ByRoy Berger, Eliot Brenner, Alice Forrester and Michael Patota |
Any family enduring a budget crisis is faced with a difficult task — prioritizing where to cut back on expenses. They must decide which expenses are unnecessary, which can safely be postponed, and finally, which are absolutely essential. Ultimately, the new sofa will be cancelled and replacing the tires on the family car will be delayed. These sacrifices will be made for one reason: to ensure money is available to pay for what is essential, such as food, rent, or life-saving medications for their children. The governor and state legislature of Connecticut currently face a similar task.
As we try to address our state budget crisis, one option proposed by the Senate Republicans should be off the table: sweeping $136 million over the next two fiscal years from the utility ratepayer-funded Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund to the state’s General Fund.
On June 6, the Connecticut State Legislature passed H.B. No. 7044, “An Act Concerning Pretrial Justice Reform,” which will limit the number of legally innocent people who are held in jail because they cannot pay bail. By prohibiting money bail in most misdemeanor cases, this bill will save lives. Hundreds of defendants who would have otherwise been incarcerated due to poverty alone can now defend themselves from a position of freedom without pleading guilty just to get out of jail. This is a critical step towards restoring the presumption of innocence in our court system.
Connecticut is at risk of losing an opportunity to boost the state’s economy and create hundreds of jobs unless lawmakers act quickly on pro-growth legislation. With just hours before the regular legislative session comes to a close, the legislature has yet to pass a bill seeks to change existing laws related to vehicle sales, allowing manufacturers — such as Tesla — to open brick-and- mortar stores across Connecticut where they can sell cars directly to consumers.
This month, Connecticut legislators will decide which side of history they will join. A pending bill currently in front of the Connecticut General Assembly would ban the use of solitary confinement against juveniles and people with severe mental illness or disabilities. Under H.B. 7302, Connecticut’s Department of Corrections also would have to report on its use of solitary confinement throughout the system. Given the well-known harms that come from locking a person up for 23 hours a day, these are good and important changes.
An important national debate is playing out in Hartford right now as the Connecticut General Assembly is currently considering a state Constitutional Amendment about the future of the Connecticut’s public lands. S.J. 39 would prevent the state from transferring, swapping, or selling state-owned lands without appropriate public input — and if it passes, it will further demonstrate Connecticut’s long history of valuing our parks, wildlife areas, waterbodies, and open spaces.
With only a few days left in the Connecticut General Assembly’s regular session, I am really concerned that SJ 39, known as a Constitutional Amendment to Protect Open Space, will get left behind. We need State Sen. Kevin Witkos to lead the charge in support of this amendment again this year, before it can appear on the ballot in November 2018.
If the Mohegan Tribe has their way, a satellite casino in East Windsor will not be the only new casino they would build in the region. As the Mohegan Sun Massachusetts (yes, Massachusetts) website currently points out, “Mohegan Sun Massachusetts is prepared to break ground immediately.”
As the owner of a small business in Colchester, I support paid family and medical leave as a critical safety net that will support workers during times of financial insecurity, when their last concern should be missing a paycheck. Contrary to the narrative spread by the big business lobby, a new poll shows that 77 percent of small business owners in Connecticut support paid family and medical leave. When respondents learn more about paid leave, including how a range of research has demonstrated its benefits for businesses, support for legislation climbs to 85 percent. And it’s easy to see why.
One of the most persistent myths surrounding adoption is that birth mothers like me were “promised” privacy to hide the shame of having had sex (and getting caught at it). Single pregnant women like me had few viable options, and did not consider the relinquishment of our child an exchange for the promise of privacy. Senate Bill 977 extends an existing 2014 law to pre-1983 adult adoptees to restore the right to an original birth certificate to all Connecticut adoptees. Let’s keep it in the family, between those personally affected, where it belongs.
A triumph of the conservative movement was getting citizens to think of government as something separate and distinct from the citizenry. In reality, government is not a lurking entity waiting to tax us and give nothing in return. As Abraham Lincoln said, the government is of, by and for the people. The government is us.