Counting Down To The Final Day Of The 2010 Legislative Session

April 26, 2010

While you are reading this column, I will most likely be debating a bill on the floor of the State Senate, or meeting with other legislators and caucus staff in preparation for the work ahead of us. Considering that there are days, not weeks, left in which to complete the work of this three-month session, it is not hard to imagine how busy we are at the State Capitol and Legislative Office Building right now.

Of course, like every other legislator, there is much I would like the General Assembly to accomplish before we adjourn at midnight on May 5th. The most important task before us is to pass a balanced, responsible, state budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1st. From my point of view, that means passing a budget that sets the stage for shrinking the size of state government so that it can deliver necessary services at a more affordable cost to taxpayers. Such a budget would not depend on fiscal gimmicks, one-time revenue, massive borrowing, or burdensome tax increases. Such a budget would include responsible spending cuts. You may recall that Republican legislators have already put such a budget proposal on the table, the details of which I discussed in a previous column.

In addition to working in a bipartisan manner to pass a good state budget, I am working to secure legislative passage of bills I have supported throughout the session. Those bills include my proposal to provide an incentive for municipalities to step up their participation in the war on drugs by allowing them to collect and keep the revenues from the state’s tax on marijuana and other illegal drugs. Connecticut has had an illegal drug tax on the books for several years now, but does not collect much money from it. Permitting towns and cities to collect the revenues from this tax would encourage them to take advantage of the state law. Everyone would win but the illegal drug dealers.

I have also proposed legislation this year to protect young victims of sexual exploitation from possible prosecution for prostitution. Under my proposal, no one under the age of 16 could be prosecuted for prostitution, and the courts would be required to assume, unless it could be proven otherwise, that 16- and 17-year olds charged with prostitution were coerced or enticed. Furthermore, the bill calls for increasing the penalties for promoting prostitution of persons younger than 18. While Connecticut law enforcement officials have demonstrated a willingness to seek help, not prosecution, for the victims of sexual exploitation, passing my proposed legislation would provide an additional layer of protection for these teenagers.

Also, I and other Republican Senators are calling on the General Assembly to do the right thing for sportsmen who purchased hunting and fishing licenses before we recently passed legislation lowering these fees. You may recall that the General Assembly raised those licenses fees – and many others – as part of the existing state budget. I did not vote for this year’s state budget, in part because I opposed raising the cost of state fees and licenses. I strongly supported cutting these fees as part of the General Assembly’s recently adopted deficit mitigation plan. Unfortunately, though, that fee cut came about too late for the hunters and fishermen who had already bought their tags and licenses. We Republicans are proposing legislation to require the state Department of Environmental Protection to apply the difference in cost when those who purchased the more expensive licenses this year buy their licenses next year. It’s the fair thing to do.

As always, I urge you to contact me with your concerns and questions, and to share your ideas about what the General Assembly should be doing to improve the quality of life in our state. I can be reached at my legislative office in Hartford at 1-800-842-1421 or via e-mail to [email protected].

Senator Rob Kane represents the 32nd Senatorial District, which includes the communities of Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Middlebury, Oxford, Seymour, Southbury, Thomaston, Roxbury, Watertown and Woodbury.

Originally published by Thomaston Express on April 29th