Photo of Senator Cohen.

State Senator

Christine Cohen

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Senator Cohen Supports Legislation Establishing a Fund to Help Municipalities Respond to the Effects of Climate Change

HARTFORD, CT -- Today, state Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) brought out onto the state Senate floor and led debate on legislation which will establish a fund to address the impact of climate change in Connecticut. The bill passed the state Senate by a bipartisan 35-0 vote and will head to the state House of Representatives for further action.

“This important piece of legislation will enable our state’s shoreline municipalities to put systems in place to deal with the impacts of climate change,” said Sen. Cohen. “I applaud the state Senate’s passage of this legislation and am hopeful it will also pass the state House of Representatives and get signed into law by the Governor. Through this bill, we better position our state to protect the shoreline communities, businesses and environment. The town of Branford has been a leader in establishing a coastal resiliency plan. I commend their early efforts and action to protect their community.”

Senate Bill 1062, “An Act Authorizing Municipal Climate Change And Coastal Resiliency Reserve Funds,” will allow municipalities to establish a fund which may contain the following:

  • Funds authorized to be transferred from the municipality’s General Fund cash surplus at the end of a fiscal year
  • Proceeds of bonds, notes, or other obligations issued to fund losses or projects related to the presence of pyrrhotite in the concrete foundations of residential buildings
  • Amounts raised by an annual tax levied solely for the benefit of the fund. Any such tax must be levied and collected in the same manner and at the same time as the municipality’s regular annual taxes.

This legislation will also allow municipalities to use and appropriate all or part of the reserve fund to pay for municipal property losses, capital projects, and studies on mitigating climate change hazards and vulnerabilities, including land acquisition. Additionally, the bill requires that if the reserve fund is discontinued, any remaining funds must be put toward retiring the municipality’s bonded indebtedness, if any. Any further remaining funds must be transferred to the municipality’s General Fund. If enacted, SB 1062 will go into effect July 1, 2019.

During a hearing of the Environment Committee, the Nature Conservancy provided public testimony stating this fund will enable municipalities to craft plans and strategies to reduce the vulnerabilities the municipality may have due to the effects of climate change. They also called the Climate Change and Coastal Resiliency Reserve Fund “an important tool that municipalities can use to help prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change.” In February, Branford created its own $1 million fund to finance efforts to counter the impact of future sea level rise, making them the first in the state to create a coastal resiliency fund.

This legislation received overwhelming bipartisan support, passing the Environment Committee by a 27-2 vote. If passed by the House, it awaits a signature from Governor Ned Lamont to become law.

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