February 28, 2011
QUESTIONS FOR LABOR COMMISSIONER NOMINEE
By: Lee R. Hansen, Legislative Analyst II
STRUCTURE AND DUTIES
● The commissioner must collect and publish data on employment, unemployment, and employee earnings; provide the governor with analysis of current and anticipated employment needs; and coordinate all employment and training programs. He must administer numerous labor laws including minimum wage, youth employment, family and medical leave, unemployment insurance compensation, and prevailing wage laws.
● Appointed by the governor.
● Confirmed by either chamber, as determined by the governor.
1. The governor has stated that he hopes to make Connecticut more “business friendly.” What steps can the department take to achieve this goal? What can the department do to encourage job creation?
2. What do you consider the major strengths and weaknesses of the state's current workforce development system? How could the department work to improve the system?
3. What is the department doing, and what else can it do, to address the long-term changes in the nature of the state's workforce such as the “graying” of the workforce or the increasing diversity of the workforce? What can the department do to help encourage more of the state's younger workers to stay in the state?
4. In recent sessions, including the current one, bills were introduced that would require private sector employers to provide paid sick days for their employees. What impact do you think such a law would have on the state's economy? What enforcement challenges would such a law present to your department?
5. Given the current financial state of the unemployment trust fund, what steps can be taken to help insure the fund's solvency in future economic downturns? What effect would increased unemployment taxes on employers have on the state's economy? What effect would decreasing unemployment benefits or limiting eligibility have on the state's economy? What enforcement issues does the department face regarding unemployment?
6. What do you believe are the strengths and weaknesses of the state's prevailing wage laws?
7. How effective is the agency at enforcing (1) wage and hour and (2) workplace safety laws? Does effective enforcement make the state more “business friendly?”
8. Connecticut's minimum wage, $8.25 an hour, is currently one of the highest in the nation. What effect do you think this has on the state's economy?
9. Do you believe the Department of Labor should play a role in policing workplaces to find and report illegal immigrants? What resources does the department have to perform such a role?
10. How well informed is the general public, both employers and employees, about what the department does, and can do, for them?
11. Do you believe the department has adequate resources at its disposal to fulfill its many missions and goals?