Posted by & filed under Legislative.

Great news! On Friday, July 7, Governor Malloy vetoed S.B. 821, legislation affecting window, roofing, and siding warranties. This is a huge victory for the Lumber Dealers Association of Connecticut and the entire lumber and building materials industry.

LDAC strongly opposed S.B. 821 since its introduction. The legislation would have been overly burdensome for manufacturers of windows, roofing, and siding, and would have had serious repercussions for the independent building material dealers in Connecticut.

LDAC recruited other industry organizations to assist in the effort to defeat this bill during the legislative session, but it was passed by a mere 10 votes in the House on the final day of the session. LDAC and industry partners quickly regrouped to request that the Governor veto this legislation. With more than 40 letters submitted to the Governor, he released a veto message, which is provided below.

The Governor typically only vetoes a handful of bills each year, while signing hundreds of others into law. This illustrates just how great of an accomplishment this is for the lumber and building materials industry, LDAC, and its membership.

At this time, it is unclear whether or not the bill sponsor will seek a legislative override of the Governor’s veto. The bill would need to pass both the Senate and House by a two-thirds majority to override the veto. LDAC will continue to closely monitor the issue and will notify the membership about any final actions on this legislation.

On behalf of the LDAC legislative committee, I thank you for all of the letters signed, e-mails sent, and phone calls made to legislators and the Governor over the last couple of months. I truly appreciate all of the time you took out of your busy schedules to be a strong voice for this industry. This legislation would not have been vetoed if it weren’t for the advocacy efforts of LDAC’s membership – you all should be proud!

 

Please stay tuned for more details, and congratulations on this history-making victory! If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at aranslow@nrla.org or 518-880-6350.

Posted by & filed under Legislative.

The following report is from Lumber Dealers Association of Connecticut (LDAC) lobbyist, Carrie Rand-Anastasiades of Nome Associates, and NRLA Manager of Government Affairs, Ashley Ranslow.

The Conn. General Assembly finished their regular business June 7, but failed to find a way to close the $5-billion-dollar budget deficit the State will face for the next biennium. Lawmakers will now have to spend the summer in special session until they can come to agreement on a proposal to do so. Much infighting has occurred. Both the Governor and House of Representatives proposed alternative or mini budgets. The Governor’s was predicated on cuts while the House of Representatives’ proposal included tax increases. Governor Malloy has stated that he does not want a budget that leads with revenue. As none of the parties could agree before the June 30 deadline, a new fiscal year, the Governor is forced to operate under Executive Order to keep the State running. Executive order also allows the Governor to make cuts under certain parameters.

House Democrats state that they will pass their budget on July 18, the day after the votes on the labor concession deal are finalized. With the close numbers in the House and Senate, doubt remains if a budget can be passed by that date, leaving the State in limbo.

The LDAC had a very successful session in terms of labor legislation. The large Republican gains in the House and Senate helped to thwart all adverse measures such as increases in the minimum wage, paid sick leave, paid family medical leave and predictive scheduling. It is noteworthy, that this is the first time in fifteen years that a minimum wage increase is NOT on the books. We know that most of these proposals will return next year, as lawmakers head to an election cycle. We will keep working with the Republican and moderate Democrat base throughout the summer and fall to solidify support against these measure in the next legislative session.

The one outstanding issue LDAC is still working on is SB 821, an act concerning Roofing, Window and Siding Consumer Warranties and Post Sale Warranty Work Reimbursement for Power Equipment. This bill requires manufacturers of windows, roofing and siding to pay any claim within 30 days for both materials and labor. LDAC members mounted a huge grassroots campaign within a short time frame, sending emails and making calls to leadership and members of the House of Representatives against this bill. Unfortunately, SB 821 passed narrowly (by only 10 votes) on the last night of session, during the final hour.

Because this bill is so onerous, the LDAC and Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) have asked Governor Malloy to veto the measure. Members once again have written numerous letter to Governor Malloy making this request. They have also contacted members of the legislature to intervene and request a veto as well. Many of the legislators have done this on their behalf. Joe Cecarelli, Ashley Ranslow, and Carrie Rand-Anastasiades have met with the Governor’s staff to explain why he should veto the bill as well. The Governor has until July 7 to make a decision if the bill will become law. LDAC and members have truly left no stone unturned in this process. Although the Governor only vetoes 6-8 bills per year, we feel we have made as strong a case as possible and are hopeful that this will be one of them

Posted by & filed under Legislative.

For the first time in over 100 years, the Connecticut State Senate is comprised of 18 Democrats and 18 Republicans. In the State House of Representatives, Democrats hold only a slim majority at 79-72. As a result of this rare tie and overall narrow margin, major budgetary issues continue to strain legislators on both sides of the aisle.
April 27 marked the deadline for the Appropriations Committee to vote out any of their own bills, including the $41 billion Democratic budget proposal. Meanwhile, the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee met and voted on various revenue measures while facing a committee deadline of April 28. Both committees worked this session in an effort to help reduce Connecticut’s estimated $3.6 billion deficit, although little progress was made.
Leaders of the Appropriations Committee gaveled in and immediately recessed to discuss the intricacies of the Democratic budget proposal behind closed doors. Facing income tax collection estimates $450 million lower than anticipated, a controversial budget proposal from Governor Malloy, and pressure from leaders and various groups, this measure was not an easy undertaking. Through hours of tense negotiations and vote counting, legislators discussed and deliberated the rather controversial components of the bill including increases in spending and severe labor concessions. While there were reports throughout the day of the committee having the necessary votes to pass the measure, Democratic chairs of the committee, Rep. Walker and Sen. Osten, cited difficulties gaining crucial votes in the House caucuses as the main reason for stalled progress. During their last meeting before their April 27 deadline, the committee failed to vote on the proposal leaving the Democratic budget proposal dead.
As the dust settled, the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee held a tense public hearing the same day regarding revenue measures for the upcoming budget cycle. Republican Minority Leader Rep. Themis Klarides heavily criticized the Democratic proposal including the elimination of sales tax exemptions on goods and services for non-profit agencies, while countless others piled into the room to testify on each bill. The hearing lasted into the evening, leaving the public and legislators concerned about the economic future of the state.
The Republicans introduced their budget proposal on April 27, which includes no property tax increases and no shifting of teacher pension costs to municipalities among other measures. However, like the Democratic proposal, this proposal is also hurt by the low income tax collection estimates. Though the public, press, and interest groups expected the Republican proposal earlier, the tight margin in the House and Senate forced the Republicans to hold off until after the last Appropriations Committee meeting. No action was taken on this proposal.
Immediately following the Republican budget press conference, the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee met to vote on certain measures. Items that passed out of the committee include the Governors tax package and state bonding for municipal development projects, but with no budget passed out of the Appropriations Committee, the future is uncertain.
Moving forward, the General Assembly will attempt to work together on a budget and revenue package that will benefit Conn. without negatively impacting businesses and residents. The timeline for that agreement is still unknown, but as session begins to speed up, the clock is ticking

Posted by & filed under Legislative.

As the CT legislature hits the midpoint of the session, many committees are finishing their work and have begun voting measures to the House and Senate floor for final action. The legislative budget is expected in a couple of weeks, and after the Easter holiday, the legislature will make its final sprint, with the session concluding on June 7.

With more than 3,000 bills introduced since January, committees have been overwhelmed with the large volume and long public hearings occurring in March. One of the committees that had an early deadline to complete their work was Labor and Public Employees. Although not many measures died within the committee as we had hoped with the increased Republican presence, the Low-Wage Worker bill ($1.00 per hour tax on an employee making under $15.00 per hour) did meet its end. We will work hard throughout the months of April and May to kill a number of onerous bills that adversely affect employers. They include:

·         Paid Family and Medical Leave (SB 1 & HB 6212) – this bill requires small businesses to continue to provide expensive non-wage benefits to an employee that is absent up to three months every year. There is a high fiscal note attached for startup costs totaling $13.6 million. We hope that given the State’s fiscal situation, the bill will die under its own weight.

·         $15.00 Minimum Wage (HB 6208) – the bill increases the minimum wage from the current rate of $10.10 to $15.00 by 2022. It indexes future increases to annual increases in the consumer price index (CPI). We will work with Senate Republicans to kill this bill. They stated they will not vote for a minimum wage increase.

·         On Call Scheduling (SB 747) – this bill requires employers to give 24 hours notice for all industries except medical personnel. There is a caveat in the bill that allows for less notice if it is agreed upon by the employee and the employer. Sen. Kennedy (D-Branford) is the sponsor.

·         Pregnancy Accommodations (HB 6668) – this bill creates a presumption that any accommodations that were made, or could have been made, for a pregnant employee in the past was not an undue hardship and therefore should be made for future employees. Given the specific nature of each employee’s pregnancy, this bill opens up Pandora’s Box.

·         Pay Equity (HB 5210) – this bill prohibits inquiries about prospective employee’s salary history. Many times salary history helps small business gauge whether their salaries are consistent with the market. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Slap (D – West Hartford).

·          Unemployment Compensation Reforms (HB 6461) – this bill increases the earnings needed to qualify for unemployment benefits from $600 to $2,000. This threshold has not changed since 1968 and is the fourth lowest in the country. It also prohibits all individuals from collecting benefits while receiving severance pay. Based on the theory that most people find a job before their severance ends, the DOL projects $57 million in savings per year. The bill also freezes the maximum benefit rate from automatically increasing in any year when CT has not achieved 70% of the Unemployment Trust Fund solvency goal. The maximum rate increased during the recession and this protects the DOL from digging deeper into debt and paying out more when the fund is low. Lastly, the bill stops rewarding seasonal workers by taking into account three-quarters of earnings rather than two. A large coalition of CT businesses will be working hard to lobby this pro-employer bill to help ease the unemployment compensation burden.

Posted by & filed under Events, Legislative.

Don’t Just Sit on the Sidelines -Be an Advocate!

 

Join LDAC and your state legislators at our first legislative reception. This is your opportunity to support LDAC’s legislative efforts, including fighting against labor mandates, such as paid family leave and predictable scheduling, and advocating for a more business-friendly Connecticut. Your ability to help educate legislators on the industry is key to LDAC’s success. The legislative reception will be attended by nearly 100 legislators and is an amazing opportunity to build LDAC’s name recognition. Don’t miss out on this important and fun event!

Register Today!

If you would like to attend LDAC’s lobby day, please complete the registration form below. To learn more, contact Ashley (Ennis) Ranslow at 518-880-6350 or aranslow@nrla.org.

State House, Old Appropriations Room

310 Capitol Ave.

Hartford, Conn. 06106

4:30 p.m. Registration

5:00 p.m. Legislative Reception

This event is free to attend, but registration is required.

Parking Information

Limited free parking is available in the Legislative Office Building parking

garage, accessible from both Capitol Ave. and Broad St

2017ldaclobbydayregform_fillable

Posted by & filed under Lumber Person of the Year.

Lumber Person of the Year: Evan MacDermott, Coastal Forest Productsmacdermott

Wood is not just the building material on which Lumber Person of the Year Evan MacDermott makes his living; it seems to be the recurring theme of his life. He began his career working with wood in a much more natural state. After graduating from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in 1984 with a degree in forestry science, he accepted a job as a forester for the Massachusetts Metropolitan District Commission (now a part of the Department of Conservation and Recreation) in Boston. His job was to reduce the fire load from gypsy moth deforestation, which had spiked the previous year. Evan migrated to the lumber industry shortly thereafter (“It beats working for the state.”) and has remained a lumberman ever since. It’s no wonder that as a participant in the YMCA’s Indian Guides program, he earned the name “Great Wood Spirit.”

 

Evan has been with Coastal Forest Products for 17 years, but there have been many stops along his journey through the lumber industry. He was brought in by Gil Adams of Warren Trask, and accepted a job driving a forklift and unloading trucks and freight cars at the terminal in Waterbury, Connecticut. It was in Warren Trask’s warehouses where he got a re-education of sorts, learning about redwood, cedar, pine, fir and spruce not as trees in a forest but as building materials to be sorted into orders and inventory units.

 

He relocated to Massachusetts to work in the head office, where he learned the ropes of buying lumber and taking inside sales calls. Warren Trask eventually sent him out west to Oregon, where he learned the wholesale side of the business courtesy of the North American Wholesale Lumber Association. When he came back east, he returned to Connecticut, working outside sales and covering the western part of the state and eastern New York.

 

After taking a job with Connecticut Reserve Supply, Evan learned millwork and a variety of other building materials. Since then, he’s done stints with Atlantic Building Products, Manufacturers Reserve Supply and Philadelphia Forest Products. Evan’s services always seem to be in high demand in the lumber industry: his current tenure at Coastal is actually the second time he’s worked for the company, and he also worked twice for Atlantic. He has also taken a leadership role in the industry, serving on the board of the Lumber Dealers Association of Connecticut for the last eight years.

 

Evan credits his boss at Coastal, Ted Severance, with providing him the wealth of knowledge he has needed to succeed. In particular, he cites the many trips they have taken to learn about the products they sell. “We’ve been on mill trips to Northern California to see the Great Redwoods, Quebec to see the manufacturing of white cedar shingles, Alabama to see fiberglass columns being spun,” Evan recalls.

 

In addition to being a true lumberman, Evan is also a first-class family man. He was born and raised in New Jersey, where he did not have an easy childhood. His parents divorced when he was 11 and he mostly grew up without a father. His family struggled financially and turned to public assistance to make ends meet. Evan drifted into the wrong kind of company in high school, but the special attention of his football coaches provided the guidance he needed; he managed to straighten himself out and earn a full scholarship to play football scholarship at UNH.

 

The difficulties Evan experienced in his youth shaped him, and they’re the reason why he remains such a devoted father to his children Ashley, 27, and Chace, 25. He made it a point to be engaged in sports and other activities, including the aforementioned Indian Guides.

 

The mother of those children is Evan’s wife, Donna, to whom he’s been married for 30 years. (They’ve been together for 32.) He met her in his senior year at UNH; they were both attending a “50 days to graduation” party. Later that night he told his roommates that he had met his future wife. They thought he was nuts, but she’s been “the love of my life” ever since. “I get out of bed every day thinking today is going to be yet another great day,” he exclaims. “Life can be hard and unfair but it’s well worth taking the journey. Trying to have a good attitude and happy disposition has been a great way to live my life.”

 

When he’s not spending time with his family or working as the “Great Wood Spirit,” Evan enjoys unwinding on the golf course, where he claims he’s famous for – what else? – hitting the ball deep into the woods.

Posted by & filed under Legislative.

It’s no surprise that Connecticut’s budget crisis dominated the legislative session. With the Legislature focused on negotiating a plan to reduce the projected $933 million deficit for fiscal year 2017, most of the issues impacting businesses were ignored and died before the end of session. One of those issues was a bill establishing a state-run retirement program. The Lumber Dealers Association of Connecticut along with the business community opposed this legislation. LDAC met with legislators on lobby day about this legislation, issued a formal memorandum in opposition, and sent an action alert to all members asking them to contact the Governor. Unfortunately, our efforts were unsuccessful, as the state-run retirement bill passed in the final days of the legislative session, after a narrow vote in the House and a tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

The bill creates the Connecticut Retirement Security Authority (CRSA), a quasi-state-agency that will establish a retirement program for private-sector employees. The CRSA will be run by a nine-member board, which is appointed by the house, senate, and Governor. The appointments to the board are required to be made by July 31. Once the board has been established, they will create the Connecticut Retirement Security Program, which will contract with financial institutions to oversee the individual Roth IRA’s. The bill authorizes the CRSA to assess administrative fees on the program participants to help defray the costs of the program. Most likely, those fees will not be in addition to the participant’s contribution but just taken out of it.

Not later than January 1, 2018, qualified employers that do not currently offer a retirement program to their employees, must provide notice about the retirement program. The legislation defines a qualified employer as a private sector employer that employs five people or more whom are paid at least $5,000 in wages in the preceding calendar year. The notice to employees about the program must be provided each year.

After 60 days of providing the notice, the employer must enroll each of its employees into the program at either the contribution the employee selects or at least three percent of the employee’s wages. The legislation requires that employees are automatically enrolled in the program by the employer. Employees are eligible for the retirement program after they have worked for a minimum of 120 days and are at least 19 years old. If the employee does not want to be enrolled, they are required to affirmatively opt-out by electing a contribution level of zero. Because the retirement program consists of individual Roth IRA’s, the contributions are after tax, meaning employees should expect at least a three percent reduction in their wages if they do not opt out of the program.

Once the legislation is signed by the Governor and the State establishes the CRSA, NRLA will know exactly what employers need to do to comply and will issue a memorandum to LDAC members. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at aennis@nrla.org or 518.880.6350.

Posted by & filed under Legislative.

The Connecticut legislature passed H. 5237, which would “Ban the Box” on initial employment applications. The Governor has not yet signed the bill, but is expected too. Once the bill is signed, the law will become effective Jan. 1, 2017. Below is a summary of what is included in the law and when employers can ask an applicant about previous criminal convictions.

 

Intent of “Ban the Box”

Legislation concerning “Ban the Box” is a national movement that has gained a lot of momentum. The concept is that there are many qualified applicants that are not being considered for employment due to a past history of criminal convictions. There is a belief that this has become a major barrier to those rehabilitated and released from finding gainful employment and reasserting themselves back into society.

 

On many job applications there is a box that states “please check if you have been convicted of a crime”. H. 5237 and other “Ban the Box” bills seek to remove that question from the initial application only. “Ban the Box” is not meant to stop employers from learning of past criminal convictions or allowing those with past convictions to hide them from employers. The intent is solely to allow a broader picture of the candidate to be formed before the stigma of a past criminal conviction is added to the evaluation process.

 

When Can an Employer Ask About Criminal Convictions?

The bill prohibits employers from asking about the applicant’s prior arrests, criminal charges, or convictions on an initial application unless the employer is required to under state or federal law or the applicant is applying for a position where they must obtain a security bond.

 

If the application contains any question concerning criminal history, there needs to be a notice in clear and conspicuous language that the applicant is not required to disclose their criminal history, including arrests, criminal charges, convictions, or pardons.

 

Furthermore, the portion of the application that contains information regarding the criminal history record can only be made available to members of the personnel department, the person in charge of employment, and the individuals interviewing the applicant.

 

Can an Employer Deny Employment Because of Criminal Convictions?

No employer can deny employment to an applicant solely on the basis that the applicant had a prior arrest, criminal charge or conviction, pardon from conviction, or a certificate of rehabilitation. No employer can discriminate against an employee solely on their criminal history.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact NRLA’s government affairs department at 800.292.6752 or e-mail govtaffairs@nrla.org.

Posted by & filed under Webinar.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

with Matt Gambino

Matt Gambino Training

 

It is no longer enough to give the stock definition of your company, product, or service. Given that

today’s buyer does the lion’s share of research well in advance of meeting with you, you should assume

his or her mind is at least partway made up already.  In this session, you’ll learn surprisingly easy ways to

make meaningful connections and communicate value when the homework’s been done and your

prospect is buying on price.

 

TARGET AUDIENCE & LEVEL: Intermediate/Advanced Content and Sales/Sales Managers

Webinar Information