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Connecticut House Passes Laws on Commuter Taxation, Hairstyle Discrimination

  • Bills aimed at preventing double taxation for commuters, prohibiting discrimination based on hairstyle pass by wide margins in Connecticut House
  • Measures amend definitions of discrimination and assist Connecticut residents who work out of state but were employed remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Legislation will go to the Connecticut Senate for a final vote

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Two pieces of legislation passed by the Connecticut House of Representatives on Wednesday aim to shield residents who work out of state from double taxation and to prevent discriminatory practices in the workplace and elsewhere based on hairstyle.

Both measures were passed by emergency certification, meaning they were not first sent to a committee. They will go before the Connecticut Senate for a final vote.

Income tax

One bill, which was bundled with revisions to the state’s payment in lieu of taxes program and the removal of liens from the property of public assistance beneficiaries, addressed concerns that Connecticut residents who work out of state would be subject to double taxation due to the circumstances of COVID-19. Approximately 110,000 state residents typically commute to New York or Massachusetts, but worked from home during the pandemic.

Income tax is typically paid to the state where the employee works. However, the new work arrangements raised the possibility that residents would be subject to income tax both in Connecticut and in their state of employment.

The bill, which passed the House in a 125-24 vote, allows Connecticut residents who work in other states that have enacted a rule or law requiring them to pay income tax to claim a credit on the income taxes owed to Connecticut for 2020, provided they were working in the other state immediately before March 11, 2020. The measure will not affect Connecticut revenues since the state had not anticipated collecting income tax from these workers.

Hairstyle discrimination

In a bill that passed by a 139-9 vote, the House approved the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, an update to existing state law that prohibits discrimination based on hair texture of hairstyle. The amendment states that hair is part of one’s racial and ethnic identity, and specifically mentions wigs, headwraps, individual braids, cornrows, locs, twists, Bantu knots, afros, and afro puffs as examples.

The legislation bars discrimination in employment, housing, and other practices based on these hairstyles. Several other states have passed similar measures in response to discrimination reported by Black residents, especially women.

In celebrating the legislation, Governor Ned Lamont cited a 2019 study that determined that four out of five Black women felt compelled to modify their hair to meet the expectations of society or the workplace. This research also found that Black women were 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work due to their hairstyles.

“When a Black man or woman shows up for a job interview or to work, they should never be judged based on their hairstyle,” Lamont said. “Their work product, commitment, dedication, and work ethic should be the sources of their success.”

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