Senator Witkos Hosts Town Hall Meeting in New Hartford [Waterbury Republican American]

May 16, 2012

Article as it appeared in the Waterbury Republican American on May 16, 2012

By Debbi Morello

NEW HARTFORD — State Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, and State Rep. Bill Simanski, R-Granby, held a town meeting in New Hartford Tuesday night to meet and greet and review the 2012 legislative session.

The 2012 legislative session closed last week in the Connecticut General Assembly. Sunday sales of alcohol and education reform, budget adjustments to storm response and medical marijuana and the death penalty were just some of issues debated in this year’s session and discussed at Tuesday’s town hall meeting.

Witkos, who represents the 8th District, and Simanski, who represents the 62nd, are up for re-election. Even though the two may have voted differently on some legislation, like the Education Reform Bill, they came with a common message: Cut spending.

Witkos voted against the education bill. “The bill came to a vote close to midnight,” Witkos said. “We had very little time to review it, I got through 79 pages of the 185 page bill, I didn’t feel I could support something I didn’t know enough about.”

Simanski said he thought the bill was a good first step.

“Everyone knows there is a great need for reform in education,” he said. “I thought it was a good compromise for both sides, but we still have a long way to go.”

Witkos is a ranking senator of the General Laws Committee and worked on bipartisan alcohol reform legislation. The most critical point in the legislation is the sale of alcohol on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“When it came to the vote I’ve never seen the Capital so full,” Witkos said. “Every single floor was packed wall to wall — there had to be at least 2,000 people.”

Simanski voted against the Medical Marijuana bill. “Basically it’s against federal law,” he said. “Federal law takes precedent.” Even though Witkos voted for the bill, he agreed the first version was weak and rife with problems. “I believe it is only a matter of time until the federal government reforms their laws,” Witkos said.

One resident questioned who would be given a license to sell the marijuana.

Simanski said the Connecticut Department of Health will control it and getting a license will be a rigorous process.

The two were in accord about the need to cut spending. “It comes down to the numbers in Hartford,” Witkos said. “It’s a one party rule, there are no checks and balances to put the brakes on.” Simanski agreed and said shared sacrifice is necessary but the will to cut anything is absent in the legislature. “This (spending) beast is out of control,” Witkos said.