Lively meeting brought many topics and emotional outcries to legislators Boucher, Carter and Harding.
Report by Paula Antolini
March 26, 2015 10:45AM EDT
State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26), State Representative Dan Carter (R-2), and State Representative Stephen Harding (R-107) held a Town Hall Meeting at 6:00 p.m. in the Bethel Public Library on March 23, 2015, to discuss the major issues defining the 2015 legislative session.
There were many questions from the audience which at times became urgent requests for legislators to change particular proposed bills or create new laws to solve various problems. View video below to see what legislators had to say.
Topics brought up by residents were:
–Malloy’s bill about a half-mile eminent domain around train and bus stations
–interference in Planning and Zoning operation, and what are legislators doing to address that
–how long has discussion about eminent domain been taking place
–letter from Office of Personnel Management (OPM) stated 9 changes to the bill, eminent domain section is eliminated, Frist Selectmen and Mayors have a vote on the committee, and chairman of the regional transportation committee will be an exofficio without a vote
–vehicle tax, town vs. state collection of funds, regional fund, flat mill rate
–Bethel residents (living in Bethel) registering cars in New York in order not to pay tax, enforcement issue, a request for a change in residency laws, also loss of sales tax, DMV fees, emmission fees, registration fees
–aggression of residents “coming after” town tax assessor, difficult of monitoring tax offenders with low staff of three employees, money spent to “go after” the offenders far exceeds money coming in from the car tax, cameras are used to photograph offending cars (out of state plates) during field work, tax assessor cannot go to police because law does not allow identification of individuals from plates, problem labeled a “vicious cycle”
–car tax bill, “assessing and collecting of motor vehicle tax on state level is not a good thing for Bethel” or any town in CT
–present mandates for funding of machinery exemption for manufacturing corporations is being pulled back, Town of Bethel is receiving $219,000 for that program but it currently costs the Town of Bethel approximately $700,000 and reason for difference is that the program was funded at 2010 levels, it is not likely to change, if insufficient fund are not collected to fund the exemption it will be pro-rated, so Bethel will not get the amount of funds back should they have collected it themselves, request to let Town of Bethel assess and collect the taxes
–legislation prohibiting registered sex offenders from entering senior centers, elderly housing facilities and assisted living facilities, how to identify registered sex offenders or “mentally incompetent people”
–juvenile sentencing to life without parole, citizen volunteers, request for legislators to consider cost of sentencing an offender under age 18, questioning benefit of sentencing (other than for murder) to a life without parole, cost of housing and taxes etc.
–sex offender convicted of non-violent offense cannot enter nursing home, where do they go? “lifetime scarlet letter” for elderly offenders, questions about safety of staff
–theme of turning autonomy back to the Town, another commission at work presently, which is the Sandy Hook Commission, two pieces of legislation that are proposed are disturbing: HB664 which is mandating mental health screening for all children in CT, other bill is HB6891 which would grant school superintendents access to birth records, “this is a huge over-reach on the part of a few people, and where are parental rights?”
–questioning mental health experts handling problems with children as well as parents can handle problems with their own children. “terrified that they are going to get their hands on my kid,” also no pilot programs indicated for mental health testing before program if in effect
–do school councilors call parents? do teachers make direct observation of potential students that could cause tragic events to occur? up to parents and councilors to come together and make “an action plan for those children to go out into the community,” “sex offenders don’t happen overnight it is an illness”
–if you are a “sex offender or completely deranged like Adam Lanza it is an accumulation of experiences, action reaction,” people observing need to act on what they see, question of “who do the kids belong to, they don’t belong to the schools”
–present legislation says “parent that’s not your kid, the kid belongs to us”
–State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) laws need to be revisited, they do not oversee crematoriums, residents should not have to fight for clean air/water/soil regarding a crematorium possibly being approved for Bethel
–bill that concerns reduction of discipline to students on schools, “stop the school-to-prison track”
–the need for “a first class state,” so how does Governor Malloy claim there are no funds for CT? where did the taxes go?
–$48 million dollar raise Governor Malloy gave to employees last Christmas eve
View a portion of the meeting in the video below, to hear what legislators had to say.
(Note: Sen. Boucher spoke more in the beginning of the meeting because she had to leave early.)