The 2021 legislative session is less than a month old, and is off to an unusual start. Typically, the Legislative Office Building and State Capitol are buzzing with activity. Understandably, both buildings are closed, so legislative business has gone online. A deluge of bills are typically introduced in the first few weeks, but this year, legislators and committees are limiting bills to avoid the possibility of overloading their virtual capacity.
While the action is remote and the bills seem to be fewer so far, that doesn’t mean that 2021 will be a lost year. In fact, there are some exciting and notable proposals that could make 2021 a very significant year in Connecticut, including:
100% zero carbon electricity - The legislature is expected to consider a bill to codify Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 3 which calls for 100% zero carbon electricity by 2040. Sierra Club will press for the state to achieve 100% clean and renewable electricity that prioritizes deployment of energy efficiency and renewable technologies in our most vulnerable communities and creates good local jobs.
Green housing retrofits - Emissions produced by homes and buildings are a major contributor to Connecticut’s greenhouse gases. We look forward to proposals in the legislature aimed at reducing greenhouse gases from buildings while improving the comfort and living conditions of our residents with comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable retrofits prioritizing public housing, affordable housing and low-income residents.
Racism as a public health crisis - Senate Bill 55 would designate racism as a public health crisis and establish a commission to study the impact, including the racial disparities in access to the resources to healthy living, including access to fresh food, produce and physical activity, public safety, and the presence of pollution in communities.
Voting rights - A number of bills have been introduced to expand voting rights including early voting, automatic voter registration, no-excuse absentee ballots, allow for absentee ballots to be counted early, and voting rights for individuals on parole. We can expect to hear a lot about voting rights this year.
We look forward to engaging in robust and meaningful conversations on these issues and many more. See our policy priorities and the bills we are tracking on our website. And be sure to read this month’s Wildlife Committee Update for more details on wildlife legislation. We will alert you to key moments during the session— such as public hearings or committee votes—to urge legislators to take action.
On February 23 at 7 pm, Sierra Club Connecticut will host “A Bridge to Nowhere: Ending Gas Expansion Policies 2021 CT Legislative Session.” RSVP here. Among the bills that will be discussed is SB 718: An Act Instilling Moratorium on Construction on New Fossil Fuel Plants. Please contact your legislators and ask them to co-sponsor SB 718.
For all upcoming events, see our calendar here.
Samantha Dynowski is State Director, Sierra Club Connecticut.