The New Biennial Budget: Trick or Treat?

Connecticut was the last state in the country to adopt a budget, more than 120 days after the commencement of the current fiscal year.  The biennial budget for the period from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019 was the result of bipartisan negotiations between Democrat and Republican legislators, which largely excluded the participation of Governor Malloy.  The Governor signed the bill on October 31, 2017, but simultaneously published a letter that both praised and excoriated the legislation, and which provided for a line item veto of certain of its provisions.  Halloween was a fitting date for the signing, as the budget contains its fair share of tricks and treats for taxpayers.

From a broader structural perspective, the budget purports to put into effect new spending cap restrictions and limitations on the issuance of general obligation bonds.  The legislation fortunately does not provide for an increase in the Connecticut personal income tax marginal rates or the sales and use tax rate, and does not authorize municipalities to collect an additional sales and use tax.  The budget does, however, call for the transfer of funds and funding from a number of other sources within the state government that presage the need for additional structural changes to better assure the state’s future financial stability.  Last week the General Assembly adopted technical changes to the budget to address certain of the Governor’s concerns, and that legislation was signed today. The recent projection of a $203 million deficit for the current fiscal year has led to pressure for the General Assembly to again come into special session to repair the state budget.

Both the regular and extended special legislative sessions witnessed the enactment of significant tax-related legislation.  In the case of the Connecticut personal income tax, the angel investor tax credit is made available for investments in companies in all industries, the exemption for Social Security benefits is expanded, the property tax credit is further limited, and pension and annuity payments are the subject of both a new limited exemption and a tax withholding requirement.  The due date for the corporation business tax return is pushed back, the scheduled FAS 109 deduction arising out of the implementation of combined unitary reporting is both delayed until 2021 and extended from seven to 30 years, and two new programs for the use of stranded state research and development tax credits are created.  The effective period of sales tax permits is reduced from five to two years, and new enforcement mechanisms are developed for delinquent taxpayers.  The budget legislation increases fees and miscellaneous taxes, such as the cigarette and tobacco products taxes, lowers the insurance premium tax and creates a new brownfields revitalization tax benefit program.  Finally, the DRS is authorized to create a Fresh Start Program whereby certain delinquent taxpayers can apply for relief from penalties and one-half of the interest that otherwise would be due on state taxes that have not been reported or were underreported.

This Alert summarizes Connecticut tax legislation enacted, court decisions rendered and administrative guidance published by the DRS during 2017.  Please contact a member of our State and Local Tax Practice Group if you have questions regarding the new tax law changes or how they may affect you and your business.

Don’t Forget to Register! Webinar: 2017 Roundup – What You Should Know About Special Education Decisions

Join Shipman & Goodwin School Law attorneys Alyce L. Alfano and Peter J. Maher for an end-of-year update on special education judicial and hearing officer decisions.  This complimentary webinar will review recent decisions and provide special education administrators with an understanding of important precedent for moving forward in 2018.

Who Should Attend: Public and Charter School Special Education Administrators, Superintendents

When: December 1, 2017, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST
Where: Webinar

CAS Legal Mailbag Question of the Week – 11/21/2017

Originally appeared in the CAS Weekly Newsletter.
Written by attorney Thomas B. Mooney.

Dear Legal Mailbag:

Recently, my PTO held a meeting where they invited in a guest speaker to talk to parents about Internet safety, bullying and a variety of other age-appropriate topics. You know, the usual teenage stuff. There were about thirty parents present for the meeting. Without the knowledge of anyone in the audience, including school administrators and teachers, one of the parents was live-streaming the event over a social media website. During the meeting, the presenter made some unfortunate disparaging comments about a neighboring school district. At that point, one of the administrators present interrupted and tried to change the tone and direction of the conversation. In the midst of all this, the parent (and would-be-Academy-awarding-winning camera operator) zoomed in on the administrator and captured most of the dialogue.

The administrator was informed after the meeting that she had been recorded and broadcast, and she was quite upset at what she felt was an invasion of her privacy. Does the PTO have an obligation to inform all present that they were being broadcast live over the Internet? Does your answer change if this happened at a school function like Open House? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a clear answer when I reviewed Connecticut’s voyeurism laws and eavesdropping laws.

Thank you,
A Principal Not Looking for a Film Career!

Dear Camera Shy:

Thank you for your question. I wish I had better news. Even from the quiet solitude of the Legal Mailbag office, it offends Legal Mailbag to think that a parent could secretly record a PTO meeting or even Open House, let alone then stream it live over the Internet! Unfortunately, our laws have not kept up with technological changes, and at times we can be subject to intrusive conduct without clear recourse.

Kudos to you for reading the statutes, and from that reading you probably gleaned that this parent’s actions fit neither voyeurism nor eavesdropping as defined in the statutes. The essence of voyeurism is an expectation of privacy. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-189 provides in part that a person is guilty of voyeurism if “with malice, such person knowingly photographs, films, videotapes or otherwise records the image of another person (A) without the knowledge and consent of such other person, (B) while such other person is not in plain view, and (C) under circumstances where such other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.” The other definitions of voyeurism are somewhat R-rated and describe despicable conduct, a description of which has no place in Legal Mailbag.

The statute that prohibits “eavesdropping” comes closer, but still misses the mark. It defines eavesdropping as including wiretapping as well as “mechanical overhearing of a conversation,” which the statute defines as “the intentional overhearing or recording of a conversation or discussion, without the consent of at least one party thereto, by a person not present thereat, by means of any instrument, device or equipment.” Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-187. Notably, this parent’s rude recording of people without their knowledge was not “eavesdropping” because the person making the recording was present and consented to the recording.

Given the foregoing, neither the PTO nor you would have recourse against this parent under the criminal statutes. However, you would be free to establish and convey rules against making and sharing such recordings because such conduct could interfere with parent participation. I can well imagine that a parent who has a question at a PTO meeting or at Open House may think twice about asking a question or sharing personal experiences if he or she knows that such questions or comments are being recorded and shared. Accordingly, the sponsor of such a meeting can announce that such recording is not appropriate and is prohibited. While enforcement of that prohibition may be a challenge, you may establish expectations and possibly even change behavior by announcing such a rule.

Finally, please know that legal rights and expectations at a board of education meeting (or meeting of any other public agency) are very different. The Freedom of Information Act expressly provides that members of the public may record and/or broadcast public meetings. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-226.

Ben FrazziniKendrick and Melika Forbes to Present Sessions at NBI’s Social Media and Apps, Cyberbullying, Privacy and Other Technology Issues Seminar

On December 8, 2017, Benjamin P. FrazziniKendrick and Melika S. Forbes will present sessions at the National Business Institute (NBI) School Law Seminar, Social Media and Apps, Cyberbullying, Privacy and Other Technology Issues.  Ben will present the sessions, “Social Media: Monitoring, Restrictions and Discipline” and “Protecting Student Privacy: Requirements for Schools,” and Melika will present the session, “Special Education: Is Technology Accessible?”.

This seminar will review legal issues surrounding technology in and outside of the classroom, and attendees will learn what actions schools must take in order to mitigate liability.

  • Learn when and how a school can discipline based on information found on social media.
  • Ensure compliance with assistive technology and accessibility requirements for disabled students.
  • Navigate FERPA, COPPA and other laws and regulations governing student privacy.
  • Discover how to protect student privacy when utilizing online apps for educational purposes.
  • Examine when and how schools can discipline students for cyberbullying.
  • Find out how schools can ensure student protections without stifling educational innovation.
  • Understand the risks and liability associated with hacking and data breaches.

For more information and to register, visit the NBI event website.

Julie Fay, Melika Forbes and Bill Roberts to Speak at the 2017 TABS Annual Conference

Three Shipman & Goodwin attorneys will present at the 2017 TABS Annual Conference, scheduled to take place November 30 – December 2, 2017 in Boston, MA.

Julie C. Fay and Melika S. Forbes will present the concurrent session, “Academic Support and Accommodations: Understanding the Law and Best Practices” on Saturday, December 2, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.  This presentation will explore best practices for determining accommodations and provide a discussion of the intersection between public and independent schools when it comes to accommodating students with disabilities.

William J. Roberts will present the concurrent session, “Safeguarding Data: Developing a School Data Privacy and Security Program” on Saturday, December 2, 2017 from 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.  Bill will discuss privacy of personal information as a growing risk management concern for educational institutions. His presentation will address the legal requirements that apply to schools and outline key risk mitigation strategies. His presentation will also discuss best practices for the development of a holistic school data privacy program, including recommendations on structure, policies and practices.

Focusing exclusively on boarding school issues, the TABS Annual Conference provides a professional development venue for heads of schools, marketing, admission, academic, residential life, diversity/multiculturalism and campus health professionals and other administrators. In addition to valuable networking opportunities in the heart of Boston, the 2017 Conference will feature concurrent sessions and pre-conference workshops by practitioners in schools and other leading national and international education experts.

For more information and to register, visit the 2017 TABS Annual Conference website.


Webinar: Conducting Effective Employee Investigations

Employers are required to investigate routine personnel matters, claims of employee harassment, discrimination and other behavior. This complimentary webinar will provide a review of Federal and State laws related to employee investigations, and address best practices employers and their counsel can take to avoid legal pitfalls.

When: December 5, 2017
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT
Where: Webinar


Neither the Connecticut Judicial Branch nor the Commission on Minimum Continuing Legal Education approves or accredits CLE providers or activities. It is the opinion of this provider that this activity qualifies for up to one hour toward your annual CLE requirement in Connecticut, including zero hour(s) of ethics/professionalism.

This CLE program has been approved in accordance with the requirements of the New York CLE Board for a maximum of 1.0 credit hour, of which 1.0 can be applied toward the Professional Practice requirement. This program is appropriate for both transitional and nontransitional attorneys.

Shipman & Goodwin Attorneys Presenting at the 2017 CABE/CAPSS Convention

Join school law attorneys, Thomas B. MooneyRichard A. Mills, Rebecca Rudnick Santiago and Gary R. Brochu for the 2017 Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE)/Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) Convention: Out of the Public Schools Grows the Greatness of a Nation – Mark Twain, November 17-18, 2017 at the Mystic Marriott Hotel The Annual CABE/CAPSS Convention provides school district board members and superintendents with timely topics presented in clinic sessions, workshops and round table settings.

32nd Annual Meeting of the Nutmeg Board of Education
Thomas Mooney, Attorney, Shipman & Goodwin LLP; Cast to be determined

Yet again, the Nutmeg Board meets and does all the wrong things. Designed to amuse and educate you, their actions will be analyzed from the legal perspective. This mock board meeting is based on the CABE Journal’s “See You In Court” column.

Teacher Evaluations in Connecticut: Where Are We Now?
millsslblogPresenters:  Richard A. Mills, Attorney, Shipman & Goodwin LLP and Rebecca Rudnick Santiago, Attorney, Shipman & Goodwin LLP

It has been nearly five years since the Connecticut General Assembly adopted Public Act 12-116 titled An Act Concerning Educational Reform, and most importantly, made changes to Section 10-151b regarding the teacher evaluation process. Changes to Section 10-151b provide that the annual evaluation of teachers must now be conducted in accordance with the guidelines for teacher and administrator evaluation adopted by the Connecticut State Board of Education, which presents challenges and opportunities. This workshop will review the requirements concerning the evaluation of teachers and administrators and related changes in the Teacher Tenure Act. We will also discuss practical steps for addressing performance concerns in light of the new requirements.

The Purposeful Board: Bringing Board Governance to a Higher Level
brochuslblogPresenter:  Gary R. Brochu, Attorney, Shipman & Goodwin LLP

Too often the work of Boards of Education, and their meetings, can appear to participants and observers alike, as mundane, trivial, contentious and unfocused, accomplishing little and frustrating stakeholders. The guidance available to volunteer board members as to how to improve board work often focuses on parliamentary procedure, FOIA or roles and responsibilities, leaving larger questions unaddressed. What is the purpose of Board work? How does a Board of Education make a meaningful difference for its school district? Is sustained Board excellence possible and, if so, what would it look like?

This seminar introduces a new paradigm for boards of education, a mechanism to develop and understand their essential purpose, and to purposefully design their Board and work to further its fundamental mission. Board members will leave this seminar thinking of board work in a new way, beyond the demands of the monthly meeting, envisioning new possibilities for Board work, approaching their responsibilities with purpose, and moving forward on purpose.

Visit the CABE/CAPSS Convention webpage for more information. See the agenda page and workshops page for event timing, location and session details.

USCIS Issues Scam Alert for Employers

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is warning that some employers are receiving scam emails requesting Form I-9 information. The emails appear to come from USCIS, from a fraudulent email address:  This is not a USCIS email address. The body of the email may contain USCIS and Office of the Inspector General labels, your address and a fraudulent download button that links to a non-government web address (  Do not respond to these emails or click the links in them. Employers are not required to submit Forms I-9 to USCIS.

If you believe that you have received a scam email requesting Form I-9 information, you are asked to report it to the Federal Trade Commission. If you are not sure if it is a scam, forward the suspicious email to the USCIS webmaster. USCIS will review the emails received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate.

Webinar: 2017 Roundup – What You Should Know About Special Education Decisions

Join Shipman & Goodwin School Law attorneys Alyce L. Alfano and Peter J. Maher for an end-of-year update on special education judicial and hearing officer decisions.  This complimentary webinar will review recent decisions and provide special education administrators with an understanding of important precedent for moving forward in 2018.

Who should attend:  Public and Charter School Special Education Administrators, Superintendents

When: December 1, 2017, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST
Where: Webinar