Chambers of commerce gear up for legislative session

Ahead of the 2018 legislative session, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut set about broadening its Legislative Affairs Committee.

The additions are Angela Adams, director of operations for the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce; Peggy Roberts, president of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce; Judy Sullivan, executive director of the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce; Sheri Cote, president of the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce; David McBride, executive director of Thames River Innovation Place; and Frank Burns of the CT Tourism Coalition.

"We're really looking to have the shoreline speak with one voice, to the degree possible," explained Tony Sheridan, president of the Eastern Connecticut chamber. The committee had a more local scope in the past.

He feels this is a very important year in the legislature, with elections for governor, attorney general and treasurer, along with House and Senate seats.

Sheridan said the chamber's priorities for 2018 include promoting tourism, supporting the expansion of I-95 from Branford to Rhode Island, advocating for tolls and opposing unemployment compensation insurance.

The Norwich chamber last week held a legislative breakfast, in which nine local legislators listened to concerns from the business community.

Adams came away from the event with four main takeaways: The state can't be "double-dipping" with both tolls and an increase in the gas tax, nonprofit funding has decreased, there is concern over education spending, and health insurance costs are rising.

The Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce has a government affairs committee, but Roberts said it is more focused on local government.

She recently testified in favor of David Lattizori's Perkins Farm development before the Stonington Inland Wetlands Commission, and she has testified in the past in favor of the Stone Acres development.

"We see ourselves more as an advocate and kind of a watchdog as issues come up," Roberts said, "and if our members express concerns, we keep an eye on what’s happening with the agendas and different organizations."

e.moser@theday.com

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