CHAIRMEN: Representative Baram

Senator Doyle

MEMBERS PRESENT:

SENATORS: Doyle, Witkos, Coleman, Kissel

REPRESENTATIVES: Baram, Kiner, Carter, Altobello, Aman, Arconti, Esposito, Nafis, Nicastro, Orange, Rovero, Rutigliano

SENATOR DOYLE: Hi. Good afternoon. I'd like to call the General Law Committee meeting, public hearing, I should say, to order. Before we get into the specifics I just have to give you an announcement in terms of safety.

Note the location of the two exit doors behind you. In the event of emergency please walk quickly to the nearest exit. After exiting the room, go to your right and exit the building by the main entrance or follow the exit signs to one of the other exits.

Please quickly exit the building and follow any instructions by Capital Police. Do not delay, do not return. In the event of a lockdown announcement, please remain in the hearing room.

Thank you, and so we're here for a public hearing. It's a little late. There's no sinister motive. We simply could not get a room at a normal time, so that's why we're here late afternoon.

As many people know, for the first hour we have public officials and agency heads, and then for the second hour on we have members of the public.

We ask all people testifying to keep their comments to three minutes, and then it may sound a little short, but from the capacity of the room, I think everyone wants to try to get home, so it's probably good for everyone.

And three minutes is short, but the committee members have the right to ask questions, so keep in mind you may get additional questions rather than just your three minutes.

So at this point in time we'll start with the public list.

Representative Baram, my co-chair, do you have any comments? He doesn't have any.

Okay. So we'll get right to work.

The first speaker is Representative Joe Aresimowicz. Is the majority leader here? He is not. Okay.

So Representative Patricia Miller? She's up. You're up, Representative.

Then Representative Kim Rose, then Kendall Wiggin, (phonetic) state librarian. If the majority leader comes we'll insert him in.

Good afternoon, Representative.

REP. MILLER: Good afternoon, Representative Baram, Senator Doyle, and members of the General Law Committee.

I appreciate the opportunity to express my support for one of the proposals before you this session.

Gift cards are an increasingly popular gift choice. They are a $30 billion a year industry, about 81 percent of consumers, more than one out of eight shoppers, gave a gift card last year.

Shoppers spent an average of $163 on gift cards last holiday season. More and more consumers are choosing gift cards because of their perceived flexibility. They may seem like a perfect gift for a friend or a family member, allow recipients to choose what they want.

Many see gift cards as synonymous as giving cash, but a little less impersonal.

Gift cards are not the same as cash. Many Connecticut consumers are not aware that retailers do not legally have to redeem gift cards for cash, even if there is only a nominal value left on a card, retailers do not and often will not give cash to a consumer -- a customer.

Connecticut consumers could spend $99.99 of a $100 gift card, and a retailer would be within their rights under current law in refusing to return the remaining one-cent value of cash the customer.

House Bill 5473 is a common-sense fix that would simply require an issuer of gift cards upon request to provide a purchaser with a cash refund equal to the value of the remaining value balance of the gift card after a purchase is made.

If House Bill 5473 is enacted, Connecticut would join 10 other states that have enacted similar, friendly protections. In Connecticut, shoppers may redeem gift cards for their cash value.

Representative Baram, Senator Doyle, and members of the General Law Committee, I urge you to support House Bill 5473. Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you, Representative.

Any questions?

Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Representative.

REP. MILLER: Good afternoon.

SENATOR WITKOS: I want to give you a scenario, and I would like you to respond to the fact of oftentimes there's many small businesses that would offer gift certificates at their establishments, and say -- I'll use a restaurant for example -- somebody comes in and buys a gift certificate for somebody, $100 value, gives it to them as a gift.

And the person comes in the next day at the beginning of the restaurant's operation, and buys a soda and says I'd like the remainder of my gift certificate in cash, please.

And there is just not the cash available because it's a brand-new day. Many businesses only hold X amount of dollars at the beginning in their cash register, and management hasn't arrived yet.

What do you perceive would happen in that type of a scenario? Do you think it's prudent that this business be held to a CUTPA violation because of that?

REP. MILLER: I think that in today's society we do have checks. And they may not have the cash on hand, but they could, as well, give them a check as well.

And I've gone through these scenarios in my mind because there are different scenarios that you could use, and that's one of them where a person came in the next day and got a soda and they received that money.

But I think that consumers are entitled to spend their money where they want to, and if someone purchases you a gift card, they are assuming that you're going to -- that's the favorite place that you want to go.

But things change. Maybe the restaurant, the food is not that good anymore. Maybe there have been some changes.

And so that person should be entitled to receive that money, the refund.

SENATOR WITKOS: And would you be willing to have an amendment to the bill that would authorize at least a 24-hour period or something to get it to the person, to make arrangements? Because in the scenario I gave you the person -- if you have just an employee there, an hour after they open, take a gas station for example. If somebody got a gift card for a gas station and the shift just changed, they locked the drawer and the safe. So the person that's working at the time, they only have $100 of cash in the drawer, and a person comes in and buys a pack of gum with a $100 gift card, says, "All right. I want the $98 back."

Well, is the cashier responsible for now emptying the drawer. And they still can't -- you know, there's got to be some wiggle room that arrangements have to be made in order to refund that money.

REP. MILLER: Yes. I'm willing to have the conversation.

SENATOR WITKOS: Okay. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR DOYLE: Mr. Vice-Chairman.

REP. KINER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, Representative, for your testimony. Would you support a minimum monetary value? Let's say if I received a $100 gift card, and I bought a pack of gum and I request $98 back, and I don't think that's necessarily the purpose of the gift card.

But let's say I was given a -- now a different hypothetical -- a $5 gift card, bought that same $2 pack of gum. So now there's only $3 left on the card, rather than $98.

Would you be opposed to like a $5 minimum?

REP. MILLER: A $5 minimum to return?

REP. KINER: Right. I mean, I guess kind of following up on Senator Witkos' question. If the money is not there, that's a plausible scenario. They should have $3 there, $4. And that might be an inconvenient for somebody to have $4 or $3 left on the card.

REP. MILLER: Right. I'm willing to have the conversation, Representative.

REP. KINER: All right. I think I would support something like that more, but we'll talk about that in the meeting.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

REP. MILLER: May I ask you a question? I'm sorry.

SENATOR DOYLE: Sure. You want to ask him a question?

REP. MILLER: Yes, sorry.

SENATOR DOYLE: If he agrees to answer it, yes.

REP. MILLER: Okay.

SENATOR DOYLE: I'll permit you to ask it. I won't require him --

REP. MILLER: No. No, I just wanted to add something. I'm sorry. That's that representative ending.

SENATOR DOYLE: Sure.

REP. MILLER: So sorry.

SENATOR DOYLE: Yeah, you're not on the floor of the House, but yes.

REP. MILLER: I'm sorry. I apologize.

SENATOR DOYLE: You can -- yes.

REP. MILLER: Just to add on, may I add --

SENATOR DOYLE: Yes, sure. Yes.

REP. MILLER: -- something on to the question? I'm sorry to rephrase that. So $5 in today's society $5 is nothing, so I think that I would be willing to discuss something higher than $5.

REP. KINER: Okay, yeah. That's an arbitrary number.

REP. MILLER: Yeah, okay.

REP. KINER: Maybe anything less than 20.

REP. MILLER: All right. Thank you.

REP. KINER: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: I think you guys can discuss it off-site maybe. Have a discussion in the hall.

Thank you. Any further questions?

All right. Chairman Baram.

REP. BARAM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Welcome, Representative Miller.

REP. MILLER: Thank you.

REP. BARAM: I wanted to explain perhaps the reason you were asked some of the questions. When I returned to my office just before this hearing, there was a UPS package from the Retail Card/Gift Card Association.

And they had some information that should have just been distributed, so you would not have had a chance to see it. And in it they indicated there were 12 states or so that had such statutes refunding cash.

Some of the states were as low as $1, some were $5. And I looked at it quickly. I think the highest was California with $10. So that may be the reason why you're being asked these questions, you know, how you felt about having a law that said if your gift card only had let's say less than $10, you could, you know, get a refund and get your -- and cash it in.

I think the impetus for those questions was the result of that literature that was sent to us just a few minutes ago.

REP. MILLER: Thank you, Representative. I understand the questions because I found that in my research as well. And I said there are 10 states that have the same type or similar gift card protection.

So I certainly understand where the line of questioning is coming from. Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Rep. Rutigliano.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Representative.

REP. MILLER: Good afternoon.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: One of the issues, as a seller of gift cards, one of the issues that I have is we donate a tremendous amount of gift cards to just about any organization that will ask throughout the year.

In my system, POS system, which is rather advanced, I have no way to discern when that customer brings that card back whether it was a donation or if it was paid for by cash.

So this bill as written opens me up to sort of donating twice. I've already donated a gift card, and now I'm actually refunding hard cash.

So I don't really know if there's a question there. I might just be making a comment. But it is a real and legitimate concern. I do literally a thousand donations a year throughout the year.

So my other point might be there are times in life where people buy gift cards because they don't want to give out cash to somebody. You know, maybe you have a teen or where you're going to give them a gas card instead of cash or a stop and shop card to somebody who you want to buy groceries.

I would just hope that you keep that in mind as we deliberate this issue that it might not be as clear-cut as it may appear to be.

And thank you for your time, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. MILLER: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions? Seeing none, thank you, Representative.

REP. MILLER: Thank you, Senator.

SENATOR DOYLE: Our next speaker -- is the majority leader here?

REP. BARAM: No, he's not.

SENATOR DOYLE: Okay.

The next speaker -- is Representative Kim Rose here?

Okay. Representative Kim Rose? She's not here.

Kendall Wiggin, state librarian? Mr. Wiggin.

KENDALL WIGGIN: Good afternoon, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, committee members.

My name is Kendall Wiggin. I'm the state librarian. I'm here to speak in support of Raised Bill 5477. I'd also like to thank the committee for raising the bill. I've submitted testimony and I won't read it but I'll just point out that this legislation comes out of a report that was a result of the work this committee did in passing Special Act 13-10, which was AN ACT CONCERNING E-BOOKS.

And I know it was a big topic at this committee last year. And I feel that this legislation is the first step in helping us read some of the suggestions and recommendations in that report, specifically making clear that the State Library Board would have the authority to pursue the development of an e-book platform.

Over the years the legislature has entrusted the state library with responsible for many statewide library projects. I think we've done well with those. I think we would do well with this.

I do need to point out that it will take some funding to actually implement this, and currently there is no funding in the governor's current budget.

But this is, as I say, a first step. And it would help us move forward with this initiative. So you have my written testimony. I'd be glad to answer any questions.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any questions from the committee?

Thank you very much.

KENDALL WIGGIN: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Next speaker, Representative Sear. Is Representative Sear here? Yes, he is.

REP. SEAR: Thank you, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram and other distinguished members of the General Law Committee.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of Raised Bill 5477, AN ACT CONCERNING A STATEWIDE PLATFORM FOR THE DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRONIC BOOKS.

Now I'll speak from the heart. Last year I did introduce a bill that you're all aware of we worked together on that sought to remedy a situation that exists in the state in terms of availability of e-books to state libraries. And from a secondary basis, the cost of what those books were.

It was all over the map and so we worked that bill through the process. I pursued vigorously a enforcement type of legislation, which basically would say if you sold to the public on the retail end, e-books in the state you would have to provide those to the libraries at a similar cost.

There was pushback on that in terms of you know, free market and commerce concerns. There were also legal concerns that that was a First Amendment right that was being infringed upon, et cetera.

Where we ended up at the end of last year session, and we did vote through, was a study bill. And at first I was a little nervous that that study bill might have been just the way to take this concept and move it to the side and kind of put it on a side burner, but that didn't happen.

It was the Office of Consumer Protection that was commissioned with putting the study together. They worked very hard and very diligently and came up with a very comprehensive study that didn't even just address the e-book availability, but cast a whole larger picture of digital content at libraries, and what their role is in today's society.

And they did make some recommendations at the end of their report. I will quote just a couple references from that report to put this in context. "To fully appreciate why library exclusion for meaningful participation in the e-book market is problematic, it is necessary to understand the important role of libraries and their communities and how that role is becoming more vital as digital content rapidly seeps into virtually every aspect of daily life.

As information becomes digitized and moves online. The role of the library is becoming more important, not less important. And as a summary, the importance of having eBooks at libraries is not simply a matter of convenience or consumer preference.

Excluding libraries from popular e-content will further the digital divide as those unable to afford to buy books will be excluded from a wide range of e-content, and of a delivery platform that is increasingly popular."

The recommendations that OCP made -- I was a little frustrated when I first saw those because they took right off the table the concept of some sort of enforcement action. The attorney general's office had been involved in this study and possibly they had concerns about possible lawsuits coming down the road.

But the more I looked into it the suggestions they did have were productive and constructive and that brings us to where we are today. One of the recommendations was setting up a statewide platform for e-book, not just purchasing, and not just the terms of the cost of the purchasing, but one of the concerns in this whole kind of fluctuating e-book library situation is the file format of the eBooks, having a common platform that libraries can use, having some agreement between publishers and libraries on what would work best for both.

And we had a symposium a couple weeks ago at the University of Hartford. The publishers were there. The libraries were there. They're all working together. This isn't a win/lose situation, and I think we're at a good spot in terms of that being the best remedy or solution to kind of move all of our libraries forward and work with publishers to set up the terms, the pricing, the accessibility and, you know, the file format so that a couple years from now we'll all be working together on the same page.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Thank you, Representative.

REP. SEAR: Thank you.

Any questions from the committee? Seeing none, thank you very much. A good bill. The last few years we've been working in bipartisan fashion. Thank you.

REP. SEAR: And thank you all.

SENATOR DOYLE: Next speaker is Representative Melissa Ziobron. She's here?

REP. ZIOBRON Good afternoon, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, Senator Witkos, Representative Carter and esteemed members of the General Law Committee.

I'm submitting testimony today in support of House Bill 5476, AN ACT CONCERNING A STUDY OF THE FEASIBILITY OF LEGALIZING INDUSTRIAL HEMP.

The use of hemp far predates the use of cotton or other materials. In fact, the earliest-known woven fabric was hemp and it dates back to 7000 B.C.

Up until the 1800s, some estimate that 80 percent of all textiles and fabrics were made of hemp fibers. In the ancient times it was used to create fabric, paper and oil. So why do we have such an aversion to using this material? Simply put, it is misinformation that is stopping us from using this highly-versatile and sustainable resource.

There are some who estimate that 25,000 items could be manufactured from hemp. Deforestation is occurring around 3 percent per year, and hemp is a far superior resource, since it can be grown to maturity in 100 days.

These facts, along with the potential at creating thousands of U.S. jobs, should warrant the study from DECD that this bill proposes.

Since the war on drugs began, many folks confused hemp with marijuana. According to some of the research that I've done, hemp contains such a low level of THC that it would take many football fields of use to render the same effect as marijuana.

While the plant genus is the same, in fact, if it is grown next to each other it would render the marijuana sterile. In addition, research is warranted regarding the new Federal Farm Bill, which allows colleges and universities to start pilot programs for growing hemp.

While it appears that 10 states fit this guideline, part of the DECD due diligence should deal with the federal and state implications as well.

There is growing demand for hemp products in the United States, and the irony is that we cannot produce the raw material here to develop those and help our local businesses. Instead, they are imported from all over the world.

This bill would investigate the feasibility of a product that has been around for thousands of years that has proven to be more sustainable than even wood, is 100 percent versatile and has a proven market. So what are we waiting for?

I brought with me 15 interesting facts that I think you might find interesting as well regarding hemp and its history in the United States.

All school books were made from hemp or flax paper until the 1880s. It was legal to pay taxes with hemp in American from 1631 until the early 1800s. Refusing to grow hemp in America during the 17th and 18th centuries was actually against the law. I guess you could be jailed in Virginia if you refused.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers grew hemp. Benjamin Franklin owned one of the first paper mills in America, and it processed hemp.

Also the War of 1812 was fought over hemp.

For thousands of years, 90 percent of all ships' sails and rope were made from hemp, and the word canvas comes from the Middle English word canevus, which comes from the Latin word cannabis.

Eighty percent of all textiles, fabrics, clothes, linen, drapes, bed sheets were made from hemp until the 1820s with the introduction of the cotton gin. The first Bibles, maps, charts, Betsy Ross's flag, the first draft of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were made from hemp.

The first crop grown in many states was hemp. In 1850 was a peak year for Kentucky, producing 40,000 tons. Hemp was the largest cash crop until the 20th century. Oldest-known records of hemp farming go back 5,000 years in China, although hemp industrialization probably goes back to ancient Egypt.

Rembrandt, Van Gogh, as well as early canvas paintings were principally painted on hemp linen. I'll wrap it up.

And there's a few others. If you're interested I'll email them to you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you very much.

REP. : But I bring that to your attention because it was very interesting to me, the history of what we're talking about.

SENATOR DOYLE: Sure.

REP. ZIOBRON: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you.

Representative, are there other states that produce hemp as an industrial base?

REP. ZIOBRON: In the research that I've done, I guess there's 10 other states that are allowed to do it, that have the law for industrialization. And according to the latest farm bill that was just passed, colleges and private universities could do a pilot program but only with those 10 states that the industrialization in place.

SENATOR WITKOS: And are you aware, do they have any security procedures, where those will be grown, like indoors only or anything like that?

REP. ZIOBRON: I don't have all that data. It sounds from the bill that DECD would have to do a lot of that study and due diligence in the bill, which is only for a study. But I'm sure it's -- you know, we're talking about industrial use.

I'm envisioning empty warehouses in the State of Connecticut and other places that could be using hydroponics and other ways to cultivate that.

SENATOR WITKOS: Okay. Thank you, thank you Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you. Representative Altobello.

REP. ALTOBELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Representative.

I noticed you've got two different departments that would be coordinating this study, but there's one that's left out, the Department of Agriculture. Is there any reason why you left them out or if we went forward this bill --

REP. ZIOBRON: No. I think the Department of Ag should definitely be included if the bill goes forward.

REP. ALTOBELLO: Because you're talking about growing it here as well?

REP. ZIOBRON: Yeah, absolutely.

REP. ALTOBELLO: Okay.

REP. ZIOBRON: No, I think that's a very valid point.

REP. ALTOBELLO: Thank you, Madame.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions?

Representative Rutigliano.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good afternoon, Representative. What does it look like?

REP. ZIOBRON: Well, it's interesting because it's very tall. It grows to be about 18 feet tall and the stem is very woody. It doesn't look like marijuana, which is --

REP. RUTIGLIANO: It doesn't look anything -- it's completely different?

REP. ZIOBRON: No, it looks similar, but it's so tall and woody. Marijuana -- and I'm not an expert in that field but let me just be clear. The difference is when I'm doing my research is that hemp is the plant itself and the fiber of the whole plant is what's used.

And marijuana, I believe, it's just the flower that is used.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: Are they two completely different species?

REP. ZIOBRON: Just like the genus for the dog family, you know, there's a difference between a Chihuahua and a wolf, but they have the same scientific origin. This would be the same. The same plant species, but if you were actually to grow it next to each other, it would take away all the potency of the marijuana.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: And you would be able to tell the difference between the two if they were grown next to each other.

REP. ZIOBRON: Well, I think that's -- a lot of people assume that you can't tell the difference, and I think that's part of the myth behind it. I think, you know, you certainly can tell the difference in a lot of ways.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: Thank you. Thank you for your time. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any questions from the committee?

Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

So I just want to make sure I understand this. Is there still some THC in the product, in hemp?

REP. ZIOBRON: Yeah. I guess it's less than 1 percent. From what I have been reading about it, it's so small that you would literally die of carbon monoxide poisoning if you attempted to use it in the same way as marijuana is used.

And when they import it, I guess, from other countries, they do test it for that, and if it's above a certain level it's not brought into the United States.

REP. CARTER: Okay. Thank you very much.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Are there any further questions? Are we all set? Okay. Thank you.

REP. ZIOBRON: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Next speaker, David Waskowicz.

Is David Waskowicz here?

DAVID WASKOWICZ: Good afternoon, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, and members of the General Law Committee.

David Waskowicz, Chairman of the Fire Protection Sprinkler System Work Examining Board for the State of Connecticut, Department of Consumer Protection.

I also have two other board chairmen, Ed Fusco and Bob Barrio. I'll let them introduce themselves.

ED FUSCO: My name is Ed Fusco, the Auto and (inaudible) chairman.

ROBERT BARRIO: My name is Robert Barrio, chairman of the Heating Cooling Sheet Metal Board.

DAVID WASKOWICZ: I want to ask for your support of Senate Bill 412 for the enforcement of certain occupational licensing laws. This bill would benefit the public and the consumers in the State of Connecticut, with the addition of the cease work order. It's in the proposed legislation.

The addition of the cease work order stops the violator and the violation when unlicensed individuals are determined to be doing work in the State of Connecticut. The existing language needs to be strengthened, and the proposed changes involve the appropriate boards in the Department of Consumer Protection with conjunction -- in conjunction with the Commissioner of Consumer Protection.

I believe the citizens and the consumers would be better served with the passage of S.B. 412. I thank you for your time and your consideration. I wanted to keep it brief so the other two gentlemen can speak.

SENATOR DOYLE: Okay. Yeah, please keep it brief, because there are a lot of people. You want to make some brief comments?

ED FUSCO: Thank you.

Sorry about that. Yes, my name is Ed Fusco, like I said, and I concur with Dave. I support the bill heartily. We've been working on this bill for a while and I think it is definitely going to help the consumer.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

ROBERT BARRIO: Thank you. On this bill it's been proposed -- Raised Bill 412 -- the entire Heating Cooling Board, all of the board members of the Department of Consumer Protection 100 percent are for this bill.

We just feel that there's a lack of enforcement, either through budget contradictions, not enough inspectors, but thousands and thousands of dollars in fines had to go on the loss. There's no enforcement that we can see of. They do the best they can but they don't have an awful lot of people.

Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you.

Under this bill, is there any time where the commissioner would differ from the examining board's decision on whether a violation occurred or not in your experiences?

DAVID WASKOWICZ: I would say it's a possibility. I mean, yeah, it's possible, but I could speak for the Fire Protection Board. It's comprised of two licensed journeymen, two licensed contractors, state fire marshal, local fire marshal, and three public members.

So then there is a hearing or something comes before the board, the people there will know the ramifications and the seriousness of the offense. And I would like to believe it would be, you know, in conjunction with the commissioner.

SENATOR WITKOS: 'Cause it gives you the ability to either do it jointly or separately, and that's why I was wondering if most of the times it's done it's unanimous I guess, for lack of better words, and decisions.

DAVID WASKOWICZ: The reason this proposal came up was back in '07 the word and/or and that small word, and/or kind of eliminated -- the commissioner could rule without the board. This language would put it back into the board.

Like I say, when, you know, you have the board's comprised of the people that are familiar with the type of work that's being done and the seriousness of the offense, you know, hearing the case, if it goes to --

SENATOR WITKOS: Well, that's the premise of my question is because are we doing this because we didn't necessarily agree with the position of the commissioner more often than not? And that's why we wanted this?

DAVID WASKOWICZ: No.

SENATOR WITKOS: Or is it because just to clarify the language.

DAVID WASKOWICZ: No, Senator.

I've been on the board for 17 years, and there hasn't been a hearing before the board since '07.

SENATOR WITKOS: Okay.

DAVID WASKOWICZ: And the streamlined things, it's gone to what they call an "assurance of voluntary compliance" where the offender or the violator comes in, sits down with the commissioner, and the board is not hearing the case and I think it's, you know, it should --

SENATOR WITKOS: And one of the things that somebody mentioned, there was a staffing issue. This doesn't address the staffing issue, I don't think. It says that if you render a decision and you found that the person is in violation, then a cease order work order will be delivered as soon as practical.

And who would be doing that work of delivering the cease order?

DAVID WASKOWICZ: I believe ultimately it would come out of the commissioner's off-, or his delegative representative. That's the way I interpret the bill.

SENATOR WITKOS: And how is that done now if somebody has a stop --

DAVID WASKOWICZ: There is no stop order. There is no -- the violator doesn't, you know, the inspector shows up, observes a violation, the person is asked to leave the job. I mean, you know, there's no guarantee that that person can't show up again tomorrow and continue working illegally in the State of Connecticut.

SENATOR WITKOS: And is there -- under the current statutes is there a fine involved that can be levied either by the commissioner or by the examining board or a license revocation?

I mean, basically we're doing -- we're giving -- granting authority to issue a cease and desist order basically from continuing the work based on the violation.

SENATOR WITKOS: What happens after that?

DAVID WASKOWICZ: Well, there would be a hearing. The language was adopted -- the Department of Labor has that ability right now when they find a violator out there to cease and work order issued, cease and desist order.

And this would just extend it to the Department of Consumer protection if they found a violation of licensing laws.

I hope that answered -- I don't know if that answered --

SENATOR WITKOS: Yes. Both entities now will have the ability -- the Department of Labor and through the Department of Consumer Protection -- the ability to issue a cease order?

DAVID WASKOWICZ: It's two different departments.

SENATOR WITKOS: Right.

DAVID WASKOWICZ: The licensing is covered by Consumer Protection. The wage and insurance, when they find a fraud over there in the Department of Labor, that's a different entity. So this would give Consumer Protection basically the same power to have a cease work order issued.

SENATOR WITKOS: How often do we have issues like this or hearings where we have to bring somebody in to have a hearing, whether -- regardless of what the outcome is. Is that often?

DAVID WASKOWICZ: As I stated, we haven't -- on the Fire Protection Board we haven't had a hearing since '07. Prior to that we had --

SENATOR DOYLE: (Inaudible).

DAVID WASKOWICZ: We've been so far out of the loop we're literally ignored.

SENATOR WITKOS: Okay.

DAVID WASKOWICZ: A perfect example, sir, we recently had a board meeting. Gentlemen will come in with notarized statements that I've been employed for this employer for three or four years. He feels justified that I can sit for my S-2 exam.

Well, he's never been registered as an apprentice, and he's never been to school. And there's a $1,500 fine. We refer that over to Consumer Protection for enforcement, and they'll give a $250 civil penalty or they'll dismiss it or something.

The enforcement at best is extremely lax, and without bloating, there's probably 2 -- $250,000 a year in fines just with that at our board meetings that's just gone.

And that's just our board. That's not the plumbing board, the sprinkler board.

SENATOR WITKOS: Okay. Thank you. Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Are there any further questions from the committee? Seeing none, thank you very much, gentlemen.

DAVID WASKOWICZ: Thank you for your time.

SENATOR DOYLE: All right. We're going to move onto the public, and if Representative Aresimowicz or Representative Rose comes in, they'll jump in.

So going to the public, the first speaker is Michael Lynch, then Joseph Colacci and David Jagrosse.

Again, please keep your comments to three minutes, and the committee can ask you questions.

So Michael Lynch.

MICHAEL LYNCH: Good evening, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, and members of the committee.

My name is Michael Lynch, Jr. I'm the president of Lynch Toyota in Manchester, Connecticut. I'm a third genera -- it's a third-generation, family-owned auto dealership with 110 employees.

I'm also the chairperson of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association, which is a not-for-profit trade association that represents the interests of the 250 licensed franchised auto dealers and their 12,000 employees in our state.

And I'm here to testify in opposition to Raised Bill 375, AN ACT CONCERNING CONSUMER RENTAL CAR COST REIMBURSEMENT AND USED MOTOR VEHICLE WARRANTIES.

This legislation mandates that all used car warranties required by law include coverage for the cost of a rental car for any vehicle sold by a dealer in this state covering the times when a vehicle might be in the shop for warranty work.

This will require all consumers to pay for the cost of a rental car and the price of a used car. This is an anti-consumer choice. It mandates an expensive option that many consumers may not need or want.

It is anti-consumer as it will make many lower-end used vehicles less and less affordable to consumers. It violates the principles of the transparency and the sales process by statutorily bearing the cost of a rental car in the price of car.

As a licensed franchise dealer in this state, I, along with 250 of my colleagues, sell both new and used cars. There are approximately 1,600 licensed used-car dealer only dealers in the state as well.

Last year Connecticut dealers sold approximately 337,000 vehicles or 40 percent of all vehicle sales. Conservatively, CARA estimates that half of all dealer sales are for used cars.

I tell you this because as a used-car dealer I know that many consumers are looking to purchase affordable transportation. They do not want extras added into the price. In fact, state and federal laws go to great lengths to protect used-car consumers from paying for options they did not ask for.

Connecticut and federal law does not allow dealers to load up the price of a car with extra products like gap coverage, vignettes, extended-service contract or other after-market items unless the consumer wants these products.

These laws are designed to ensure transparency in the process and give the consumer a choice of price and options in the used-vehicle market.

There are many options a dealer may offer to customers. Gap coverage, if it's a good product. If you get in an accident and your vehicle is totaled and you still owe money on the car loan over and above what the insurance covered, then gap will pay the rest of the car off.

Some customers ask to purchase this product, and many customers do not. And they want an affordable payment and don't want the cost of the gap coverage in the price of the car.

Extended-service contracts are another example available to consumers for both new and used cars. Some consumers agree to buy these products, but dealers are prohibited from including such coverage in the price of a car without the consumer's consent.

In fact, some extended service contracts will cover the cost of a rental car while a car is in the shop.

There's a couple of other -- in the interest of time -- examples in here, and I would just like to thank you for the opportunity to offer you my views and I think that these views are the same as many of my loyal customers.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any questions from the committee?

Seeing none, thank you very much.

MICHAEL LYNCH: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: All right. In the interest of time, I'm going to invite up the next three people because they're all from the same entity.

Josephine Colacci, David Jagrosse and Peter Daigle, if you'll all come up together maybe, maybe we can kind of consolidate your comments. All on Senate Bill 300, all in favor of Senate Bill 300. Thank you.

PETER DAIGLE: Thank you.

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: Thank you.

Good afternoon, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram and distinguished members of the Joint General Law Committee.

My name is Josephine Colacci, and I'm the government affairs director for the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management.

IAHCSMM represents approximately 22,000 central service technicians in the U.S. abroad, with approximately 145 technicians in Connecticut.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are around 520 of these technicians in Connecticut. I appear before you today to speak in support of Senate Bill 300, which would require certification of central service technicians in continuing education credits.

One example as to why this legislation is important can be found in an example of a Westport plastic surgeon who was cited by DPH twice in 2011 and 2012 for serious lapses of instrumentation sterilization procedures.

The rest of my testimony I've submitted, and I'd like to spend the rest of my time pointing out in the language of the bill we will be asking for a committee substitute because the bill as introduced was introduced incorrectly.

So I'm going to go through those changes if you happen to have the language in front of you and explain why we're making these changes or asking for these changes.

In the definition section for central service technician, "prepares, stores and distributes" would be deleted from the definition because the Hospital Association believes that other types of technicians would be restricted from wheeling carts down hallways that actually have instrumentation on those carts.

So we have agreed to delete that language. Also Section 1(a)(B), deleting student and intern language because these technicians do not ever act as students or interns in hospitals or ASE so it's just not needed.

We've removed an -- we moved an exception in that clause to Clause F, which states that healthcare professionals that are acting within their scope of practice will not have to become certified. Section 1(b)(1), this was general language that talked about certification in general, and it did not name the two credentials.

These two organizations have many different types of certifications, so by putting in general certification language it did not identify the correct credentials, so we put in the correct credential language.

Also we named the organization to do the certifying because as you will see in this clause also, it says acceptable by the Commissioner of Public Health.

DPH does not want to enforce this bill, so we've deleted that language and in place we named the credentialing organizations because the Hospital Association also felt --

SENATOR DOYLE: This is all in your written testimony?

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: Yes.

SENATOR DOYLE: Yes, okay.

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: It is. I could keep going through the changes or --

SENATOR DOYLE: Okay. Why don't we -- you two gentlemen try to --

DAVID JAGROSSE: Hi. I'm David Jagrosse. I'm the president elect for the organization IAHCSMM. We use the shorthand for it. And I'm past president of the Connecticut Chapter for Centrals (inaudible) and I'm a manager at Middlesex Hospital here in Connecticut.

And I'm obviously in here in support of the bill. Our profession, as you may or may not know, goes through rapid changes. We process robotic instrumentation, total hip instrumentation, very complex and sophisticated devices which the technicians that are hired today, they can be hired off the street with no experience. We're looking for this support because we believe we need to keep up with this changing technology, and that's essentially the core of the bill.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

PETER DAIGLE: Good afternoon. I'm Peter Daigle. I work at the University of Connecticut Health Center, supervisor of the Central (inaudible) Supply.

This bill is very important because there's a ton of stories I could tell you about incidents that happened in the central service department that when people were not certified they didn't know what to do.

Certification is very important for the hospital and for the patient safety, patient health, and employee safety and employee health. Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any questions from the committee?

Representative Altobello.

REP. ALTOBELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

To Ms. Colacci. In your requested changes in the bill, you deleted language acceptable by the Commissioner of Public Health, the Department of Public Health does not want to enforce this bill, but yet it has all to do with healthcare. And we're more like pipefitters and sheet metal people.

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: So why am I before your committee?

REP. ALTOBELLO: Yes. Why are you in front of the Public Health Committee with this bill?

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: It's a very good question.

Public Health actually sent a letter to the General Law Committee and their determination was we were a better fit under General Law.

SENATOR DOYLE: It's an odd situation, Representative.

Any further questions?

REP. BARAM: I'll even it out.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

THE COURT: Representative Orange, did you have a question?

REP. ORANGE: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just agree that something should be done because to make sure that those are being sterilized properly. I've been to Middlesex Hospital. I believe you're the owner of my gall bladder.

DAVID JAGROSSE: We're not allowed to return it to you.

REP. ORANGE: You know, my husband goes to UConn weekly, and so two good hospitals there. But I'm also kind of miffed that this isn't in front of the Public Health Committee either. I'm sure that as it travels it would have to hit there at some point in time, and for the Department of Public Health to not want to oversee this just baffles me as well.

I know that all of our agencies are basically overwhelmed, but this is an important issue.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you, Representative.

Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you.

Are you aware -- were usable medical instruments defined or devices defined in our statutes? Because you didn't have a definition of that here, and I'm just wondering if you're aware if it's defined in our state statutes anywhere.

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: I'm not.

SENATOR WITKOS: Okay. You testified there was 500 and how many currently?

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: 520.

SENATOR WITKOS: 520 CSTs.

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: Those are 2012 numbers too.

SENATOR WITKOS: Now, how many -- there's a provision in the bill under Section 1(2) that says if you have -- if you're doing the work of a central service tech prior to October of this year, you can continue doing that as long as you go get your certification.

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: It's a grandfathering clause, and not to interrupt you but that is another huge change in the bill. So it was supposed to grandfather everyone in up and to the effective date. The reasoning for that is the hospitals in the unions are worried about people losing jobs.

So we grandfathered everyone in. Those people that are grandfathered would still be required to do the continuing ed, but they would not be required to take the certification exam.

SENATOR WITKOS: How many people are we talking about there? I mean, we have 520 that are currently certified. How many people are not certified that are doing the job, estimate?

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: I have no idea. I don't even know if I could give you an estimate. I mean, could --

DAVID JAGROSSE: Excuse me. An average hospital of Peter and my hospital size is usually about 20 employees per hospital. On the larger hospitals it certainly can go a lot higher for Connecticut.

SENATOR WITKOS: Okay. So it's not insurmountable where you'd be able to make sure because we put a deadline in there that they have to have it done by that -- if all these people need certification there's going to be enough room in classes or somewhere to take to get the certification.

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: Oh, this is another -- sorry to interrupt you again. But there's another change in the bill because this clause didn't make it into the introduced draft. And hospitals will be allowed to hire -- hospitals and AFCs can hire uncertified techs as long as those techs are certified within 18 months.

I spoke to the Hospital Association lobbyists today. we may change that 18 months to two years.

SENATOR WITKOS: And is there -- is this a national certification or is this something that Connecticut's starting?

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: The first state to do it was New Jersey. New York just passed a very similar bill last year. I have a bill pending in Massachusetts right now and one that will be introduced very soon in Pennsylvania.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SENATOR DOYLE: Just to clarify, you'll make recommendations to the committees to amend the bill?

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: Absolutely, yes.

SENATOR DOYLE: Yes, thank you.

All right. Chairman Baram.

REP. BARAM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just want to make sure that your suggested changes get to our legal counsel so we can take a look at those. And also, just by way of explanation, even though the Health Committee sort of passed this off on us, we thought it was significant enough of an issue that we should take it up.

And there was some nexus with the Department of Consumer Protection in terms of the certification. So I assume that when these techs take their courses and get certified, it has to be submitted to some agency just at least for the record?

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: It goes to the certifying bodies. Yes, and I would like to say thank you very much to the committee for bringing up this bill.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Are there any further questions?

Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Two questions. First off, you were talking about the technicians. They actually work on this equipment and they take it apart and clean it?

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: Yes. They can -- they can --

DAVID JAGROSSE: Yes. It's reusable medical instrumentation, so some the devices are used in surgery so they have debris and blood and soil on them so they need to be reprocessed in a decontamination room.

And some of the devices require disassembly for cleaning, and then reassembly back on the assembly side for sterilization. It's a multi-step process.

REP. CARTER: Will this -- actually three questions then -- will this also affect small surgical centers that are not owned by hospitals?

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: Under the statute -- and I would have to look at the statute that we pulled. It's supposed to fall for ASDs. Not office-based surgeries.

REP. CARTER: I understand most office-based surgeries probably use equipment that's pre-sterilized and it's packaged and brought in is the way I understand it.

DAVID JAGROSSE: Not necessarily.

REP. CARTER: Not necessarily?

DAVID JAGROSSE: A lot of dental offices and small doctor offices have table-top autoclaves and process their instruments in-house.

REP. CARTER: Okay. last question is the availability of classes to go out and actually have this kind of training. Are there places in Connecticut where they can easily get this, and how much?

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: Yes. So that's a wide range. You actually have several community colleges that offer courses. They can be as long as 15 weeks, three to five weeks. People can self study for the course. It could take you as long as a month to do it or a year or two years, depending on how long you wanted to take.

The cost can range from as little as $125 to as much as $1,400. And then there is Purdue University online has an online program, which is outside of the state, but you have several community colleges that do it to.

REP. CARTER: Okay. Thank you very much.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions?

Seeing none, thank you.

DAVID JAGROSSE: Thank you again.

JOSEPHINE COLACCI: Thank you very much.

SENATOR DOYLE: Next speaker is Representative Aresimowicz.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: Chairman Baram, Chairman Doyle, good afternoon, committee members.

Thank you very much. I see you have a packed house here today, so maybe you should have switched with Labor. They've got a lot of open space up there.

SENATOR DOYLE: We will be talking later I think in terms of how these rooms work. We were hoping to start at 1:00 but we couldn't get a room. That's why we're so late.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: Oh.

SENATOR DOYLE: And I think to be honest some of these rooms aren't being used. So maybe later on we'll speak to leadership about that issue.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: Senator Doyle, stop up and we'll have a discussion about this.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: After the JF deadline, though, okay?

Members of the committee, Chairmen, I'm here to testify on behalf of two bills that came to me probably in the same very fashion that many of the bills that you introduced here. It was constituents reaching out to me in areas of concern for them.

The first being House Bill 5491, AN ACT CONCERNING CUSTOMER SALES AND SERVICE CALLS MADE FROM OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES.

This is a constituent issue that came to me. A lot of things are happening in this country, one of which is outsourcing is taking place to either for efficiency in some terms. Some say simply just to cut costs.

But it is putting our safety and security of our residents in the State of Connecticut at risk. Especially when we're talking about secure information, Social Security numbers, bank accounts.

We get the phone calls. We hear from folks all the time that their information has gotten out there in way, shape or form.

So what this bill essentially does is we're not here to say you can't outsource for whatever reason you decide, but what it does say is that within the first 30 seconds of the call, if you're requesting certain information, sensitive information, then at least you should tell them where you're calling from and give them the opportunity to request to speak with somebody in the United States for their own safety and security.

This is a bill that just makes sense. I think it's time for it, and affording the option. We're not making a judgment here. We're just saying safety and security. If they feel that strongly about it, to go ahead and offer them the opportunity.

The other one is another bill that's Senate Bill 412, AN ACT CONCERNING ENFORCEMENT OF CERTAIN OCCUPATIONAL LICENSE STATUTES.

This was a young lady from my district that happens to run a large contracting company that was saying that we just simply we're not getting the enforcement that we needed on the work sites. That in some cases complaints were being sent forward that were never heard by the boards.

And I think you heard some of that testimony earlier. And in other cases, nobody would ever even show up out to the site to find out whether trade work, licensed trade work within the State of Connecticut, was being performed by non-licensed folks. Whether it be a journeyman, apprentices, people just weren't checking the paperwork.

So that onto itself is a problem, but I think what the bigger problem was is because of that companies from outside of the State of Connecticut that were very used to the idea of not playing by the rules were coming into the State of Connecticut and actually being the lower bidder on some jobs.

So we were actually displacing or disqualifying some of our very own contractors that were, for all intents and purposes, playing by the rules and doing the right thing, with folks that weren't.

So this bill is the effort of a committee. We formed a committee. We opened it up to all trades people, whether it be union, non-union, and told them to sit down and really look at the issue and come up with a bill that made sense.

It is my understanding that the bill before you today that you're having in the public hearing is the final product of those efforts. And it requires increased enforcement, it puts a greater role with the boards in working with the commissioner.

So we're not replacing one with the other, it's either or. And it provides the opportunity for the stop work orders. We've seen those with the Department of Labor. They have an effect at curtailing bad behavior.

We all opened up the paper just a couple weeks ago and saw what was going on up at UConn. And I think we need to take more progressive steps like that. if you're going to dance around Connecticut laws, there has to be swift and severe repercussions, especially in this area.

God forbid we had a situation to where we had unlicensed folks on a job that was found out later simply because an accident happened. I don't think anybody in this building or any of the state agencies or any of the trades, for that matter, would live with themselves knowing that people were hurt by us not doing all that we could.

So both of the bills are pretty simple. I really appreciate the committee raising the bills, drawing them up, and if you have any questions I'll attempt to answer them. One of them is really not my area of expertise but I'll try.

SENATOR DOYLE: Sure. Thank you, sir.

I'll just make a quick comment about the Senate Bill 412. In the past several years this committee has JFed a bill out and it struggled, so we're glad to have your muscle behind it.

There was -- in the past there were criticisms because it's always a question of they didn't want to invest money in more, you know, employees. We were arguing you can justify it by getting more fines.

So having you behind it we're hoping will help the -- I think it was a bipartisan bill that passed several years. So with you behind it we appreciate that.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: Well, and to your credit, Senator Doyle and Representative Baram, you both actually stopped in the little task force meetings that were happening and sat in for them. So you know how the process worked.

And essentially when I walked away from that process saying so do we have an agreement? Everybody in this room is in agreement. And all the head nodding occurred, I said okay, I think we have a bill.

And I know we've tweaked it, especially with the help of your LCO attorney, to get it to the point that it's at now.

SENATOR DOYLE: Good. Thank you.

Any questions?

Representative Altobello.

REP. ALTOBELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good afternoon, Majority Leader Aresimowicz.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: Good afternoon, Deputy Speaker Altobello.

REP. ALTOBELLO: Well, we got that out of the way.

Now, in your bill concerning the customer sales and service calls made from outside of the United States and America, it calls for a Connecticut company that engages someone outside the country to put into their contract with that entity the following provisions.

What's the enforcement here? I don't see any penalties, I don't see -- it's going to be very difficult to get someone, say in Canada, to say the things that need to be said in the first 30 seconds. You may be monitored. You may have the -- if I asked for sensitive information, it may request that someone -- and you speak with someone in the United States and all that.

But what's the -- I mean, we're not going to be able to enforce that, obviously. The only hook we have is the Connecticut company, and to try to force them to first of all have it in their contract and secondly of course, to make sure that whomever is doing this service for them follows the contract.

So what's the penalty here? you got some --

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: So our initial thought process with this would be the consumer can file a complaint through DCP and DCP would go ahead and look into the matter and then seek any penalties or appropriate action taken after that. So it would be a complaint to DCP.

REP. ALTOBELLO: Did you have any recommendations regarding the penalty page?

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: So as requested by other leadership, I guess we should say, we're trying to have the bills be as complete in the process on the way out so we've been working with your LCO attorney but that was our initial indication of what we'd do is just follow the DCP, DCP would then take action.

So Buddy, if you'd like more information I'd be happy to get it to you but that's the initial initiation.

REP. ALTOBELLO: Okay. Thanks. Just worried about enforcement going forward, the idea is certainly a good one.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: Well, especially with foreign companies. I think we'd all readily admit that the enforcement would be very difficult if not impossible. We would have the remedy on the Connecticut company.

REP. ALTOBELLO: So we need to think about that some more. Thank you very much, sir.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: Sure.

REP. ALTOBELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Representative Aman.

REP. AMAN: Yes, welcome to the meeting.

Looking at this, the one concern that I have is I can understand with the license trades and the license trades. None of us want someone who is not an electrician doing electrical work.

But on any large job site, there are a variety of licensed trades and non-licensed trades. Speaking from the general contractor's point of view, I'm very concerned that this can be used in disputes between trades as to who is responsible for it so a cease work order is issued, the job stops while the two unions are arguing about who gets to do the work.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: Why does it have to be unions?

REP. AMAN: While the state -- since most of these jobs are either done by the state or the municipalities, the taxpayers are paying the cost of the delay. And I'm wondering how this bill addresses that issue.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: So we do have some S language. We've been reacting to some of the concerns that have been raised by folks, both in house and externally. As I said, it was a bipartisan bill.

So we do have some S language that should clear that up. I believe the chairs are in possession of it, and we've been working with the LCO on that also, which would take that out of the factor. It would only be covering the licensed trades.

REP. AMAN: The other question tied in directly to that is I don't see any time limits for decisions to be made. And again my concern of a job being stopped while a decision is being determined and while government may say, "Oh, we responded in three weeks. I don't see what the problem is."

A job that shuts down in November for three weeks is a major problem. And again does the S language address that issue or --

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: So the S language doesn't address the timelines. Obviously if you get the stop work order you have the -- I think it's the 10 days to appeal it over to the commissioner and then the commissioner ultimately could bring it to the board.

It's my understanding that the boards currently meet once a month on average, or they have the potential to meet once a month.

I think that's an excellent point and, you know, we may want to put into language some function for an emergency meeting or at least getting a quorum of emergency meeting. But I understand the timeline issue.

REP. AMAN: Thank you very much.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: No problem.

THE COURT: Thank you.

Any further questions?

Representative Rovero.

REP. ROVERO: Thank you for your testimony. I have a question, but not pertaining to either one of these.

(Inaudible) tell me you have pull around this building, and I wonder if it's possible you ask them not to shut the heat off at 4:30. Thank you very much.

SENATOR DOYLE: Representative Rovero, it's part of our cost-saving message.

SENATOR DOYLE: Any further questions?

Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The one quick question I had was could you tell us a little more about the constituent who requested the service calls outside the United States? I mean, were they a victim of identity theft or something?

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: Yes. So it actually came from two different areas. One happened to be one of the folks that were being laid off or in the process of being laid off from Northeast Utilities. And they were just talking general sense of their opinion about sourcing and one of the concerns that they had.

In this particular case with Northeast Utilities it was IT. So they were very concerned about the overall electrical infrastructure of the state and security.

The other one was exactly, it was an identity theft. The constituent's story goes that she really couldn't understand the person on the other side of the line, not least of which, but she wasn't clear where they were calling from.

They asked the correct questions, and she actually provided the information to them. The best information I've gotten from the family, because they never filed a complaint, unfortunately, was that it was probably just somebody that picked her out of a phone book and called and actually just used the language type thing to deceive her, made it unclear what she was responding to.

So those were the two areas, and hearing them both, I instantly said, well, wait a minute, maybe we have something here. And, you know, that type of information, whether it's our electric infrastructure or the personal information, Social Security numbers, date of birth and all the other information.

Should we at least try to provide a remedy in place for those of our constituents that would necessarily have a hard time. so that's where they both come from, Representative.

REP. CARTER: Thank you very much.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: No problem.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions?

Representative Baram.

REP. BARAM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Welcome and I want to thank you for your initiative in putting this task force together. It was extremely well run, and I was impressed, as you indicated in your testimony, that both union and non-union trades agreed unanimously on something that needs to be done.

So thank you very much for your advocacy on it.

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

THE COURT: Thank you.

Are there any further questions from the committee?

Seeing none, thank you very much. (Inaudible).

REP. ARESIMOWICZ: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Next speaker is Tamera Jackson, then Joanne Fenn I think. I may have mispronounced, and Kate Charles.

TAMERA JACKSON: Good afternoon. Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, and members of the committee.

My name is Tamera Jackson, and I am here to testify in opposition to Raised Bill 375, AN ACT CONCERNING CONSUMER RENTAL CAR COST, REIMBURSEMENT AND USED MOTOR VEHICLE WARRANTIES.

I am the vice president and dealer operator of Jackson Chevrolet in Middletown, Connecticut. We are a third-generation, family-owned business started in 1936, and we have 53 dedicated team members who work with me every day to serve our customers in the greater Middletown community.

We are extremely involved in our community, from holding breast cancer fundraiser for the American Cancer Society to hosting local high school interns.

I also serve on the board of directors for the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.

I am also a member of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association, a not for profit trade association that represents the interests of the 250 licensed franchised auto dealers and 12,000 employees in our state, and I'd like to note that we did not bring them all with us here this evening. There are just two of us.

CARA is opposed to this legislation. Last year the members of CARA contributed over $9 billion with a B in sales to the state's economy and represents 15 percent of all the retail sales in our state.

We are just coming out of the worst recession in history, where we lost over 30 percent of the new car dealers and 3,000 jobs.

This bill, at first blush, seems like it might help consumers. However, on closer inspection, it is not a good idea and my concern is that it will hurt used car consumers in our state and may violate numerous state and federal laws assuring transparency and choice in auto retail pricing and sales.

It requires that the used-car warranty, mandated by state law, include coverage for the cost of a rental car. That means any vehicle cold by a dealer In this state multiple sclerosis account for the cost of a rental car covering the times when the vehicle might possibly be in the shop for warranty work.

In essence this will force all used car consumers to pay for the cost of a rental car in the price of a used car. Most consumers don't want to pay for this type of option.

We believe this is anticonsumer. It is an expensive hidden option, and I believe it seems to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of other state laws that mandate transparency and consumer rights to choose options as part of the car-buying process.

Additionally, it will hurt the state's fragile economy and cause job losses in many smaller used-car stores. Dealers are under an increasing amount of pressure to comply with numerous laws and guidelines but we do it every day to ensure that our consumers are protected and that we remain good corporate citizens.

But even without these laws, dealers look out for their customers and work hard to retain their business. That's why dealerships like Jackson Chevrolet have been in business since 1936.

This bill, however,, seems to cross the line, distorting the market and artificially determining what a seller will sell and what a buyer will buy.

Many small used car dealers will be unable to stay in business with this type of mandate because many of their customers are not looking for this type of expensive option when they buy a used car.

Keep in mind that few new car manufacturer warranties cover a provision for a rental car during warranty service. If they do there are often requirements such as the repair must be an overnight repair and that sort of thing.

In addition, in the car business we're pressured by slim margins and fierce competition. In fact, the average dealer makes two pennies for every dollar that she has invested. It is extremely difficult to turn a profit and expenses are increasing everywhere we turn.

Legislating additional requirements that drive up cost are inherently anti-consumer. I, for one, offer loaner vehicles to my customers, new or pre-owned, based on availability when they are in for any kind of service or even maintenance, again, based on availability. This is the voluntary customer benefit, and is expensive for us to do.

In closing, just a couple of bullets that I just wanted to make sure that I hit on. Just give me one moment please.

Raising the price of a car with a warranty mandate will push these sales into the unregulated private sale market, where unlike licensed dealer sales, the vehicle will not have a safety inspection, and where consumers have few protections.

Pushing vehicles into private sales means that consumers will have absolutely no warranty coverage because private sales are not subject to the Connecticut Used Car Warranty law.

Pushing vehicle sales into private sales will have a negative fiscal impact on the DMV, which is struggling every day to reduce long lines at the DMV office.

Right now dealers register 40 percent of all vehicles at the dealership. Private sales, on the other hand, will need to be done at the DMV branches.

This bill will also reduce the price that dealers are willing to give for a trade-in, which many consumers need to use as a down payment, or to quality for a low loan rate.

Dealers who live in close proximity to bordering states will get a distinct price disadvantage because New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island have no such mandate, and that the same car in Connecticut will always cost more.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any questions from the committee?

Representative Baram.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Before I ask my question, I've been asked to remind everybody that the cafeteria is remaining upon until 7:00 p.m., so for those of you who look like you're about to fall off your seats, you can get some nourishment for the next hour and a quarter.

You indicated in your testimony that oftentimes dealerships already give rentals as, you know, might be available. And I know from personal experience usually there's a pretty extensive bus system where you're picking up people and driving them back to work or home.

TAMERA JACKSON: Right.

REP. BARAM: Is this something that's customary within the industry or is it more specific to your particular dealership?

TAMERA JACKSON: It truly varies. I'm not sure in other states what their common performance is, but it really varies dealer by dealer what they offer. And it also depends, I think, if the dealer is a used-car dealer that's an independent or if they represent a manufacturer, then the manufacturers have different requirements as well.

And also offer programs to facilitate that kind of -- you know, for example, if the manufacturer does offer a used-car when a car is required and a vehicle is in a warranty repair and needs to stay overnight, a lot of the manufacturers will facilitate that rental vehicle, making it possible for the dealer to do so for the consumer.

REP. BARAM: And lastly, do dealers ever offer their own warranty? It might be an additional cost that would include transportation?

TAMERA JACKSON: From time to time. Each business is operated differently, and in the sale process there are different packages that dealers will offer to the customer and again typically at the customer's discretion.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions?

Representative Rovero.

REP. ROVERO: Here's a question for you, Mr. Chairman, probably.

If this bill was to pass is there any chance that it could be written into the bill that any car that was sold out of state that comes into Connecticut to be registered has to provide the same warranty as our local dealers would have to provide?

SENATOR DOYLE: We can look into it, but I think it will be difficult to achieve if it's sold in another state.

REP. ROVERO: I agree. If you're going to -- you know, I live right on the border with Massachusetts and you know, for someone to come over, you know --

SENATOR DOYLE: Yeah, but it's usually where it's sold. So it's sold in Massachusetts.

REP. ROVERO: But we could also put in there like we do with a car. You can buy a car in Mass. but you have to pay Connecticut sales tax where you raised it. Could be the same idea. Before you can get it raised in Connecticut you have to --

SENATOR DOYLE: You could try but it would be difficult to achieve. We could look into it. Maybe you can get (inaudible) to look into it, but I think it's unlikely.

REP. ROVERO: Okay.

TAMERA JACKSON: I think one of the interesting points there is that this bill in general will increase costs because the audition of this type of a proposal to make sure that everybody is following the letter of the law would be a difficult task I believe.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions from the committee?

Seeing non, thank you very much.

TAMERA JACKSON: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Next speaker is Joanne I think it's Fann. Thank you. I may have mispronounced your name. Kate Childs, Rick Bologna.

Joanne, thank you.

JOANNE FANN: Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, members of the committee, my name is Joanne Fann, and I reside in Naugatuck. And I'm here to support the Senate Bill 375.

I submitted written testimony, and have also attached a letter from the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles outlining the amount of complaints they're receiving from independent used car dealers that are selling vehicles.

I'm not going to bore you with all the details, but I purchased a vehicle October 25th and I've only had the vehicle for one week out of all those dates. I've been paying for my own rental, and I've been paying for all of my repairs because they refuse to honor their service warranty and also to provide a vehicle.

The warranty from the Connecticut Used Car Warranty, there's no time limit here. This can go on here for the rest of my life. I can own this vehicle, be in a rental, and never drive the car. It's been three months.

So I would hope that you guys would support this bill, add some language in it, maybe give them 60 days to get the car safety for the road, and if not they have to find me a comparable.

I know we have dealers in repair. They're not able to help. There's too many people that are complaining. There's not enough people over there to help them. So in the meantime we're stuck. This has been going on for three months. This is egregious the way I've been treated.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any questions from the committee?

So I assume -- did you contact your legislators? I think that's how the bill got introduced I think.

JOANNE FANN: I did. yes, sir.

SENATOR DOYLE: Who did you contact? Which one?

JOANNE FANN: Representatives (inaudible) and Senator Crisco.

SENATOR DOYLE: Yes, okay. Yeah, those are the sponsors of the bill.

JOANNE FANN: Yeah. At this point there's no recourse for me anywhere to go unless I incur more costs from hiring an attorney, and then I can't even get restitution on this car.

SENATOR DOYLE: And you contacted DMV?

JOANNE FANN: I contacted DMV. There's a letter attached from the commissioner. What they stated to me was he needed to find me a comparable car. He told me he can't. That was two months ago.

I was told he had to make the car road safe. That hasn't happened yet. It's been two months.

SENATOR DOYLE: Okay.

All right. Any further questions on the bill before us? Thank you very much for taking the time to come and waiting. Thank you.

JOANNE FANN: Thanks.

SENATOR DOYLE: Next speaker is Kate Childs, Rick Bologna and John Bowman.

KATE CHILDS: Good evening, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, and members of the General Law Committee.

I'm here in opposition to Senate Bill 299, the ACT CONCERNING ESTABLISHING THE GUARANTEE FUND FOR PRE-PAID HEATING OIL.

Thank you for seeing me again, and the -- you have my written testimony but some of it is sort of the same as I said before, that the current law is really what we need to support to help protect consumers, that if you don't lock in your fixed-price oil in the methods that are best practice, that you're really not going to protect the consumer in any way without that law.

So I know we have been working together on this, and we'd like to keep that dialogue open.

And one of the notable things that we've talked about is the seasonal moratorium, and I think the basis behind that is that heating oil dealers will have their highest expenses during the heart of the winter and will be looking to have those bills paid before early spring or by early spring.

And the gist of it would be that we wouldn't be taking in consumers' money in the winter months to pay for our current debts. So that's the main premise we're offering as help on trying to help the legislature enforce the law.

So I won't go through my whole testimony. Also some didn't hear it before, but again the way to prevent companies from being bankrupt is to lock in your fuel prices.

SENATOR DOYLE: Yep. I'll just counter. First of all, we apologize that there are two bills at two different public hearings. That's not how normally we do it, and that's an oversight and we apologize.

But we are -- we have worked on compromise languages being drafted as we speak that does have the language, you know, or like suggested by the industry, that prohibits lock-in during the cold months.

So I think it will be -- there were meetings with the industry and with members of the committee and others about it, so especially the Marion (phonetic) Delegation, Representative Altobello was very active.

So I think the ultimate language will be positive. It's not going to be like either of the two bills, so hopefully that message will get out that we've worked together and I think we're going to have a good piece of legislation that won't destroy the market for lock-in contracts.

Any further questions?

But again we held a lengthy public hearing over at the University of Hartford.

So any further questions? Thank you very much.

Next speaker?

Rick Bologna, Rick, thank you. John Bowman, David Gable.

RICK BOLOGNA: Good evening, Chairman Doyle, Chairman Baram, members of the General Law Committee.

My name is Rick Bologna, and I'm a third-generation fuel dealer. My company, Westmore Fuel Company, is located in Greenwich down in Fairfield County, and we employ 38 people and we serve approximately 5,000 customers.

This year we celebrate our 76th year in business. I come here today in opposition of S.B. 299 that establishes a new guarantee fund on heating oil dealers.

Just like you heard from a colleague of mine, I'm going to take a little different angle on this. In my opinion, the proposed fund actually penalizes dealers such as myself. A lot of us are family-owned businesses, been in the business for decades.

And day in and day out we deliver what we promise to our customers. So I'm going to cut my testimony short. At that, you have my written testimony, but if you have any questions I'll be happy to address those now.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you. Rest assured your comments were heeded and of your colleagues' a few weeks ago at the University of Hartford. Thank you.

Further comments or questions from the committee? Seeing none, thank you very much.

RICK BOLOGNA: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Next speaker John Bowman. Is John Bowman here? David Gable?

DAVID GABLE: Good evening, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, members of the General Law Committee.

My name is David Gable. I'm the president of Hocon Gas, chairman of the Connecticut Legislative Committee of the Propane Gas Association of New England and past president.

Hocon Gas has been in business for over 60 years, with 120 employees and five distribution locations here in Connecticut. We've never sold a fixed-price option to a customer without being fully (inaudible).

Our company has always obeyed the law when protecting the vital interests of our customers, especially when they elect to purchase fixed-price products from our company.

We're extremely disappointed that some companies in the past have ignored the law and hurt the consumers in our state.

Although S.B. 299 appears on the surface to be a remedy for consumers, I think it will actually hurt them by increasing the cost to them and potentially increase the success rate of bogus offers from now intended home-heating fuel suppliers.

Bogus offers are what hurt consumers in the past. Increasing these kind of offers in the future I don't think can be a good thing.

More people will take the risk knowing that the state will make them whole if the dealer fails. It's tantamount to gambling at (inaudible) son with the taxpayers' money.

Instead of requiring a guarantee fund, we would suggest our already-established laws be strengthened by adding a moratorium period that's obviously under discussion. The moratorium period will weed out the too-good-to-be-true product offers and deny poorly-run companies the funds to perpetuate poor business practices during the winter months when they need the consumers' money the most.

Strengthening our laws by adding a moratorium period combined with greater enforcement of our current laws I think will help eliminate the need for the guaranteed fund laws that associated costs while allowing consumers fixed-price contracts for those who want them.

I'd be happy to answer any questions.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you very much.

Any questions from the committee?

Thank you very much. And to be honest, we had that long public hearing. We had a lot of discussion on the similar bill, so it's no disrespect to your comments, it's just the committee --

DAVID GABLE: I wasn't sure whether I should actually have come up and testified because I know (inaudible).

SENATOR DOYLE: Okay. No, it's good to get on the record. But don't take no questions -- there's a lot of interest. Thank you.

Next speaker is Joe Rose, Dr. Chris Gargamelli, Nick Scatta.

Joe Rose.

JOE ROSE: Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, my name is Joe Rose. I'm the president and chief executive officer of the Propane Gas Association of New England here today representing the 101 members of our organization who sell propane to consumers in Connecticut.

We strongly oppose S.B. 299 as presented. I was very pleased to hear your remarks a couple minutes ago about working on substitute language. Our organization has been working with various legislators, and with the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association for the past few weeks to come up with a solution that we can all agree on that protects consumers.

In lieu of the rest of my testimony, which basically talks about the moratorium, the things that you're going to -- you've already heard about and the things that you're going to continue to hear about I'd like to save you some time.

The other thing I'd like to offer up if I might is that we have about another 15 fuel oil and propane dealers prepared to testify, and in the interest of your time, if you would prefer, we're willing to withdraw the remainder of our testimony in anticipation of the substitute language.

SENATOR DOYLE: Sounds like a good -- maybe we could have everyone stand if you want.

JOE ROSE: Sure. Would everyone that's in the propane and fuel oil business in this room stand up?

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Would the committee, in a bipartisan fashion, did hear the comments and a lengthy discussion in the University of Hartford. That's why we are moving forward to try to work to compromise. So we appreciate you coming today and we are going to continue to work together to compromise.

JOE ROSE: Great.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

And Representative Baram would like to make a comment.

REP. BARAM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just want to reiterate that we have heard your voices and it was unfortunate that this bill could not be put on the same public hearing agenda as the other one.

And I would just ask if perhaps you could check in with our clerk so he can tell us who you are and we can cross you off our list. But we do know what your feelings are and your points of view and we appreciate it.

Thank you.

JOE ROSE: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you. I also wanted to echo my co chair's comments. You know, your testimony was very, very compelling and educational at the University of Hartford when we had it there, discussing a similar-type bill. and it was really enlightening to us to hear from your perspective how the system can work if it's instituted the way it's meant to be.

And we thank you for some of your comments in bringing that forward and rest assured we are incorporating many of those suggestions in the substitute language so we want to thank you all for coming again tonight.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any questions from the committee?

Representative Altobello, (inaudible).

REP. ALTOBELLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Sir, you offered to withdraw the remaining testimony. I suggest you might request that we leave it on the record but that the remaining speakers may not want to speak to this issue today.

JOE ROSE: As always, your wisdom is well received. Thank you.

REP. ALTOBELLO: You're welcome.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

And is Angel, our clerk here?

Well, maybe gentlemen if we could somehow get the names -- okay, Chris. Okay, good. Chris will take care of it. Thank you, Mr.

And thank you very much, gentlemen. Thank you.

All right, the next speaker Dr. Chris Gargamelli.

DR. CHRIS GARGAMELLI: Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, members of the General Law Committee.

I'm Dr. Chris Gargamelli, and I represent the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association, which includes the majority of Connecticut licensed veterinarians as its members.

I'm testifying in support of H.B. 5474, AN ACT EXEMPTING VETERINARIANS FROM THE ELECTRONIC PRESCRIPTION DRUG MONITORING PROGRAM.

When veterinary practitioners were included in the electronic prescription drug monitoring program, it is our belief that we were inadvertently included.

With a desire to keep our members in compliance with the law, the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association leadership met with the Department of Consumer Protection representative in July 2013.

It was determined at that time that it would be very difficult for veterinarians to comply with the law mandating that information about every patient-prescribed controlled drug be entered into the Connecticut Prescription Monitoring and Reporting System.

Mandatory fields for that system include patient last name, patient first name, patient address, patient date of birth, and patient gender. Veterinary patients are animals, and as such they just have a name, be it Fluffy or Fido. They have a name.

And in regards to patient date of birth, many animals' date of birth, including the year, are unknown. A lot of animals in Connecticut -- Connecticut is one of the top states in the country to have rescued or adopted animals. And most of those animals you don't know the date of birth.

Were they born January 1st? were they born February 5th? What year? I don't know, half the time we look at them we can't tell what year they were born. And they carry no identification cards to confirm any information, including the identity of the owner.

So when veterinarians do try to comply with this system, because right now it is a requirement that we do, we can't comply. We have to guess at the information, and that's no way to try to follow along, by guessing.

The purpose of H.B. 5474 is to exempt veterinarians so that veterinarians will no longer be in violation of the law. And I understand that drug seeking and doctor shopping for prescription narcotics are a problem in human patients. Our animal patients don't doctor shop.

So in conclusion, you know, a lot of these drugs that people are going for the doctors to doctor shop for, such as oxycodone, they're just not a problem in veterinary medicine. We don't use them. So I urge you to vote in favor of H.B. 5474, so that veterinarians can once again be the law-abiding practitioners we want to be. Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you, Doctor.

Any questions from the committee?

Representative Rutigliano

REP. RUTIGLIANO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good evening, Doctor. I just had one quick question.

DR. CHRIS GARGAMELLI: Sure.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: What amounts of narcotics are generally prescribed to pets?

DR. CHRIS GARGAMELLI: So the example I use to explain this is a drug called Buprenorphine, which is a narcotic commonly used for pain control in cats. So we prescribe a tenth of an ml. So an ml is that very small syringe that you would see, you know, for a child, a very small syringe. And we put a tenth, which is 0.1.

So that's a standard dose. And a cat may home with say 10 doses of those, which would be 1 ml. The standard single dose for a human would be 1 to 5 ml. So the total amount we're sending home for a single patient is less than one dose for a person.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: It's less than one dose for a person? Okay. And does that change by the size of the animal?

DR. CHRIS GARGAMELLI: So yeah, so let's use a 50-pound dog.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: Okay.

DR. CHRIS GARGAMELLI: So, you know, a 50-pound dog may get half to, you know, a standard -- say we use, you know, we would use -- I'm trying to think of even -- we don't use very commonly narcotics in dogs to begin with because we use a lot of anti-inflammatories.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: Right.

DR. CHRIS GARGAMELLI: But if we were to use codeine, they would get the standard human size, they would get a quarter of a tablet for (inaudible).

REP. RUTIGLIANO: Okay. So you're saying it's not even common for you to use a narcotic in a dog?

DR. CHRIS GARGAMELLI: Right.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: Okay. Thank you. Thank you for the clarification.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Are there any further questions from the committee? Nothing?

Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thanks.

Doctor, from DCP, did they just give you guys a pass temporarily and say you know, we've got some legislation in, we'll try to address your concern?

DR. CHRIS GARGAMELLI: What we were told when we met with them, they at one point said it wasn't in our best interest to answer any further questions from you.

SENATOR WITKOS: I hear you. Okay. Great.

DR. CHRIS GARGAMELLI: So they did not have answers when we, in good faith, met with them to address this issue. 'Cause we want to be in compliance with the law. We just can't.

SENATOR WITKOS: I totally understand and respect that, and sometimes, you know, good legislation, while well-intended, has some repercussions that are unintended and we'll fix that for you this time around.

DR. CHRIS GARGAMELLI: Thank you. I really appreciate it.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any questions from the committee?

Seeing none, thank you.

DR. CHRIS GARGAMELLI: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Next speaker is Eric D'Eramo, Todd Birch, Glen Marshal.

Eric?

ERIC D'ERAMO: Good evening, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, and members of the committee.

My name is Eric D'Eramo and I am the director of business operations and resources for Environmental Control, a company employing 195 people.

In addition, I carry an active State of Connecticut sheet metal contractor's license, and I am president of the Connecticut Heating and Cooling Contractors' Association.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in this important matter of apprenticeship ratio.

As an active licensed contractor involved in the heating and cooling industry here in Connecticut, I would like to express my strong support for the raised Senate Bill 268.

Senate Bill 268 pertains to the number of apprentices or helpers a company may hire and register in the State of Connecticut. The current hiring ratio penalizes a company as it grows by reducing the number of apprentices it can hire.

This bill will change this for the smaller contractor to a more favorable one apprentice for each license holder. And therefore be consistent with the job site ratio.

Over the last several years, the Connecticut trade schools, public and private, have done a good job modifying and improving upon their curriculum in an effort to produce better-qualified graduates to meet the needs of employers.

In addition, many employers are involving themselves into schools through career days, work study and shadowing programs. The State Department of Education is investing money in radio and Internet commercials encouraging young adults to attend technical high schools.

The classrooms continue to be full. However, upon graduation, a feeling, a great sense of accomplishment about their achievement they face disappointment when they apply for a job.

They are told by these same employers they cannot hire them due to ratio restrictions. S.B. 268 can correct this problem.

In my company alone, I have several employees who invested time and money to learn the heating and cooling trade. They are currently pushing brooms, loading trucks or handling inventory while sitting on an internal apprenticeship waitlist.

There continues to be a shortage of qualified tradesmen here in Connecticut, and developing a farm team is critical to the future of this business. It is important to understand that these students represent our future workforce, and we must continue to transfer to them the knowledge of our master technicians and mechanics.

We must take advantage of this opportunity before us to increase the number of skilled tradesmen in our labor pool, especially in light of the comprehensive energy plan and strategy by the governor.

In closing, I urge you to support this piece of legislation. In doing so you will be helping Connecticut take steps towards ensuring opportunities for apprentices and providing a mechanism to allow contractors to create more jobs.

Thank you for your time, and I welcome any questions you may have.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any questions?

Representative Witkos -- Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you.

Thank you for coming up to testify today. Could you please explain to me if a student in a technical college or a high school comes to an apprenticeship, say use your shop as an example, and they're only there one or two days a week, that counts as a full apprenticeship so it takes away that spot from somebody else?

Could you just explain that I'm accurate on that assumption?

ERIC D'ERAMO: If the student's in a technical high school or a technical college, that is what we call a internship pre-apprentice. We have to register that student no matter how many hours they're with us, as long as they walk on a job site they need to be registered and carrying an apprenticeship card. It does take up a space.

SENATOR WITKOS: Even though that they're only there -- so can you take two part-time to count as one spot? Or it's by individual no matter how many hours they put in?

ERIC D'ERAMO: Yep. The Department of Labor will look at that and do a calculation based on your company size, and then that individual will get registered and they take up the spot.

SENATOR WITKOS: And I understand there may be some concerns about having an apprentice with -- a journeyman, I guess, the journeyman one is the trainer.

ERIC D'ERAMO: Yes. The journeyman is the licensed --

SENATOR WITKOS: The licensed person. And so it's always a one to one ratio, so out in the field doing the actual work, not like if they were in-house doing design work on a computer?

ERIC D'ERAMO: Correct. This is not about on the job. On the job it's always been one to one, that's a safety issue. You need to be working with a licensed contractor, licensed holder on that job site. This is no about this. This is about hiring ratio.

So right now in my company, because I'm bigger, I only could hire one apprentice for every three licensed. I get penalized because I'm a bigger company.

This bill today before you is going to help those contractors that are five license holders and less by increasing the number.

SENATOR WITKOS: Is there a down side to this where people say well, because now you have the ability to have more apprentices it's going to take somebody's job away?

ERIC D'ERAMO: I can't see how it's going to take away someone's job. people are in business today, they're managing risk. You're not going to put more than the legal limit out on the job site.

By having a bigger hiring ratio gives us an opportunity to expose these individuals inside the office, help them understand how to order material, purchase, s when they're out in the field they're a better apprentice. They're a better mechanic. They grow into a better technician.

SENATOR WITKOS: And you had mentioned in your testimony about the expansion of need because of the governor's initiative with the comprehensive energy strategy, how many jobs are you forecasting that you're going to need in your industry to meet those requirements, or do we have enough already in the workforce?

I don't have the exact numbers, but we could get that for you, and Jen Jennings, executive director, is here today so if we don't have the answers we'll get it.

But I could tell you that comprehensive energy strategy, from our standpoint, most of our contractors in the association and including my company, we do mostly residential. The governor of the gas companies are looking to convert a lot of residential properties to natural gas. It's not going to happen.

I have the opportunity to do work with Southern Connecticut Natural Gas, and Connecticut Natural Gas qualified, pre-qualified everything, I don't have the manpower right now.

And I could put 12 to 15 people to work tomorrow, and I'm constantly interviewing, or constantly hiring. Our company's been around for 45 years. We're a magnet because of the benefits we pay above normal wages.

I would love to put some of these younger -- and when I say younger employees, these are guys coming out of the military. They're working on bases. I can't even let them come and work in my company.

They're doing air conditioning repair under gunfire, but that's not acceptable in the State of Connecticut, which is just wrong.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you very much.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions from the committee?

Seeing none, thank you very much.

Oh, sorry. Representative Baram.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

I'm just trying to get a better understanding of the issue. When you talk about apprentice, is it like an internship or -- and are these people paid and is the pay scale equal to what you would have to pay an employee?

ERIC D'ERAMO: Yes. It is a -- we refer to it as an apprenticeship. It's similar to a public accountant coming out. It's similar to a resident in a medical field. It's similar to a lawyer.

As they're sitting to take their exam, they have to go through an internship, residency, call it what you want. With our programs the government by the Department of Labor, they have to have schooling, they have to have on-the-job training, which is all outlined when you enter the agreement.

So there are some that are shortest. Two years for on-the-job training, in a one-to-one situation on the job site. There are some that last four years. But they all require education at the technical schools, correspondence classes or, you know, these technical colleges are starting to do it.

REP. BARAM: So if somebody was coming out of a technical college, and they were taking the exam, once they become licensed are they still technically an apprentice or do they become a journeyman?

ERIC D'ERAMO: They wouldn't be able to sit for the exam. After coming out of those schools they have to get enrolled right into an apprenticeship. They have to satisfy the on-the-job experience, the number of hours in the field working with the hand tools.

Once they satisfy that they are eligible to be completed by the Department of Labor, the Department of Labor will verify that they did all their apprenticeship hours under the supervision of that contractor, sign off and issue them a completion certificate, which then they will send along with their application to sit for the exam.

So they have to complete their field work and then verify it with the state.

REP. BARAM: So it's analogous let's say to the medical profession where you have to perform your residency --

ERIC D'ERAMO: Yes.

REP. BARAM: -- in order to become a full practicing doctor?

ERIC D'ERAMO: Yes. But I must point out if you ever laid in a bed at the hospital there's 15 or 20 residents looking at you. They're dealing with medicine. We're, you know, we're dealing with changing out furnaces and they should be under the strict regulation.

REP. BARAM: Well, that leads me to my next question. I'm trying again to understand. So you said there's a difference between an apprentice where they're in house, I think you said, whether they're doing secretarial, maintenance, whatever, but they're not -- if they go out into the field, it's a one-one relationship.

And that's not being changed by this legislation, it's really if you hire an apprentice and they're working in your office just to learn the kinds of things you do, you're asking for a change in the ratio for that specific purpose?

ERIC D'ERAMO: Yes. We're looking at the hiring ratio, so it's all about the number of apprentices that we can hire and train them internally, whether it's in classes, reading, blueprints, working with our project managers, going out on sales calls.

Those guys are waiting to go out in the field on a one-to-one situation.

REP. BARAM: So then my next question is let's say there was an unemployed journeyman or somebody who's already licensed.

ERIC D'ERAMO: Yes.

REP. BARAM: And you needed more employees, wouldn't it be to your advantage to hire the unemployed person who's already licensed with the experience, than going through the apprentice program?

I understand there's a value to apprentice, 'cause that's how we get new people into the --

ERIC D'ERAMO: And it's an important thing. I would hire that unemployed journeyman, because he's going to give me another license and he's going to be able to go out and take an apprentice with him and go do work.

There's an opportunity for both parties there. But without the apprentices, I can't grow my company. I need apprentices to come in, do their two to four years experience, learn, get that knowledge transferred to them, help them understand our way of doing quality work, and then they become a licensed holder for me, which then allows me to bring in another apprentice behind them.

REP. BARAM: I understand that part of it, but what I'm trying to zero in on is if you wanted to grow your company and there were 50 unemployed journeymen, couldn't you do it through that route as well, forgetting the apprentice program and just saying if I need 10 more employees, I'll do it.

I'm trying to understand why the apprentices are so important to growing the company. I understand it's important that these apprentices have work experience so they can get licensed. But I'm just separating that for a moment.

ERIC D'ERAMO: Sure.

REP. BARAM: I'm just trying to understand the company itself, why is there such an emphasis on the apprentice as opposed to hiring somebody who's, let's say, unemployed?

ERIC D'ERAMO: Well, I could talk to the unemployed but let's just take a step back and look at it from a business standpoint. As a business owner, everybody wants to make sure their company grows, creates jobs, takes care of those employees' families.

And you want to be able to continue to take care of your customers. And some companies will choose to remain small. It took us 45 years to get where we are, but we have that strategy. We have that slow, natural growth.

Journeymen are important whether they're coming in from another company or unemployed. They're adding licenses to us, they're giving us experienced work force, they're giving us a knowledge base out there.

But let's be honest, we have to continue to bring in younger apprentices or an individual that came out of the military to learn the trade so that maybe that journeyman is getting up in age and he wants to go in and become a dispatcher in my company.

Maybe he wants to get into sales. Maybe you know, he wants to become involved with purchasing. A lot of companies today don't look at it as they're just out there making me money and it's low wages.

The wages are dictated by the Department of Labor. It's not -- and they're above the minimum wage, so it's not about cheap labor here. It's about creating jobs, giving people a chance, developing companies that will bring tax dollars into the state and help us achieve some of the strategies that the governor's put in place.

REP. BARAM: Thank you very much.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions from the committee?

Representative Orange.

REP. ORANGE: Good evening, sir. How are you?

ERIC D'ERAMO: Good evening.

REP. ORANGE: I was just wondering, have you actually contacted the Department of Labor regarding your issue?

ERIC D'ERAMO: Regarding -- can you clarify my issue?

REP. ORANGE: Well, in current law the Department of Labor can offer you relief when needed, the ratio, relief. So have you spoken with someone in the Department of Labor and asked for this?

ERIC D'ERAMO: I have not, but you know, it's interesting you bring that up because I was up in the Labor Committee, because the bill's up there as well. And the Commissioner of the Department of Labor was up there testifying.

And then afterwards, we kind of saw her outside in the hallway and there was an individual there that had applied for ratio relief three or four times. And she said the same thing. "Why didn't you approach me? We could change that."

And he says, "I did. Here's the letters. You denied me four times." She says, "Well, what was the reason?" And he's like, "I don't know. Your name's on it, you signed it."

I think that's something that we walk around and we talk about ratio relief. I don't know if it really exists though. I got to be honest with you. I really don't think it exists.

REP. ORANGE: Well, that's very interesting that Labor has the same bill that we're hearing here, and that you did speak with the commissioner. So I'm sure knowing Sharon as well as I do and for so many years that I do, I'm sure she'll look into this for you.

ERIC D'ERAMO: Yeah. She made a commitment to us to take a look at why things are, you know, ratio relief is -- the applications are being processed, but, you know, I don't know the answer on that.

And, you know, from my own personal standpoint, I want to do it by the letter of the law. If I'm supposed to have three to one, I'm going to do three to one. Do I like it? No. I'm a larger company that I have the cash flow, I have the work flow to develop jobs in the state. I don't think I need to go down that exception road. It's not a good statement from my standpoint.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions from the committee?

Seeing none, thank you very much.

Next speaker is Todd Berch.

TODD BERCH: Good evening, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, members of the General Law Committee.

My name is Todd Berch. I'm with the Connecticut AFL/CIO. I'm here on behalf of Executive Secretary Treasurer Lori Pelletier.

Before you I have two bills, the first one in opposition to Senate Bill 268, AN ACT CONCERNING APPRENTICE RATIOS.

An apprentice in construction trades is an entry-level employee. Most construction trades affiliates of the Connecticut AFL/CIO have multiyear apprenticeships in order for the apprentice to hone their skills.

Upon completion and testing and the required on-the-job training, these apprentices become journey persons. Regardless of the vocation one chooses, apprenticeship is nothing more than learning the craft.

Apprenticeship teaches someone how to go about working in a safe manner and not harming themselves or others in the process. Learning a skill from a journey person, the proper and professional manager of the craft, is being at the side of a journey person, not off to the side.

Proponents of this bill claim there is a large demand for people to become apprentices. We agree with that. The proponents are excluding the fact that there are also an availability of journey persons that are available and unemployed at this time seeking the same opportunity.

Do not be fooled the difference is purely cost. A journey person's qualification is the equivalent to having a college degree. The apprentice is working towards getting that degree, but is no expert until requirements have been met.

Therefore, they're unqualified to be by themselves, producing work, or having enough experience to keep them from working in a safe manner. Never mind the fact it's against the law. That is why a one-to-one ratio, regardless of how far out you go with it, is not only correct, it's proper.

With regard to Senate Bill 412, AN ACT CONCERNING THE ENFORCEMENT OF CERTAIN OCCUPATION LICENSING STATUTES, we support this bill as it pertains to the augmenting, to augmenting the ability of the commissioner of Consumer Protection, in concert with the various licensing boards, with greater enforcement capabilities to level the playing field for those that abide by current laws.

This bill is necessary for ensuring that public safety and health measures are upheld to the highest standard by properly trained and licensed craftspeople performing their work.

We appreciate the committee holding this hearing, and we urge passage of this bill. Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you. Mr. Berch, you testified that we should not change the one-to-one ratio of journeymen to apprentice, and I don't believe the bill does that.

TODD BERCH: I agree.

SENATOR WITKOS: So

TODD BERCH: It's on the onset, correct? When it goes about three to one, am I correct?

SENATOR WITKOS: No. It always maintains the one-to-one ratio up until five, and then you have to have -- then it goes back to the original language where you have to have four -- 14 journeymen to six apprentices.

So there's no change in the ratio of apprentices to licenses, they're always on a one-to-one basis.

TODD BERCH: All right.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions from the committee?

Representative Baram.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

I just want to again ask a few questions to better understand this. So your opinion is that there are sufficient let's say journeymen who are unemployed who could fill some of the positions that are needed by some of these growing companies? Is that what you're saying?

TODD BERCH: The position of the AFL/CIO with regard to hearing from its affiliate, is yes, they have a large amount of unemployed journeypersons, as well as apprentices as well. Don't get me wrong.

REP. BARAM: And a journeyman who is hired by a company would actually be able to go right out into the field and do a job himself, him or herself, is that correct?

TODD BERCH: That's correct.

REP. BARAM: Whereas the apprentice would have to have that supervision?

TODD BERCH: Right.

REP. BARAM: And am I correct if a company hired more journeymen, then by definition they're allowed to have more apprentices because if we're doing this ratio the more journeymen the more apprentices. Is that a correct assumption?

TODD BERCH: That's a correct assumption.

REP. BARAM: And not being familiar with the wage differentials, the prior speaker testified that Department of Labor regulates what the wages are for apprentices. Do you have enough information offhand to share us what that disparity might be?

TODD BERCH: I do not have that information in front of me. I know that there is, you know, I don't want to say substantial, but there is a difference. By year of apprentice and percentage of journeyperson's wage. I know that as a fact, but I don't have that precise percentage of what it is.

REP. BARAM: And then the last thing, and I'm still having trouble understanding it, if a company let's say has five apprentices and they're working inside, they're you know, observing, learning the paperwork, doing some customer service, how does that help that company grow in terms of getting out in the field and doing the job if the apprentice can't go into the field and do the job they're really just an observer learning from the journeyman. Does it matter how many apprentices you have?

I'm just trying to figure out, you know, you could have five apprentices but if they're not able to go out and do the work, how does that help a company as opposed to hiring a journeyman who, you know, let's say works (inaudible) natural gas in Connecticut, don't we need the people to go out in the field and do the work today to be able to accomplish that?

TODD BERCH: I know what you're asking. I'm going to try and answer you the best I can. If you have a journeyperson that is working in the craft outside of what you're describing, customer service and such, don't get me wrong. I think it's a very vital part of the industry. I come from the industry so I can answer to this.

If a journeyperson is out doing the work an apprentice should be by the side of that journeyperson to learn that craft to become a journeyperson. So if there's a journeyperson out there and there's five in the shop, doing customer service and such like that, that's not really apples and oranges.

They're not necessarily in the field. they are learning the business aspect of the particular trade, but they're not learning the trade because they're actually not in the field where that requirement is out there for the journeyperson himself.

So I understand what you're asking, and I would like to contemplate that for a while. I could get back to you on probably a better answer.

REP. BARAM: Trying to use an analogy, I'll take my own law office. I mean, you could hire five paralegals who can do the legal research and give you the information, but they can't go to court, they can't meet with clients because they're not lawyers yet or pseudo interns.

So if I'm growing my law practice and I need lawyers who are going to service these potential clients, I need someone who's licensed. And I'd become oversaturated with people doing research and helping out. It wouldn't necessarily help me grow and expand, you know, until these people became lawyers.

But that's what I'm having trouble understanding 'cause I understand the need for the company to grow but if there is a demand and they need to feel that demand now it seems that they would hire somebody who's capable to hit the ground running and can do that work.

TODD BERCH: I think your analogy is absolutely correct if you were to twist it backwards. If you had five lawyers and five researchers, five paralegals, you'd be first of all compliant, and second of all, you would have more people in your office ready to hit the ground running.

So your business has grown exponentially by four, and you have people to back them up. So now you don't have a large pool of researchers, you actually have a shortage of researchers, you have one person to take care of each lawyer. Am I correct in that assumption?

I'm trying to answer your question.

REP. BARAM: I'm not sure a law office would financially make it if you had to pay --

TODD BERCH: I understand that.

REP. BARAM: -- one paralegal or one --

TODD BERCH: But if you had the work to do such it goes along the same way with trades. If you had enough work to do such it would be the same exact way. And your paralegals would probably want to become lawyers, I would imagine, correct, some day possibly? It's the same thing with apprentices. They want to become a journeyperson.

REP. BARAM: Thanks a lot.

SENATOR DOYLE: Representative Rutigliano.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good evening, sir.

TODD BERCH: Good evening, Representative. How are you today?

REP. RUTIGLIANO: I just have one question, and I don't know if it's relevant. That's why I'm asking.

TODD BERCH: Okay.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: Can an apprentice be a part-timer? When I was listening to the gentleman before your testimony, I thought he said he had some kids that were still in school and that the law considered even a part-time apprentice a one. So he maybe wanted two part-timers to kind of equal one.

TODD BERCH: I don't have that answer for you. I will definitely get that answer for you.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: I appreciate that.

TODD BERCH: Yeah. I don't have that offhand.

REP. RUTIGLIANO: Okay. That was my only question. Thank you.

TODD BERCH: Yep.

SENATOR DOYLE: Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for being here.

Do all apprentices make it to journeyman or do a lot of them apprentice for a while and decide to do something different?

TODD BERCH: It depends by trade, I would have to imagine. It's like going to college. You're going -- some are four-year apprentices. A lot of people drop out of college after freshman, sophomore year, same thing happens with apprentices. So it depends on the individual. I don't have specifics what the dropout rate is.

You know, it does have a golden carrot at the end of the stick. A journey person is a very skilled person that makes a very decent salary so I would say that they strive to make it just like a college student would.

REP. CARTER: And one other question. Let's just say for the sake of argument, somebody testified earlier and said this is not about cost. What if it is? So what?

If somebody wants to hire more apprentices coming through, they can only apprentice for so long and they move through the pipeline, you know, for the business obviously they would lose having somebody there. They would have a turnover and deal with all that.

But what is really wrong with that concept allowing people to flow into the industry from your perspective?

TODD BERCH: So you would actually state that it would be okay for apprentices to go out and conduct work, do work?

REP. CARTER: No. I'm saying they -- I don't know how this works.

TODD BERCH: Okay.

REP. CARTER: But obviously one journeyman can go out on their own, right?

TODD BERCH: Yep.

REP. CARTER: So when a journeyman takes an apprentice and they're paying the apprentice, isn't the apprentice supposed to do some work when they're out there?

TODD BERCH: Uh-huh.

REP. CARTER: So I would say you'd probably get jobs done pretty quickly? You'd be paying more than one journeyman. You'd have two people working at the job, and you'd be, you know, building something so this kid could go out and have a career of their own sometime, open their own shop or whatever it takes.

So what is wrong with that from your perspective?

TODD BERCH: I see where you're going with that. And I'm trying to answer it properly. I think the main point that I'm trying to make about cost is you can't just have an apprentice out in the field by themselves. First of all, it's kind of sneaky. And that's what happens a lot of times. That does happen.

I don't understand why companies would not want -- I understand why they want to invest in apprentices and apprentices. It does grow their business over time, plus it gives them an opportunity to look at what type of employee they may be, and keep 'em.

And other people have testified they have small shops and things like that. It gives a chance for a company to grow while they're grooming their employee.

If you just want to go and make money as a particular trade, just hire a journeyperson period. But if you want to grow over time and you want to, again start grooming people into that type of business, if it's a seller type of business, that's when you go with the apprentice program, no question about it.

So I think -- I'm trying to answer your question from what I'm trying to get what you're asking.

REP. CARTER: Thank you.

And to be honest, I don't know that -- I know that he testified he's going to grow his business this way, I don't know that you can grow your business that way at all. You probably don't. You'd probably just stay a small business.

But what you do is you create a pipeline for the bigger businesses perhaps. I don't know. But I appreciate your testimony and your candor.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR DOYLE: Anyone else?

Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you.

Sometimes the luxury of when you're talking you get some more questions. So I just had a couple more questions.

TODD BERCH: Yes, sir.

SENATOR WITKOS: If -- what are the number of hours that somebody needs to get a -- or years -- is it by years or hours to go from a apprentice to a journeyman? How do they track that?

TODD BERCH: I believe it's hours and years and if you are a registered apprentice, I'm just going from my own experience, and that's 25 years ago now. I used to have this -- they called it a blue book and I would actually log in my hours every week and my superior, my foreman would sign off on it.

As a registered apprentice I was required to go to classes and such and bring that book, say this is -- these are my hours logged as on-the-job training.

So it would also correlate with my classroom instruction.

SENATOR WITKOS: Was there -- I don't know, does the practice differentiate between classroom hours and out in the field work hours?

TODD BERCH: I believe it still does. I don't have your exact answer but yes. I believe it does.

SENATOR WITKOS: All right. So regardless of that so the scenario that if you got five young persons or any age, I shouldn't put an age -- five people working in the shop doing sales or purchasing, learning that aspect of the business, they aren't getting the hours that they need for out in the field work to get their journeymen, so it doesn't matter how much time they spend in the shop, eventually if they want to become a journeyman, they've got to get out in the field and get those hours to get that license. Is that correct?

TODD BERCH: In theory, yeah. I think you might -- you would want to check with the Department of Labor on that. I don't have that exact -- I will get that for you if you'd like me to.

SENATOR WITKOS: If DCP or somebody is going to testify I'll ask them if they're familiar.

TODD BERCH: Yeah. Right.

SENATOR WITKOS: And now you said sometimes people you may be aware that they're sending apprentices out in the field illegally. Are you aware what the penalties are? Does the shop lose their license or does a journeyman get kicked out of the program or what are the ramifications?

I mean, somebody's putting, I imagine, their business on the line for doing that. I don't know what the penalties are. Any idea?

TODD BERCH: I know that there are penalties. I am not quite sure what they are.

SENATOR WITKOS: Okay. All right. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions from the committee?

Seeing none, thank you very much.

TODD BERCH: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Next speaker is Al Rizzo, then Glenn Marshall.

Al Rizzo.

AL RIZZO: It's getting close to bedtime. You people work too late.

My name is Al Rizzo, and I'm owner of Rizzo Pool Company for the past 60 years. But I'm here representing the Customer Relations Committee of Connecticut Spa & Pool Association. We call it CONSPA.

And good evening, Senators and Representatives.

I'm here in favor of Bill 267. It breaks down into three portions and I want you to understand. One portion is simple. It's continual -- enforcement of continual education. The Department of Consumer Protection, TCP, has been enforcing it for the past 14 years, but according to law, they don't have that enforcement right, they'll give them that right.

Second part of the bill is meant in training, and it's something similar to what you were just listening to, where we can hire high school and college students through the December months and train them to clean pools properly and there is a program that we have already set up a place for their training and they're registered.

We started several months ago in conjunction with the Department of Consumer Protection, and they're the ones that are controlling it.

The third part of the bill is simply an explanation of what an SP-1 and SP-2 can do. SP-1 represents the owner of a pool service company and a repair company, and SP-2 is the journeymen. But it takes quite a bit of -- 4,000 hours of on-the-job training, plus 280 hours of schooling for them to reach that portion of the journeyman.

The problem is that along the way there's some mix-up as to the understanding of what a serviceman can and can't do. Right now that journeyman is the only one who is allowed to go and clean pools, and in order to do so he needs very little training. You don't have to be around that many years to learn how to clean a pool.

So we hire high school through the summer and college boys or girls and get them in and we give them a week of training, on-the-job training, and a day of schooling. It's in-house schooling. We have it all and any one of the companies can do their own training and the schooling.

The Association also puts on the training if it needs to be. The problem then with that section, which is -- I've submitted this -- it's Section 20-417(a)(a), Paragraph A. And it has to do with explaining what it means.

And we submitted several pages to this committee for the bill, and the attorneys in abbreviation got it all small that we lost some of the meeting along the way. So I've handed out another paragraph just for that.

And it does a better job of describing exactly what the men in training are allowed to do on their own after they've been trained properly.

Now some of these people come back all through high school and college, work their way through, it helps them work their way through. And there's no such thing as minimum wage in ours. I mean, they start out at 11-$12 an hour, and they actually work their way up from that as they get more progressive with what they do.

Connecticut Swimming Pool Association started in the early 1960s as a consumer advocate group for the pool industry. Incorporated in 1967. I served as the first president, and it has been in existence ever since. We have our own training programs, we instituted in the 1980s a certification program, and we've been licensed since 1998 and after getting grandfathered in 2000 it took hold and we've been in existence at that program ever since.

So if you have any questions on 267 or the one I passed out for that first paragraph, I'll be glad to answer them.

THE COURT: Thank you, Mr. Rizzo.

Any questions from the committee?

Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, Mr. Rizzo, for being here. In one section, actually in Section 1, there's a piece where it talks about the water treatment of a swimming pool was added in there. Now, is that to imply that anybody who does water treatment has to be licensed at this point or fall into this?

AL RIZZO: Are you asking me?

REP. CARTER: I am asking. Is that (inaudible).

AL RIZZO: Yes. The sanitation of water, they're adding chemicals. We've been allowed to do that since 2000. Just pertaining to pool water itself, same thing is acid washing and draining a pool.

REP. CARTER: So here's my question. So if I own a pool at home, does this mean now I have to call you to come do my water treatment?

AL RIZZO: No.

REP. CARTER: Can I still do it on my own?

AL RIZZO: No. You're allowed as a homeowner to do anything you want to do. When we build a pool and turn it over to you as a homeowner, there's never a problem. You come to class and we send technicians out to train you. After three or four times out there you usually get the hang of it and you can do it.

When you make a mistake you'll call up and ask us. The problem really occurs that these men are our front line of action. When I walk on a property and they're trained to do this, I look at the gate. Is the gate opening and closing automatically?

Will it shut properly? Is the fence in good condition? How is it decked when you get there? is the coping good? And this takes place when the pool becomes old like me, you know, starts falling apart. And nobody pays attention to it, especially a new homeowner.

So somewhere along the line we have to have these people there to do it, and actually the young people that join as men in training are trained in safety and be able to report back, hey, we got main drain covers missing or the diving board is broken, or something like that. It creates more business and it also protects the public.

REP. CARTER: Thank you very much, Mr. Rizzo.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR DOYLE: Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS: Thank you.

Mr. Rizzo, just one question. If I have a pool at my house and spring comes, we get it -- I have a pool company that comes and does it for me every year and halfway through the season I go to flip on the lights, they don't work. So I call up my electrician to come in, because I figure it's an electrical issue.

Would they be prevented from working on my pool unless they have a pool (inaudible) license?

AL RIZZO: Our license covers -- first of all, when you build a pool, we have to use a master electrician and master plumber to do any of the work that pertains to their -- under their license.

SENATOR WITKOS: No. My scenario is -- this is after the fact.

AL RIZZO: Once it's after -- once after it's built we are trained to take care of that. My men can go out there and change a light bulb on your underwater light. They can pull a light out and replace the whole light right back to the junction box. We already have that.

SENATOR WITKOS: Excuse me. That wasn't my question to you. Not that -- if your folks are trained to do it. I'm asking you can I call an electrician to come and handle my -- what I perceive to be as a homeowner and electrical issue --

AL RIZZO: Yes, sure.

SENATOR WITKOS: -- without having a pool certification licensed --

AL RIZZO: Yes, definitely. The master electrician, and they can -- we just do a little portion, they can do any portion.

SENATOR WITKOS: Okay. I just wanted to make sure that they were still allowed to do that.

AL RIZZO: You're not stepping on toes of any master plumbers or electricians.

SENATOR WITKOS: Okay. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions?

Seeing none, thank you. And we have the language and we'll talk the legal. Thank you.

The next speaker is Glenn Marshall.

AL RIZZO: I'm sorry, you must have missed Ray.

SENATOR DOYLE: Okay. Ray.

RAYMOND RESCILDO: Is it on?

SENATOR DOYLE: Yes.

RAYMOND RESCILDO: My name is Raymond Rescildo, and I'm here to support Raised Bill 267. I'm going to -- having a little trouble here.

From a practical point of view, I own and operate a small swimming pool company. I run the office but I also get in my truck every day and perform the work.

My typical work day ranges from installing and repairing gas heaters, natural propane, pumps on 220-line voltage, high-pressure plumbing repairs, automated chemical dispensers and anti-entraption devices.

The reason I support 267 is not only the tremendous contribution to public health and safety, I also support it for the confidence it provides me as a micro-business owner like myself.

The trainee program is just a gateway to growth. It's very hard to craft guys and have a template to do it. the clarified scope of work at operations like mine, a template that kind of puts us on par with companies that have dedicated service departments or a safety officer.

I mean, I see this is a real -- this is a gift to a smaller business. It's kind of like giving us a human resource department with the trainee program, and that's why I support it.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any further questions from the committee?

Seeing none, thank you.

Glenn Marshall, please. Then Joe Wrinn and there's three people signed under one name, so I guess each has got a minute. But first from (inaudible).

The first one is Glenn Marshall.

GLENN MARSHALL: Good afternoon, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram and members of the General Law Committee.

My name is Glenn Marshall, and I am a business manager for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters in Connecticut, representing thousands of carpenters. I am here today to testify in opposition to Raised Bill 412, AN ACT CONCERNING THE ENFORCEMENT OF CERTAIN OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING STATUTES as it is currently written.

Connecticut first enacted licensing laws starting in 1967 to protect the general public's safety. First for plumbers and electricians, and over the following decades for other crafts such as sheet metal workers and glazers.

In fact, we are one of the only states that has licensing for glazers. As more and more trades have attained licenses, we have seen a rise in jurisdictional problems on job sites. Some trades are using their licensed status as a means to grab work and claim jurisdiction from non-licensed crafts such as carpenters.

There are many examples on record, and a few years ago one of our contractors spent in excess of $100,000 defending themselves.

There are many conflicts and issues with the way this bill is currently written, and I will give a few examples.

Cease work orders for individuals who perform work without a license is a problem because there are many gray areas or overlap of work between licensed and unlicensed crafts.

The proposed language states that either the commissioner or the board can either jointly or separately issue a cease work order. There is a potential conflict if the commissioner and the board are in disagreement as to whether a violation has occurred or not.

Who makes the final determination? I believe that the commissioner should make the final decision with the advice of the board for sake of consistency.

The board members' terms, by statute, expire every four years, which can lead to turnover and inconsistent decisions being rendered. And although the commissioner's term may be short as well, they rely on the recommendations of their managers, who have an historical institutional knowledge of the industry.

As an ex-commissioner, I can attest to this myself. Also, negligently is being added too willfully to determine someone's culpability of working without a license. Willful is a much higher standard than negligent, so it can't be both.

We prefer to see it left as just willful, as someone can make an honest mistake.

In closing, we would be supportive of more enforcement agents being added to help the depleted staff enforce the current licensing laws, but we are opposed to the changes that are in this bill as they currently are written.

We look forward to working with the committee and the leadership on substitute language to address our concerns and others in the industry.

I want to thank you all for your time and your consideration and I would gladly answer any questions.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you very much.

I would ask if you have copies of your substitute language, to make sure our legal counsel receives that.

Any questions from the committee?

Representative Aman?

REP. AMAN: Yeah. Looking at it, it talks about the violations and says any person. Just to be clear, is that a person, and individual, or a company that has people working for them that aren't being licensed?

GLENN MARSHALL: It's referring to an individual.

REP. AMAN: Okay. And it's willfully or is that -- if someone doesn't have their license with them because it's laying on their dresser at home, they're willfully not having it with them. Is that how you would interpret that?

GLENN MARSHALL: I guess it could be. Willful is a higher standard. Negligently has been added to it, so there you have a conflict too. Is it willful or is it negligent? Negligent is less -- it's a lower standard.

So if it was negligent, and you have in the bill that the enforcement agent shall within 48 hours issue a cease work, they're going to probably be more inclined for that individual that you just referred to to stop them from working.

And then the process would start. It could take a long time for that individual to go back to work.

REP. AMAN: That's one of my concerns, the way the language is written is that you have the individual on the job and for whatever reason if he stays there a stop work order is going to be issued. The contractor is going to immediately dismiss that person, hire someone else to do the job.

Earlier today we heard that it could be three, four weeks before a hearing was held, and it doesn't seem like the person that was dismissed from the job has got any real recourse at that point other than going a month without pay.

Is that a scenario that the carpenters are concerned about?

GLENN MARSHALL: Absolutely. Because, as I said, you know, most people when asked the question do you want to see somebody doing electrical or plumbing without a license? No. You don't want to see anybody get hurt or the public.

But there is gray areas. The semantics of the existing statutes sometimes are twisted, and people that are out there doing the work, you know, contractors don't know. And, you know, a licensing person or a trades person shows up and says hey, you got carpenters putting louvers in. We think that's licensable.

Louvers are a generic term. You could put them on homes and a gable ends. They're made out of wood. Or they could be part of a balanced system, which then would be licensable.

So there's architectural louvers and there's part of the system with louvers. Sometimes in the past we've had situations. The contractor that I alluded to, you know, had a similar situation and then had to defend himself.

Usually the institutional knowledge that the enforcement agents that are within DCP, they've been around a long time so they know how to deal these. Our concern is an unlicensed craft is you could have carpenters doing something that they've been doing historically that really at the end of the day might not be licensed.

But if an enforcement agent feels pressure because the bill says he shall shut them down within 48 hours, he's going to look to cover himself and then it's those individuals who could be harmed.

REP. AMAN: Again, I'm looking for the change in language when the bill comes out, because right now I don't see how this is going to be really workable and I see some of the poor guys doing the work themselves as the ones that are going to be caught in the middle, as various trade unions are starting to have disputes.

The trade union leaders are fine. The person on the job is sitting there for a month without a paycheck. That bothers me.

GLENN MARSHALL: Yeah. I think we could work this out, but the language has to be the right language, and we talked to Representative (Inaudible) about, you know, trying to get to that point, but we do have concerns as it's currently written.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Other questions?

Thank you very much. We appreciate your comments.

Next I have Joe Wrinn, and he will be followed by the trio of John Yusza, Andy Wilson and Joel Kent.

JOSEPH WRINN: Chairman Baram, members of the General Law Committee, good evening.

My name is Joseph Wrinn. I'm commercial realtor with Goodfellow, Ashmore in Danbury, Connecticut.

On behalf of the Connecticut Association of Realtors and the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors, I'm here to speak about Senate Bill 270, AN ACT CONCERNING COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE CONDITION REPORTS.

For the past 26 years, it has been my pleasure to exclusively represent hundreds of buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants of non-residential real estate.

While the intent of the property condition report may appear to be in the interest of the consumer, and certainly provides some benefit in the residential realm, it has no place in the commercial arena.

Commercial building systems are as complex as diverse. A banker/buyer would be very unlikely to rely on the actual knowledge of a seller related to those building systems in a seller-generated discourse report -- disclosure report.

Depending on the facility, detailed reports of building systems and conditions are performed by professional roofers, electricians, plumbers, mechanical structural and environmental engineers at substantial costs.

The results of these investigations either lead to a deal or a negotiation. Environmental reports are often negotiated within the transaction as both the testing and remediation can be very expensive.

It would be far more harm to the public and the state instating through this statute that any commercial buyer should rely on the seller's own knowledge in place of building system investigations or inspections.

Leasing transactions vary as much as the buildings they occupy. In a long-term land lease, the only conditions of concern to a tenant would be subsurface. Typically in a retail lease, the tenant is provided a roof, structure, access to HVAC and sprinklers. The rest of the improvements are their responsibility.

Conversely, an office tenant is often provided a turnkey build out. In either case, the lease would spell out both the responsibilities of the landlord and tenant, which are negotiated with the other terms of the deal.

It's difficult for me to recall any purchase or lease done by myself or colleagues, where a commercial property condition report would have made any difference in site selection or negotiation.

The issue is not consumer protection. These are commercial transactions. It would only create an unnecessary, unbeneficial obstacle impeding deals in a difficult market.

Thank you for allowing me the time to address this.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Are there questions? Just one I guess, being familiar with commercial transactions, oftentimes in a commercial contract there are warranties that are given by the seller, that the seller is unaware of any pollution or so on. Is some kind of a disclosure akin to what a seller already has to set forth in a contract that's written where the lawyer is looking for these kinds of representations?

JOSEPH WRINN: I think it comes down more to financing, Mr. Chairman, because the banks aren't going to rely on a seller saying gee, there's no problems with that tank that was there for 20 years, or the printing company we had here 50 years ago.

I think the investigations have to go on. And I just -- I've never seen it where reliance is made upon a seller saying that gee, the property is clean or, you know, the roof only leaks when it's raining.

I mean, it's -- you know, we need the professionals to get in there and really take a look. A disclosure form in a residential setting and I've heard mixed things regarding that. Many attorneys are just saying pay the 500 and forget it.

You know, but there are times when sellers in residential homes do come forth with a lot of valuable information. In the commercial area, you've got so many different types of buildings, so many different systems.

You've got flat roofs, you've got structural issues. You know, there are demands on these systems that are constantly maintained and do take professionals to look at them when a sale is going through. A lease is a whole different animal.

I mean, this is just going to tie our hands more and, my God, we don't need that to happen.

REP. BARAM: It wasn't my particular case, but I think a couple of the legislators who recommended this bill had constituents who purchased smaller commercial entities or properties and paid cash for it. So there was no bank involved where you didn't get involved with, you know, phase one, phase (inaudible).

JOSEPH WRINN: Did they have attorneys?

REP. BARAM: That I don't know.

JOSEPH WRINN: I mean, you know, I mean, at that point you've got to be buyer beware. I mean, you're going to buy a place where they've been taking cars apart for 20 years, if you're not represented by an attorney, you know, you've got a fool for a client.

REP. BARAM: Okay. Thank you.

Are there other questions?

Representative Rovero.

REP. ROVERO: You know, I think any wise commercial purchaser today, whether he goes through a bank or not, if he has enough cash to pay for it, he's pretty wise. He's going to have a Phase 1 and a Phase -- at a minimum a Phase 1 and possibly a Phase 2 also.

So I think we're just adding another layer of bureaucracy on top of what we already have.

JOSEPH WRINN: And if I may add to that, sir, when we're listing a building, we know the age of the roof. We know how old the systems are, and we price it accordingly. I mean, these things, we -- now their life expectancy and it's part of the transaction.

You know, you can't really -- there aren't a lot of people you're pulling the wool over their eyes. But this bill is just going to be -- it's a nightmare. We don't need it.

Thank you.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Any other questions? Thank you very much for your testimony.

JOSEPH WRINN: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Next we have again Mr. Yusza, Wilson and Kent, followed by Jen Jones and Scott Beso.

JOEL KENT: Representative Baram, committee, my name is Joel Kent. I'm the training chair of the Connecticut Alarms and Systems Integrators Association, CASIA. I'm also the vice chair of the Education Committee for the National Training School of Electronic Security Association, and I own a small alarm company in Greater Hartford myself.

CASIA wants to recognize and thank you for taking initiative in bringing this bill forward. We would like to add our comments to it and say that the bill does need quite a bit of repair work and it would be most wise to withdraw the bill at this time and concentrate on repair.

We did find a number of weaknesses in it, inherent weaknesses that are actually flawed. And not because of any problem with the drafters of the bill, but as you've all alluded to when you were talking about apprenticeship and training, that there is just a lack of knowledge that should probably be enhanced before the bill is presented.

And the bill as written would not do well. If it were to pass it would create a lot more problems than solve. I hold in my pocket licenses for several states, two of which require that I affirm every two years that I have not been arrested -- or that I have not been convicted of any crime.

And the governing bodies of those states will determine whether the crime was of moral turpitude, allowing me to continue working in the security industry. As I said, the electrical licensing laws are on one side the security industry is only a part of electrical licensing.

And we recognize that you should probably know who is working on your security system, residential or commercial.

REP. BARAM: Thank you. Feel free to --

JOHN YUSZA: My name is John Yusza. I am also associated with CASIA as the legislative chairman. And at this point also own an alarm company that has been in business now for 44 years.

We do our own background checks and at this point also representing CASIA we're in opposition to this bill.

We have provided to everyone on the committee written testimony but I would like to elaborate on the fact of the class licenses that are affected here.

Currently within the State of Connecticut there are number of electrical licenses, starting with probably we'll call a T-class license that would involve everything from networking and telephone, which could be used both home and commercial, then the L-class licenses, which are generally your low voltage home theater alarm systems.

Your C-class licenses, which are higher, going up into your E-class licenses, not to mention a the opposite end of the spectrum, which was brought up earlier, apprenticeship. And there is also a category called pre-apprentice.

Now, at this point the only class that has been recognized here to have a background check on is the L-6. So the employer of an L-6 is exempt from this. Other workers that would also within their company have a C-class license are exempt.

The E-class licenses are exempt, and the next question is if this is going to be something that you're concerned with security for both residential, let's add in to the fact that these same people are going into schools. They're going into senior homes, and so are other trades.

Presently I'd only say that the L-6 license, you're probably looking at a total number of about 300 licensed people out of the categories that I've mentioned, including the Es that go up into about 13,000 people in the State of Connecticut.

So even as an E-class licensee or a C-class licensee I go into your home. Would I need to have a security background check or just the L?

So you can see where this gets quite convoluted in the fact of there's a lot of licenses here and a lot of I would say cross working that people do.

An L as well as a C can do a fire alarm. They can do a telephone system, they can also do access control. Which part of this should be covered? Where will they be working? The school system, daycare center, residence, commercial building, could be any one of those in any particular given week.

So at this point I think until some language could be corrected on this to understand better the licensing categories, that this actually go back and have some work done on it.

And I think the association at this point could be considered a resource for working on that. Any questions?

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Any committee questions?

So if I understand you correctly, you would prefer that this bill not go forward and that we spend some time between this session and next session trying to come up with a bill that better addresses the need as you see it?

JOHN YUSZA: Yes.

REP. BARAM: Thank you for being candid about that, and I'm sorry we didn't get it right. The attempt was to try and create some kind of licensing requirement or certification to protect consumers who are installing these security systems.

But I'm not sure we fully appreciated the level of licenses and who can do what.

JOEL KENT: We recognize the effort, and we also recognize the need for a security license of this type that would assure the consumer and the business person that the technician that's coming in with the tool belt is just that, a technician and has no other baggage with him or her.

REP. BARAM: Well, I look forward to contacting you after session and seeing if we can work together to try it again.

JOEL KENT: I'd like that very much.

REP. BARAM: Any other questions?

JOHN YUSZA: If I may add one thing also is the fact that currently we do our own background, as many companies do. And we can get a turnaround background check in anywhere from two to four hours on any person that's a potential employee.

Presently I understand that the state -- Connecticut state police doing a background check for someone for a pistol permit is about four to six weeks, and obviously if I were to hire you and say I cannot put you into your very first home to do any work for four to six weeks I don't think you'd be waiting around to get a job. You'd go somewhere else and find something else to do.

REP. BARAM: Thank you all very much.

JOEL KENT: Thank you.

REP. BARAM: Okay. Next is Jen Jennings, followed by Dot Faso and then Jeff Leon.

JEN JENNINGS: Good evening, Representative Baram and members of the General Law Committee.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Jen Jennings, the executive director of the Connecticut Heating and Cooling Contractors Association. We represent about 160 companies with about 5,000 employees statewide.

I'm not going to read through my testimony as I've already handed in written copy. But to answer some of the questions that were posed to Eric, CHCC's president, as well as some of the others who have testified on this bill.

With regard to the question about how many license holders it will take to staff the comprehensive energy strategy plan appropriately. There was a report released in December of 2011 about the Economic Impact of Expanding Natural Gas used in Connecticut.

It was published by the Department of Economic and Community Development, and if you want me to email it over to you guys it's on page 13, the information from that. it's a pretty good-sized chart.

It does reference in there as consumers connect to the main and install gas heating appliances, HVAC businesses will continue to grow significantly.

That I think really comes down to supply and demand. Right now there's a significant demand for increased efficiency in Connecticut, whether it be boiler change outs, new equipment, new technology that's become available. So the demand is really there.

However, the supply of the heating contractor is not. If you look over the past 10 years at the -- take the S-2 license, for example, it stayed stagnant. It even slightly has dropped off. So if the workload's increasing, and the number of S license holders is staying stagnant and even decreasing, well, you don't bring a licensed technician in overnight.

Others have already testified that it can be compared to a four-year degree. That definitely is the case. It can be compared to a two-year or a four-year degree. A D license is a two-year license. It requires 4,000 hours, on-the-job hours, whereas an S license requires 8,000 on-the-job hours.

It is hours. You hope to finish the 8,000 hours in four years. However, if you are a part-time apprentice, it could take you a little longer than four years. Just like college, one would like to finish in four years. However, many do not finish it in four years.

So to put a few things out there, I've been with CHCC for seven or eight years. The companies that I work with are great companies. To answer some of the wage questions that you guys have asked, we've surveyed our membership.

The Department of Labor could give you the numbers and verify them. Apprentices start between $11 and $13 an hour. So assume that you graduated technical high school, you're 18 years old, and you get a job and you are starting between $11 and $13 an hour.

In two years when you complete you are going to be between 22 and $26 an hour per the agreement that the contractor has with the Department of Labor.

So $45,000 a year for a 21-year-old just starting out in the industry with his license sounds pretty good to me. I don't think it's cheap labor. Just like any other industry or trade, you're learning, you're learning.

And you go to look at many others which others have testified to, you look at other industries. A nurse, not only are they not paid during their internship, their clinical, they pay to be there.

They're paying to be in that program, to be working in that hospital alongside another nurse and learning.

You look at -- I interned for the State of Connecticut. Talk about cheap labor. I was free. And I enjoyed every minute of it because it went on my resume and I thought of it as an opportunity for experience to couple with my degree upon graduation.

To give you some answers to as far as packages, the apprentices are provided medical, dental, vision. Some of our members even provide a fitness program membership, 401k plan.

On average a cost to the employer of $10,000 to $15,000 per employee, for that apprentice, in addition to the wages. It's not cheap labor. But in order to expand the workforce, you need the apprenticeship.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Are there questions?

Representative Orange.

REP. ORANGE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good to see you. I noticed that in -- first of all, the trades are very dear to my heart. I am concerned about safety in the workplace when it comes to these different trades.

I lost a very good friend of mine in the Middletown tragedy. So I want to make sure that we're clear here as to what we're doing. And in 2010, which happened to be the year that the explosion occurred, there was legislation to create the current law, and that was four years ago and you testified in support of that.

So what brings you here now to change that? And why?

JEN JENNINGS: Because to what you're saying -- well, to put it in two parts. First, as far as the safety concern, even if in 2010 when that tragedy happened, if the hiring ratio then was one to one, it wasn't going to change the jobsite. The jobsite is one-to-one now, it was one-to-one then. No one is asking to change the jobsite ratio because we agree it is a safety issue.

You definitely need one master journeyman to one apprentice. So no one is changing the safety aspect of this. It's the hiring aspect of how many the company can hire and bring in at one time.

As far as we did testify for that. we were looking -- we tried to work with all groups and be on the same page and put a task force together to study it. CHCC was not at the table for that, and it was studied and it was said that it was going to be revisited again in a year.

It's been four years and it has not been revisited again. And now here we are with the gas expansion plan before us.

REP. ORANGE: Okay. So what kind of apprentices are people looking for? I mean, are they looking for someone was here earlier testifying that it was more inside work and what you would do here and what you would do there and that kind of thing?

What kind of work are we looking at? Are we looking at on the field work? Are we looking at office work? What exactly are we looking for here?

JEN JENNINGS: I think what got maybe misconstrued then is what he's saying is in the past, the past testimony, one of the arguments in opposition has been if it's a one-to-one hiring ratio, what do you do with that apprentice if their assigned journeyman is out sick?

So what do you do with him? He can't go out to a jobsite because you wouldn't send an apprentice by himself.

Well, there's other opportunities, especially within larger companies, to maybe bring him upstairs for the day and let him learn design, ordering.

REP. ORANGE: Well, what now do they do with that apprentice that the journeyman is out sick? What happens to the apprentice? Do they say go home?

JEN JENNINGS: Well, right now -- right now there's multiple other journeymen because it's three to one, the current ratio. So right now that's not an issue. But what the opposition is saying that if we hired at one-to-one with the same one-to-one out on the job, what do you do if you don't have that journeyman?

Well, you can bring him upstairs. He wouldn't get credit in the books for the day, toward his apprenticeship hours, toward the 8,000 if he wasn't on the field doing what the apprenticeship requires him to do.

But when the employer hires him, I mean, he's taking on that risk. You've got to pay your guy for the day. With all due respect, I have to put it out there and to give you a bit of my own background. I come very much from a union background.

My father is a union employee. My husband's a police officer here in Hartford, and I've got plenty of cousins and family who sit with AFL/CIO, the Food workers Union in Westport, here, there and everywhere.

So let's face it, the union put several on the bench during the winter, unpaid or on unemployment. So we're not looking to do that. Our larger companies have options. They can either go inside and learn design, ordering, inventory, so many other assets of the job that are important for a technician to know, the understand what parts to order.

And again, it won't count towards his 8,000 hours, but he's still getting a job in the field toward his ultimate goal of getting a license.

REP. BARAM: Well, I thank you for your explanation, and did you have a comment? You looked like you wanted to say something to me.

SCOTT BASSO: I was going to --

JEN JENNINGS: Scott's after me, so --

SCOTT BASSO: Yeah, that's all right.

JEN JENNINGS: Now.

SCOTT BASSO: I was going to say that I am a business owner myself and when we don't have a licensed man for the apprentice to work with there are, just as Jen said, plenty of opportunities for them to work. And if there wasn't they can go home.

They have a job 364 other days out of the year if it happens to be that one day. But the reality is is that there's video training now, there's -- we do a lot of things with like our modern, high efficiency heating equipment, all requires specialized training all done by webinars. And that's a perfect time for us to do that type of work, when we have that type of training.

'Cause it's not -- we don't always have a job to do that day, or our job might get cancelled because of working on a rooftop. We don't send our guys home because of inclement weather and don't pay them. They go inside and have a chance to do some continuing ed work.

So there's always an opportunity for training. It's not as though we're going to send them out by themselves.

REP. ORANGE: But if your journeyman is coming in because of inclement weather, wouldn't the apprentice then come with him or her?

SCOTT BASSO: Of course. I'm giving you a sample of what we do when -- it applied to both. I never miss an opportunity for training in my business. And just because I can't let this -- I'm not going to let -- I can't afford, for one, as the owner, to send out an apprentice to do the job. I have too much at risk.

I can lose my house, my business, and everybody else that works for me can go up in flames. I'm the ultimate responsibility. So when there isn't work to do in the field, or if something happens, or somebody gets hurt, they have to go pick up their kids, the apprentice comes back to the shop.

They can sweep. They can do anything. And I could put them to work. But I'm not going to lose the opportunity to continue training them. I've only got 'em for so long. One of the things that was brought up before was you know, do apprentices stay?

They don't. They're kids. They're 18 years old. They change their mind, just like somebody who goes to college, they change their major. I've had employees who've become firemen, enrolled in the military or enlisted, so people change course.

We always have to train and you can't lose any opportunity to do so.

REP. ORANGE: Okay. And in the -- Jen, in the background that I've done on the 2010 legislation, to which you supported, I didn't see anything there that said that we will revisit this in a year. So was that like a verbal thing or -- I couldn't find any of that.

JEN JENNINGS: I don't have that legislation in front of me, so I'd have to go back to it, but I'm almost positive it was something that was discussed and I know I've got the email trail from the ones that sat in the task force saying that it is something that would be reviewed again in a year.

REP. ORANGE: And why was it going to be reviewed in a year?

JEN JENNINGS: To see how the change -- just to see how the change would work. And again, it does help the smaller shops. But the smaller shops are just a small percentage of it. There are larger shops who, you know, might have 100 licenses, and you only have 30 apprentices. Think about that gap there of how many more could potentially come in to a larger company.

It's job creation. I mean, it truly is job creation.

REP. ORANGE: Thank you, Jen, for answering me.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Any other questions from the committee?

Thank you very much.

Mr. Basso you are next. I don't know if you have anything else to say or --

SCOTT BASSO: I do. I do, if you don't mind, I'm sorry.

REP. BARAM: We'll give you a few minutes.

SCOTT BASSO: All right. Like I said before, I'm a business owner, second generation. I'm a partner with my brother in a firm that was started in 1974 by my father.

We've constantly tried to grow our business. I wasn't always enamored with the plumbing and heating and air conditioning trade. But I joined the firm after college, after another career, because I saw an opportunity. There are more lawyers than there are plumbers.

More people have become lawyers that are in the last I think four years than there are the total population of plumbers in the state.

There's a disconnect in the workforce, and there's an opportunity. And it's because people aren't going into the trades that we find the challenge of growing our business.

And as a result, we can't get to every job. I only have so many people that I can hire. When we talk about the gas expansion, I put in an ad on Craigslist on Friday at 5:00. I got 18 resumes by 3:00 this afternoon.

Two people were licensed, one plumber, with a P-1, and one person with a D-2 license. And there were 16 people who were in apprentices, 14 of which had already had schooling done.

But not enrolled in an apprenticeship program. Excuse me, one person was enrolled in an apprenticeship program.

So there is a problem. There's no way that the gas expansion works in its current state because there aren't enough people to do it. and the reason why there's not enough people to do it is because we've strangled the entry point by having this three-to-one ratio.

And when we reduced it a few years back, it was an attempt to loosen a log jam a little, and there still needs to be a lot more to go.

There's so much opportunity in trade for a young individual. And if we just look at this gas conversion network as being like a springboard, it's like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, where an apprentice can come in today and work with the highest efficiency equipment. That's what we're promoting, brand-new installs.

They're going to learn about gas pipe sizing, venting, wiring, you name it. and they're going to work with a technician one-on-one, a lot of times there's four people or three people on the job to make these jobs happen in a day.

Especially if you're doing a heating system, somebody does not want to be without heat. So we work quickly, we work cleanly, and they learn best practices. And as they go through the program, because as we've learned before, that there's different licenses, two-year licenses, three-year licenses, and four-year licenses.

As these new systems come on tap, we have somebody to service it. how are we going to service all these equipment? The people with the B-2 licenses today that are working for oil companies, they might be considered a technician in the State of Connecticut, but they can't work on any of the 20,000 gas pieces of equipment that we want to install.

And those people can't become D-2 licensed people without giving up their license as part of this ratio. That's another part of the problem is that when you have a B license and you want to get a D license or an S license, you can't count as a license holder.

So somebody fresh and new can't enter the trade and be the (inaudible). So there's a lot of problems with the apprenticeship program the way it stands today. There's no feeder system. If this was a major-league -- major league baseball didn't have a minor league, which is what the apprenticeship program is, nobody would pay the dollars that we do to see major-league baseball.

Because the quality wouldn't be there. There's no feeder system today. we've choked it down. These people who enter the trade need to be able to work with somebody constantly and have an ability to learn from beginning to end how a good installation goes, and all the things that I just described.

And be the people to take over, because there is an aging workforce here, and many of the licenses, especially like the S-2 license that Jennifer was talking about earlier, when people get a license in the State of Connecticut, they don't give it up. They know it's gold.

So half the -- many of those people -- I'm not going to say half, but many of those people don't practice in the trade. And they're not going to be doing the work that we're discussing today in expansion or just in doing the build-out. It might even work in different fields.

They might have their S license or D license and work in a hospital or a commercial building, and they're doing something else. So they're not actually part of the workforce. We need to rebuild the workforce that we have today, and this is a great opportunity to do so.

REP. BARAM: Thank you very much.

Are there any questions?

Thank you again. Next we have Jeff Leone and he will be followed by -- a little hard to read -- David Barier.

JEFF LEONE: Good evening, Mr. Chairman, and members of the General Law Committee.

I'm in favor of S.B. 268. My name is Jeff Leone, and I own a business and I'm president of Airtop Mechanical Services, located in Southington, Connecticut.

We have 27 full-time employees that are residents of Connecticut. These jobs are high-paying jobs that range from 40,000 per year to 125,000 per year.

We offer our employees and families health insurance, which we pay 70 percent of the entire premium. We pay for the employees' dental, life insurance, short-term disability, long-term disability 100 percent.

And our employees get seven paid holidays and up to five weeks vacation. We offer a 401K program with 100 percent match. We invest a minimum of $30,000 per year in training for our employees. We have a safety program that keeps our employees safe at work and helps prevent on-the-job injuries.

We currently have a 0.77 mod rate, which is the lowest allowable safety rate that the state allows. We work very hard at this. This mod rate give Airtop a 23 percent discount on our Workman's' Comp insurance.

What I'm trying to say is we don't hire cheap labor, and we invest in our employees by giving them a great wage, a safe work environment and free continuing education.

We have struggled over the years with the apprenticeship ratio, as it has hindered our growth. When we have tried to hire additional apprentices and applied for ratio relief, we have been denied. I have included the applications and letters from the Department of Labor denying the relief.

Why would the Department of Labor want me to hire -- why would the Department of Labor not want me to hire apprentices and put people to work? Currently we would hire at least two more apprentices full time, but are unable to do so because of the current ratio.

We complete our D-2 apprentices at a rate of $20 per hour. This rate is set by the Department of Labor. A D-2 apprentice is a two-year program, so in two years a graduate from a Connecticut state technical high school could be making over 40,000 per year. Again, not cheap labor.

You will hear testimony against S.B. 268, stating that by changing the ratio we'll be able to hire cheap labor. We know that's not true because the Department of Labor sets our starting completion rate and finishing completion rates.

They also say it's a safety issue. Well, we know that's not true because the current job site ratio is one-to-one. One apprentice for each journeyman. Also all apprentices must attend OSHA 10 safety courses before becoming an apprentice.

Governor Malloy and the general assembly approved the Comprehensive Energy Strategy last year in legislation, which includes adding 300,000 new gas customers over the next 10 years. There is just one problem. Our industry is losing journeymen to retirement at a rate of three to one, so for every three journeymen retiring, we're only replacing that job with one journeyman.

If the current ratio does not change, contractors will have a huge labor shortage and will not be able to man the additional 300,000 new gas customers.

Please say yes to S.B. 268, as this will create high-paying jobs in the State of Connecticut. Thank you.

REP. BARAM: Thank you very much.

Any questions? Thank you again for your testimony.

Next Dave Berate followed by Rocky Holland and Roger Dezino.

DAVID BENOIT: Chairman Baram, members of the committee, my name is David Benoit. I'm a pharmacist. I work in a buying group, which supports the business of pharmacy for over 100 independent community pharmacies in the State of Connecticut.

In an ideal world on any given day these pharmacies would have in stock the medicines which doctors prescribe for their patients and if we didn't have in stock we would gladly order it and have it for the patient tomorrow if it were available in the distribution system.

As we supply our patients' needs over a period of time, chronic medications over many years, some of our medication will go unused and the bulk of it will be returned to the manufacturer for credit. We would like to make the ideal world a situation in which all of the manufacturers accept their product back for credit.

When a product we know up front the proposition is $4,000 in a bottle of 100 to use 20 for this prescription and we're not sure if we would ever use the rest of it and the manufacturer doesn't provide credit, there may be limitations to access. There's certainly a financial threat, an increase to our cost of doing business, and I know you would like us to be as efficient as possible.

Secondly, the manufacturer has all of these policies and procedures in place for handling all of the components of the product, and are best positioned in the supply chain to take the product back and handle it and dispose of it properly.

So I think that I'm requesting that we have some uniformity among manufacturers that they take back the unused medications within six months of their expiration date for credit so that patients have access to the drugs they need.

There's no additional cost of doing business for pharmacies in trying to decide whether or not they're going to provide medication for a patient. I believe the bill needs to be amended slightly so that the focus is on getting the drug back to the manufacturer and whether that goes through the wholesaler or other distribution systems or specialty companies that do returns, I don't think is consequential.

The fact that the manufacturer accepts it is the hallmark of this discussion from my perspective. Thank you.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Are there questions, any committee questions?

Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

So I want to make sure I understand this. Okay, you said that not all companies take this back now or some do and some don't. Could you elaborate on that?

DAVID BENOIT: The vast majority do. To the best of my knowledge, the vast majority of brand manufacturers, which is where the big dollars are, have taken back, do take back their prescription medicine.

I think Pfizer is one of the top two or three pharmaceutical companies distributing and operating here in the United States and they have historically taken back for credit any of their product which goes expired, whether it's opened or unused packages.

I worked for Upjohn for many years, was on some business teams. It was their practice as well. I believe Eli Lilly has done so for quite some time, and most brand manufacturers have a policy in place where accepting some level of their product back.

And we think that's a reasonable thing encouraging us to make sure that we carry their products so that patients have ready access to them. Did I answer your question?

REP. CARTER: Yes. Now what keeps a in this case an independent pharmacy or pharmacy from then stocking up or having a lot of something? I mean, there's no limit set on what could be returned, right? Can they just stock up on a whole bunch of stuff and return it?

DAVID BENOIT: They could theoretically, but they'd have to pay for it, and typically the way pharmacies operate, we have to pay for our inventory in 15 days but we only get paid for the prescriptions, you know, in Med-D plans in 15 days, but in the commercial world as many as 30-35 days.

So elsewhere we have some timely A, legislation under discussion, but we would have to pay for that inventory if it were used and people who aren't in the federal government's Medicare D program well before we receive the funds for that. That just is not a prudent business practice. So it's theoretical.

REP. CARTER: Now currently can the industry do any kind of percentage discounts on expired products like that?

DAVID BENOIT: I'm sure that there may be some concession for discounts. I'm not an authority on that. Perhaps Rocky can answer that, because his business is returns.

REP. CARTER: Is he coming up also?

DAVID BENOIT: He's next.

REP. CARTER: Great. Thank you very much.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. BARAM: Any other questions?

Representative Rovero.

REP. ROVERO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

What you're saying is that you get an item with 100 pills, let's say, and you only dispense 20 of them. And if you can't send back the other 80 you're going to have to raise the prices to the customers?

DAVID BENOIT: Well, we can't raise the price to customers because that's usually through their insurance. So somebody decides what we get paid. Our only decision is whether or not we're going to take the risk to bring in the 100.

And if there's a manufacturer's return policy, we bring in the 100, we use the 20, and two years from now if those expired, we would have it returned to the manufacturer for credit.

REP. ROVERO: Okay. So now the manufacturer is going to take it back and he's going to add up all his costs of all these returns and the cost of the product is going to be higher?

DAVID BENOIT: I mean, theoretically that's possible. There was a company that was taking all these returns that went back on that policy and decided not to take returns and in their statement seven or eight years ago said that all of that amounted to about 1 percent, so that they were reducing the cost of their goods by 1 percent.

So using that number, if 1 percent is an outrageous number, that's about how it should operate in reverse, one, two. if the medication is used largely in quantities of 30, why do we continue forcing people to buy hundreds and making that decision? Make it in thirties.

REP. ROVERO: Okay. You know, that makes sense.

But you're telling me that all your prices are set by the insurance companies and by the state?

DAVID BENOIT: If 95 percent of my patients either have Medicare D, Medicaid or Blue Cross/Blue Shield, I only have 4 or 5 percent of people who pay cash. Yes.

REP. ROVERO: Okay. Thank you very much. Very enlightening, thank you.

DAVID BENOIT: Thank you.

REP. BARAM: Other questions?

I have one myself. When we heard from the industry individuals, they said that the bill as written allows for credit for refund but that oftentimes they give discounts for returned prescriptions. So each of these discounts is negotiated individually with the various pharmacies or nationwide groups.

I'm wondering how you feel about that aspect of it. Instead of just providing for a refund or a credit to actually allow for a percentage discount?

DAVID BENOIT: Frankly, I'm unaware of that arrangement and those inducements in the transaction. So perhaps one of the other folks, Roger, who's a pharmacy owner, or Rocky, who's in the business of returns, can address that.

But I've never heard of that arrangement before, so I'm not in a position to answer that.

REP. BARAM: Lastly, I think it was suggested that you as an independent group have an association that can exercise perhaps the same leverage in terms of your negotiation with the manufacturers to try and get some of the same benefits that the big pharmacies get in terms of the refund credit and the percentage discounts.

Can you tell us if you feel that that's accurate and if you -- is this legislation needed if in fact you have that kind of marketing and leverage power?

DAVID BENOIT: I wish that were true.

There certainly are groups of independent community pharmacies where the group is thousands, and they're closely aligned with a wholesaler or distributor operation, but in our case in all of New England there may be 3,000-4,000 pharmacies.

And to try and bring them all together to negotiate directly with manufacturers is about what it would take in terms of mass to do that.

We as a group represent 270 pharmacies. We don't distribute ourselves. We work closely with the suppliers and vendors that the pharmacies work with to secure the best terms and conditions that we can.

So that opportunity isn't available to us. We've never been approached for that kind of conversation before that I know of.

REP. BARAM: One more question. When a manufacturer does accept a refund or give a credit, is it a dollar for dollar based upon the price of the pill, or is there some let's say depreciation for the age of the pill?

DAVID BENOIT: I'm sure there must be some depreciation between here and there because most of the product we would get in our businesses comes through a wholesaler who is the primary purchaser from the manufacturers.

We don't have distribution so we need distribution between us and the manufacturer. Chain stores, many of them have their own distribution systems, and so they can, you know, kind of redistribute product. We don't have that as an opportunity.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Any other questions? Thank you very much. We appreciate your testimony.

DAVID BENOIT: Thank you.

REP. BARAM: Next Rocky Holland, and he will be followed by Roger Dezino or Dezinio.

ROCKY HOLLAND: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to cover a couple of things that were brought up I don't believe he knew the answer to.

One was the issue of overstocking products. I believe Representative Carter brought up the failsafe against them overstocking products, the biggest line of defense is me. They have to pay me to come in and process these drugs. They don't like to do that.

One thing that was written into the bill, there is one exception. I very rarely in 15 years of doing this, I go to the stores myself and I pull the drugs from the shelves. I'm a reverse distributor.

I guess I should have covered that to begin with. But what I do is I go to pharmacies and pull the drugs from their shelves, and over the 15 years that I've been doing this it's very rare that I see a pharmacist overstock products. They just tend not to do it.

And mind you, most of the manufacturers will take these back anyway, so it's just not a common practice. One thing that they do overstock is every time there's a bird flu or a swine flu going around they will overstock flu vaccines.

And that's why we wrote that into the bill to not accept -- for flu vaccines to not be part of this because that's not something that I'm -- I'm not looking to punish anyone, so that is one thing that could have been taken advantage of by this bill that we included so that it could not be.

As far as the price of meds going up because a manufacturer will now have to accept back products, what we're talking about is a multi-billion dollar manufacturer that sells products across the entire world, I would imagine in a lot of these cases.

So if that cost was indeed to go up by the pharmacies of Connecticut, sending a few products back I would imagine that it would be watered down to the point that the pharmacists of Connecticut would not feel the impact very strong if at all.

The issue was brought up about CVS versus the small guys, or the big chains versus the small ones and the impact that it would have. I think that what some of the bigger chains have the ability to take these bottles of 100 that are sold and they sit on their shelves and they don't have to take the loss when only 30 pills are filled out of that bottle of 100 and the manufacturer is not willing to accept the rest back because they have distribution methods to get them around and sell.

They have much less loss in that regard than the independent pharmacies do. This is meant mostly to benefit, I would imagine, the independent pharmacy will reap the benefits of this and allow them to provide the medications that they need for their patients.

I personally get calls from independent pharmacies that I service all the time asking me if they can buy a certain product.

Hey, you know, this is Joe at such-and-such pharmacy, my patient is here. they would lit this, but I don't know if I can buy it. is this going to be returnable if they only sell 100-count bottles, and I only need 30.

So I am the line of defense between that patient and their medicine. I don't want to (inaudible). You know, so what I do is a go to a store. I might pull roughly 10 grand worth of products from the shelf.

Of that 10 grand, about eight of it is usually returnable for credit because most of the manufacturers do allow for the returns of full or partial drugs so this will not affect the majority of manufacturers out there.

The remaining $2,000 is not returnable for credit and it's because either the manufacturers that make those drugs only accept full containers or they only -- they don't accept any drugs at all.

So all we're asking is that either these manufacturers in the case that they want to sell these drugs that are commonly sold in quantities of 30, we would just like for them to sell them in quantities of 30 rather than sell them in quantities of 100 and the pharmacist in many cases will buy a drug -- a bottle of 100 will cost 2,000 to $3,000.

They only need 15-30 pill and their stuck with the remainder. That's what we're trying to stop. We're not trying to hurt anyone. And I don't believe that anyone will be hurt by this bill.

REP. BARAM: Thank you. Are there questions?

Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Looking at the way the language is in the bill, it's talking about the wholesalers and the manufacturer or the distributor. So the way I understand it if the pharmacy is asking for a full-credit refund, are they asking for a full-credit refund of what they purchased price from the wholesaler or what the purchase price was from the pharmaceutical company?

ROCKY HOLLAND: I was unfamiliar with the language as it changed from the first version that I saw. I can tell you now if the language about the wholesaler and distributor is not removed from the bill what's going to happen is that $10,000 return that I send back and can get $8,000 for now it's going to be sent to a wholesaler.

They're only going to be able to get $8,000 back, and in fact they're probably only going to be able to get six or seven because they're not in the industry of knowing how to return these things and they're going to have to eat the remaining $2,000.

So I strongly recommend that any language of wholesaler or distributor be removed from the bill. That bill as written looks very similar to one that is in place in Mississippi. It was written in 1972, where that might have been a possibility. Things were different back then, but it is up for repeal in 2016.

So I strongly recommend to remove the wholesaler clause from the bill.

Another thing that I noticed is that the part about accepting partials back was also removed. I would like to put that back in because that's one of the most important issues of this bill is that we do accept partial products as well as full products, that the manufacturers accept both.

REP. CARTER: Now, you mentioned the Mississippi laws being repealed?

ROCKY HOLLAND: 2016, yes.

SENATOR CARTER: Why did it have a repeal date?

ROCKY HOLLAND: It's just when I looked it up it said it was up for repeal in 2016. I honestly don't know why. I would like to know. My guess would be that the industry has changed since it was written. You might have been able to send this stuff back to your wholesaler and the wholesalers had the ability to get full credits for these things.

That was 40 years ago that it was written. In today's market that's virtually impossible because the wholesaler's in the same boat as the pharmacist. They don't have the ability to get the money back for these things. And in fact, I have worked for several wholesalers.

Wholesalers in this day and age get the reverse distributors like us in there to help them send it back.

So to force the wholesalers to take the products back is pretty much impossible by today's standards because you're just going to be asking them to absorb a $2,000 loss in some cases it can be much more.

And they're going to have to turn around pay us or you might as well be asking them to pay for your light bill.

REP. CARTER: Okay, And I'm looking that this language again. So what you're saying with regard to to the wholesaler, you say the wholesaler should not be as the middle man as far as the return process goes?

Because as I'm looking at this, it says that the wholesaler you could actually go after the wholesaler of the return.

ROCKY HOLLAND: That is correct. And that is what I believe.

REP. CARTER: Okay.

ROCKY HOLLAND: Because what is going to happen is the pharmacist is going to sent it to wholesale and the wholesale is going to send it to us, we're going to send the credit information back to the wholesaler. The wholesaler will then send the credit information back to the pharmacy, That product exists. I don't know many of my customers that have used it more than once. But it's already out there.

So there's really no reason to include it. There are a lot of reasons to exclude it from the bill.

REP. CARTER: Final question. Maybe you said this before. What states has this been done in already?

ROCKY HOLLAND: In North Carolina, this particular -- as the language we're proposing, it has bee proposed in three different states as far as the concern of expired drugs. In North Carolina it is very similar to what we're proposing. It just says if you sell products in this state you have to be willing to accept them back within six months of the expiration date full or partial.

The one that is in Mississippi has the language that is very similar to the one that I saw proposed here, which says that the wholesalers and the manufacturers are both liable, but the problem with that is that if you don't assign the duty of paying the money back, which ultimately I'm sure we all agree has to come from the manufacturer, we can't put that on the wholesaler who's working on a 2 percent up charge.

That's the way that that that law was written. Again it's being repealed. There was a law that was in Georgia that said that the wholesalers had to take it back, and my understanding on that law is it was passed suddenly. They weren't expecting it and it cost the wholesaler industry millions of dollars.

Because what happened was all of a sudden pharmacies were sending $15,000 worth of drugs to their wholesaler, the wholesaler can only get 9,000 back and they had to eat the remaining $6,000.

REP. CARTER: Where's it passed though? I hear propose, propose, propose. Where is it passed? Is it actually in statute somewhere?

ROCKY HOLLAND: That's a law in Georgia, yes.

REP. CARTER: Georgia?

ROCKY HOLLAND: They had to actually go back and amend it because the wholesalers were not able to handle that task. They had to come back to amend it to allow for a third-party processor.

REP. CARTER: But nobody else has passed it yet but there's proposals?

ROCKY HOLLAND: It has been proposed in Indiana I know of.

REP. CARTER: But passed.

ROCKY HOLLAND: But has passed in those three states, Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina. I know those three. The gold standard is the North Carolina. It's been beta tested in three different states and in North Carolina it rings the full victor as far as the usefulness of the bill for the pharmacists.

REP. CARTER: Thank you.

ROCKY HOLLAND: Yep.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. BARAM: Thank you. Any other questions?

Thank you very much for your testimony.

Next is Roger Dezzino followed by Mark Pinard.

ROGER DEZZINO: Good evening, Mr. Chairman, Representative Baram and members of the General Law Committee.

My name is Roger Dezzino, and I'm the owner of Graber's Pharmacy in Meriden, Connecticut. I'm testifying today on House Bill 533, AN ACT CONCERNING PHARMACEUTICAL RETURNS.

I'm not going to bore you with a statement or anything like that. I'm just going to break down a synapses. You've all received letters from a number of pharmacists, so I'd just like to clarify some of the things that were in those letters.

The return acceptance for outdated drugs not only affects the independent pharmacies, it also affects chain stores as well. Graber's uses a return company to handle our outdated meds. They are the only go-between the pharmacies and the drug manufacturers that we use.

Presently there are about 33 major and minor drug manufacturers that do not accept full bottle returns or half bottle returns. There is one major company that sort of offers an incentive. They do not accept returns, full or empty.

The incentive is 1 percent. Most of their drugs are anywhere from $400 and up, okay? So the incentive that they offer to us, if we still don't use that particular product, the full bottle, what are we saving? We're saving nothing. We're still shelling out you know, moneys that we're not ever going to recoup.

So it could be 100 percent incentive, it doesn't mean anything to us. We're sitting there with unsalable product now that we cannot return to them and moneys that we have lost.

Just to give you an example of how we operate as far as our returns go, last month we returned 100 objects. The total value for that was $2,218.49. Okay? Only 33 objects were accepted, netting us only $1,772.97, leaving us $445.52.

It doesn't sound like much, but multiply that times 12 with the reduction in Medicaid and Medicare rates. Every single penny counts to surprise.

By adopting this bill, maybe the manufacturers will get wise and distribute their products in 30 count or 90 count, which would be acceptable to us instead of 100, and cost them less money also as far as returns go.

Thank you.

REP. BARAM: Thank you very much.

Are there any questions?

Representative Rovero.

REP. ROVERO: If the wholesaler was distributed to you in 30 or 90 count, you say that would be acceptable?

ROGER DEZZINO: It's not the wholesalers, it's the manufacturer.

REP. ROVERO: Manufacturer. Would everybody accept this and say okay, if you give it to us in 30 and 90 count, we will not ask you to take any returns?

ROGER DEZZINO: No. Because I wouldn't say that. it would save them quite a bit of money because most things are distributed in 30 or 90 count, okay? It would lessen the return policy, let's put it that way.

I mean, there's going to be some items that need to be returned. Is it going to be the figures that are generated presently? No. It's going to be greatly reduced.

REP. ROVERO: 'Cause we all sit here and know no matter who takes this product in return, somebody has to pay for it. It's whether I pay for it, the next time I get a script or the wholesaler or the manufacturer adds it to their price. So I'm trying to look at a way that we can get in the middle here and say okay, if I give it to you in 30 count, then you have to accept it and you know that if you only sell 20 of it you're going to have to eat 10.

Because somewhere any time a product is thrown away or sent back somebody has to pay for it. and I'm thinking of myself as the consumer all the people I represent.

And I worry about the pharmacist, but I'm really worried about all the consumers that I represent.

ROGER DEZZINO: But it's not so much the consumer. As Mr. Benoit stated before, the majority of prescriptions filled in today's pharmacy are Medicare D, Medicaid or a private insurance company. We are working at bare bone right now, and for us to carry extra merchandise in stock and unsalable merchandise in stock that could amount to 400-500 -- and I'm a small store.

You know, imagine what the larger stores are eating as far as the amounts go. We probably only do about 150 prescriptions or 125 prescriptions a day. These guys that are doing 500, 700 or 1,000 a day, it's got to be astronomical as far as what they're not able to recoup.

REP. ROVERO: Okay. Thank you very much.

Thank you.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Any other questions?

Thank you. Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

So I know a lot of these products that come to you and a lot of these drugs have extremely long shelf lives.

ROGER DEZZINO: Yes.

REP. CARTER: But you're basically stuck with them that long and are these things that are very rarely prescribed or are they things that are prescribed often that you get stuck with?

ROGER DEZZINO: I mean, the things that are prescribed, you know, often are, you know, your statens, cholesterol drugs, your diabetes drugs and your hypertension drugs and your antibiotics.

Those things are pretty much used up. But there's other specialty drugs out there. Some of the painkillers, you know, and a bottle of oxycodone, 80 milligrams, costs us almost $1,500 for 30 of them.

You know, if we only use seven of them, because that's what the doctor prescribed, and that sits there and sits there for whatever, I've eaten $1,000, you know, or more.

REP. CARTER: Why is this not a bigger issue with the larger chains?

ROGER DEZZINO: Why isn't it a big issue?

REP. CARTER: For them?

ROGER DEZZINO: Because they're a distribution center. I think basically they can send from store to store to store. I mean, they have returns also. I mean, they're not without returns.

REP. CARTER: But in a CVS situation, a CVS could call another CVS and say we have such and such oxycodone in this case?

ROGER DEZZINO: Yeah.

REP. CARTER: And they can send a runner or somebody over with it?

ROGER DEZZINO: Or they carry -- they call their distribution center. They don't have -- they have wholesalers but basically most of their drugs come from their distribution center.

REP. CARTER: So with respect to wholesalers then, when the manufacturer makes a bottle of pills, let's say they have 100 units in it or 100 pills in it, the wholesaler can't break that up can they?

ROGER DEZZINO: No.

REP. CARTER: Right? Because it has to come straight through, it's not a like a pharmacy where they can count it out and send it to you?

ROGER DEZZINO: Correct.

REP. CARTER: Okay. Thank you very much.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. BARAM: Any other questions?

Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

ROGER DEZZINO: Thank you.

REP. BARAM: Next is Mark Pinard, followed by Tim Phelan.

MARK PINARD: Good evening, Chairman Baram and members of the General Law Committee.

My name is Mark Pinard. I represent the men and women of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers here in the State of Connecticut. The boilermakers are affiliated with the building trades, and the majority of our work involves the construction and maintenance of power plants.

I urge you not to allow the bill enacting a middle right license to move forward. Raised Bill Number 374 in its current form will not differentiate between what is (inaudible) covered under this license, and what has been and is considered boilermaker work.

This proposed bill has the potential to change jurisdictional agreements and resolutions that have been in place for decades between the boilermaker and the millwright.

It will also affect other crafts as well. the international unions of the building trades have agreements that stipulate which craft should be assigned to certain work.

In the past, our two crafts have worked closely on certain components of a generating plant. Following the guidelines set forth, using the agreements that are in place. I do not feel that will benefit anyone to have the legislature change these assignments by virtue of licensing for one craft.

I also have a letter here I'd like to read from Peter Reilly, business manager at Ironworkers Local 15 and president of the Greater Hartford/New Britain Building Trades Council.

"To co-chairmen, Senator Doyle and Representative Baram and General Law Committee members, on behalf of the Connecticut Ironworkers locals 15 and 424, I want to make the General Law Committee aware that we are opposed to the millwright licensing bill, Raised Bill Number 374.

I see this bill as having an infringement on the traditional trade work of the ironworkers' union. The proposed bill would have the effect of licensing one trade for the traditional work of other trades, resulting in problems for various employers and unions.

They could be very disruptive to the construction industry. Part of the bill establishes a millwright work board with only one trade represented on the board. I certainly see this as disruptive for our industry.

With the construction industry just starting to come out of a severe economic recession, this certainly is not the time for enactment of a bill that is certain to cause industry-wide disruption for multiple unions and employers in the State of Connecticut.

This bill certainly would not set good policy in the State of Connecticut. Sincerely, Peter Ed Reilly, physicist manager, Ironworkers Local 15 and president of the Greater Hartford and New Britain Builder Trades."

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Are there questions?

Representative Nicastro.

REP. NICASTRO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Could you do me a favor? I don't know about the rest of the committee, but could you tell me what millwrights do?

MARK PINARD: They'd probably be able to explain that better. Millwrights usually work on the turbines and machinery on a power plant. A lot of our work, we work composite with them, the boilermakers and the millwright on certain components like air heaters, induction fans.

REP. NICASTRO: How does this bill differ from the current law?

MARK PINARD: Right now there is, I believe, again, they can probably answer this better -- I believe right now the millwrights are licensed for conveyer systems. This would expand that license into covering power plants also.

REP. NICASTRO: Now this will sound like a foolish question but is this bill necessary?

MARK PINARD: In my opinion, no.

REP. NICASTRO: Would there be any additional cost to the Department of Consumer Protection to administered this?

MARK PINARD: I don't know for sure. I don't have that definite answer, but I would imagine to certify more people with a license it would create some cost.

REP. NICASTRO: Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Are there other questions?

Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just want to make sure I understand this. So currently I'm looking at this in that the millwright is usually putting machinery in place, working on turbines, things like that? And the idea is that it's an expansion to include now gas and steam, turbine power trains as millwright work?

MARK PINARD: The way the bill is currently worded, it's very general and it encompasses, I feel it encompasses a lot of equipment that doesn't necessarily just belong to the millwrights. Like I said, the boilermaker works composite, on a lot of pieces of equipment together with the millwright, you know what I mean?

So if they're going to be licensed, where does that leave us?

REP. CARTER: I understand completely. Yeah, yeah. I was on Public Health last year and a while back and I remember one of the recent things was the orthopedics and the podiatrists fighting over who did the ankle. So it just sounds very similar to me right now.

So thank you very much for your testimony.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. BARAM: Any other questions?

Representative Rovero.

REP. ROVERO: I guess it's getting late at night and I'm getting a little pickier but right now the boilermakers are upset because the millwrights want to cut into your --

MARK PINARD: The way that this legislation is worded, the proposed legislation the way it is, it's very general in what it covers. And there's work that historically we work composite, both trades work on the same components. And if they're going to be licensed, that's going to affect our trade.

REP. ROVERO: Okay. I get it. Okay, thank you.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

REP. BARAM: Thank you.

Any other questions? Thank you very much for your testimony.

MARK PINARD: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Next we have Tim Phelan, followed by Gene Wahlberg, to be followed be Jim Lohr.

TIM PHELAN: Good evening, Representative Baram, Representative Carter and the members of the General Law Committee. It's a pleasure to be here this evening. As you know, my name is Tim Phelan. I'm the president of the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association, and I'm here today to testify against House Bill 5373, AN ACT CONCERNING CASH REFUNDS FOR GIFT CARD BALANCES.

CRMA, as you may recall, is a statewide trade association representing some of the world's largest retailers in the state's main street merchants. Before we get into some of the details as to why we oppose this bill and I did file some written testimony, I would say that the primary reason we oppose this is as this committee may recall that we passed together back in 2005 Public Act 05189, AN ACT CONCERNING EXPIRATION OF GIFT CARDS.

In doing that, this landmark legislation was the result of a bipartisan support given -- which gave Connecticut the most consumer-friendly gift card law in the nation.

The law was straightforward and simple for both consumers and for our members to understand and administer. No expiration dates on any issued gift card, as well as prohibiting the retailer from charging any inactivity fee.

As was previously mentioned, gift cards are extremely popular and continue to grow in popularity, and we think perhaps because of this new law. Other states have tried to follow Connecticut's lead, and a gift card serves as a dual purpose.

One, it allows the recipient the ability to make a purchase of their choice in a specific store and allows the gift giver to be assured that the recipient will use the card to make a purchase at the store rather than make a purchase that might be returned or giving straight cash as a gift.

Quite simply if they wanted to give cash they would give cash. Instead, they've given a gift card to be used any way they want in that store.

So with that as a background, we oppose this bill because we think it undermines the spirit of that public act that was adopted in 2005. And it opens up the process to potential for fraud and misuse.

And Representative Rutigliano mentioned earlier some examples that we were going to use, which is somebody walks into a store with a $75 gift card and they buy something for $5 and they ask for the rest back in cash. That's not the spirit of why a gift card was given in the first place, and it's not something that we think is certainly in our best interest or in the person who receives the gift card's best interest.

There are other examples of fraud that could take place. Our industry is constantly looking out for manufactured receipts, illegal receipts on returns from stolen items.

If you could imagine somebody brings in a stolen item with a stolen or -- I'm sorry, with a manufactured receipt, dupes the store into taking it back, many retailers give returns on a gift card. Then a person then comes back and uses that gift card for a small amount and then uses the balance again for cash.

So lots of unattended consequences that would be problems for us on this bill and quite frankly, as I sum up my testimony, we think the current law works now perfectly. It protects the consumer and it protects -- it forces the retailer to always honor that gift card.

And I think any effort to change that would undermine that law to a benefit that we don't really see.

So thank you for listening to my testimony. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Phelan.

Representative Rovero.

REP. ROVERO: You know, I have to agree with you. I have quite a few grandchildren, and thank the good Lord he's out of state so he can't hear what we're saying here, quite a ways out of state.

But my wife will not send a check or cash to him because I know what he's going to use it for. So she always tries to send a good-sized gift card to someplace she knows he's going to use, either a clothing store or someplace he might get something to eat or something like that.

And I know he could sell it on the black market and play games with it but at least she has a better chance. If they did away with this, doing what you were saying, this person would not probably get a Christmas present, because the reason she gives it to him in a gift card is because she knows what he's going to do with cash.

TIM PHELAN: Right.

REP. ROVERO: And as long as the consumer is not losing any money like they used to years ago, if you didn't use it in a certain time you lost it and so forth.

TIM PHELAN: Sure.

REP. ROVERO: I have no problem with the present law as it is. but to turn around and say someone to get cash I think is going to defeat what my wife does any Christmas for this one particular grandchild. I have lots of them, but thank you very much.

TIM PHELAN: Well, the issue of the dormancy fees was addressed in that public act in 2005. It was a practice that the legislature said the retailers should no longer do, and they eliminated inactivity or dormancy fees.

SENATOR DOYLE: Yes.

TIM PHELAN: Again another benefit of that public act.

SENATOR DOYLE: Any further questions from the committee?

Seeing none, thank you.

TIM PHELAN: Thank you, Senator.

SENATOR DOYLE: Next speaker is Gene Wahlberg, Jim Lohr, Jeff Sheldon, Bob Lubier.

Gene Wahlberg.

GENE WAHLBERG: Good evening.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak on behalf of Senate Bill Number 374. Arriving today I learned that two of our partner trade unions are in opposition to 374, we're a union contractor.

We've been in business for 110 years. We're a third-generation-owned general contractor with currently approximately 300 employees.

We work primarily in power plants, in New England, but we have worked as far west as California, as far south as Georgia.

We believe that 374 would be helpful to us as contractors because of safety. We need to raise the level of the quality of workers that we get, and this act speaks to that specifically, where people would have to be licensed and pass an examination.

The work that we do is inherently dangerous. These plants, you know, oftentimes are gas plants, where the representative earlier spoke about Middletown and the tragedy that occurred there.

These are inherently dangerous facilities. They have high pressure steam, they have pipes that are hot, they have equipment that rotates at high speeds.

The steam that's generated is tremendous velocities and requires great skill to assemble and install the equipment that's being discussed here tonight.

I ask you again to as it relates to the work that has historically been the work of the millwright, I ask you to consider 374 to again raise the level of competency in the industry and I thank you for your time.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any questions from the committee?

Seeing none, thank you.

Sorry, Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

It was said to me earlier when one of the folks were in the room. I can't remember who -- that if this kind of bill passes it would have meant that some people who have done these projects in our state before couldn't have done them because they would have to hire a whole nother different kind of contractor in addition to what they already had.

Like this is going to be extra cost for people because now you're hiring multiple different millwright people and steam (inaudible) people.

Can you speak to that? Is this going to raise costs in our state?

GENE WAHLBERG: Speaking from a contractor's standpoint, it's not going to raise the cost for us as contractors. We hire multitrade. We do this type of work all the time. We are signatory to the iron workers, the boilermakers, the millwrights, the electricians, so on and so forth.

And we build and maintain power plants as a living. And it's not going to raise the cost for us. Matter of fact, we see a cost benefit because of the competency issue. When you have unskilled workers, they can't perform all the tasks.

So you know, if you have skilled workers, typically skilled workers know all of the tasks, whereas unskilled labor you can ask them to perform certain tasks, but other tasks you want to steer clear from.

And again , these are precision machines that we're talking about.

REP. CARTER: So are you implying right now we have unskilled workers building these machines in our state?

GENE WAHLBERG: No. No. What I'm saying is we'll give certain tasks to the less-skilled workers. They're still licensed journeymen, and they passed an examination to get to that level. But there are good tradesmen, there are very good tradesmen, and then there are less desirable tradesmen.

REP. CARTER: Thank you.

Thanks, Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Are there any further questions by the committee?

Seeing none, thank you.

Next speaker is Jim Lohr. Is Jim here? Yeah.

Then Jeff Shelden, Bob Louvier, Curt Stubbs.

JIM LOHR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the General Law Committee.

My name is Jim Lohr and I'm the deputy director of the Carpenters Labor Management Program, a coalition of approximately 2,000 signatory contractors and more than 20,000 union carpenters throughout New England.

I'm here to testify against Raised Bill 412, AN ACT CONCERNING THE ENFORCEMENT OF CERTAIN OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING STATUTES AS WRITTEN.

First I want to acknowledge Melissa Sheffie (phonetic) of Network Interiors, Representative (inaudible) constituent who did a superb job organizing the various factions of the Connecticut construction industry who discussed the problems in enforcement.

She's a tireless advocate for improving the construction industry, and I want to personally thank her for strong leadership on this important issue.

From the beginning of the coalition meetings, there was unanimous support for the idea of additional investigators as a way to improve enforcement of existing licensing laws.

Unfortunately when the bill finally emerged late last week, there was no mention of additional investigators from enforcement, the one issue where there was 100 percent industry support.

Instead there was a variety of changes, which as drafted could be detrimental for not only the unlicensed trades but the construction industry in general.

The bill increased the authority of the boards, which could add to confusion between the agency and the boards, create a cumbersome stop work order process where the board would in effect be prosecutor, judge and jury, and it's likely that the number of jurisdictional disputes between the licensed and unlicensed trades will increase.

I understand that people are working behind scenes on substitute language to try to address some of these concerns. That's encouraging. What isn't encouraging is that after the bill was introduced last week I reached out to my colleagues in Massachusetts.

They indicated that since the boards have expanded authority in Massachusetts there has been marked increase in jurisdictional disputes to the point there there's pending litigation between the state's largest contract association and one of the Massachusetts boards.

Unfortunately licensing has become one more weapon for a small number of licensed crafts to claim work in jurisdictional disputes with the unlicensed crafts.

So the last thing we need to do in Connecticut is create chaos in the construction industry by encouraging more jurisdictional disputes, which would likely be the unintended consequence in the bill as written.

Again, we recognize the efforts of Melissa Sheffie and the others in the coalition to address the problem of leveling the playing field, but unfortunately we have to oppose the bill as written. And our sincere hope is that the committee will support the original goal of the industry coalition, beef up the ECP enforcement of existing laws.

Thank you for your time.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any questions for Jim?

Jim, I have a quick question. So you're saying you -- in the past we've sought additional inspectors also and that's not in the bill, but are you saying if we were able to add that to the bill you would still be opposed to the language here?

JIM LOHR: To the current language as it exists, yeah. So I know that there's some efforts to try to come up with, you know, to address some of the concerns. We're hopeful that can be done. You know, we'll see how that plays out.

SENATOR DOYLE: Okay.

JIM LOHR: So anyway, but, you know, enforcement is a huge issue. It's an issue across the board, and that's something we're definitely supportive of improved enforcement of the existing laws.

SENATOR DOYLE: Okay. Thank you.

JIM LOHR: Yep.

SENATOR DOYLE: Are there any further questions from the committee?

Seeing none, thank you.

I'd like to invite several people up at the same time 'cause they're all on the same bill.

So if Jeff Sheldon, Bob Louvier, Curt Stubbs, Matthew Polanski and Gene Walhberg, if you guys want to come up together an d maybe try to kind of do a joint presentation.

You're all on the same bill? You all support it, so maybe we can kind of come together.

JEFF SHELDON: Good evening, Chairman Doyle and Chairman Baram. And the esteemed ladies and gentlemen of this committee.

My name is Jeff Sheldon, and I'm in support of S.B. 374, THE ACT ESTABLISHING MILLWRIGHT CONTRACTORS AND JOURNEYMAN LICENSING.

I have been a tradesman and millwright for over 40 years, and I am here to talk to you about my thoughts and positive benefits of Senate Bill 374.

My job requires me and my fellow millwrights, which happens to be the whole back row and all the second row and they're all here in support, requires me and my fellow millwrights to be very skilled and highly trained in the construction, repair and maintenance of America's power generation, manufacturing and production industries.

From the time of the Industrial Revolution and into the future, good and qualified, and I repeat qualified, millwrights are critical and essential to the well-being and progress of our modern society.

I and other millwrights must own, maintain, transport, upgrade the tools of our trade, which can amount to a very substantial investment and expense. I am required to have a broad range of certifications and extensive training.

I most possess OSHA 10 and 30-hour safety training. I must possess millwright safety training and millwright training. I must possess plant training. I must possess gas and steam turbine training, and training for the Connecticut conveyer installer license.

I have to have extensive rigging knowledge and training, and I am trained in human performance. And I'm trained and certified in safe and proper scaffold erecting.

I am trained in forklift operation, I am trained in structural bolting integrity and applications. I need to know blueprint reading, layout, advanced math. I need welding and metal fabrication experience.

I am trained in precision machinery alignment. That's like within a thousandth of an inch. I'm trained in pump troubleshooting and a lot more I can't go into.

The millwright should and must be well-versed and skilled in many of the different crafts to be able to perform his job properly. I have learned and experienced throughout my years that a millwright is the apex of the trades.

Millwrights could be on a conveyer job one day and on a water treatment plant the next. The next month a millwright could be at an electrical powerhouse or a food processing plant.

That's why I think state licenses of millwright will guarantee the public's and businesses' best interest. As it is right now, just about anyone can answer a job advertisement, walk in and become a millwright with minimal skills and training.

I think that the mechanical license of millwrights is long overdue, and I would -- and it would be a definite win-win for the great State of Connecticut.

Feel free to ask me any questions pertaining to my experience and insights through my lifelong career as a professional millwright. Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you. Gentlemen, you want to try to add to it? Okay, sure.

CURT STUBBS: Thank you, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram and members of the committee. I'd like to respond to some of the --

SENATOR DOYLE: For the record, please identify yourself for the record.

CURT STUBBS: Okay. Curt Stubbs. I'm here representing the Eastern Millwrights Regional Council. And you know, our hope with this bill is that it continues the structure that the industry has now, continues the cooperative relationships that we have with the other trades that work on power plants has to be a cooperative venture, and that's the way it's always been.

But you know, as far as the text of the bill, we've talked to all of the licensed trades and had a suggestion from the plumbers about a change. They suggested that in the language that's in there now, after manufacturing process it would restrict it by saying, "Commencing at the downstream side of the closest fount to the machinery."

And we would be supportive of the change that they've suggested.

In fact, if there is a concern about expanding the definition of millwrights, you know, since that gas and steam turbine power trains expands the definition, we would be willing to support a bill that leaves out that addition, and just leaves the definition of millwrights the way it is or further constrained by the language that the plumbers have offered.

It's our intention to just provide safety on the job by having well-trained, well-qualified millwrights. It's not our intention to try to interfere on the trade of any other workers. But we have no plans to do the work of the iron worker or the boilermaker.

We have fairly clear lines about whose work is whose and we'll continue to work with those lines. And you know, if the committee comes up with some ideas about language to clarify that, then we'll support that.

So that concludes my remarks.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

CURT STUBBS: And I'll take any questions.

SENATOR DOYLE: Sir?

BOB LOUBIER: Good evening. My name is Bob Loubier. I live in Somers, Connecticut, and I'd like to thank the committee for this late hour and I'll try to be as brief as possible, which isn't my strong suit.

I represent the millwrights that work in New England. Right now we're working at Clean Energy as we speak. Our people work seven days a week, 12 hours a day. If you remember a few weeks ago there was a fire at Clean Energy. Right after the fire was put out we got a call to have millwrights there the next day.

The gentleman on my left was one of the millwrights that had gone out there on the previous outage. This is what we call a forced outage. What transpires is Mr. Pinard was right in that we work on the same jobs but we don't work composite.

What happens is when Clean Energy was built, and I had a member that still hasn't gone back to work after that explosion, and two members that luckily made it out okay, what happens is we were a support group.

The other trades, the fitters, boilermakers, have a lot of work. The millwrights maybe had 30 or 40 people on site. But what transpires is the owners of Clean Energy bought a 10-year maintenance package with Semen's, the manufacturer.

So for 10 years Semen's would be going in and repairing those units, and whenever there's a problem, who do they call? And they bring in their technicians and that's what we do, work on emergencies.

So what transpires is -- and there's a photo of a steam turbine that's at Clean Energy. We're going to pass it out. Or you already have it. Think of it as a big jet engine. What happens is the intake, it's a big exhaust. You could put a car in it.

The boilermaker or the sheet metal worker fight for that and get that. where it attaches to the end of the turbine is millwright work. Where it touches the turbine. So what happens is air comes in the intake, goes through the combustor. The combustor spins, pushes it through to the burners or combustors. Gas is injected, goes through, spins the turbine, blades more, and goes out the exhaust.

And goes to what we call the hursic (phonetic), which is like a big boiler. That belongs to the boilermaker also. What our language addresses is we'll call it the power train or turbine only. Okay?

So we don't want to do their work, we want to do what is ours. So right now what you had up there you had about they tell me 700 plus gallons of bearing oil spilled on the floor, caused a fire.

What happened is these units spin anywhere from 1,500 rpms to 3,600. Something went through the unit, the blades got chewed up, and we had to pull the machine apart. The rotor weighs about 160 to 180,000 pounds.

We take it off, we put it on a stand, we disassemble it and they check it with the Seamen's engineers, technicians and the millwrights. There are no other crafts working on this unit because that's what millwrights do.

We're talking about working on the turbine or generator, and the crafts that are concerned are the unlicensed crafts, and we understand why they have a concern. But there was a bill presented in 2006 that made it through both houses.

I take that back. Made it through the Senate, unanimous, and went to the House, ran out of time and it didn't pass and it was a millwright bill. We have since taken that language that had passed and had gone through hearings and lowered it to just to power train.

Just like the engine on your car. So to say that we're going to go do work that belongs to them, the iron worker and the boilermaker have nothing to do with that turbine, and if they did they'd be working up at Clean Energy right now.

We also have two other forced outages going on in my area, in New England, at the present time. If those units don't run, you don't have power. Luckily there's another unit running and there's also a steam unit up there.

Clean Energy has three different types of turbines. And the millwright is also working right now with a conveyer license. It doesn't cost any more. If you need to hook up a conveyer, and the gentleman that spoke before us, O'Connor, has a contract with the State of Connecticut at the airport.

When you pick up your luggage, that's a conveyer. If it breaks down, the call his company and said send millwrights in with a license. We have to be licensed for a conveyer. It doesn't make sense in this day and age with the technology and the millions of dollars that these units cost, for us not to be licensed.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Sir, you want to speak?

MATT POLANSKI: Good evening, Chairman Doyle and Representative Baram and the rest of the General Law Committee.

My name is Matt Polanski, I'm a lifelong resident of the State of Connecticut. I'm also a union millwright journeyman. I'm here -- everyone has been speaking on the power plant issue.

We do much more than that. the conveyers that we work on move everything from the food that you eat, the drugs that you buy, we work on public transportation. I was at the train station down in New Haven. We installed all the lifts with O'Connor. I have to be a bridge and railroad certified welder to perform that work.

The lifts, we put 26 of them in. They weighed 32,000 pounds apiece. We did that -- actually I just got a safety award. We worked a thousand hours without any injuries, let alone lost time injury. We are highly trained, we work very safe. We have a very diverse realm that we work in.

Like I said, the water treatment plant right down the street, I was there for all summer, we install the equipment that purifies your water and the great State of Connecticut, I've been here all afternoon, sees fit that someone that puts chlorine in a pool has to be licensed.

But the guy that builds and maintains your water treatment systems doesn't. And that water goes to your house that you drink.

I'm here in support of it because generally what I've seen there is an increase in unqualified people that you can, like Mr. Sheldon said, there's adds in the paper. You can answer an ad and be a millwright.

We worked for a company that had traditionally worked with day labor brokers and they had become frustrated. They go through a 10-day job they go through 20 people, sometimes the same person wouldn't show up the same day.

We did a job for them installing a battery transportation system for a large distribution warehouse. It basically was a little train on tracks that picked up these 4,000 pound batteries within a two-story thing.

We built it, myself, two apprentices, we laid it out for them, we set up, we assembled it. we came in five days ahead of schedule with no injuries and the guy with half the crew that he normally would use. I did it with three men.

SENATOR DOYLE: Any father questions from the committee?

Seeing none, thank you.

Next speaker is Jay Johnson. Is Jay here? Jay is not here. Is Jay here? No.

Anita Schepker. I think Anita's here.

ANITA SCHEPKER: Is it Wednesday?

SENATOR DOYLE: Almost.

ANITA SCHEPKER: Good evening, Senator Doyle, Representative Baram, members of the committee.

My name is Anita Schepker and I'm an attorney tonight representing the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of American Farmer in opposition to House Bill 5333.

I'd like to just let you all know that in Connecticut alone we have several research-based companies with Pfizer in London, Bristol-Myers Squibb with their research facility in Wallingford, Purdue Pharma in Stamford and their corporate headquarters here in (inaudible) and Danbury and (inaudible) distribution center in Enfield.

I just want to say I think you have my written testimony. I want to make the statement that the drug chain supply system is very complicated and I think what you heard earlier made it very simplistic.

We do not contract with pharmacies. That's the bottom line. We manufacture products, we make sure they meet FDA requirements, and then we contract with a whole series of people in a supply chain because we're responsible at the end of the day for the safety and the integrity of the products that we make.

And so our contracts on returns, on recalls, we don't have contracts that just talk about returns. We have contracts that talk about recall protocols, disposal protocols, exploration date protocols, et cetera.

And so we contract with distributors, reverse distributors and wholesalers and hospitals when we're dealing in the supply chain. So to simplify it and say all of a sudden that we have to contract with pharmacies disrupts this very, very intense chain that we worry about in terms of safety and integrity.

I also think it's important that this bill says we can return products anytime within 180 days of expiration. We have products that have very short life, you know, life spans. And we're required to ask to take them back maybe in 30 days, maybe some in 60 days.

And that's all negotiated product by product with the wholesaler. This is when they need to be returned. And the reality is there are -- every manufacturer has a return policy. In other words, how it goes back through the chain, back through the wholesaler or the reverse distributer and gets disposed of once they're expired.

Sometimes that agreement is not in a refund or credit. It's an incentive-based -- there might be an incentive-based program, which I think you heard one of the previous speakers talk about.

So if you say you can only do it for credit or refund, you're knocking out all the existing contracts that are in place now that we have with the wholesalers.

I think we've talked to people about that to many of the members of the committee about this issue before. There are no states that would have this kind of process in place. Mississippi's law was passed at the time when wholesalers were not properly licensed in that state.

We license wholesalers and distributors in Connecticut. I think that's why you haven't seen this in other states before.

And I'm glad to answer any questions.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Any questions?

Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

It was said earlier that North Carolina has this law. Is that true?

ANITA SCHEPKER: Yes. North Carolina has a law in place, but what you have a copy of or what they've complained was a copy of the regulation, the statute actually says if you look at the statute rather than the regulations -- the statute actually says, "The manufacturer shall have adequate provisions for the return of any outdated drugs through his distributor or by any other means."

And we do it through distributor. That's the point. the law is saying you can do it through your distributor, and that's what we do. So I don't think -- so to look at -- to lift out the piece of the -- that one smaller section of the North Carolina regulation, is not exactly totally clear about how it works in North Carolina.

I mean, what I've done is we've called the counterparts around the country and said, "Where is there a problem?" Where we negotiate directly with the pharmacies. No state, in no state do we directly negotiate with the pharmacies.

REP. CARTER: One thing was brought up earlier. With all these independent pharmacies, they obviously seem to be the ones that have a problem. Is there anything or any mechanism that you know of where they could ban together and actually move product from one place to another with a licensed pharmacist?

ANITA SCHEPKER: Well, they do. That's a good question, and they do. I mean, one of the speakers today was from the Northeast Purchasing Group. They're based in -- one of the speakers today from the purchasing pool today was from a purchasing group that's based in Massachusetts.

And so they represent a bulk of pharmacies who then can negotiate with the wholesalers and speak to the wholesalers. Again we don't negotiate --

REP. CARTER: Let me back up a second. If I buy from the wholesaler a pill of whatever pill X is and they only come in 100 count, and now I'm getting -- let's say I'm six months away from the expiration and I haven't used all of them.

Is there anything that you know of in current law that would prohibit them from working with another pharmacy or the wholesaler to send that to another pharmacy? Can they work together?

Because that's what CVS does I think, and that's what --

ANITA SCHEPKER: So you're asking is there a network with the pharmacy to leave the practice open?

REP. CARTER: Do you know any laws that would prohibit them from taking an open container of pill X and giving it to a pharmacist at another location? Does that --

ANITA SCHEPKER: I don't know. That's a good question. I don't know that that's the case. I don't know that CVS can take an open container of Co X and sent it to CVS down the street. I don't think that they can.

I think that they are able to -- they can do it through their -- they have a distributor which will say we'll give you 100 or whatever that does CVS has a distributor to do that, but I don't think --

REP. CARTER: But the CVS distributor is owned by -- it's a CVS distributor?

ANITA SCHEPKER: Yes. Some of the larger --

REP. CARTER: So they'll buy from we'll say McKesson or whoever or directly.

ANITA SCHEPKER: Right.

REP. CARTER: And then they'll distribute it?

ANITA SCHEPKER: Right. But let's be clear. There are some drugs also that CVS doesn't get through their distributor that we sell through a separate wholesaler. There are specialty products that are expensive or have -- are volatile and we don't necessarily send them to even the CVS distributors.

Those might go to a different wholesaler for distribution. So yes, CVS may have a distributor in place and so may Walgreens, but that's for some products and not necessarily for all the products that are available.

REP. CARTER: Sure.

ANITA SCHEPKER: I mean, you know, there are thousands of products with thousands of expiration dates.

REP. CARTER: All right. Thank you very much.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you.

Representative Baram.

REP. BARAM: Thank you. Just quickly I want to clarify something. You indicated that you don't deal with the pharmacies directly, you deal with the distributors or wholesalers.

ANITA SCHEPKER: Right.

REP. BARAM: But don't you as a manufacturer make the rules for return with the distributor so the distributor is in effect implementing whatever agreement you have with them?

ANITA SCHEPKER: We contract with the distributors and the wholesalers and reverse distributors on contracts that do a variety of things. And that includes the recall protocols, the disposal protocols. One of the things that one of the previous speakers said was, well the manufacture can dispose of the product.

Well, we don't dispose of the product most of the time. Some of the time for some pharmaceuticals we do, but most of the time we have an agreement with the wholesaler based on that refund agreement we have with them that they will take the incentive and they will follow the chain and that they will dispose of the product that's expired. So yes.

REP. BARAM: Well, forgetting the disposal issue, just talking about the return policy and any financial incentive or refund given for return of unused, expired pills, isn't it correct that the manufacturers are setting the policy and that the wholesalers are just implementing it. They're following whatever policy you create.

ANITA SCHEPKER: Well, they are. But again, the contracts are not necessarily just on returns. They include recall, yes.

REP. BARAM: Right. But I'm ignoring that for the moment.

ANITA SCHEPKER: So the answer is yes.

REP. BARAM: I'm just saying hypothetically if this committee decided it wanted to do something for the independent pharmacies, the only way we could achieve that is to create a law that addressed the manufacturers because that's where the policy begins.

In other words, we'd be penalizing the wholesalers if we said they had to pay for the return if in fact, you know, you have a policy that doesn't allow the wholesalers to return and get any kind of credit from you.

So it originates with the manufacturer.

ANITA SCHEPKER: Right.

REP. BARAM: I'm not saying we will.

ANITA SCHEPKER: Right.

REP. BARAM: But if we did pass a law, I don't know how we could do it without addressing the manufacturer.

ANITA SCHEPKER: Well, I think that's right. We are responsible for the chain, and even though we let go of the product, that's fairly unusual, we let go of the product, but we're still responsible for that product for its safety and for its integrity. If something happens we've got to get it back. We've got to be responsible for it. we've got to log in, I mean, just on a recall alone, and I understand what you're saying.

You're right. We do control that because just on a recall alone you have to count for every lot, every dosage that's recalled, et cetera, et cetera. We do contract and we are responsible for the returns, you're absolutely right.

But I'm not so sure that there would be any other way that we could do that because we're federally regulated to be responsible for it.

REP. BARAM: I understand that. Thank you.

ANITA SCHEPKER: Thank you so much.

SENATOR DOYLE: Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

One thing that came up earlier that was really hard-hitting to the small, independent pharmacies was the pill count. And so if a bottle comes in an odd count, it's not necessarily prescribed that way. It's either 30, 60, 90 days.

Can you speak to that? Has the industry looked at doing anything to fix that?

ANITA SCHEPKER: The FDA regulates the size, the quantity, the dose, so we don't say we're only going to make 100 pills or we're only going to make 250 or we can make bottles of a thousand, we say there's going to be bottles of a thousand, bottles of 100 and those all get pre-approved by the FDA.

Everything that is packaged, every expiration date that's put on there is done by the FDA. So we don't really --

REP. CARTER: But they're sent by the pharma company to the FDA and they say -- if the pharma company said I want to do pill count of 120, then the FDA could approve it at 120?

ANITA SCHEPKER: Yes.

REP. CARTER: Okay. Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you. Any further questions of the committee?

Representative Rovero. Anybody else?

Thank you, Anita.

ANITA SCHEPKER: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: Anybody else would like -- this is your last opportunity for anyone to testify. Mr. Shay? No. I know that. Yes, sir.

MALE: (Inaudible).

SENATOR DOYLE: We're going to close the public hearing. Thank you