Pulling plug on Connecticut’s aid-in-dying bill is not an acceptable response

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The “Too Difficult” sign in Connecticut must come down now.

Earlier this month an important piece of legislation, the so-called aid-in-dying bill, was stopped in the judiciary committee. This column is not about the merits of the bill, which have been well argued on both sides. Instead I wish to shine a light on how the committee’s own pulling of the plug reveals the somewhat cowardly way in which the Connecticut legislature conducts its affairs.

This is now the third year that this bill has been raised but not voted on. Thus the excuses should stop.

Support for this bill is at 63 percent, according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll. While opponents may quibble with the poll’s wording, there is clearly substantial if not majority support for this proposed law.

So what is wrong with how this debate ended is that not even the committee, let alone the full legislature, had the courage actually to take a vote. Instead, what we get from our legislature is a full scale ducking of responsibility. It is entirely possible that if brought to a vote in either committee or on the floor or both, this bill would have received majority support.

The governor may even have signed it into law. Either way, it would be incredibly valuable to know how our legislators approach thinking through such a difficult problem, even if they come out on opposite sides.

Instead the legislature merely put up a sign that reads “Too difficult for right now.” And they did so in year three of the issue.

The entire story reported in the Connecticut Post revealed no one who had any objections to the “Too Difficult “ sign.

But the state should care. When Connecticut is faced with challenges, too often that “Too difficult” sign is hanging in the window.

Connecticut polling seems to suggest that legalizing marijuana would be received favorably by state voters. The four states and the District of Columbia that have taken this step are now, or will soon be, seeing tax revenue from sales.

Connecticut could be first in the region, if we moved quickly, and that could help us gain revenue. The “Too difficult sign” seems to be up on this bill as well.

If a majority of legislators vote “no” in the face of what would appear to be public opinion, that would be a perfectly valid outcome. But there should be votes.

Our elected representatives should go on record because then the public can accurately assess both what legislators believe on such matters and, as importantly, how they go about reaching such decisions.

Without such votes, i.e., when the “Too difficult” sign goes up, it becomes almost impossible for the public to have a real sense of what matters to their legislators and thus whether they deserve re-election.

Knowing exactly how the difficult choices are going to be made is even more crucial when we consider something as challenging as the upcoming budget. The “Too Difficult” sign is simply constraining our policy choices, locking us in a system that is not working.

It needs to go, if this state is going to get moving again.

Jason Paul is a progressive Democrat activist in Colchester.

What do you think?

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