The Capitol Beat: December 2-6, 2013

From Gaffney, Bennett & Associates

December 2, 2013-December 6, 2013

Things are beginning to heat up in Hartford with the approach of 2014 and the start of a new legislative session February 5.  Various task forces are wrapping up their reports in preparation for the session, the Planning & Development Committee today released its pre-session meeting schedule and, the Senate Democratic leadership announced two Senate committee re-assignments.   And that’s not all….

  • Senate President Names New Co-chairs for P&D and Higher Ed 

Following the recent appointment of Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, to serve as Senate co-chair of the Appropriations Committee (replacing Sen. Toni Harp, who will soon be sworn in as the Mayor of New Haven), Senate President Don Williams today announced that, effective January 1, Sen. Steve Cassano, D-Manchester, would be vacating his chairmanship of the Planning & Development Committee to serve as Senate co-chair of the Higher Education Committee, which was formerly occupied by Sen. Bye.  Sen. Cathy Osten will replace Cassano at the helm of P&D, leaving her post as co-chair of the Labor Committee. Her successor on the Labor Committee has not yet been named. The moves should be seamless for the two lawmakers as Sen. Cassano is currently a vice chair of Higher Ed and taught at Manchester Community College for many years, while Sen. Osten is vice chair of P&D and was recently re-elected to serve as First Selectman of Sprague. Stay tuned.

  • New England States Partner to Lower Energy Costs  

The six New England states Thursday announced that they have formed a regional energy partnership to identify the private electric transmission and natural gas pipeline projects that are most likely to result in lower energy costs for the region.  Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Dan Esty called the collaboration “historic,” and said this promises to change the dynamic such that the states will now dictate to the market what is necessary, rather than the market and regulators dictating to the states.

  • Council on Environmental Quality Holds Forum on Proposed Legislation

The Council on Environmental Quality this week conducted a public hearing to solicit  input on its proposals to better protect the state’s land, rivers, Long Island Sound and parks.   They all have one thing in common that will be in short supply this session: $$$$$. The Council’s proposals include a call for the Legislature to: maintain capital funding levels for the Clean Water Fund and farmland preservation; appropriate sufficient funds to defend against invasive species and to allow all state parks to remain open and staffed in 2014; and to und and adopt a statewide water allocation policy.  Among the issues CEQ would like to see regulated more closely are: emissions from wood-burning stoves; all-terrain vehicles; cell towers; and alternative sewage treatment systems.

  • CT, New England Hospitals Join Coalition to Boost Purchasing Power

A coalition of some 100 New England hospitals, including at least six in Connecticut, have joined an online hospital supply marketplace to give them greater purchasing power and to help alleviate intense cost pressures, resulting largely from the Affordable Care Act. Aptitude LLC was founded in April in Irving, Texas, and claims to be the only online marketplace to offer direct purchasing between suppliers and buyers.  A no-brainer?

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