With the Connecticut General Assembly back in session this month for its short session, the Labor & Public Employees Committee has scheduled two hearings this week — February 26th at 2 p.m. and February 28th at 2:30 p.m. — to consider a variety of bills now being proposed.  The agendas for each can be found here and here

The February 26th Hearing overall, will be hearing bills related to minimum wage, the Department of Labor, unemployment compensation and prevailing wages.  Among the more notable of the bills being discussed is Senate Bill 216 which would fix a law that expired last fall that allows 15-year-olds to work in grocery stores as baggers, cashiers and shelf stockers. As I reported last fall, lawmakers simply forgot to renew it.  The bill would also grant immunity to employers who kept those 15-year-olds employed from last fall until present because of the legislative slipup.

Other notable bills being considered:

  • House Bill 5105 (which would increase minimum wage to $8.00 per hour effective January 1, 2009);
  • Senate Bill 60 (which would create a new private cause of action for bullying in the workplace);
  • House Bill  5113 (which would regulate "professional service organizations" , or situations where there is a "coemployment relationship in which all or a majority of the employees providing services to a client or to a division or work unit of a client are covered employee");
  • House Bill 5114 (which would allow employers to pay its employees via a debit card, instead of a check).

The sleeper bill of these, in my view, is House Bill 5114.  This would be a huge benefit to the thousands of workers who do not have their own checking account.  Many of these people pay large check cashing fees.  The debit card might allow these employees to use the card directly like a VISA or Mastercard.  Employers are allowed to use these for items such as Health Savings Accounts, so why not paychecks (so long as it remains the choice of the employee)?

I should also note that Senate Bill 216 should be a no-brainer as well.  Having sunset provisions, like the one in the prior statute (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 31-23) are of no use, if no one at the General Assembly keeps track of them. 

The February 26th Hearing begins at 2 p.m. in Room 2D of the Legislative Office Building and is open to the public.

I’ll summarize the February 28th Hearing in an upcoming post.