July 16th, 2021
In This Issue:
From Paddi's Desk
CT Agency Corner
Municipal Roundup
From Inside The Golden Dome
This Day in CT History
Back in business!!
Yes, the CT legislature returned to the capitol with open doors – sort of. On Wednesday the House and Senate returned to the Capitol for a special session to debate the extension of emergency powers of Governor Lamont. While someone else from the S&L team will go into those details, I wanted to share with you how the day went for the public. This was the long awaited first legislative session open to the public since March 12, 2020, and I have to say it was kind of dull for the lobbyists!

While the capitol security team were geared up for potential rallies of interested special interests, the only folks to arrive were a small gathering of advocates including the ACLU protesting the continuance of solidary confinement in CT prisons. Although several members of the legislature wandered around side of the capitol.to attend and support the various special interest groups, its wasn’t the huge event that many thought. Along with the “black hat” lobbyists (aka business types) there were few others!! Several lobbying firms had folks pop in and out. The labor union folks were there, and several environmental special interest groups were busy catching up with the few legislators to wander through the first floor entry where we were assigned space!

Those legislators who ventured into the lobby zone were happy to see us, catch up, and share what’s going on in their world. Staffers were happy to just see people, and the media filtered through to check out what was going on. Many legislators waved and greeted us with a “welcome back - great to see you - we missed you and hope to catch up soon," as they hustled in to catch the last minutes of the many party caucuses before the session reconvened. It was a nice day, but certainly not filled with the buzz, crowds of people, sounds of laughter, and level of energy we were used to experiencing.

And while some predicted a long and boring debate about the need to extend the governors powers versus the legislature stepping up and doing what the voters elected them to do, all was finished by 1:30p.m., and folks were off to meet up in the “outside world” where there were no designated spaces to gather or limit the number of folks in one spot!

As Neil Armstrong once said –one giant leap for mankind (lobbyists) but I for one want more people interaction! We don’t anticipate the legislature to return to Hartford until mid-September or October and there are few in person meetings going on in the Legislative Office building (LOB) so far. But there’s a lot of activity going on out in the districts and at social events and plenty of fundraisers popping up all the time. So we will get people our fix for sure, just not in the capitol building for a while! 

I keep reminding myself - little steps, little steps add up to big jumps! I’ll have to be patient!

PS - the weather Gods were generous and last Saturday the sun came out just in time for my sister’s ceremony in our backyard garden and all went well! Thanks to Mike for picking up my column last week as we kept revising the plan as the weather was changing! 

First Anticipated Bond Commission Meeting Comes in Late July

Signs of normalcy are steadily returning and in state government another sign that the legislative session has concluded is the return of state bond commission meetings.

Normally the state bond commission meets at the end of each month but when the legislature negotiates the budget near the end of session with the Governor bond commission meetings take a temporary pause. This is largely because of the numbers related to the budget are being finalized and the increased amount of leverage to negotiate comes before the budget is agreed upon by all parties.

In this month's meeting, the state is expected to begin to authorize infrastructure expenses for projects in communities around the state. Here's a quick breakdown of some of the more marquee projects expected to be authorized this fiscal year:

-A memorial for the Sandy Hook victims of the 2012 tragedy will be constructed and authorized with state dollars this year totaling $2.6M. 

-The Connecticut Baby Bond Trust program will authorize up to $600M in bonding over the next ten years. Under this program, the treasurer must (1) create accountings for babies born on or after July 1, 2021, whose births were covered under HUSKY (i.e., designated beneficiaries) and (2) deposit $3,200 into each designated beneficiary’s account at birth. Once they have reached age 18, designated beneficiaries that meet the bill’s eligibility requirements may receive the funds in their accountings, including any investment earnings, to be used for an eligible expenditure. 

- A requirement for water bottle filling stations to be included in all school building projects for new construction, extension, major alteration, renovation, or replacement on any project list DAS submits to the General Assembly beginning July 1, 2022.

-Planning and design for a new Forensic Science Laboratory for the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

-Municipalities and higher education institutions for purchasing body-worn recording equipment, digital data storage devices, and dashboard cameras

-Building a new Shakespeare theater in Stratford after the sudden burning of the prior location.

For those of you reading this that live in CT this may not be a surprise to you, but many CT local taxpayers are getting sticker shock when they get their motor vehicle property tax bills this year. New and used cars are in high demand and short supply, which has increased the vehicle values that local assessors use when putting together their yearly grand lists. In Bethel, for example, the motor vehicle grand list rose by about 4% with trucks, SUV’s and motor homes being the hardest hit increases. Normally as the value of a vehicle depreciates, property taxes (assuming the same mill rate) decrease, but this year most of those values rose so many local taxpayers were shocked to see increases in their tax bills even when the town held the line on the mill rate. CT is in a rare minority of states that tax motor vehicles, only 15 other states do this. In the past, legislators have recognized the wide ranging issues with property taxes on motor vehicles, which many consider the most regressive tax in the state. In low mill rate communities like New Canaan the mill rate can be 20 mills different or more than those imposed on communities like Hartford or Bridgeport. So the $1000 tax bill on a Honda Accord in New Canaan could be $2000 or higher in Hartford and Bridgeport. In the meantime, many will have to recognize that this is likely an anomaly because as supply catches up with demand, prices will drop and motor vehicle taxes will have a corresponding effect. 
Governor Lamont's Emergency Powers Extended for Two More Months

This Wednesday, state legislators convened a special session in order to extend Governor Lamont's emergency powers for another 60 day period, through September. Republican lawmakers were quick to voice opposition to the extension, stating that there is no longer a need to delegate the lawmaking power to the executive branch. Senator Minority Leader Kevin Kelly expressed his dismay with the extension, "We are being encouraged to hop on airplanes, to go out to dinner, to go to concerts, and sporting events," said Kelly, "yet when you walk under the Capitol dome it's like we're in March 2020."

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney responded to Republican attacks, saying that the extensions will stop when the state is safe. When asked what "safe" meant, Looney considered it to mean "a daily positivity rate for a lengthy period of time below point five, and a very small number of hospitalizations and deaths becoming very rare." House Democrats argued that the extension is necessary to maintain certain areas of federal funding. The Governor said that he wants an extension to continue managing things like COVID testing, vaccines, and federal aid.

Another special session is likely to be convened very soon regarding vetoed bills. The Governor vetoed 4 bills this session, and the legislature will meet to consider overriding those vetoes with a two-thirds majority in both chambers. Here are the bills that were vetoed:
July 16th, 1787: Connecticut Saves the US Constitutional Convention from Collapse

Today in 1787, the vision of a new federal government for the fledgling United States of America was saved from the scrap heap of history as the delegates to the Constitutional Convention narrowly voted to adopt a key provision advanced by delegates from Connecticut. That provision is known to history as the Connecticut Compromise or, alternately, the Great Compromise. It was, to be sure, a hard-fought compromise over representation that saved the gridlocked convention at Philadelphia from near certain collapse.

For weeks, delegates had been locked in an intractable debate over how to ensure that all 13 states — which varied greatly in size and population — would be represented fairly in a unified federal government. The two proposals under debate were the Virginia plan (favored by larger states) which argued that a state’s representation ought to be proportional to its population, and the New Jersey plan (favored by smaller states) that claimed all 13 states should have equal representation, regardless of population.

As the contentious debate raged on, some delegates wondered if their inability to agree on this critical issue meant the end of the Constitutional Convention — until Connecticut delegates Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth introduced an ingenious compromise that satisfied both sides of the debate.

The Connecticut Compromise proposed that the state be represented in a bicameral legislature consisting of two parts: a House where states would have representation proportional to their population size, and a Senate where each state would be represented equally.
Connecticut was the ideal state to broker such a compromise. Its 1662 Royal Charter had given it virtual independence as a colony more than a century before the American Revolution, and advocates from the Land of Steady Habits had actively held up its venerable approach to government as a model of stability for the new nation to follow. Notable among them was Noah Webster, who in a 1785 essay that influenced the decision to call a Constitutional Convention had argued that Connecticut showed “how power can be allocated among a central authority, subsidiary jurisdictions, and individual freeman in such a way as to insure both liberty and order. “Such a government,” he noted, “is of all others the most free and safe. The form is the most perfect on earth.”
The Connecticut Compromise was adopted by a single vote by the Convention delegates on July 16, 1787. Thanks to Connecticut’s two persuasive delegates, the gridlock that threatened the very survival of America’s “Great Experiment” was broken.

The original article, provided by CT Humanities, is available here.
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