May 20, 2022
In This Issue:
From Paddi's Desk
CT Agency Corner
Municipal Roundup
Inside Scoop
This Day in CT History
Those were the days my friend - Congrats and best of luck

This might seem an odd topic for a column but I just have to say something. This week one of my most treasured opponents in lobbying, Tom Dorsey from Eversource, turned in his blue and white badge for greener pastures. And yes I mean greener pastures—he has retired after 40 years at Eversource, with 20 of those years as their top rank and file lobbyist.
 
It may be odd to some, but the great lobbyists all know that what we do is not personal and it’s all about relationships and being straightforward, honest, and always respectful. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve gone vote-to-vote since 2000 when I represented out-of-state utilities in the biggest energy issue to face the region: the restructuring of the electric markets. Once a monopoly on generation, distribution, transmission, and retail, the markets exploded in 2000 into a fully competitive marketplace for generation of power and retail sales. Tom and I spent the good part of two sessions chasing legislators, Department of Energy staff, and state regulators across the state to be sure the final legislation helped to promote an open and balanced competitive market for Connecticut (while leaning a little bit in favor of our client). We traveled to town after town for public hearings, participated in forum after forum, and spent the wee hours of the session lining up votes, arguing over details of legislative language while “fighting” for our twist on the sustainability and growth of the energy markets.
 
While our companies certainly disagreed—and they did very often—our friendship was based on respect, fairness, a competitive spirit, and a great sense of fun. I can’t share some of the funniest moments we’ve had, since you just wouldn’t understand, but we’ve had a lot. Twenty-some-odd years later, we still had plenty of opportunities to agree to disagree and also form alliances to work together to improve the energy market, address emerging technologies, and protect our clients from the wishes of the “evil!”
 
On several occasions, our two companies fought together to solve the polar vortex crisis in energy costs and the massive sweetheart deal for nuclear energy, only to chuckle that we finally got an opportunity to see under the hood of each other's lobbying style and how the magic happened. We worked on coalitions to tell the story of what the policy changes would do to consumer prices, the competitive markets, and even the environment if the solution wasn’t balanced and didn't incorporate the experience of our clients’ experts. We learned that while folks in the Capitol thought our two sides were proverbial “archenemies,” we had so much in common, not only as best buddies, but in how we approached our role as lobbyists. The “old-timers” in the legislature kept scratching their heads each time we talked to them together, as well as separately, from both sides of the issues with a single solution. We had a lot of fun during those sessions as legislators scratched their heads.
 
I once ran into his wife who recognized my name at a community reception. One of the nicest compliments I ever received in my career came from her. She introduced herself to me and said that she often hears my name at home and that it's always with a smile and chuckle about that day's “battle” at the Capitol, and then a quick comment from Tom, “It’s just fun to win a fair fight!” Funny thing is, I agree too. It was always a good day when I could grab a victory against Tom because he was such a great lobbyist!
 
The bottom line in lobbying is so basic: say what you’re going to do, work hard at it, and then do it. No high school drama necessary, but a lot of respect and a sense of humor goes a long way in building relationships. The good lobbyists know that being a lobbyist is about the completive, not combative spirit, achieving success for your company no matter how it’s defined. But it’s a lot more about how you treat people, how you interact with them, and how you respond to some tough times.
 
I can recall hundreds of moments where at the end of a long day counting votes to “kill” an Eversource amendment, or to line up votes to change an Eversource bill, Tom and I would walk back through the LOB, share some funny moments, recount the political happenings and wish each other a great night and head to our cars. Dorsey was always there the next day sitting in the Atrium waiting to catch a legislator with a smile and twinkle in his eye. A gentleman, a statesman, and a fierce competitor.
 
While he’s out walking his dog or creating chaos next spring, and I’m at the LOB, it just isn’t going to be the same. So as he strolls off into the sunset, I’ll always treasure our friendship, as well as the wonderful opportunities he gave me to be a better lobbyist, because he made me work harder and smarter. I look forward to seeing him wander back to the Capitol to check in with a smile and a new funny story.
 
All the best buddy, you’ve earned a long retirement and I know we’ll still have stories to share!  
List of Legislators not Seeking Re-Election

We would like to give a huge thanks to the following legislators that will not be seeking re-election this year for all they have done for Connecticut. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors!
  • Rep. Cathy Abercrombie (D)
  • Rep. Dave Arconti (D)
  • Rep. Harry Arora (R)
  • Rep. Whit Betts (R)
  • Sen. Dan Champagne (R)
  • Rep. Tony D'Amelio (R)
  • Sen. Mary Daugherty-Abrams(D)
  • Rep. Joe De La Cruz (D)
  • Rep. Laura Devlin (R)
  • Rep. Mike France (R)
  • Sen. Paul Formica (R)
  • Rep. Robin Green (R)
  • Sen. Will Haskell (D)
  • Rep. John Hampton (D)
  • Rep. Brandon McGee (D)
  • Sen. Craig Miner (R)
  • Rep. Chris Perone (D)
  • Rep. Bill Petit (R)
  • Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R)
  • Rep. Emmett Riley (D)
  • Rep. Sean Scanlon (D)
  • Reo. Charlie Stallworth (D)
  • Rep. Brian Smith (D)
  • Rep. Stephanie Thomas (D)
  • Rep. Dave Wilson (R)
  • Rep. Mike Winkler (D)
  • Sen. Kevin Witkos (R)
New Public Acts Put the Governor On the Clock 

Our state's bill approval process during the legislative session was especially short this year, but the review of bills by the Executive Branch is viewed at lightning speed when compared to other states.

A bill, after passing both the House and Senate, receives what's called a Public Act number which follows the legislation before being incorporated into statute after its final review. Once it receives this number, the House and Senate clerks sign off on the Public Act and provide it to the Secretary of the State where she then submits it to the Governor.

By the constitution, the Governor has 15 calendar days to sign, veto or let the bill pass without his signature. Depending on if it's a spending bill, the Governor also has the authority to line-item veto sections of "budget bills" which has happened in the past.

Bills that have been vetoed by the Governor are considered in a special "veto session". The legislature has the ability to try and pass a bill with 2/3 majority in both the House and Senate which would "override" the Governor's veto. 
The Municipal Tax Conundrum

There has been much discussion of property tax reform in the state of CT for decades. The most vocal of those reformist communities has been the City of Hartford. The recent push to pay for municipal services and its schools and, at the same time, whittle away at a tax rate that is the highest in the state, comes up against a sobering reality: that 1,500 properties don’t have to pay real estate taxes.
 
In a 2021 report, The Office of Policy and Management showed that if taxed, Hartford’s tax exempt property would account for 51% of the city’s grand list in 2019, bested only by New Haven, with 56% and Mansfield, at 58%. According to the report, most towns and cities in Connecticut were 30% or less, with the statewide average coming in at 14.2%.As you can see, the other towns have significantly sized college campus or hospital systems which are exempt from local property taxes.
 
A recent review by The Hartford Courant of real estate tax data provided by the city as of Oct. 1 showed that tax-exempt real estate would have generated $370.3 million in property taxes for the city, ranging from state-owned buildings and private colleges to hospitals and historical sites. The Courant’s review focused on real estate and does not include business equipment, other personal property and eligible motor vehicles.
 
According to the city’s tax data, the largest block of tax-exempt property is owned by the city. But state-owned property, as Hartford is Connecticut’s capital city, comes in a clear second. The PILOT program has existed for decades. Traditionally, state law called for a 45% reimbursement of property taxes for state-owned buildings and 77% for private colleges and schools. But the actual funding also was subject to the financial ups and downs of the state budget.

There is certainly and clearly a distinct difference in taxable property town by town, and there are and have been several proposed solutions. But, as of yet, nothing has solved the problem. It’s not necessarily a unique problem to Connecticut. But, because each of the 169 municipalities is almost entirely reliant on property taxes for revenue, a significant level of frustration is reached when the state budget fluctuates the statutory reimbursement for these untaxable properties.
Democrat’s Campaign Season Gets an Early Kickoff

How many candidates is too many candidates? In a normal election cycle, you may have a few days to relax after the wild and sometimes controversial weekend of selecting state-wide candidates before hearing a knock on your door with a local candidate on the other side, but not this year. In what feels like the biggest election season in recent years, we have seen interesting conventions for State Senate and State Representative, changes in local Democratic town committees, shifts in the Secretary of State landscape, and let’s not forget the Lamont-Stefanowski poll that just dropped. What a time to be alive (spring campaign edition)!

Let’s start with some State Senate races. In Middletown, Secretary of State Candidate Senator Matt Lesser is dropping out to run for his Senate seat again. In Manchester, MD Rahman, a newcomer, was endorsed to run for State Senate, a seat currently held by Senator Steve Cassano. In Bridgeport, Assistant CAO Herron Gaston was overwhelmingly endorsed by Democratic Party members at their local convention to represent Connecticut’s 23rd Senate District. The seat is currently held by Sen. Dennis Bradley. In the 30th Senate District, Eva Bermúdez Zimmerman was nominated to run as a Democrat and in the 13th Senate District, Meriden Democrat Jan Hochadel won the party’s nod.

For some local House of Representatives seats, Aundré Bumgardner, a Groton Town Councilor and former Republican State Representative, was nominated by the Dems for the 41st State House District, formerly held by Rep. Joe de la Cruz. Democrats in the 98th district held their convention and officially endorsed Moira Rader as their nominee for State Representative, the seat is currently held by Comptroller Candidate Rep. Sean Scanlon. Just last night Marcus Brown, a City Councilman in Bridgeport, accepted his party’s nomination for the 127th district, a seat currently held by Rep. Jack Hennessy.

These are just a few of the local races that popped this week. Unfortunately, as the new guy at S&L, I only get a few column inches to write about what could be pages of local dem clips! Democratic politics have never been short of fireworks and as we head into the late spring and early summer months of phones calls, door knocking, and campaign kickoffs, our team at S&L will be right there watching all of the races take shape. 
May 20: A "Man's Education" Taught at a Female Seminary

Today in 1823, the first classes were held at the Hartford Female Seminary, a revolutionary new school for girls founded by author and education pioneer Catharine Beecher.

Born into the wealthy and influential Beecher family in 1800, Catharine Beecher wholly devoted herself to advancing the education and betterment of young women after her fiancé died in a tragic boating accident in 1822. While she firmly believed that a woman’s proper place was in the domestic sphere — a stance that put her at odds with 19th century suffragists, including her sister Isabella Beecher Hooker — Catharine also believed that girls were just as mentally capable of learning scientific and philosophical subjects as boys. A prolific author, Beecher published several popular books in her lifetime, including cookbooks, political treatises, advice books, and textbooks covering a range of topics from ancient history to biology and physical education.

Beecher’s Female Seminary, attended by girls ages 12 and older, represented a giant leap forward for the education of young American women by embracing what was traditionally considered a “male” curriculum. While most “dame schools” of the early 19th century focused on manners, modern languages, fine arts, and narrowly limited swaths of “polite” literature, students at the Hartford Female Seminary studied geography, world history, Latin, rhetoric, philosophy, and the natural sciences. Beecher was also an outspoken advocate for physical education for young women; her guide to children’s calisthenics, published in the 1850s, included instructive drawings that depicted girls as well as boys engaging in healthful exercises.
Enrollment at the Seminary rapidly increased to 100 full-time pupils in just three years, leading the institution to build a new, Neoclassical-style building at 100 Pratt Street in Hartford. In addition to promoting a rigorous education curriculum for girls, Beecher also encouraged them to become teachers themselves. She founded the American Woman’s Educational Association in 1852 to recruit and train female teachers to establish model schools in the western territories of the United States. Her fierce advocacy forever changed the character of American women’s education — beginning today in Connecticut history.

The original article from the CT Humanities Council can be found here.
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