Solving Problems in Hartford with Good Policy

Where will the intersection of solving our state’s problems and far left policy proposals meet? This appears to be the theme of this year’s legislative session. Hang on to your hats — it is sure to be a fast and interesting ride. All in, around 5,000 concepts will be proposed and by the beginning of June and 350 will become law.

This legislative session, I’m focused on a course that takes compassionate care of those in need, creates solid education opportunities for all students in our state, while setting a path forward to stabilize our state’s fragile finances. We remain the only state in the country to not regain all the jobs lost in the 2008 recession. This paradigm can and needs to change.

Two things make this session markedly different from any time in recent memory. One, due to safety concerns around COVID-19, the Capitol complex is closed to the public. There will be no public hearings or meetings in Hartford. There will still be ample opportunity for everyone to watch any of the public hearings and provide testimony — virtually — on any issue of interest from the comfort of your home, office or anywhere.

You may find details on how to testify at www.repterriewood.com. Many of us hope that this ease and accessibility of our virtual world will encourage more people to participate in sharing their views on pending legislation. Details on public hearings are available on the Connecticut General Assembly website ( CGA.ct.gov) either on the Calendar or the Bulletin. I will be sending out information on key public hearings weekly via my legislative eblast.

The second reason this session is markedly different is the continued swing to the hard left of many Democrats in the legislature. The Democrats picked up seven seats in the House and two in the Senate in the last election, resulting in a 97-54 House majority and 24-12 Senate supermajority. The progressive majority are feeling empowered and deeply energized around their vision for our state. However, there is serious concern that their policy focus will further compromise our state’s ability to deliver effective services to those in need and destroy our viability as a state where people and businesses can thrive.

Some of these proposals include:

— A new statewide property tax of 1 percent on all properties with an assessed value of over $300,000. This revenue would be redistributed to the urban districts.

— State control of local zoning. Among a number of provisions, this would allow properties within a half mile of a train or transit station the “as of right” to develop up to four units of housing on a lot zoned for a single family home.

— All members of the Probate Court system would be allowed to join the state union for the purpose of Collective Bargaining. Connecticut already has more state union members per capita than any other state in the country. Connecticut also pays the highest benefits — of any state — to state union members .

— Failure to Vote Penalty in an election of $20 per person.

— Public option health insurance. Government run health insurance that would compete directly with the private sector

All of these proposals will have public hearings. It is vitally important for people to share their thoughts on any of these proposals. I will be following up on some of these proposals in more detail in the next month.

Ideally, a goal for all lawmakers is to set good policy with pragmatic facts rather than a political philosophy. By listening and learning - understanding and working together - we can then offer solutions that will effectively solve problems and key issues. Government should be for the people and by the people.

I hope that you will stay engaged with our work this session. If you are not on my email list, I encourage you to sign up. It is important for you to be informed and to reach out to me to voice your thoughts on pending legislation. You can always reach me at Terrie.wood@cga.ct.gov and 860-240-8700.

This article originally appeared in The Darien Times on February 12th, 2021.

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