Senator Joe Markley Reaction to the State Supreme Court Ruling

May 12, 2011

Hartford CT – The Connecticut State Supreme Court today upheld the decision of the Superior Court dismissing the lawsuit brought by State Senator Joe Markley (R-16) against the Department of Public Utility Control. (DPUC)

“Our system of justice is the envy of the world, and rightly so, but that doesn’t mean they always rule correctly,” said Senator Joe Markley. “Although the Supreme Court didn’t accept the Superior Court’s grounds for dismissal—failure to exhaust administrative remedies—they turned to another ground—sovereign immunity, the principle that the state cannot be sued without permission.

“The Supreme Court recognized that we made a strong case in the end, but held that we didn’t make that case early enough in the process, and that my lack of expertise as a pro se litigant without legal training did not entitle me to the latitude I needed to have my final case considered.

“My underlying argument has not been refuted: the tax is inequitable, and it is improperly administered. Those charges have never been addressed—instead, my case has again been dismissed on a legal technicality.”

Markley claimed that the transformation of the Competitive Transition Assessment into a tax was a sneaky maneuver meant to deceive voters. As a matter of law, Markley held that the tax was inequitably levied by an agency not authorized to collect revenue.

“This tax is as unsavory today as it was when enacted,” Senator Markley said. “The taxpayers were entitled to their day in court, and we have had it. Many who didn’t know about this underhanded tax have learned about it as a result of the lawsuit. I think we have served notice that we will resist such legislative skullduggery by any means available.

“The suit has also had the effect of preventing the treasurer from issuing bonds to borrow against the tax. As it turns out, the deficit has dropped during the time the case has been under consideration, so we have avoided borrowing many millions of dollars which we otherwise would be paying back for a decade.

“I now have the opportunity to continue the fight against this unfair and destructive tax on the floor of the Senate. A tax on our electric bills hurts everyone in Connecticut—every family, every municipality, every small business. We pay the highest electrical rates in the continental United States—it’s the last place we should place a tax, and the more people are aware of it, the stronger the opposition to it grows.”

Senator Markley initiated his lawsuit against the DPUC in the New Britain Superior Court last year, while still a private citizen. The case was argued before the State Supreme Court on March 23, at which time Markley was represented by attorneys Peter Bowman of Hamden and Doug Dubitsky of North Windham.

(link to the State Supreme Court ruling [PDF])