As the governor’s budget moves through both the Appropriations Committee and the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, legislators struggle to file a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. However, Working Lands Alliance is actively tracking many pieces of legislation which will hit the Senate floor early next week. This includes monitoring changes made to the Community Investment Act (CIA) which was specifically prohibited from any sweeps made to the current budget.
On March 22nd the Environment Committee held their last public hearing for the 2018 legislative session and WLA watched in anticipation while the following bills were reported out of committee. Here are some insights on bills that will actively support farmland protection this session:
- SB- 106: An act concerning the sale of “Connecticut Grown” products. WLA actively supports this bill which is designed to assure that the representation that is offered at farmer’s markets and other location where CT Grown is marketed by food providers as local produce.
- SB-338: An act concerning the use of the Community Investment Account Funds for combating invasive species. WLA actively opposes this bill which would divert funds from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) open space portion of CIA to be used for invasive species programs. While controlling invasive species is important it does not fit with the core focus of the CIA and would dilute the investment available to local community projects
- SB 350: An act requiring the posting of a decommissioning bond for certain solar projects. WLA actively supports this measure which states that solar array placed on viable farmland need a decommissioning bond to ensure valuable farmland can be used for agriculture once the solar technologies become outdated. This legislation will guarantee funds are available for the removal of solar which will allow valuable working lands to be used for agriculture.
- HB-5534: An Act Concerning the Classification of Farmland. WLA is actively monitoring this bill which was introduced by Representative Doug Dubitsky and will require assessors to remove only the home size footprint from a land parcel for PA 490 tax purposes regardless of the minimum building lot size.
The Working Lands Alliance applauds the efforts put forth by legislatures this session in ensuring that farmland protection programming continues in our small but mighty state. In the upcoming weeks, look out for action alerts as to how you can actively support our efforts to protect the integrity of the CIA, help farmers donate food and work fiercely to find a proper balance when it comes to properly siting solar during this week’s upcoming Senate hearings.