA scores speak volumes about the legislative majority’s lack of regard for Connecticut’s small businesses and its understanding of their needs.

“Let’s look at two glaring examples of this. The state budget bill, among other things, raised taxes on small business owners by $50 million by substantially reducing the amount that they were previously allowed to deduct from their personal income taxes — a sudden, unexpected change in tax policy. The increase in the minimum wage to $15 was based on a national campaign, with no analysis of the level that would be appropriate for Connecticut or of the ability of small businesses to sustain it. On top of that, the bill stipulates that once the $15 level is reached, it must continue to increase every year.

“Connecticut’s economy is lagging behind not only the rest of the country but also the economies of its neighboring states. We can’t change that without growing our tax base by attracting and keeping businesses here. Unfortunately, during this session, the legislative majority seemed determined to do exactly the opposite.”

The scored bills included:

Family Medical Leave (SB 1 and HB 5003): Establishes paid medical leave system. Passed Senate 21-15; House 79-69; signed by governor. CBIA opposed.

Minimum Wage Hike (SB 2 and HB 5004): Raises the hourly minimum wage. Passed House 85-59; Senate 21-14; signed by governor. CBIA opposed.

Proprietary Information Transfer (SB 48): Requires prescription drug manufacturers to share product samples with generic drug manufacturers. No final vote. CBIA opposed.

Freedom of Speech and Conscience (SB 64 and SB 440): Prohibits an employer from coercing employees into attending or participating in meetings sponsored by the employer concerning the employer’s views on political or religious matters. No final vote. CBIA opposed.

Employer References (SB 761): Makes previous employers liable for the future workplace actions of former employees. No final vote. CBIA opposed.

Manufacturing Careers (SB 854): Promotes manufacturing careers to high school students, allowing guidance counselors to share information and materials. Passed Senate 36-0; House 149-0; signed by governor. CBIA supported.

Transfer Act (SB 1030): Reforms state’s Transfer Act, helping streamline environmental remediation projects. Passed Senate 34-0; House 149-0; signed by governor. CBIA supported.

Healthcare (HB 7267): Would establish options for healthcare by, among other things, modifying requirements concerning non-state public employer enrollment in the state employee plan; and offering coverage to small employers. Passed House 112-28; no action taken by Senate. CBIA opposed.

Manufacturing Jobs (HB 7081 and HB 7377): Would extend apprenticeship training tax credit to smaller manufacturers. No final vote. CBIA supported.

Budget (HB 7424): The $43.4-billion budget passed the House 86-65; Senate 20-16; signed by governor. CBIA opposed.

O’Dea supported the CBIA position in each of the above bills. Lavielle supported all positions except for the healthcare bill.

Haskell supported the CBIA position on manufacturing careers and the Transfer Act. He did not have the opportunity to vote on manufacturing jobs or healthcare.

In the case of legislation that did not receive a final vote, the scorecard reflects committee votes. The complete CBIA scorecard can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2KHtZLF.

Information: cbia.com.