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2024 Legislative Session Recap
Legislative Update

Samantha Dynowski

May 2024

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The Connecticut legislative session concluded at midnight on Wednesday, May 8. Once again, the legislature failed to act to address climate change with the seriousness that it deserves. Despite leaders saying the climate was a priority, House Bill 5004 did not get moved through both chambers like other priority bills did. As climate impacts become more dangerous and costly to our state’s residents, businesses, and communities, our state’s climate mitigation efforts must steadily increase. But that has not happened. While there were many good individual efforts on climate legislation, the Democratic supermajority ultimately failed on climate two years in a row, and rolled back progress made three years ago as well as clean car regulations that have been in place for decades. This is unacceptable in the midst of a climate crisis. 

 

We are thankful for the legislators who championed good climate, clean energy, and environment bills this year, even if they did not get enacted. We are also thankful to our members and supporters who rallied, emailed, called, testified, and came to the Capitol to urge lawmakers to support bills to protect our environment and climate. 

 

Below is a summary of what happened with some of the key bills for the Sierra Club in Connecticut. 

 

BILLS PASSED BY BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE

 

SB 292 - AN ACT CONCERNING THE USE OF PFAS IN CERTAIN PRODUCTS bans PFAs in a wide range of products including textiles, firefighter protective gear, menstrual products, dental floss, ski wax, and carpets. Prior to the ban, items need to be labeled. Co-chairs of the Environment Committee Senator Rick Lopes and Representative Joe Gresko shepherded this important bill through the legislature, and fought back attempts to water it down. It passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate.

 

HB 5232 - AN ACT CONCERNING SOLAR PROJECTS THROUGHOUT THE STATE aids in the advancement of solar energy projects by conducting studies of existing solar programs through DEEP and PURA, providing guidance on the approval process for solar canopies, and extending the Shared Clean Energy Facilities (SCEF) solar program by two years, among other measures. Representative Jonathan Steinberg, co-chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, led the efforts on solar. The bill was approved in both the House and the Senate.

 

HB 5225 - AN ACT CONCERNING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE INVASIVE PLANTS COUNCIL adds seven plants to the list of invasive or potentially invasive plants that are banned in the state: Porcelainberry, mugwort, quackgrass, Japanese angelica tree, Japanese wisteria, and Chinese wisteria. Beginning October 1, 2027, it bans callery pear. The bill also requires the Invasive Plants Council to submit a report to the Environment Committee by March 1, 2025, regarding Japanese barberry and Burning bush. It passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.

 

HB 5524 - AN ACT AUTHORIZING AND ADJUSTING BONDS OF THE STATE AND CONCERNING PROVISIONS RELATED TO STATE AND MUNICIPAL TAX ADMINISTRATION, GENERAL GOVERNMENT AND SCHOOL BUILDING PROJECTS aka “the bonding package” includes the language from bills that didn’t pass including HB 5052, SB 301, and $25 million for heat pump rebates.

 

BAD BILLS THAT FAILED TO PASS 

Sierra Club fought to keep these bad bills from becoming the law of the state, and we were able to stop the bills and to stop the concepts from getting inserted into other bills. Thank you for speaking up about these problematic bills.

HB 5356 - AN ACT CONCERNING MODIFICATIONS TO THE RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO STANDARD was vigorously opposed by Sierra Club as it would have required a study to encourage more gas capacity in Connecticut, and wiped out the Renewable Portfolio Standard by allowing existing nuclear and hydro to replace renewable solar, wind, and battery. The bill was approved by the Energy and Technology Committee, but did not move forward. Senator Ryan Fazio attempted to add these problematic concepts as an amendment to HB 5232, but the amendment was rejected.

 

HB 5475 - AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEVELOPMENT OF HOUSING, CHALLENGES TO CERTAIN DECISIONS OF MUNICIPAL AGENCIES, AND THE CONVERSION OF VACANT NURSING HOMES INTO MULTIFAMILY HOUSING. Tucked within this affordable housing bill was language that would have repealed the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) as it applies to environmental impairment from housing projects, rolling back five decades of environmental progress and protections in Connecticut, and would have allowed for further rollbacks to wetlands protections. Those sections were removed, and the rest of the bill was rolled into HB 5474 which passed the House and Senate.

 

HB 5440 - AN ACT CONCERNING LIFECYCLE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS OF BIOFUELS would have required the use of a greenhouse gas reporting method that overstates emissions avoided from biofuel sources. 

 

GOOD BILLS THAT DID NOT PASS

The following bills would have made a positive impact for Connecticut’s climate and environment, but failed to pass. 

 

HB 5004 - AN ACT CONCERNING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF CERTAIN CLIMATE CHANGE MEASURES aka the Connecticut Climate Protection Act. After seeing no progress on climate in 2023, Speaker Matt Ritter made this bill a House leadership priority, and State Representative Christine Palm guided it through the House. It did not get called for a vote in the Senate. The bill would have jumpstarted action on climate in Connecticut through a series of measures including: updating the Global Warming Solutions Act, aligning gas system planning with the greenhouse gas emission reduction mandates of the Global Warming Solutions Act, decarbonizing buildings by setting heat pump targets, emission reduction from HVAC equipment, and planning for zero-carbon state buildings. The bonding package HB 5524 Sec. 57 includes $25 million to provide rebates, at point of sale, for heat pumps.

 

HB 5052 - AN ACT SUPPORTING SOLAR ENERGY IN SCHOOLS would have developed a solar for schools program that would allow up to 25 MW of solar on schools per year and required school districts to conduct solar feasibility studies. The bill did not pass, but the contents of the bill were included in the bonding package HB 5524, sections 173 - 176.

 

HB 5218 - AN ACT CONCERNING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF RIPARIAN BUFFERS AND REVISION OF CERTAIN INLAND WETLANDS PROVISIONS was approved by the Environment Committee but died in the Appropriations Committee.

 

HB 5358 - AN ACT CONCERNING A STUDY OF GEOTHERMAL ENERGY would have aided progress towards networked geothermal systems, also known as community geothermal, throughout Connecticut. Such projects are in development in Massachusetts and New York, and Connecticut is falling behind on launching this zero-carbon heating and cooling technology. The bill was approved by the Energy and Technology Committee but did not get a vote from either the House or the Senate.

 

HB 5485 - AN ACT CONCERNING TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES. In the last year, lawmakers have failed to act on clean car and truck regulations now in place in a growing number of states, including our immediate neighbors in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. HB 5485 aimed to support the growing number of electric vehicles by coordinating rebate programs and charging infrastructure, but it too failed in the legislature. 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation pollution, and transportation pollution has a significant impact on our local air quality. 

 

SB 11 - AN ACT COORDINATING CONNECTICUT RESILIENCY PLANNING AND BROADENING MUNICIPAL OPTIONS FOR CLIMATE RESILIENCE would have established new climate resiliency measures including municipal resiliency improvement districts, updated zoning and building codes for climate resiliency, and more. This bill was approved by the Environment Committee, but did not get a vote in the House or the Senate. 

SB 191 - AN ACT CONCERNING FOOD SCRAP DIVERSION FROM THE SOLID WASTE STREAM AND THE REDEMPTION OF OUT-OF-STATE BEVERAGE CONTAINERS - The food scrap diversion sections would have required food donation by large institutions, would have required municipalities to establish programs to divert food waste from the waste stream. It was completely changed through the process with the out-of-state beverage containers passed in a separate bill, and amended and passed in the Senate stripping out all mention of food waste and focusing on permitting recycling trucks.

 

SB 301 - AN ACT CONCERNING ENERGY EFFICIENCY STANDARDS AND GRANTS FOR RETROFITTING PROJECTS would have updated Energy Efficiency Standards for various consumer products, resulting in energy and greenhouse gas emission savings. It would also have modified the Housing Environmental Improvement Revolving Loan Fund passed by the legislature in 2023 to allow grants in addition to loans. It stalled after getting approved by the Energy and Technology Committee and did not receive a vote in either the House or the Senate. However, the Housing Environmental Improvement Revolving Loan Fund changes were included in the bonding package HB 5524, section 64.

 

SJ 193 - RESOLUTION PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE STATE CONSTITUTION REGARDING ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS would have put a referendum on the ballot for the rights to the essential life support systems of air, water, soil, a safe climate, and healthy environment to go into the Declaration of Rights in the Connecticut Constitution. The Resolution was approved by the General Election and Administration Committee, but did not receive a vote in either the House or the Senate.

 

HB 5217 - AN ACT CONCERNING THE USE OF CERTAIN RODENTICIDES would have banned one type of rodenticide - Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticide (SGAR) which are unintentionally killing wildlife include hawks, falcons, eagles, owls, vultures, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, raccoons and more. The non targeted victims succumb to secondary poisoning after consuming poisoned rodents, which are their natural prey. The bill, championed by Representative Joe Gresko, co-chair of the Environment Committee, was approved by the Committee but despite valiant efforts did not make it further in the process.

 

SB 190 - AN ACT CONCERNING THE USE OF NEONICOTINOIDS would have banned the nonagricultural use of neonicotinoids. This bill died in the Environment Committee.





 

Samantha Dynowski is State Director of Sierra Club Connecticut.

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