‘Capitol Connection’ – Supporting Our Towns

June 26, 2013
Official seal outside the Senate chamber, with the Latin inscription “Post Nubila Phoebus,” or “After the clouds, the sun.”

Official seal outside the Senate chamber, with the Latin inscription “Post Nubila Phoebus,” or “After the clouds, the sun.”

With summer just around the corner, it certainly seems like we’re getting a lot more rain than usual this year. Believe it or not, some parts of our state received more than six inches of rain when Tropical Storm Andrea recently passed through. All this rain reminded me of a large official seal located just outside the Senate chamber.

Featuring a stag crossing a stream and the Latin words “Post Nubila Phoebus,” which means “After the clouds, the sun,” I think that this term could accurately symbolize this year’s legislative session. Despite the passage of many disappointing laws, including the $44 billion state budget and $315 million tax increase, there are some reasons to be optimistic. This week, I would like to share two bills I championed which gained unanimous support in the Senate.

First, I was proud to cosponsor a bill that will help save our towns time and money by allowing school building projects to conform with the standard building code for roof construction. Senate Bill 929, An Act Transferring Certain Functions and Operations of the Department of Construction Services and Regulating Special Effects Displays makes several changes to current law, including the minimum roof pitch required for school roofs to be eligible for state reimbursement.

The bill specifically changes the pitch from one-half inch per foot to the standard State Building Code, which is one-quarter inch per foot. While one might not necessarily think that the pitch of a roof makes much of a difference, the cost of the one-half inch pitch is substantially greater and takes a longer amount of time to construct. The change will allow our school districts to realize significant savings amounting to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars while also maintaining the safety and structural integrity of our schools.

Second, I also introduced legislation on the floor of the Senate that establishes a pilot program allowing two towns to enter into an agreement for state police services. Introduced as an amendment to Senate Bill 1033, An Act Concerning State Employee Benefits, the measure will now allow our small towns to benefit by pooling their resources to provide for public safety.

The bill requires the Commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) to assign a resident state trooper to serve in the pilot program for two towns that do not currently have an organized police force or constabulary. While many towns are covered by the police barracks, this coverage can be done on a shared basis depending on the town’s needs.

Thanks to the passage of the recent budget, Connecticut residents will unfortunately be burdened with increased spending, higher taxes and additional borrowing for operating expenses. While I will continue to work for more responsible state policies, I am encouraged that these two bills gathered broad and bipartisan support and will now allow our towns and schools to realize significant cost savings. In the coming months, I look forward to continuing these important efforts.