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Legislatively Speaking
Legislatively Speaking: Resolutions Are Needed For State Session

By Alma Graham, CT State Grange Legislative Director

  July 1, 2021 --

The 2021 Legislative Session wrapped up early in June with much of its activity  being  taken up in the last few days. The Capitol and Legislative Office Building has remained closed to the public throughout this legislative session. All committee hearings were held virtually which posed a challenge for the public and lobbyists to meet with the legislators.

As usual the budget bill was presented on the last days of the session. The budget implementation bill had to be approved in a special session a few days after the close of the session.

This session saw some of the major topic addressed and some finally were passed. Tolls were removed from the income generating possibility,  but  the  Governor  did get a new fee for truckers that pass through the state.

The Legislature approved the elimination of religious exemptions for required school vaccines for children. This was a very emotional issue with many public protests before the bill was passed.

One bill that will affect many consumers is the expansion of the bottle bill. The deposits fees were doubled from 5 cents to 10 cents per can or bottle. A new fee of 5 cents was added on the miniature alcoholic bottles or ‘nips’. The 10 cents bottle deposits will now include individual serving fruit juices, sports drinks, coffee, teas, and other items previously not required. This will not take affect for another year as they must allow vendors to adapt recycling machines to accepts these new products.

The Community Invest Funds was not touched. This is the fund that is generated from a fee on real estate recordings and funds farm- land preservations and historical restorations.  With the increase of

real estate transactions in the state they anticipate an increase in these funds.

The budget bill did include some wins for the agricultural community. The state received funds from the Federal American Rescue Plan, the third COVID relief pan passed by Congress. Some of this money is being used to fund some food processing and operations across the state. Money is also allocated to administer a CT Grown for Kids grant program which will connect students with local food access.

Bills that were of interest that did not pass this session included one that would have exempted from personal taxes monies received from the sale of land development rights on agricultural lands to the state. Another one would have increased funding to help the State purchase agricultural real estate. There was also provision in the climate change report that would allow towns to establish funds to ac- quire and preserve open spaces and farmland within their towns.



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