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Legislatively Speaking
Tough decisions

By Alma Graham, CT State Grange Legislative Director

  APRIL 3, 2013 --

Things were off to a slow start this Legislative Session but now that Governor Malloy has presented his budget, things are moving along.  There are many recommended cuts in all agencies.  One proposal that is creating a lot of discussion is the recommendation that towns not be allowed to collect taxes on automobiles valued under $28,000.  The thought is that presently auto taxes can be used as a deduction on your income taxes so this would increase what the state can collect in income taxes.  Many municipalities are not happy with this proposal as this tax is one of their main sources of income.  Clearly this change would shift income from municipalities to the state.

Another recommendation is to use some of the money from the Community Investment Act for nutritional programs in public schools.  The Community Investment Act money is derived from fees on deeds, mortgages and other papers concerned with land with much of it going to the preservation of land.  Over the years quite of bit of farmland has been preserved using these funds.  It is difficult to say that the CT Department of Education’s Healthy Food Certification program which encourages schools to server healthier food is not worthy of these funds.  This food program has traditionally been funded through the State’s General Funds.  

The State Grange has already presented testimony on two bills.  One is Raised Bill 6314, An Act Concerning Certain Revisions to the Community Farms Program.  This would clarify the stewardship of small parcels of farmland that are not large enough to be considered for preservation under the state’s program to preserve farmland.  The second bill was Raised Bill 6316 which addresses land parcels that cross town lines and are located in two or more municipalities.  The testimony can be found on the State Grange web site under the Legislative Department.

At the last State Grange session the delegates passed a resolution concerning the invasion of the Emerald Ash Borer.  A Committee Bill, 5311, has been presented that would allow the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station to enter into a compliance agreement to stop the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer.

HB5830 has been presented and would encourage the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to create an ‘Adopt-A-Park’ program for state parks.  This would allow individuals and organizations to adopt a park to assist the clean-up and maintenance of such parks.

Another bill that I liked is authorizing DEEP to establish, protect and maintain the portion of the New England Scenic Trail that would pass through Connecticut for the purpose of protecting or enhancing scenic beauty.  This trail would travel from Long Island Sound to the Massachusetts state line.  This trail is part of the recommendations of the Metacomet Monadnock Mattabesett Trail System National Scenic Trail Feasibility Study and Environmental Assessment prepared by the National Park Service, dated Spring 2006.


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