The 2021 Connecticut State legislative session started with a flurry of activity and it takes a lot to keep track of it all! We’re here to provide you a timeline of events related to the arts and culture community so far.
The session began on January 6th and CAA was ready to organize the community with our first Policy Roundtable for our member organizations. Each month, on the first Wednesday at noon, we organize a discussion focused on highlighting advocacy tools, best practices, and action items for our members to take. If you’re interested in joining the roundtables, check out our membership page.
The first advocacy alert for the community invited legislators to join the organizational meeting for the Arts, Culture, and Tourism (ACT) Caucus on January 22nd. The meeting brought legislators together to raise important issues related to the sector. This led to 61 legislators joining the ACT Caucus this year, all ready to be champions for the sector.
Shortly after that initial organizational meeting, Rep. John-Michael Parker (House District 101 – Madison + Durham) introduced House Bill (H.B.) 6119 “An Act Concerning Arts, Culture, and Tourism Funding” to the Commerce Committee on January 29th. This bill’s priority is to increase the portion of the hotel and lodging tax allocated to the Tourism Fund from 10% to 25% – thus increasing the amount of state funding available to the arts, culture, and tourism community.
Rep. Parker proved to be a strong champion for the arts by hosting an organizing call on February 5th for the arts and culture community. The over 100 constituents on the call learned about the bill and were urged to submit testimony in favor of the bill at the Commerce Committee’s public hearing.
The public hearing was on February 11th via Zoom and we saw tremendous support from the arts and culture community. Over 100 pieces of testimony supported H.B. 6119 during this public hearing demonstrating strong interest in the changes outlined in this bill. Additionally, there are a growing number of bipartisan co-signers for the bill. On February 18th, the Commerce Committee voted unanimously to formally draft a bill and from there, the bill continues on its journey. We will continue to monitor the progress of the bill as the legislative session continues.
In other news, the Governor released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-2022. We are happy to see the Tourism Fund replenished to pre-pandemic levels and the potential for new revenue sources to develop in the state. The critical component to new revenue streams is advocating for the arts, culture, and tourism community to get a small share of that revenue to fund the Tourism Fund. This will stabilize the fund and increase the amount of money available for the sector.
There is much more of the legislative session to go and we will be tracking important pieces that impact the arts and culture sector. You can find a full list of the bills that we are tracking on our website. If you would like the latest updates, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and sign up for our emails.