A few words from Andy Markowski- September 2019
Sep 30, 2019
Summer Has Ended But Is There Any End In Sight For Tolls And Other Issues?
As the summer season came to a conclusion in Connecticut, several hot policy issues at the Capitol have neither reached conclusion nor consensus. After much debate and discussion amongst state lawmakers, the public and the media, the legislature adjourned in June without taking any action on what are arguably three of the most hotly discussed issues in the state – tolls, sports gaming and expanded casino gambling. While there was some discussion of a possible “special” session of the legislature on any or all of these issues, legislators did not return to meet in Hartford over the summer. Governor Lamont and others still continue to advocate for implementing tolls along with exploring other transportation finance measures now, however, so there is a possibility that the legislature could return in special session sometime this fall to take up these issues, if an agreement can be reached.
Meanwhile, many new state laws take effect on October 1st, including the first of several scheduled increases in the state’s minimum wage, as previously reported on in the last installment of this newsletter. Below are some highlights of a few other important upcoming new laws of note for IEC contractors and associates, along with the general business community, all taking effect on October 1st:
State Set Aside Program Eligibility Changes – Public Act 19-117, Sec. 348
A new law increases the number of businesses eligible to bid on small contractor and minority business set-aside contracts by increasing the annual gross revenue limit for eligible small contractors from $15 million to $20 million. By law, state agencies and certain municipal contractors must annually set-aside or reserve (1) 25% of their contracts for exclusive bidding by state certified “small contractors,” and (2) 25% of that amount (6.25% of the total) for exclusive bidding by small contractors that are certified minority business enterprises (i.e., those owned or operated by minorities, women, and people with disabilities).
State Contractor Prequalification – Public Act 19-126
A new state law modifies the required contents of the application form used by the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to prequalify state public works contractors. It requires applicants to additionally provide information concerning any legal or administrative proceedings concluded adversely against them, or their principals or key personnel, within the last five years concerning the nonpayment or underpayment of employee wages or benefits during the performance of any public orprivate construction contract.
State “Prompt Pay” Laws – Public Act 19-141
A new state “prompt pay” law shortens the timeframe in which state agencies, quasi-public agencies, and certain municipal contractors must pay a small contractor under the small and minority business set-aside program from 30 days to 25 days from the date payment is due. This new law also applies to commercial construction contracts and requires general contractors to pay any subcontractor or supplier for labor and materials within 25 days of receiving payment from the owner (rather than 30 days under prior law) and to also include comparable provisions in each of their subcontracts.
Workplace Sexual Harassment & Training Mandate – Public Acts 19-16 & 19-93
This year the legislature, on a bi-partisan basis, made several key changes to laws concerning workplace sexual harassment and related issues. Most notably, the training requirements have been expanded to now include all employers with three or more employees as well as all supervisory employees. Additional changes include the following:
1. Expanding requirements for employers on training employees about sexual harassment laws and requiring the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) to make related training materials available to employers at no cost (in the form of a free online training and education video or other interactive materials for employers to use);
2. Expanding the definition of “discriminatory practice” in the CHRO statutes to include an employer’s failure to provide sexual harassment training as required;
3. Generally allowing employers to modify the conditions of an alleged harassment victim’s employment only with that person’s consent;
4. Allowing employees more time to file a complaint with CHRO alleging employment discrimination, including sexual harassment;
5. Increasing the fine for employers who fail to post notices about nondiscrimination laws; and
6. Allowing CHRO representatives, under certain circumstances, to enter an employer’s business during normal business hours to examine the employer’s sexual harassment training materials and conduct compliance checks related to certain notice posting requirements.
Business owners should consult with their human resources personnel and/or legal counsel to be sure they have a plan in place to be in compliance with this new law.