This year, Connecticut citizens voting in the midterm elections will be faced with more than just the choice of candidates for local, state and federal positions. They will also be tasked with determining whether two proposed amendments to the Connecticut State Constitution pass. These amendments deal with transportation funding and state property transfers.
The transportation amendment imposes constitutional protections on transportation funding in Connecticut. It preserves Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund (STF) as a permanent fund and stipulates that money from the fund only be used for transportation purposes. This might include infrastructure projects or paying transportation-related debt. In the past, lawmakers have had to borrow from the STF to cover holes elsewhere in the budget. Continuous raiding of the fund could endanger the state’s already shaky roads and bridges. This measure has bipartisan support and is a good way to protect the state’s infrastructure going forward.
The state property transfer amendment is a bit more confusing. It would impose conditions on the Connecticut General Assembly if they wished to pass legislation requiring a state agency to transfer property or property interest to non-state entities. These conditions are that the legislature would be required to hold a public hearing on the matter and that the legislation can only address the property in question. In other words, it couldn’t be tacked onto a bill about hospital taxes. Furthermore, property belonging to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) or Department of Agriculture (DOA) would need a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the General Assembly.
This is another measure that has bipartisan support. More transparency is always a good thing, and citizens should have the right to weigh in on measures like this. Preventing riders (a provision of a bill not having anything to do with the main bill) is another good step. A problem with legislation in general is when individual lawmakers pile on provisions that wouldn’t get passed on their own to a larger bill. This amendment helps cut down on that, although it is limited in scope. Finally, requiring additional votes to transfer property from DEEP and DOA will help protect the environment by limiting the ease with which lawmakers can transfer land that needs to be preserved.
Voters should be sure to carefully read and analyze the specific text of the amendments and do their own research, but both amendments are common sense proposals that will help protect the future of Connecticut.