Getting Ready For The 2011 Legislative Session

November 9, 2010

Now that the 2010 political campaign season is officially over, state lawmakers are turning their attention to the upcoming legislative session which opens on January 5, 2011. Beginning that day – and continuing through June 8, 2011, legislators will be fully engaged in the business of proposing and passing laws we hope will resolve the problems facing our state and, hopefully, lead to a better future for all of us.

Of course, as is to be expected, individual legislators have different ideas regarding the best ways to accomplish this. As always, you can expect many media reports regarding various legislative proposals, along with notices of public hearings and legislative committee meetings called to consider and act on proposed legislation. Ultimately, the full General Assembly will have the opportunity to consider and vote on bills that survive the legislative committee process.

No one can predict at this point – especially as we have a new Governor-elect and the make-up of legislature has changed – exactly what the General Assembly will do this year, with one notable exception. The General Assembly must craft and adopt a new biennial state budget. And, from my point of view, that new state budget must eliminate the multi-billion dollar deficits the state is expected to face in the next two fiscal years.

As I have said repeatedly – and will continue to insist upon – we must respond to Connecticut’s fiscal crisis by resisting the impulse to increase taxes on state residents and businesses that are already struggling to overcome the lingering effects of the recession. I believe the best course of action for the General Assembly to take would involve shrinking the size of state government. Right now, state government is too big and too expensive. We need a smaller, less expensive state government that can efficiently meet our needs. Furthermore, I believe that we legislators must keep firmly in mind that everything we do impacts our ability to attract and keep jobs in Connecticut. Expect to hear more about these issues over the next several months.

I am busy preparing the legislative proposals I plan to introduce during the upcoming session. Among other initiatives, I plan to once again propose legislation that would financially reward municipalities for their efforts to combat illegal drugs. Connecticut has had a marijuana and controlled substances tax on the books since 1991. I believe that we can make this law work better for us by permitting municipalities to keep at least a portion of the tax revenues that result from local drug arrests. Such a law would benefit everyone but the illegal drug dealers.

Other legislative proposals I am considering introducing include initiatives to ensure that our military personnel stationed in other countries are guaranteed access to election ballots in a timely manner; to help small businesses and provide younger teenagers with opportunities for work experience by temporarily lowering the minimum wage for this age group; and to raise the exemption on emissions testing for new cars from four to five years.

I will have much more to say about my proposals for the 201l Legislative Session over the next several months. Meanwhile, I am very much interested in hearing your ideas regarding what the General Assembly should do during the upcoming 2011 Legislative Session. I can be reached at my legislative office at 1-800-8423-1421, or via e-mail to [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.