CBIA urged state lawmakers to support measures to exempt workers training programs from sales tax and relax some restrictions on professional licenses.

CBIA’s Ashley Zane spoke in support of HB 6406 and HB 6407 on March 4th Committee on Higher Education and Employment Promotion public hearing.

HB 6406 exempts employee development or training services provided by a licensed or accredited higher education institution or by a third party to an employer from 6.35% sales tax.

Zane told committee members that the sales tax exemption will help fill the growing skills gap that is affecting a number of the state’s major industries, including manufacturing.

Workforce an “asset”

“HB 6406 will incentivize businesses to take advantage of the myriad of workforce development programs available across the state,” she said.

“Many of our member companies have commented that the quality of the Connecticut workforce is a reason to locate, stay, and invest in the state.

The bill is in line with CBIA’s policy recommendations for the Reconstruction of Connecticut, which address both small business relief and workforce development.

“Connecticut remains high on the list of economic indicators for the highly skilled and skilled workforce, and state financial policies should promote and reflect the value we place on this resource.”

She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic increased the need for companies to retrain, re-qualify and re-qualify existing employees to meet the needs and demands of ever-changing markets.

Zane added that HB 6406 is a direct match for CBIAs New policy recommendations for ConnecticutIt is about making things easier for small businesses as well as about opportunities for personnel development.

Professional licensing

She also spoke in support of HB 6407This allows military spouses to obtain a Connecticut professional or professional license if they hold a license in another state.

“CBIA strongly supports these efforts to remove barriers to the recognition of non-state professional licenses for active spouses of military personnel,” she told lawmakers.

“Ninety percent of military spouses are female, with a third of those spouses working in licensed fields.

“By facilitating license reciprocity, military spouses can join the Connecticut workforce and contribute to the tax base.”

Ashley Zane from CBIA

“Assignments from military bases are not voluntary. By facilitating license reciprocity, military spouses can join the Connecticut workforce and contribute to the tax base.

“Connecticut employers continue to struggle to find and retain skilled workers, and this bill will significantly increase the number of eligible workers.”

Steep loads

Tony Sheridan, president and CEO of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, told the committee that the state has thousands of military families “who deserve our greatest assistance in their transition.”

“It is important that Connecticut work with other states to establish broad professional license and certification recognition for military spouses,” he said.

“As these families are dedicated to our country, facilitating their transfer when changing stations should be a priority.”

Tony Sheridan of the Eastern Chamber

“As these families are dedicated to our country, facilitating their transfer when moving should be a priority and every effort should be made to mitigate the negative impact on spouses’ careers and access to work in their professional field.”

Christopher Arnold, Northeastern regional liaison officer for the U.S. Department of Defense, told the committee that 35 states require regulators to issue temporary licenses to military spouses during the review period in order to obtain a permanent license.

“Military service members and their spouses face significant professional and professional license burdens when they move,” he said.

Unemployment rate

Arnold noted that the marital unemployment rate is a crucial factor in planning future base closings or expansions.

The Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Social Workers also provided testimony in support of the law.

CBIA also said in the General Legal Committee in support of a Lamont administrative proposal that would allow anyone who has held a license in another state for at least a year to take professional license exams.

HB 6407 was opposed by a number of unions, including the AFL-CIO in Connecticut.

The Committee on Higher Education and Employment has until March 23 to legislate.