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Legislatively Speaking
Legislatively Speaking: Legislative session review

By Gordon Gibson, CT State Grange Legislative Liaison

  JULY 3, 2013 --

The most controversial issue before the 2013 General Assembly was gun control.  A bill was passed and signed into law that severely limits the design of guns that can be sold in Connecticut and the amount of ammunition these guns can hold.  The law does allow the manufacture of some guns in Connecticut that cannot be sold here but are legal to be sold in other states in the hope that we would not lose our gun industry and the related businesses.  However, one gun manufacturer is moving out of Connecticut and others may follow.  Although the possession of certain types of guns is now illegal in Connecticut, they can still be legally purchased and owned in nearby states

The biggest problem facing the legislature this year was the budget.  Everyone knew there would be cuts in most all federally-funded programs, but no one knew how much they would be cut.  Given the state of our economy, no one wanted to raise taxes.  The State did make some cuts in the grants to municipalities. The towns will have to either cut the funding for some of their programs or raise the property tax rate to make up for the loss in state funding.  Every special interest group, including the Grange, was trying to keep what they had.  Working with other concerned groups, we were able to defeat a proposal to take some of the funds generated by the Community Investment Act to help the general fund budget.  The Community Investment Act provides funding for affordable housing, historic preservation, the preservation of open space land and the purchase of development rights to agricultural land through a surcharge on all deeds, mortgages, releases and other documents filed on the land records

Two bills passed the General Assembly and have been signed into law by Governor Malloy that will help enable cities and towns to preserve more land for community farms.  Public Act 13-104 will allow a municipality to purchase and hold the development rights to agricultural land located in another town.  Municipalities have been able to hold development rights on land within their town, but until now could not hold development rights on any land outside their town.  Public Act 13-59 allows a municipality to purchase and hold restrictions on agricultural land that limits or prohibits the construction of farm buildings on the land if the owner voluntarily offers to sell or donate those rights to the municipality.

Senate Bill 1134 which would have allowed the use of outdoor wood fired furnaces on farms to heat water year round and would have required that only the chimney be 200 feet from an off farm residence rather than the entire furnace as is now required died on the Senate calendar because there was not enough time to get it on the floor for debate and a vote

House Bill 6400 which would have made camp directors and assistant directors mandated reporters for suspected child abuse and/or neglect, the same as school and medical personnel died on the House calendar.  The Grange followed this bill because of its possible effect on Camp Berger.  The State Grange already requires background checks on all camp personnel who have any contact with the campers, but only the State can make them mandated reporters.  A similar bill last year did not pass

House Bill 6690 would have authorized the appointment of an attorney to represent one or more animals in cases of animal cruelty or neglect.  This bill passed the House but died on the Senate calendar.  Similar bills have been filed in recent years, so we expect a similar bill will be filed again next year.

Two bills the Grange opposed would have reduced the time prisoners must serve behind bars if they participated in certain programs to reduce their risk to society.  Public hearings were held on both of these bills but the committee chose not to move them forward.  Similar bills may be introduced next year.


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