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State Senator Toni Boucher’s Legislative Update

State Senator Toni Boucher’s March 2017 Legislative Update

It’s been a busy week at the state capitol with marathon public hearings on some of the 2017 legislative session’s most controversial bills.

Hundreds of public officials, leaders of various state organizations, and a large number of private citizens waited for hours – sometimes well into the evening – for a chance to tell legislators about the impact proposed bills would have on their communities. From an increase in gun permit fees, to making municipalities contribute to the State Teachers’ Retirement Fund, to subjecting hospitals to local property taxes; speaker after speaker told us that those measures proposed by Governor Dannel Malloy would hurt our state and its residents.

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi questioned the legality of forcing towns to make payments toward a teachers’ retirement plan they did not negotiate. He said, “When the state entered into bond covenants to reduce a portion of the teachers’ unfunded liability, it was the State – not the towns – that became legally obligated to contribute the full amount required each year to address the pension liabilities.”

I agree. It was the state and teachers’ union, without any input from the towns, that negotiated a pension plan agreement in 1970 and established the pension payment formula in state statutes. It is grossly unfair now to demand that towns pay for decisions made by the state, especially since it will almost certainly force an increase in property taxes.

I had expected that representatives from the NRA, Connecticut Citizens Defense League, and Connecticut Carry would speak against the Governor’s proposal to increase gun permit fees by more than 400 percent. However, private citizens from throughout the state of Connecticut submitted the majority of testimony on this measure. Many spoke passionately about their belief that this dramatic fee increase is a veiled attempt to prevent gun ownership by civilians in violation of their 2nd Amendment rights.

I have received nearly a thousand emails that stated this action would be a form of gun control by preventing individuals who cannot afford the fees from legally obtaining a firearm and that this increase in fees would have the the 2nd Amendment apply only to the wealthy.

Local, not-for-profit hospitals and the Connecticut Hospital Association told us that changes to the existing hospital tax formula, as well as making hospitals liable for local property taxes, could lead to the closure of some facilities. Despite the Governor’s assurances that the state would return more funding to hospitals, we know that promise was not kept in the past. The proposal amounts to nothing more than a shell game with hospitals, and the communities they serve on the losing end of a bad deal.

A number of other proposals, including the legalization of recreational marijuana, came before committees for public hearing this past week. It’s impossible to list them all, but I hope you know that my Republican colleagues and I are keeping a close eye on them. We are listening to you and will do what is best for Connecticut.

If you have any questions about these or any other proposals before the legislature, please feel free to contact me at toni.boucher@cga.ct.gov. You can also follow me on my website at senatorboucher.com and on social media for updates.