Public Policy Blog
Public Policy Blog
Small businesses and nonprofits in Connecticut with a 20 or fewer full-time employees or a 2019 payroll of less than $1.5 million can apply for a one-time grant of $5,000 from the state.
The state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is administering the program, which has a total of $50 million to distribute from the federal CARES Act. Online applications will be available beginning Monday, November 9, and will be open for just one week. The entire $50 million is expected to be disbursed by the end of the year.
For information, including eligibility requirements, click here.
You can also view this recorded Zoom Q&A session, in which DECD staff answer questions about the program.
Today marked the return of more strict rules for businesses and individuals after a resurgence of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Connecticut. Gov. Ned Lamont has pulled back from the Phase 3 reopening protocols to what he is calling Phase 2.1, a slightly modified version of the Phase 2 reopening rules.
You can read Lamont's Executive Order No. 9K here.
You can also read the state Department of Economic & Community Development's rules for reopening here.
In brief, the rules allow restaurants and cafes no more than 50% occupancy inside (it had been 75%), and to close for inside and outdoor dining by 10 p.m. (They can still do curbside pickup and delivery beyond that time.)
Gov. Ned Lamont and Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno on Tuesday announced that the state is opening a second round of funding under the Temporary Rental Housing Assistance Program (TRHAP) to applicants seeking assistance with residential rent payments delayed by financial stress related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In this round, the program will, for the first time, accept applications directly from small landlords.
TRHAP provides landlords with up to $4,000 in rental assistance on behalf of approved tenants. During the first round, more than $2.2 million in residential rent relief was distributed to landlords on behalf of 826 households. The program had been paused for intake late in the summer after receiving overwhelming interest and demand.
Lamont has allocated $40 million of federal CARES Act money to the program, which is administered by the state Department of Housing in cooperation with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) and 11 housing counseling agencies across the state.
In addition to the $40 million TRHAP, the Lamont administration is supporting tenants, landlords, and homeowners by
“Ensuring access to safe and secure housing is a critical public health component of controlling the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, and the need for financial relief on behalf of both tenants and landlords is significant,” Lamont said. “This pandemic has caused widespread housing concerns in all corners of our country, which is why I have been stressing to federal officials that we need to expand this type of assistance even further. Stable housing is a vital component of getting our economy moving again, ensuring access to school, and protecting the health of our neighborhoods.”
In September, Governor Lamont directed several administrative changes to be made with the program that will expedite payments to those in need. The Department of Housing has worked with CHFA and the housing counseling agencies to streamline the application process, increase the number of staff processing applications, and create a web platform to accept applications from renters.
“The implementation of the programmatic redesign has allowed to increase our processing time and get assistance to individuals and families faster,” Commissioner Mosquera-Bruno said. “We have reached out to stakeholders and municipalities with new information explaining the changes to the program and the intake reopening. We are asking landlords and tenants to continue to work collaboratively so that tenants can remain housed and landlords can stay above water financially.”
To apply for TRHAP, visit the Department of Housing’s website at ct.gov/doh. The website includes a status lookup tool providing applicants with information on the status of their application. It is updated once per week, and applicants must provide an email address with their unique ID to look up their status. In addition, an applicant’s record must be accepted in order for there to be a unique ID assignment and a valid status.
It's hard to believe anyone could be unaware by now that tomorrow is Election Day. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people in Connecticut have already voted by absentee ballot.
For those who have not yet voted, tomorrow is the day. We hope you plan to vote, that you know where your polling place is, and that you plan to wear a mask, keep socially distant and bring your own pen (black or blue ink).
We also hope you have taken some time to familiarize yourself with the candidates -- not just for president, but for Congress, the state Senate and state House of Representatives -- and with any initiatives that may be on the ballot in your town.
If you need information, you can find a wealth of it on the Secretary of the State's website here. The "Elections Voting Home Page" offers information including how to stay safe at the polls and town-by-town sample ballots. It also offers links to check whether you are registered to vote and where to cast your ballot in person in your district.
I probably don't have to tell you that this an important and significant election, and I hope I don't have to motivate you to get out and vote. Instead, I will thank you for participating in this election and meeting your civic responsibility.
Good luck to all the candidates!
The state has a new grant program specifically intended for manufacturers:
The REV-Up! Connecticut Back to Work program.
This program, administered through the CT Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT), provides wage subsidies and the design & support of a customized training plan for employees.
The program is time sensitive – it is only available through December 30, 2020.
Some highlights of the REV-Up! program include:
If you have questions, please contact CCAT’s Ed Marinko at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 291-8832.
REV-Up! Connecticut Program Information
The REV-Up! Connecticut Back to Work program will drive immediate impact in the manufacturing industry by re-engaging manufacturing talent and upskilling workers with the Industry 4.0 technology skills of the future. The focus of the REV-Up! program will be up-skilling in high demand competencies such as Quality, Inspection and Industry 4.0 Technologies. The REV-Up! Program, through CCAT, will administer a wage reimbursement to help mitigate employer training costs. All interested employers will work with REV-Up Training Team to design and support completion of a training plan specific to the upskilling required for the hire of the jobseeker.
Employer is a CT located Manufacturing or Allied Service Provider Company(Allied Service Providers only include companies that physically interact with a manufactured good to alter the product - for example industrial Heat Treaters and industrial Platers).
Initial Application Submission & Process Considerations
Training Consultation and Design
The Connecticut General Assembly reconvened last week for a special session held over two days. They addressed a number of issues, wrapping up their final efforts before voters head to the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.
Among the bills approved were two pieces of legislation that are expected to be signed into law by Governor Ned Lamont. Here's what you need to know:
HB 7006: Dubbed the "Take Back Our Grid Act," the bill was overwhelmingly passed in the House by a 136-4 vote and in the Senate by a 35-0 vote (with one abstention). The bill is the direct result of the power outages and restoration issues experienced by customers of Eversource Energy following Tropical Storm Isaias. The legislation states that not only Eversource but any power distribution company will be required to credit customers $25 a day and reimburse them $250 for spoiled food and medicine if they are without power for four days (96 hours). The bill also requires more reliable staffing levels for responding to storms.
In addition, the bill directs state regulators to put in place a performance-based system for determining distribution rates for electricty, and requires any additional costs related to meeting the requirements of the bill be paid for by shareholders and not ratepayers.
Eversource has said the legislation was not necessary because a regulatory process to review its storm response is still ongoing, and that the result of the legislation would be increased rates.
HB 7001: This bill finally revises the state's burdensome Transfer Act, making it easier to develop commercial & industrial properties that are significantly less contaminated than brownfields. The bill, in fact, sunsets the Transfer Act and sets up a release-based system that will simplify the way liability for contamination of properties is assessed as they are sold.
As Senator Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury, told ctnewsjunkie.com: “When a property was sold, if there had been certain activities involving hazardous waste materials and so forth, then (the Transfer Act) would be triggered just by virtue of the sale, whether or not there was a significant environmental hazard that existed....”
Ctnewsjunkie.com added that "Hartley said the process was so 'expensive and time consuming' that properties couldn’t get developed, which meant they sat vacant and municipalities were unable to collect property taxes. She said many developers would ask if a site fell under the Transfer Act, and if the answer was in the affirmative, 'many times they would walk away.'"
In facct, Rep. Caroline Simmons, D-Stamford, co-chair of the Commerce Committee, told CTMirror.org that 4,200 properties are in limbo due to the Transfer Act. The website reported that Simmons called the new bill pro-environmental protection and pro-economic growth, because it frees some properties for sale and focuses more attention on “high-risk properties.”
Revising and/or eliminating the Transfer Act was an important part of the Chamber's 2020 Legislative & Regional Agenda, so we are excited that this burdensome regulation is finally being addressed in a positive way.
Good morning. We may be in the dog days of summer, but there still are some public policy issues the Waterbury Regional Chamber believes you should be updated on.
First, on Friday, August 14, Gov Ned Lamont issued another Executive Order, this one focused on safe workplace rules for essential employees. You can find the order here. Among the updated guidelines is one stating that any employee who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition “must provide documentation to their employer.” Otherwise, the order states, each employee is required to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth while in the workplace. The order also requires employers to provide masks for their employees. We strongly recommend that you review the executive order for all of its provisions.
The Chamber also reminds you that the state’s minimum wage is scheduled to increase once again. The rate rose to $11 per hour on October 1, 2019, and will increase to $12 per hour on September 1, 2020. It is scheduled to increase three more times: to $13/hour on August 1, 2021; to $14/hour on July 1, 2022, and finally to $15/hour on June 1, 2023. While a provision to delay or suspend an increase is included in the law that set the schedule for increases, the criteria has not been met and the increase is expected to take place as scheduled.
Lastly, a state law approved last year requires employers of any size to provide two hours of sexual harassment prevention training for all employees, not just for supervisors as was previously required. All employees must receive the training by October 1, 2020. Executive Order 7DDD allowed employers to request a 90-day extension of the deadline by filing a formal request with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO). Requests filed by September 9, 2020, for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic were likely to be granted; requests filed after that date may not be approved. Requests may be submitted to CHRO.Questions@ct.gov.
The Chamber plans to present a Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Webinar on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, at a time and fee to be determined. The training will be conducted by an attorney from the law firm Carmody, Torrance, Sandak & Hennessey. Complete details will be available soon.
The state Department of Labor has produced a pdf answering your Frequently Asked Questions about the coronavirus for employers and employees. It includes information for employees on how to file for state unemployment insurance, including if you are forced to stay home because of the virus: http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/DOLCOVIDFAQ.PDF
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers guidance on its website for businesses and employers:
You can also apply for a Federal Disaster Loan here: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance
Connecticut was officially declared a federal disaster area Monday afternoon. To be eligible for a loan, a business must have exhausted its other options for loans/credit. Up to $2 million per business is available, for use in making payroll or paying bills, etc. Terms are for up to 30 years at 3.75% for for-profit businesses, 2.75% for nonprofits. Please note, approval can take up to three weeks, assuming you provide all the financial information requested.
Also, here is Gov. Lamont’s latest update on the virus in Connecticut:
This is his Executive Order from Monday: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Office-of-the-Governor/Executive-Orders/Lamont-Executive-Orders/Executive-Order-No-7D.pdf?la=en
I hope this information is useful to you. As I said, I plan to call you today to follow up on this email. Honestly, I hope you’re too busy to talk to me (because that would be a good sign for your business). If not, we’ll chat for a couple of minutes; but if so, reply to this email with the information you want the Chamber to know about your business.
The Connecticut Restaurant Association offers “What You Need to Know” on its website: https://www.ctrestaurant.org/about-coronavirus.html
If you have questions or need help, please reach out to me and I will do what I can to assist you.
David Krechevsky, Director of Public Policy & Economic Development, Waterbury Regional Chamber
The Connecticut General Assembly has halted its business to deal with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Here is an update on what's happening from Chamber Lobbyist Armando Paolino III of Paolino Public Affairs Consulting:
We are seeing daily assessments by the joint legislative leadership aimed at minimizing the health impacts on the members, staff and the public, including yours truly and my many lobbying colleagues.
Based on the latest public health precautions regarding COVID-19, the combined legislative leadership has decided to temporarily close the Capitol/LOB complex until March 30th. Leaders of the caucuses are going to be meeting next week to assess the situation further. They are aware that this means deadlines will be passed, and they are actively working on ways to continue business following this suspension.
Earlier this week on Wednesday, the House and the Senate voted on a bipartisan basis to alter the Joint Rules that govern the conduct of business by the legislature when they are in session. That followed the decision to close the Capitol complex early through Sunday in order to perform a cleaning.
They added days to public hearing deadlines and to Joint Favorable report (committee reporting) deadlines in order to accommodate the early closing this week. That was before the two week shut-down announced today.
The situation is fluid, and as promised, we will keep you up to date with the latest developments.
Testimony submitted on behalf of the Chamber opposing a bill that would limit the expansion of natural gas for use by business and residential customers.
March 5, 2020
STATEMENT OF THE WATERBURY REGIONAL CHAMBER TO THE ENERGY & TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE OPPOSING RAISED HOUSE BILL 5350 (LCO 2199): AN ACT CONCERNING NATURAL GAS INFRASTRUCTURE
Senator Needleman, Representative Arconti, and members of the Energy & Technology Committee, my name is David Krechevsky and I am the Director of Public Policy & Economic Development for the Waterbury Regional Chamber. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony on this legislation.
The Waterbury Regional Chamber, which serves 14 communities in Greater Waterbury and represents the interests of nearly 1,000 member businesses of all sizes on matters of public policy, strongly opposes House Bill 5350 (LCO 2199), An Act Concerning Natural Gas Infrastructure.
Our Chamber members believe that a main goal for state legislators should be to promote sound economic development that benefits communities by bringing in new business or improving existing businesses. This will foster job creation while also benefitting communities by increasing their Grand Lists, raising much needed tax revenue from businesses to ease the burden on residential taxpayers. Our Chamber members also know that energy costs in Connecticut are very high, so they want the legislature to do whatever it can to reduce those costs. That would benefit not only businesses, but residential energy consumers as well.
Regrettably, HB 5350 does not achieve either of these goals. In fact, it does the opposite. If enacted, this bill would effectively limit the ability to expand access to natural gas across the state by reducing the amount of time a utility has to recover its gas expansion costs. Shortening this recovery period would force consumers who want access to natural gas to make prohibitive upfront payments to connect to the system. Businesses and residential consumers that would choose to convert to natural gas under the current system would likely be unable to make that choice if HB 5350 is enacted, because of these significantly higher upfront costs. The result is an unlevel playing field, one tilted against natural gas providers.
This would adversely affect everyone:
For these reasons, the Chamber urges the committee to reject HB 5350.
Director of Public Policy
Waterbury Regional Chamber