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Onerous Generation Tax Proposal Quashed
On April 13 I convened a press conference at which the inequities and risk built into a proposed, narrowly focused utility tax were exposed. About two dozen legislators, local government and business leaders and officials of the Dominion Millstone Power Station joined me to challenge the fairness of the tax and overall effect should it be implemented.
SB1176 squeaked through the Energy and Technology Committee after a 12 to 9 vote. Opponents questioned the targeted nature of the bill; throughout my career I have steadfastly maintained how tax laws must first, last and always be based upon fairness. We cannot ignore that premise just because we currently face admittedly challenging economic conditions.
The Millstone Power Station produces 45 percent of our state’s electricity and provides about 1,100 local jobs. Had this proposal—which would’ve cost the company an estimated $300 million plus—become law, and if Millstone closed, we’d have lost the jobs, tens of millions of dollars in local property taxes and we would’ve had to purchase expensive replacement power.
I’m pleased to report that within a week of our press conference the governor said the bill has no future and that a more reasonable, balanced approach toward a power generation tax will prevail.
National Healthy Schools Day
Connecticut acknowledged the connection between a healthy school environment and its effect on learning earlier this month at an event organized by the Connecticut Foundation for Environmentally Safe Schools (ConnFESS). As co-chair of the Education Committee I welcomed the chance to participate.
Adequate ventilation is just one of many environmental variables with the potential to adversely affect health—and learning. The presence of mold, lead, pesticides, asbestos and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be as detrimental as bad air or water. Our responsibility on the Education Committee is to monitor conditions in existing schools—more than two-thirds of which are more than 30 years old—and make sure new schools are sited, designed, built and/or renovated to mitigate exposure to these things.
Connecticut has an excellent record in this regard: since 1999 our state has enacted new laws to address indoor air quality, pesticide use, bus emissions, school construction standards and VOCs contained in many cleaning products used in schools. As one more example, a bill was introduced to require carbon monoxide detectors in Connecticut’s public schools. It has already cleared three committees, a sign of healthy progress as it moves through the General Assembly.
International Relations—in Hartford
For the past several weeks I’ve had the pleasure to host a government official from Ukraine while she learns how pharmaceutical products and controlled substances are monitored, regulated and financed in the United States. Victoria Vdovychenko is a Main Specialist with the State Committee of Ukraine on Drugs Control, participating in a fellowship jointly administered by the American Councils for International Education and the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
I was invited to take part in the program by Washington, D.C. officials after they learned of my initiative to ban synthetic cannabis products and Salvia Divinorum in Connecticut.
The exchange of policy ideas and strategies with someone from a nation 6,000 miles from here has been a wonderfully enlightening experience, and I’ve enjoyed the exchange of cultural novelties, too. Most notable, however, has been the realization that after a declaration of independence in 1990 and their first presidential election in 1991, the Ukrainian people are still building their democracy, an awareness that gives me new appreciation for the government system we all-too-often take for granted here at home.