Connecticut Audubon Advocacy 2019
June 14, 2019 – There were important environmental achievements in Hartford during the recently-concluded 2019 session, including the establishment of a fund to help communities protect themselves against climate change; authorization of the purchase of a significant amount off wind energy; a phased-in ban on plastic bags, among others bills.
Thank you to all the Connecticut Audubon members and supporters who spoke out on these and other bills. It is essential that your voices be heard, and we look forward to working with you on other issue in the near future.
Here’s a rundown of bills that Connecticut Audubon supported, starting with the successes.
S.B. 1062, An Act Authorizing Municipal Climate Change and Coastal Resiliency Reserve Funds, to offer municipalities options for local funding for resiliency projects, and allow bold and proactive actions to be taken to better protect critical habitats as well as our human infrastructure. Passed.
H.B. 7156, An Act Concerning the Procurement of Energy Derived from Offshore Wind. The bill authorizes the state to purchase up to 2,000 MW (equivalent to 30 percent of state’s eletricity). Connecticut Audubon was part of a team that worked to ensure that strong environmental protections were included in the bill. Passed and signed into law.
As part of the budget bill, Connecticut passed a phased-in ban on single-use plastic bags. More than 20 communities in the state have already passed bans, and some grocery chains have announced that they will begin phasing out plastic bags this year and next. The full statewide ban will take effect in 2020.
S.B. 1061, An Act Concerning the Restoration of Funds to the Community Investment Account. This bill was designed to prevent money from the fund from being transferred into the General Fund. It didn’t pass but the final state budget included an Appropriations Committee’s recommendation to protect the fund.
HB 6637, An Act Requiring an Invasive Species Stamp for the Operation of a Motorboat on the Waters of the State (fresh water only) which would impose a modest user fee for boating to address the ever increasing threat of Hydrilla and other aquatic invasives. Passed.
H.B. 7408, An Act Concerning Municipal Revenue and Stormwater Authority, Studies of the Pilot Grants Program and a Property Tax Exemption for Machinery and equipment, and Enterprise Zones. This bill included a provision (Section 6) to allow municipalities to require non-profits (including land trusts and other non-profit land holding organizations) to pay a “public safety and infrastructure benefit charge” for police, fire, emergency services, and road maintenance. We opposed the bill and it did not pass.
Conveyance Bill. In 2018, Connecticut voters approved a Constitutional Amendment to require a public hearing each time the state proposes to sell or give away state-owned land. Land transfers are generally included in the annual Conveyance Bill and this year’s include the proposed sale of 48 wooded acres in Cheshire, owned by the state Department of Transportation, to the town of Cheshire. In a letter to the General Assembly, Connecticut Audubon and Audubon Connecticut encouraged further review and suggested that the land be used as open space and wildlife habitat. After the required public hearing, the transfer did not pass. The land remains owned by the DOT.
Bills we supported that did not pass.
S.B. 76, An Act Authorizing Municipalities to Restrict the Use of Pesticides in Certain Areas of the Municipality or on Certain Properties, which would have allowed municipalities more control over pesticide use within their borders.
HB 7346, An Act Prohibiting the Use of Certain Organophosphates, a proposal to ban the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos.
HB 5999, An Act Concerning Pesticide Regulation in the State, which would establish a fund and a source for funding for the regulation and inspection of pesticides.
HB 5254, An Act Establishing a Pilot Program Authorizing Municipalities to Impose a Buyer’s Conveyance Fee on Real Property to fund the Purchase and Stewardship of Open Space, which would enable participating municipalities to establish a novel funding source to protect and manage open space.
HB 5312 An Act Concerning Vegetation Management within Utility Protection Zones, which would improve coordination with landowners in these efforts will allow more landowners to become aware of adaptive management techniques and the opportunity to work with utility providers to implement such management practices on their lands. We are also part of a working group working with Eversource to improve habitat quality within power line right of ways. (did not pass)
HB 5395, An Act Requiring an Evaluation of the State’s Environmental Justice Law, which would revise and improve Connecticut’s Environmental Justice Law and benefit our Science in Nature programming.
SB 998, An Act Concerning Minor Revisions To Environment Related Statutes, which was proposed by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Forestry Division to remedy past problems where forest practitioners in good standing unknowingly let their registration expire and/or may have submitted an incomplete registration. The changes would give the commissioner discretion to grant an extension to the renewal process rather than to have to begin the process from the beginning.
HB 7157, An Act Concerning Funding for Bikeway Paths, Recreational Trails and Greenways.
HB 5308, An Act Concerning Vegetation Management Along State Highways by the Department of Transportation.
SB 775, An Act Concerning the Creation of the Central Connecticut Loop Trail, which would establish a new state trail system in central Connecticut.
Read Connecticut Audubon’s testimony to the Connecticut General Assembly regarding many of these bills: