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"Not the Way to Do Business" - Swimming Pool Bill Morphs Into Trans-Fats Ban

PHOTO: It's back to work for state lawmakers, and already, there's a call for legislative reforms. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
PHOTO: It's back to work for state lawmakers, and already, there's a call for legislative reforms. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
February 5, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. - It's back to work for state lawmakers, and already there's a call for legislative reforms.

Lawmakers' ability to change the entire subject matter of a measure with what they call a "strike-all" amendment is a big problem when it comes to transparency, said Cheryl Dunson, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Connecticut. Dunson cited a recent example.

"The bill was entitled to address the restoration of a swimming pool in an historic district," she said, "and all of that content was taken out and in its place was a ban on trans fats in Connecticut restaurants."

The League of Women Voters is urging that these "strike-all" amendments be printed and posted on the Assembly's website at least two legislative days prior to the vote, Dunson said, so both lawmakers and the public have a clear understanding of what's being proposed as a new law.

Dunson said changes were made to the state's campaign finance law during the 2013 session in the middle of the night with little public scrutiny.

"Essentially this is not a good way to do business," she said. "In order to be an informed and engaged public, we need to be informed and engaged, and we're proposing two changes that relate to these mechanisms, which again are not the way to do business."

In addition to amending the strike-all rules, the League also is proposing that any substitute language be available to the public before a committee vote. Under the current rules, Dunson said, even lawmakers who serve on committees don't always get advance notice of proposals on which they are about to vote.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT