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CRMA Legislative Update: June 3

Monday, August 17, 2015

CRMA Legislative Update:

The Connecticut General Assembly (CGA) concluded its regular session on midnight June 3, but as is becoming a pattern over the past 10 years they didn’t really finish their work. While they have a constitutional obligation to adopt a new 2 year budget and tax package by that date, they also have a legal obligation to put those numbers into words – the necessary legal language. They did not - which forced them into overtime, in the form of a Special Session in late June.

For CRMA the end of the legislative session and special session, spanning six months, meant the end of one of our most active sessions in many years. Working thru our Legislative Committee, which is open to all members of CRMA, we followed hundreds of bill that were filed in various legislative committees as well amendments to legislative proposals that were often sprung on us at the very last minute. Although we might have finished battered and bruised, we look back on the session with a sense of pride in that we fought the good fight for retailers – and had some important victories along the way. There is no question that if not for CRMA’s effective advocacy, things could have been much worse for Connecticut retailers.

To begin, let’s look back at what DIDN’T happen. CRMA stopped a number of bad ideas, including a bill that would have forced retailers to give up to 21 days’ notice on scheduling, charging and collecting a fee on the use of every plastic bag, efforts to force retailers to give cash back to customers for the balance of any unused gift card, as well as number of tax proposals that would have spread the sales tax to a whole host of new products and services. CRMA was all over the CGA and the various committees in testifying against bills that would have had a negative impact on our members.

However, despite our hard work, there were some proposals that could not be stopped. Specifically, in the area of taxes, both consumer and sales tax or business taxes. We are very disappointed that the General Assembly did not consider restoring the clothing exemption allowance and chose to make changes to the sales tax holiday. As you will see below they made other changes to the tax code in CT as well as brought back to life in Special Session some issues that had DIED during the regular session:

    Taxes
  • Eliminated the clothing and footwear exemption that was scheduled to be restored July 1.
  • Lowered the sales tax holiday from $300 level to $100
  • Luxury tax increase to 7.75% effective July 1, 2015
  • Maintained the computer and data process sales tax rate at its current level of 1% and extends to World Wide Web services at 1%.
  • Delayed the implementation of the unitary tax one year until January 2016
  • Allowed some combined groups with unused operating loss greater than $6 billion to utilize greater than 50% of the losses incurred over previous years.
  • Changed the remittance date for sales tax from 20th day of the month to 30th day of the month. (After discussion with the Department of Revenue Services, this will be for the January remittance for December activity. DRS also made it clear that any retailer that is currently filing on the 20th day of the month can continue to do so.)

Legislation that failed during regular session added back into Budget Bills in Special Session

In order to gain enough votes for passage of the budget and the budget implementers as well as bills that died because of inaction on the last day of the regular session, legislative leaders included a number of bills and concepts in the budget implementers. Among those that would have an impact on our members are:

  • HB 5286 – AAC Microbeads.
  • HB 6996 Dry Cleaning Registration
  • Language inserted that requires the Department of Labor to set up an implementation plan to roll out a paid Family Medical Leave Act.
  • Language inserted to require that the Office of Policy and Management study the CT Institute for the 21st Century (pro business group) documents and report any recommendation to the General Assembly.
  • Language inserted creates a 13 member board that would advise the Department of Labor on issues related to low wages.

CRMA will continue to monitor issues during the interim (the time period between legislative sessions) as some of the issues that were defeated in the regular session maybe looked at again during the interim with an eye to re-introducing them when the Legislature goes back into session in February.

As always, we are here to answer any questions about any bills or issues that you may have.

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