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Proposed Connecticut Business Legislation Includes Liability Protections, Small Business Relief, and New Sales Rules

  • Dozens of bills before the Connecticut General Assembly would have an effect on the state’s businesses
  • Proposals include liability protections, digital enhancements, and a child care employer tax credits
  • Other bills would either loosen or tighten restrictions on certain sales, or affect the rules governing certain industries

With the start of a new legislative session, Connecticut lawmakers have proposed bills ranging from new bonding to changing how the state allocates its presidential electors. Several of the proposed laws aim to provide relief to businesses, including liability protections related to the COVID-19 pandemic and more permissible sales rules in certain areas. Other bills affect individual industries, including some proposals for new regulations or prohibitions.

These proposals have all been assigned to committee and are currently under review. This overview looks at several bills that would affect businesses in Connecticut.

Small business revitalization, worker protections, and diverse economic opportunity

Sixteen senators are backing a bill seeking to “grow the economy by supporting diverse economic opportunities, worker protections and small business revitalization.” The bill does not offer specifics, saying only that it would amend the general statutes, and is currently before the Joint Committee on Commerce.

Digital protections and enhancement

In a bill that addresses the “new age of a digital workforce,” 17 senators are supporting a bill to “protect the economy and online learning from data breaches and limits on broadband usage.” The legislation also seeks to improve cybersecurity, net neutrality, and data privacy.

A separate bill would create a broadband internet task force, which would make recommendations on high-speed internet access, provider selection, and market competition in an effort to improve internet service quality.

Liability protections

One bill, co-sponsored by 10 representatives and one senator (all Republicans), would provide temporary liability immunity for any businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations, and state and political subdivisions that have “safely operated” during the pandemic. The bill seeks to protect these entities from civil legislation related to exposure to COVID-19 if they “acted in substantial compliance with public health guidelines” on or after March 10, 2020. It excepts instances of “gross negligence or wilful [sic] misconduct.”

A separate proposal specifically addresses the liability of private campground owners, seeking to define the duties of campground owners in order to improve campground safety for visitors and “provide an absolute defense to a civil action to a campground owner who fulfills his or her statutory duties or obligations.”

Child care employer tax credit

Under a proposal by Senator Saud Anwar, a Democrat representing the Third District, employers who make payments toward the child care costs of employees residing in Connecticut would receive a tax credit.

Sports wagering and online gambling

A bipartisan group of 13 representatives and four senators is backing a bill to authorize sports wagering as well as online gaming, lottery, and keno. The bill would authorize the state to enter agreements with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to allow sports wagering, online wagering, and online casino gaming. It would also authorize the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to sell online lottery and keno tickets subject to agreements with the tribes.

The legislation stipulates that “reasonable procedures and data security standards” would be created for online wagering and gaming, and that the state would receive and distribute a share of revenue from these activities.

Allowing and prohibiting sales

Bills put before the legislature would permit the the following sales:

By contrast, some bills aim to prohibit the sales of certain items, including:

One bill seeks to eliminate the use of toxic pesticides, while another specifically bans the use of chloropyfiros. Another proposal would require that food retailers and convenience stores in urban areas offer healthy food options to help eliminate health disparities between urban and suburban areas.

Business rules

Numerous proposals seek to either allow broader business activities or to establish new restrictions and requirements. These include:

Workforce housing

One proposal would create a workforce housing development program in Connecticut’s opportunity zones, with additional opportunities for these developments elsewhere in the state through tax waivers, fee credits, and property tax waivers.

Nursing homes

Several proposed bills would affect nursing homes, with most of them geared toward preventing abuse in these facilities. The proposed legislation includes:

Long Island Sound

One proposal would ban offshore mapping and drilling for oil and gas. Another resolution would formally approve the Long Island Sound Blue Plan, which makes recommendations for the management of the Sound’s waters and resources.

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