FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- The Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org .
To the editor:
As the Connecticut General Assembly begins its 2014 session, the League of Women Voters of Connecticut believes this is an important opportunity to look at transparency in our state legislative process ... and to recommend changes that will hopefully enhance efficiency and integrity.
Many residents may not be aware of what often goes into the “sausage making” at the state legislature, to the dismay and frustration of advocates and the public alike. Strike-all amendments land on legislators’ desks shortly before a vote without time for review or public input, rules and exceptions get written into laws without public hearings, “rats” are buried in implementer and other bills, and legislation that dies in committee is given new life in a completely unrelated bill. While it’s true that people can point to good initiatives that have passed via this process, it would not seem to be the best way “to do business.”
For example, during the 2013 legislative session, significant changes in the state’s campaign finance law were adopted in the middle of the night with no opportunity for public scrutiny, and Keno gambling was approved in the final days of the session. The League believes that democratic government requires that governmental bodies protect our citizens’ right to know by giving adequate notice of proposed actions. To advance this goal, the League is recommending that the CT General Assembly:
Require strike-all amendments to be printed and posted on the General Assembly’s website at least two legislative days prior to final passage; Require substitute language to be available to the public prior to a committee vote.
While there are many other ways to improve the process, these changes can be an incremental start. Importantly, these changes can be instituted via the “rules” which are adopted at the outset of each legislative session. While they last for only this one legislative session, it’s a start ... and certainly a much less cumbersome process than a statuary change.
Now, what can you do? To learn more about the issue, view a video of a conference sponsored last Fall by the Greater Hartford League of Women Voters featuring a panel of outstanding experts on this important topic. (To view, go to lwvct.org/newsroom ). And most importantly, call or e-mail your legislators to express your own support for greater transparency in Connecticut’s governmental process as this new legislative session begins. For more information, visit the LWVCT website at www.lwvct.org or call (203)288-7996.