HARTFORD, Conn. – With the end of the 2013 state legislative session in site, Connecticut lawmakers are pushing to pass several bills and put others on the back burner.
Saturday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and leaders from each of the legislative caucuses announced an agreement that would make Connecticut the first state in the country to require the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). House Bill 6527 – An Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Food, would require producers to label genetically engineered food in Connecticut as long as four states from the New England region with an aggregate population of 20 million also adopt a labeling provision. One of the four states must border Connecticut.
This bill protects local farming by ensuring that the regional agriculture market has adopted the new labeling system before placing an undue and disproportionate burden on Connecticut farmers that requires them to analyze and label products, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“This bill is simply about the right of people to know what the food they buy contains so they can make healthy, educated choices about what their families will or won’t eat,” said House Republican Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. (R-Norwalk). “In this regard, Connecticut is a pioneer in transparency concerning the foods we eat.”
In other action:
• The House passed a bill concerning the implementation of Connecticut’s comprehensive energy strategy. The legislation is expected to expand energy choices, lower utility bills for Connecticut residents and businesses, improve environmental conditions and generate at least 10,000 clean energy jobs, according to the press release from the governor’s office.
• The Senate voted to repeal what Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) called in a press release “an outdated and obsolete equipment mandate currently imposed on Connecticut gas stations.” The move is expected to save gas stations money and to reduce ozone emissions by eliminating an incompatibility between the currently required equipment and modern cars. “We are repealing an obsolete gas pump equipment requirement which has become incompatible with the technology incorporated into modern cars. Doing so will actually reduce harmful gasoline emissions while saving gas station owners money,” Duff said. The bill has passed both House and Senate.
• An amendment to HB 6358 introduced by state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton) that aims to provide mandate relief to the state’s highest performing schools, allowing them to focus on continuing improvement, passed both the House and Senate.
• A bill that increases the hourly minimum wage from its current $8.25 to $8.70 on Jan. 1, 2014, and from $8.70 to $9 on Jan. 1, 2015, passed both House and Senate.
• A bill proposing to shrink the size of drug-free zones around schools and day care centers was stopped last week without a vote after prolonged debate on the floor of the House.