A bill that would have required venues, artists and promoters to disclose ticket availability information in Connecticut was killed by a deadlocked vote in the state legislature’s Judiciary Committee Monday, April 12.
The committee vote ended in a 20-20 tie, despite the above mentioned transparency language being stricken from the bill in a last ditch effort to get other, less controversial provisions passed. Without a simple majority, the bill does not move forward; four members of Judiciary Committee were absent and did not vote.
If approved, the bill would have put Connecticut in the forefront of states by requiring transparency in event ticketing and preserving an open resale market.
Last month, the legislature’s General Law Committee gave the bill overwhelming support, but in the time between that vote and Monday’s action, opponents of the bill marshaled their forces and lobbied hard to get it defeated. Among those who opposed the bill were several Connecticut venues, including the XL Center and the Shubert Theater in New Haven, and many of the unions that represent employees in those arenas.
Their opposition crystallized against the provision that required venues and others to disclose the total number of tickets available for an event, how many of those tickets would be released to the public and how many seats were lost due to logistical elements such as stage and sound design.
The opponents argued that requiring such disclosures could drive major acts and theatrical companies to bypass Connecticut for shows, instead opting for New York and Boston where they would not be forced to provide such information.
State Rep. Mike Lawlor, who co-chairs the Judiciary Committee, told TicketNews that the final vote “took a lot of people by surprise,” but that leading up to the decision “a whole bunch of lobbying from both sides” muddied the waters of discussion.
“Because this was a new concept, things got complicated and confusing for members of the committee, and for many of them it became easier not to do something than to do something,” he said.
Every Republican on the committee voted against the bill, and they were joined by nine Democrats.
Lawlor, a Democrat who supported the bill, is a season ticket holder for University of Connecticut football games, but while he has not bought or sold tickets on the secondary market, he believes people should have the right to do so. Included in the defeated bill were provisions to protect consumers and ticket resellers if they bought or sold a ticket, and also a law banning the use of computer software that can bypass online security protocols to scoop up large blocks of tickets before the public can get a chance at them.
“It’s a legitimate issue, and one that may come back for discussion next year,” Lawlor said of the bill, HB 5228. “On a superficial level, I think a lot of committee members felt comfortable with it, but then we were told that some promoters would never book acts in the state if the bill passed. And, that tends to scare some people.”