Commentary: A new session with new opportunities

Rep. Rob Sampson (R-Southington, Wolcott)

Rep. Rob Sampson (R-Southington, Wolcott)

This year, the state legislature will reconvene in regular session once more on Feb. 3, the second year of each biennium known as the “short session,” which also happens to coincide with the election year for state legislators. The legislative session lasts until the first week of May, and lawmakers are limited in scope to only introducing bills that impact the state budget. Legislators are still able to raise other bills, but they must do so by asking a standing legislative committee to take them up.

I will be proposing a number of bills this session, and I wanted to share some of my proposals with you.

It’s no secret that state taxes along all categories have increased dramatically under Gov. Malloy leadership. The damage this has done has certainly been brought sharply into focus by the recent news the General Electric has chosen to leave the state citing its hostile business environment and excessive taxes, relocating to Boston. The significance of this cannot be overstated—GE provides jobs to over 5,000 Connecticut residents, including 800 at their Fairfield headquarters. It is a massive hit to the region’s economy, Fairfield’s grand list, the regional real estate market, not to mention impacted employees. There is no doubt that this will have far reaching consequences, affecting our business climate further and sending a signal to other businesses who are considering staying in or moving to our state.

To hear the Governor compare GE leaving to having one bad day out of many good days shows a willing disconnection from reality rivaling Obama’s recent state of the union speech. Who would have thought just a few years ago that a state mocked as “Taxachusetts” would provide more fertile economic ground than Connecticut?

I am introducing several bills that address our state taxes. The first is a proposal prohibiting the General Assembly from authorizing an increase in any tax or the imposition of a new tax if such an increase would have a retroactive effect. Since Gov. Malloy has taken office, retroactively imposed taxes have been a hallmark of his effort to patch perennial deficit holes in his poorly crafted budgets. There is something inherently unfair about enacting a new tax in May or June and asking taxpayers to pay up as if it was in effect from the beginning of the year.

One of the taxes that makes it nearly impossible for retirees to remain in Connecticut is the tax on Social Security Income. I am proposing legislation that will exempt Social Security income from the state’s personal income tax, allowing seniors who have lived and worked in the state to keep what they have paid into Social Security, and not have to flee to other states to keep their own money.

In addition, one pet peeve of mine has always been the state’s absurd practice of collecting certain annoyance taxes which in fact cost more in administrative costs for the state to enforce and collect than it receives in tax dollars from those taxes. You would think that such a policy would be common sense, but not in Connecticut. This will not be the first time I have introduced just such a bill to eliminate this financially foolish practice. Sadly, it’s been repeatedly ignored by the majority party in the past. Maybe this will be the year.

As a proud defender of individual freedom and constitutional rights, I am attempting to raise a number of bills aimed at securing the liberty of our state residents. One measure will restrict the ability of the state to take land for any purpose. Current law allows the state to use a process called “eminent domain” to seize private property, paying fair market value for it, and using it for a purpose that is declared to be in the public interest. We have seen this law consistently abused by the government, even seizing property for the New Britain to Hartford Busway.

Influence in politics is an often-discussed subject, and in Connecticut that discussion often focuses on money in political campaigns. However, influence and power comes in many forms under the gold dome of our state’s capitol. Lobbyist are, rightfully, required to register with the state and are prohibited from entering the chamber of the House and Senate, preventing them from peddling their influence so directly. However, liaisons to the state’s numerous executive agencies often have the same goals and interests in mind, and are allowed to freely access these legislative chambers when they are in session. I am introducing a bill that will require these agency liaisons to abide by the same rules and regulations that govern their private-sector counterparts.

These are just a handful of the measures I am proposing this session. I will address a few more of them in my next column. If you have any questions or thoughts on these or other bills going into the 2016 session, please feel free to contact me at www.repsampson.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Rob Sampson (R) is a State Representative for the 80th district, which includes Southington.

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