As a new legislative session began earlier this week in Hartford, state Rep. John Shaban, a Republican who represents Easton, Weston and Redding, opened up about his hopes for Connecticut. We asked Shaban five questions and these are his answers:
As we approach a new year in the state legislature, are you looking to introduce any new bills this year? If so, what are they?
I have already begun the process of reintroducing a revised Siting Council bill, vetoed last session by Gov. (Dannel) Malloy because of some internal technical concerns. The crux of the bill is to add more local control and some common-sense regulation concerning the construction of cellular towers near schools and day-care centers. The bill will also give municipalities 90 days of notice in anticipation of the construction of a cell tower and provide for a more detailed examination about the placement and need for a tower.
I am also continuing my efforts to re-establish the statutorily required Advisory Counsel for Continuing Care Residential Communities, such as Meadow Ridge. Our seniors have millions of dollars tied up in their CCRCs but have not been given the full benefit of the financial transparency and oversight required by law. This fix is relatively easy and will not impose a cost to taxpayers.
Where do you stand on repealing the current law that prohibits alcohol sales on Sundays, as proposed by Gov. Dannel Malloy?
I am not convinced that the Sunday sale of alcohol is necessary or otherwise helpful. The increased revenue argument has holes in it and is belied by data from other states. Moreover, allowing Sunday sales could give the big stores an unfair competitive advantage. The big stores are typically open on Sunday selling groceries and thus will not suffer any increased overhead cost. Local package stores, however, are prohibited from selling groceries. They would thus incur the increased overhead cost to open a seventh day while, at the same time, not being allowed to offer a comparative product line. Still, I will wait to read all of the information before rendering a vote.
What is your overall goal going into this year's session?
My main priority is the same as that from the last session improving the businesses environment in Connecticut. Connecticut has not had positive business growth in more than 20 years. If we are going to achieve meaningful and lasting recovery we must make Connecticut into an attractive state for businesses to start and grow. The bipartisan jobs bill we passed in October was a small step in the right direction. Unfortunately, that bill came on the heels of more global legislation that will likely drive up tax, regulatory, labor and energy costs for all businesses.
In this connection, we also need to get the state budget under control. We simply spend too much. Last year, the governor and majority party passed a budget with record tax increases and record high spending. In return, we now have a credit rating downgrade, borrowing to cover everyday expenses and a growing deficit. Our state cannot continue with this business-as-usual approach; we simply cannot afford it.
Do you have any regrets from 2011? Is there any bill that you wish you could take back and why?
At this point, I feel good about the votes I cast. We had important and difficult issues before us, and I used input from all of my colleagues, constituents, experience and instincts to guide me. I am hopeful that we can re-examine some of the bad bills we passed and that I voted against (e.g., the budget, paid sick leave, early release for sex offenders). Still, I am now even better prepared to work on behalf of my friends and neighbors and to fight for the principles and policies I believe in.
What do you want your constituents to know going into 2012's session?
My constituents should know that Connecticut has a long way to go before we can honestly proclaim we have recovered from the recession. Spending levels have steadily increased at a rate far greater than inflation and, as a result, taxes and borrowing have increased to keep pace. This session is supposed to be dedicated to bills of a fiscal nature, so there is no better time than now to make the tough decisions necessary to get our state back on track. I stand ready to work with legislators from both parties to make these difficult decisions.
I also want my constituents to know that I am always willing to listen to their questions and concerns. I was elected to be their voice in Hartford so please call or email with your thoughts. You can call my office toll free at 800-842-1423 , send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or just look for me around town.
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