We’re vocal champions of policies & regulations that support thriving downtowns and prosperous local economies.
CMSC understands the economic, social and historic value of our downtowns. We engage with state & local leaders, private sector partners, and downtown professionals to bring awareness of the needs and benefits of Connecticut’s commercial corridors and historic Main Streets.
Here are some of the ways CMSC is advocating on behalf of our downtowns:
2021 Advocacy Priorities – CMSC supports our Main Streets by advocating for specific legislative changes and general policies that enhance our downtowns’ walkability, expand housing, encourage business, enable inclusivity and foster innovation. Our annual list of legislative priorities serves as a resource for state and local leaders to support robust downtowns. Organized around the six key tenets of a healthy downtown, it outlines several initiatives that will benefit CT’s Main Streets including growing tools and resources for small businesses; providing communities tools to address abandoned and blighted communities; supporting diversity of people, incomes and uses in our downtowns and more. Read it here.
Downtown Working Group – We actively participate in the Downtown Working Group chaired by Reps. Quentin Phipps (Middletown), Jane Garibay (Windsor/ Windsor Locks) and Jennifer Leeper (Fairfield). We encourage other legislators to join the Working Group to learn more about how we can better serve Connecticut’s downtowns & Main Streets now and as we move forward. You can also click here to view information from our webinar Advocating for Main Street where we talk with the Representatives about the Downtown Working Group.
CMSC believes there are 6 core components to a healthy downtown: Place, Economics, Connectivity, Sustainability, and Stewardship. Each year we monitor legislation that will impact our downtowns and Main Streets around these key areas and often provides oral or written testimony in support or opposition of a bill. Below is a list of current legislation we’re tracking.
- H.B. 6467 – An Act Concerning the Small Business Express Program
- This bill increases access to capital for businesses, opportunity zones and distressed municipalities which will benefit our businesses and merchants in our downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.
- H.B. 5481 – An Act Establishing a Grant Program for Women and Minority-Owned Businesses
- This bill directs DECD to provide a grant program to women and minority owned businesses. Having diverse, inclusive downtowns enables social mobility and helps us all prosper.
- H.B. 6610 – An Act Concerning the Provision of Outdoor Food and Beverage Service by Restaurants
- This bill aims to extend provisions in the Governor’s executive order requiring that municipal zoning commissions permit restaurants to engage in outdoor service. This bipartisan bill extends the relaxation of outdoor dining and beverage service rules until March 31, 2022.
- H.B. 6119 – An Act Concerning Arts, Culture and Tourism Funding
- Arts, culture and tourism are economic drivers for our downtowns and Main Streets and create a sense of place that adds to the quality of life in our communities. This bill will help prevent further economic injury caused by the pandemic, address the impact of the shutdown, and accelerate recovery of not only these important sectors, but all of Connecticut. View CMSC’s testimony
- H.B. 6418 – An Act Concerning Abandoned and Blighted Property Receivership
- This bill will promote turning vacant and blighted properties in our downtowns, village centers and neighborhood commercial districts into productive properties. See CMSC’s submitted testimony
- H.B. 6606 – An Act Concerning Economic Development and the Renovation of Historic Mixed-Use Buildings in the State
- This bill requires the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development to study economic development issues affecting distressed municipalities and opportunity zones in the state and establish a task force to study impediments to the renovation of historic mixed-use buildings in the state. CMSC submitted oral and written testimony
- H.B. 5480 – An Act Concerning Establishing a Revolving Loan Program for the Development and Reuse of Existing Properties
- This bill will promote turning vacant and blighted downtown properties into productive new uses. See CMSC’s submitted testimony
- H.B. 5273 – An Act Concerning a Connecticut New Markets Tax Credit Program
- This bill establishes a state New Markets Tax Credit program and tax credit for qualifying investments made in the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority Community Development Corporation to expand economic development in low-income communities. New Market Tax Credits provide another tool in the preservation and economic development toolbox.
- S.B. 1024: An Act Concerning Zoning Authority, Certain Design Guidelines, Qualifications of Certain Land use Officials and Certain Sewage Disposal Systems
- This bill would make several changes to the land use laws in Connecticut, including several changes to the Zoning Enabling Act and establishing requirements for zoning regulations concerning accessory apartments, mixed-use developments and multifamily housing. View CMSC’s testimony.
- H.B. 6442 – An Act Concerning Equitable Access to Broadband
- This bill ensures access to broadband technology across the state. Broadband access is often an urban equity issue, and also provides key infrastructure to small businesses and rural areas.
Want to see examples of Connecticut towns celebrating their diversity? Check out our 2020 Awards of Excellence yearbook!
- H.B. 6547 – An Act Concerning a Working Group Regarding the Protection and Preservation of Historic Properties
- This bill requires the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development to convene a working group to develop a plan to support and facilitate historic preservation efforts by municipalities, historical societies and other nonprofit entities. CMSC submitted testimony requesting that we be part of the working group.
- H.B. 884 – An Act Reducing Transportation-Related Carbon Emissions (TCI-P)
- Governor Lamont proposes partnering with neighboring states to implement a regional program that caps CO2 emissions from gasoline and on-road diesel fuel, requires wholesale fuel suppliers to purchase “allowances” at auction to cover the emissions from those fuels, and reinvests the proceeds of those auctions into transportation projects and programs that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At least 35% of the proceeds will be used for communities that are most negatively impacted by air pollution and underserved by the transportation system. If passed, this bill will result in revenue that can be utilized on transportation projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions on transit, bike and pedestrian enhancements, which are the type of multi-modal transit that will improve our downtowns.
- H.B. 5429 – An Act Concerning Pedestrian Safety, Vision Zero Council, Speed Limits In Municipalities, Fines And Charges For Certain Violations, The Greenways Commemorative Account And Maintenance Work Zone And School Zone Safety Enforcement
- This bill will make roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists in our downtowns, village centers and neighborhood commercial districts. View CMSC’s written testimony
- S.B. 576 – An Act Concerning the Expansion of Passenger Rail Service on the Waterbury Branch of the Metro-North Commuter Railroad
- This bill would expand passenger rail service on the Waterbury branch of the MetroNorth Commuter Railroad. Passenger train stations are often located in downtown locations and can be catalyst for development around the station.