Firearm, price gouging laws passed on by committee [Rep-Am]

April 6, 2022

From the Waterbury Republican American:


The annual casualty list of the Judiciary Committee included legislation concerning the use of deadly force to defend motor vehicles and houses of worship.


The two bills were not put to a vote before the 39-member legislative committee’s 5 p.m. reporting deadline on Monday so the measures are dead unless revived before the session ends May 4. More than a dozen other bills met the same fate.


Only the two budget committees have later deadlines than the influential Judiciary Committee.


The failed bills on Monday’s agenda included one from Attorney General William Tong requesting to expand the state’s anti-price gouging law to cover a manufacturer, supplier, wholesaler, and distributor, in addition to a retailer.


Tong sought the revision as a result of price gouging investigations during the COVID-19 pandemic that were caused by sellers higher up the chain of distribution. The current law only applies to retailers.


Another lost cause was a Republican bill that proposed to require colleges and universities in Connecticut adopt freedom of expression policies on their campuses, including a mandate to provide resources for protecting the safety and freedom of expression of any speaker invited on campus by any student, student group or faculty member.


There was no vote on a bill that would have made statements of 16- and 17-year-olds taken outside presence of a parent inadmissible in a later delinquency prosecution. This is the current law for children age 15 and under.


All but one of six firearms-related bills failed to advance.


The Judiciary Committee voted 39-0 to approve legislation to provide immunity from liability to physicians who accompany police SWAT teams to provide emergency medical services if necessary. The legislation’s protections do not apply to acts or omissions constituting gross, willful or wanton negligence.


Sen. Robert Sampson, R-16th District, said this legislation is a response to requests from doctors who volunteer their services with federal, state, and local law enforcement.


“I know this is something that is going to make them sleep better at night,” the Wolcott legislator said.


The failed firearms bills proposed to eliminate the duty to retreat to defend oneself or others in houses of worship, permit the use of deadly force to prevent or stop someone from illegally entering a motor vehicle, limit purchases of handguns to one a month, authorize all police officers to carry firearms on school grounds, and allowing the transfer of assault weapons and large capacity magazines between individuals who are still legally allowed to possess them.


The Judiciary Committee also failed to pass its version of legislation that seeks to curb the theft of catalytic converters. This was not a complete loss, though.


The Public Safety and Security Committee advanced a similar bill that prohibits auto recyclers from buying catalytic converters that have been removed from a motor vehicle.


The Judiciary Committee did take action on 75 claims against the state. The committee confirmed approvals and denials of the state Office of the Claims Commissioner, approved extensions of time for other claims, and authorized a small number of claims to be pursued in state courts.


In addition to the SWAT bill, the committee approved three bills Monday.


One bill concerns the calculation of prejudgment interest on a plaintiff’s offer of compromise.


Another proposes a Good Samaritan law to provide legal protections to architects who volunteer to assist public officials at no cost to evaluate the safety and habitability of homes and buildings in the aftermath of a major disaster or emergency.


The third bill to pass clarifies the value of the homestead exemption for debt collection purposes.