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Final Approval Fails to Materialize for Some Business Legislation Before Connecticut General Assembly

  • Several bills related to doing business in Connecticut were left partially approved after the Connecticut General Assembly concluded business last week
  • Measures related to price gouging, modifications to the Small Business Express program, business registration changes, and others among those that received approval from only one chamber
  • Some bills could receive final approval as the legislature is set to convene a special session in the coming weeks

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Modifications to the Small Business Express program, a measure prohibiting price gouging, and several other measures related to doing business in Connecticut were left on the table when the Connecticut General Assembly finished its 2021 legislative session last Wednesday.

The bills won approval in one chamber of the legislature, but did not come up for a vote in the other chamber before the session expired. Some proposals may get a second chance at approval when the legislature convenes a special session in the coming weeks.

This session is expected to largely focus on the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana in Connecticut, a proposal that passed muster in the Senate but did not come to a vote in the House. However, House Speaker Matt Ritter said he considered that every outstanding item is open for consideration after the marijuana debate consumed the final hours of the session.

The measures that have won only partial approval include:

Small Business Express

One of the most popular business-related bills left on the table, House Bill Number 6467 passed unanimously two days before the end of the session. This measure seeks to update the state’s Small Business Express program, which is administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development, to partner with Connecticut Innovations to establish a component within the program.

The bill sets a goal that the goal that the program will be self-funded by July 1, 2026, with the default rate of small businesses receiving assistance under it not exceeding 20 percent.

Business registration changes

A lengthy bill approved in the House in a 113-33 vote on May 24 revises the provisions on the registration of business entities as well as those governing trade names. These include expanding the information certain business entities must include in their filings with the Secretary of State, including NAICS codes and e-mail addresses; allowing certain entities to file supplemental information online; and eliminating a requirement that certain business documents be sworn to by a general partner.

Changes to the trade law seek to standardize the application form, limit the name’s validity to five years, and establish a fee schedule for towns. The bill also creates a process for commercial registered agent listing statements, renames the Secretary of State’s Commercial Recording Division as the Business Services Division, and allows the Secretary of State to accept filings and data through the internet.

Fair work week

A more controversial measure to establish a “fair work week” schedule, which passed the Senate 20-16 on May 18, never came up for a vote in the House.

The legislation applies to national retail, restaurant, and hotel chains with at least 500 employees, including franchises. The bill requires employers to take a variety of steps to make workers aware of their schedules, including written estimates of work schedules, prompt notification of schedule changes, and paying employees at half their usual rate for hours they don’t work because an employer canceled or reduced scheduled hours.

Proponents said the bill helps create more stable work scheduling arrangements for employees. Critics denounced the measure as overly intrusive and potentially opening the door to similar regulation on smaller businesses in the future.

PPE exemption

A bill that won unanimous approval in the Senate on June 2 would allow small businesses to exempt personal protective equipment from sales and use taxes. Businesses would qualify for this exemption if they present a retailer with a certificate showing that they are a small business purchasing the PPE for their company.

Price gouging

A measure prohibiting companies from changing an “unconscionably excessive price” for goods and services in an area affected by a state or federal disaster or emergency declaration passed the House in a 130-18 vote on May 18. The bill also imposes a $99 fine for violators.

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