The General Assembly continues its session this month and Sierra Club Connecticut is hard at work talking to legislators about our priorities and activating our grassroots advocacy efforts. Legislators need to hear from constituents about what is important to them and what bills they support. This is where you come in! The following is a list of our priority bills, starting with a few urgent issues on the top.
Senate Bill 4 An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Present and Future Housing Needs. This is a comprehensive bill for tenants to increase protections, affordable housing and energy efficiency and clean energy. It includes funding to invest in clean energy in Connecticut’s Environmental Justice Communities – reducing bills through energy efficiency, removing health hazards, and installing solar, battery and other clean energy. It includes a winter eviction moratorium, which would make it illegal to evict anyone December through March, protecting residents from being thrown out of housing during the coldest months of the year. It would set clear rules and limits on application and late rents fees, preventing exorbitant fees to rent and maintaining housing. It also establishes a tenant complaint form which gives tenants a voice and holds landlords accountable. People everywhere are feeling the sting of skyrocketing housing and energy prices and our most vulnerable communities are disproportionately being harmed the most. Let’s get this bill passed. You can send a message to your legislators here and join us at the State Capitol in Hartford on May 17 for a lobby day.
Senate Bill 1147 An Act Concerning the Environmental Justice Program of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. This bill would strengthen Connecticut’s Environmental Justice law by allowing DEEP to reject permits in areas already overburdened with pollution. Historically, Connecticut has placed affecting facilities, like trash incinerators, coal/gas power plants, and sewage treatment plants disproportionately in low-income communities and communities of color. This critical bill would begin to address that grave injustice. It would require DEEP to study the cumulative impacts of pollution on a community, and whether a new facility would add to that impact. We are urging that a facility be rejected in such a case, rather than just a considered. You can send a message to your legislators here.
Photo: The bald eagle
Photo credit: Paul
Senate Bill 962 An Act Concerning the Use of Certain Rodenticides. This bill would classify Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SGARS) as “restricted use” and prohibit their sale in the state. Raptors, like the iconic Bald Eagle, are dying at an alarming rate when they eat rodents that have ingested this poison. This legislation could be a good start, but unfortunately does not go far enough, as it could still be used and potentially continue to poison raptors, other wildlife and even household pets. Even if you cannot buy the product in the state, you can still buy it via the internet. We need a two-year moratorium on the use of these products while DEEP can study their effects on wildlife and craft a policy from there. You can send a message to your legislators here.
Other Bills to Support:
The following are other bills that have made it out of committee and could go to the floor for a vote anytime in the next month. None of them are a guarantee, so if an issue speaks to you, please contact your legislators and tell them to support the following. You could also call the leadership in both the House (Speaker Matt Ritter: 860-240-8585) and Senate (Martin Looney: 860-240-0375) and ask them for their support of this legislation and that they call the bill for a vote in their respective chambers.
Climate Change & Environmental Justice:
SB 1145 An Act Concerning the Establishment of Sector Specific Subtargets for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions. This bill updates the Global Warming Solutions Act to include a net-zero target by 2050, authorizes DEEP to make regulations and take actions to achieve the target, and requires a renewable energy analysis for any proposed fossil fuel infrastructure. This bill died, but components of it should be added to other climate legislation.
SB 961 An Act Concerning Carbon-Free School Requirements for New School Construction. This will promote the construction of carbon-free schools.
SB 979 An Act Promoting Energy Affordability, Energy Efficiency and Green Cities. This will supply energy data to prospective renters to understand the energy use of an apartment they might rent. It also aims to increase tree canopy coverage in urban areas.
SB 1083 An Act Establishing a Transportation Carbon Budget for the State. This will set a transportation sector carbon budget.
HB 6397 An Act Concerning Zero Carbon Emissions. This bill declares a climate emergency, and requires DEEP to develop a comprehensive roadmap to reduce emissions.
HB 5577 An Act Concerning Surplus Food Donation and Establishing Food Composting Requirements. Compostable organic matter makes up over 40% of total waste in Connecticut. This bill only addresses a fraction of compostable organic waste, but getting it out of the waste stream will make a difference.
HB 6606 An Act Concerning the Use of Certain Products Made from Polystyrene.
HB 6608 An Act Concerning the Distribution of Single Use Straws and Stirrers by Certain Restaurants. 11% of waste in Connecticut is plastic. Single use plastics like straws must be banned to reduce overall plastic waste.
SB 963 An Act Concerning Neonicotinoids for Non-Agricultural Use. This bill will restrict the use of these insecticides and help stop the decline of keystone insect populations.
SB 100 An Act Establishing an Account in the General Fund to Provide Grants to Towns that Need PFAs Testing and Remediation.
HB 6607 An Act Concerning the Nighttime Lighting of State-Owned Buildings at Certain Times for the Protection of Birds. Excessively lit buildings and reflective structures attract and disorient migratory birds, leading to deadly collisions.
HB 6813 An Act Authorizing the Establishment of a Seabird and Shorebird Protection Program. This will create seabird and shorebird protection areas along the state's coast.
HB 6484 An Act Concerning Certain Harvesting of Horseshoe Crabs. This will prohibit the hand-harvesting of horseshoe crabs whose eggs are critically important to migrating shorebirds. Has passed unanimously in the House of Representatives
OPPOSE: A bear hunt, burning of plastics aka “advanced recycling,” dirty energy incentives
Now is the time to make your voice heard and help to pass important legislation that will make a significant difference for the people of the state, our ecosystems, and our wildlife. Thank you for all that you do and see you next month!
Ann Gadwah is Advocacy & Outreach Organizer with a focus on our legislative work at the State Capitol.