Senator Boucher’s Legislative Week In Review

March 15, 2010

Although the state’s ongoing fiscal problems overshadow nearly every committee meeting in Hartford, I thought you might be interested in a review of last week’s public hearings on bills regarding other issues that are of special interest to our communities.

The Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee took up an issue that is of longstanding interest to many in Fairfield County – the annual $250 business entity nuisance tax on every company in Connecticut, including those that make no profit. Bad policy when it was first enacted, bad policy now. The Finance Committee is now considering proposed legislation that would partially remove this tax, but unfortunately at the same time establish a new tax on certain bonuses. In my view, this pending legislation, Senate Bill 1, simply replaces one anti-business tax with another anti-business tax – a tax that no other state is considering imposing.

The Transportation Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 427, which would further restrict the use of cell phones and various other electronic devices while operating motor vehicles. Many feel that the increased use of these devices is endangering travelers on our roads and highways. Also under consideration by the Transportation Committee are House Bill 5033 which would require seat belts on school buses, and House Bill 5474 which calls for the establishment of electronic tolls at state borders – a highly controversial and unpopular issue. More fuel efficient cars have resulted in declining revenues from the gas tax, and so some are looking for new ways to raise money for the state. It has still not been determined, however, if reinstituting tolls would be possible due to federal restrictions. Questions to be answered include: will the state cut the gas tax; will border towns receive additional compensation; will the revenue stream be used only for transportation projects; are there computerized alternatives to e-z passes; and will businesses in border towns lose out-of-state customers? Many feel the re-establishment of tolls is just another way to further burden already overtaxed people.

Important topics under consideration by the Education Committee include House Bill 5425, An Act Concerning Special Education which would establish that the burden of proof lies with the party requesting a special education hearing, and House Bill 5491 An Act Concerning Certain School Districts Reforms to Reduce the Achievement Gap in Connecticut which would allow parents to vote to restructure a school if they are in need of improvement.

When constituents take the time to share their concerns and propose ideas about state issues that are important to them, I have often been able to spearhead changes in state law that not only assist them but also help many others. Some of those legislative proposals under consideration this year include:

* Senate Bill 363, An Act Concerning Polling Places For Primaries, would permit municipalities to save money by using fewer polling places for primaries, which generally attract fewer voters than general elections.

* Senate Bill 335, An Act Concerning Justices of the Peace which would allow justices of the peace who are authorized to officiate at marriages in other states to perform weddings in Connecticut.

* Senate Bill 253, An Act Concerning Proof Of Delivery Of Cancellation Notification Of Life Insurance Policies, which would require insurers to notify customers by registered or certified mail at least 15 days before terminating life insurance benefits.

Also, at the request of some of my constituents, the Government Administration & Elections Committee is holding a public hearing regarding House Joint Resolution 65, Resolution Memorializing Congress To Abide By The Tenth Amendment, at 10 a.m., Wednesday, March 17th in Room 2B of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

As your voice in the State Senate, I encourage you to continue sharing your ideas and concerns with me. I can be reached at my legislative in Hartford at 1-800-842-1421 or via e-mail to [email protected]