State Rep. Tony Scott, R-112th

The 2023 General Assembly Session has concluded, with over 300 pieces of legislation passed by both the House and the Senate.

A contentious zoning reform proposal, known as “Fair Share,” calculating affordable housing needs was going to be mandated, but the bill narrowly approved in the House turned it into a study. This bill was brought out shortly before midnight on the last Friday of the session as an amendment to an unrelated bill. The state will now assess the need for affordable housing, by town, for informational purposes.

“Fair Share” is the first step toward implementing a policy that would weaken local control and impose one-size-fits-all housing solutions on cities and towns. The Office of Policy and Management will be tasked with determining the minimum need for housing for each municipality. I worry about what will happen after that. We’ve opened the door to the next step, a calculation of each town’s need for additional affordable housing potentially based on median income, poverty, multi-family housing stock and the grand list.

Easton has approximately 2,900 housing units, and based off the Open Communities Alliance estimate, the town would have to add another 529 units of housing under their Fair Share projections. That’s at least more than an 18% increase in total units, likely much more as developers will want to include market rate units in any development too. Easton would be hard pressed to find the land in order to build anywhere close to those numbers, in part because of the amount of wetlands included in the municipal borders.

I was saddened to see special interests coerce the majority party to support this Fair Share concept, unlike a vast majority of Fairfield County legislators, Republicans and Democrats. I assure you Hartford’s bureaucrats do not have the best interests of Easton in mind on issues like this.

I will continue to work to represent you and your best interests in Hartford. To that end, in the final week, the House passed a two-year, $51 billion state budget. The compromise plan included a reduction of the income tax from 5% to 4.50% and 3% to 2%. The budget also increases the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families from 30.5% to 40%.

I voted for this tax relief for families, for additional financial assistance for nonprofits, and to fully fund the Excess Cost grants for special education reimbursements to towns. This budget also stays within the spending cap and adheres to other fiscal guardrails put in place in 2017, which have led to surpluses allowing us to be able to offer tax relief now.

Both chambers also approved consumer protection bills this session. One is aimed at combating financial exploitation of senior citizens. Another requires additional mandated reporters of suspected abuse, abandonment, neglect, or exploitation of senior citizens. One will change regulations on automatic renewals on consumer agreements or bills. It sets limits and conditions on these renewals such as prohibiting a business from automatically renewing a service and charging a payment without affirmative consent.

We were able to pass some bills that will be good for the environment. State-owned buildings will have to turn their lights off at certain times during the night for the protection of birds. This will also help save the state money on utility bills. A seabird and shorebird protection program was also created under another bill approved by both the House and the Senate. After several years, proponents were able to finally pass a bill to prohibit the hand-harvesting of horseshoe crabs.

A summary of all major public acts passed this session is available online. You can find it by clicking here.

Tony Scott (R) represents the 112th state House District consisting of Monroe and portions of Easton and Trumbull.

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