New Report: How Many Proposed Bills Become Laws?

. May 26, 2015

According to OLR Report 2015-R-0111, very few proposed bills eventually become laws. The report examines bills introduced during regular session from 2009 to 2014. It does not include special sessions, which consider only emergency certified bills and may be convened at any other time.

A proposed bill is a bill introduced by an individual legislator at the beginning of a session, not fully drafted.  There were 4,864 proposed bills introduced between 2009 and 2014.  Of those bills, 208 (approximately 4%) were enacted into law. The total bills enacted into law across the six year period, was 1,590.  Therefore, approximately 1% of the enacted bills were proposed bills. The total enacted bills include raised bills, public acts, and special acts passed by the General Assembly.  
For more information, read the full report.

Connecticut Housing Market A Complicated Picture

. May 25, 2015

Two new reports detail the Connecticut housing market. In general, house sales are up but the average sale price is down.

According to a new report by The Warren Group, a real estate information company, sales of single family homes in Connecticut increased almost 14% this February, compared to February 2014. The 1,352 homes sold is the highest February number since 2008. However, the report also notes that the median price of a single family home dropped by almost 5%, to $224,750.

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Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, a realty company, recently compared Connecticut home sales in the first quarter of 2015 with those in the first quarter of 2014. Home prices increased 1.3%, the number of sales increased 2.93%, and sales volume (which incorporates the price of the house) increased 4.27%. In addition, the average sale price for a single family home in Connecticut rose from $371,000 to $375,000.

Berkshire Hathaway also reported real estate sales by county. Windham County had the largest increase of any county in Connecticut, with sale prices increasing 11.6%, followed by New Haven County at 2.8%. Sale prices in Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New London and Tolland Counties decreased. However, the number of sales increased in Fairfield, Litchfield, New Haven, and Windham counties.

Nationwide, the housing market appears to be increasing. The Case-Shiller index, which measures single family home prices, increased 5% in February (compared to February 2014).  

New Report: Final Disposition of Regulations Rejected without Prejudice in 2013 and 2014

. May 22, 2015

OLR Report 2015-R-0053 outlines the proposed regulations disapproved or rejected without prejudice in 2013 and 2014 and the final disposition of each regulation.

Adopting agency regulations in Connecticut is a multi-step process that begins when the legislature enacts a new law that either authorizes or requires an agency to adopt new regulations. The Uniform Administrative Procedure Act (UAPA) governs this process, which includes an agency submitting proposed regulations to the General Assembly’s Regulations Review Committee for approval. For more information on the regulation adoption process read OLR Report 2015-R-0064

In 2013 and 2014, the Regulation Review Committee rejected 19 proposed regulations, all without prejudice, from 10 agencies. No regulations were disapproved. Following rejection, 17 of the 19 regulations were later approved in whole or with technical corrections, substitute pages, or deletions. Of the two regulations that were not later approved, one relates to affirmative action plans, proposed by the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, and the second relates to provider audit requirements, proposed by the Department of Social Services.

For additional information, read the full report.

Hearing the Economic Signals amid the Economic Noise

. May 21, 2015

Remember our blog about “inflection points”—a term Intel’s Andy Grove coined to help businesses identify significant shifts that could spell trouble for a company’s products and services? Inflection points often show up in graphs, tables, and statistical indicators.  Ironically, there is no dearth of such indicators when it comes to business and economics, and that’s a big problem, according to Nate Silver, author of The Signal and Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don’t (2012).

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Why?  Because “we face danger whenever information growth outpaces our understanding of how to process it.” Ironically, the human race has survived because human beings are good at processing and analyzing data to discern meaningful patterns. But today the vast stream of data generated from many sources could be having unintended consequences, such as allowing us to select only that data that conforms to our preconceived ideas. Consequently, we may be missing the signals for the noise and wasting our time chasing false leads.

If this sounds too abstract for public policy, let’s turn to a recent Christian Science Monitor article about wages. Some economic signals show that wages are finally going up, which is good news, especially for states that rely on consumer spending to fill their tax coffers. But this time, things are different. People are saving their extra cash or paying down debt. “The U.S. savings rate in the first three months of 2015 increased to 5.5 percent—its highest level since the end of 2012,” the article stated. Did the economic forecasters predict the increase in savings?

In his assessment of the 2008 housing collapse and the deep recession it triggered, Silver recommended that, “we must think differently about our ideas—and how to test them. We must become more comfortable with probability and uncertainty. We must think more carefully about the assumptions and beliefs we bring to a problem.”