Did someone try to get the General Assembly to pass a gasoline tax increase last week without the knowledge of the public and most legislators themselves?
It sure looked that way. The 800-page bill "implementing" the new state budget carried a strange provision authorizing state government department heads to make contracts with other states.
That might have been construed to enable the commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to put Connecticut into the Transportation Climate Initiative, which would increase the state's gas taxes by as much as 15 cents per gallon in the name of diminishing carbon emissions and raising money for transportation infrastructure.
Governor Lamont favored the program but a majority of legislators could not be persuaded to vote for raising gas taxes any more than a majority can be persuaded to impose highway tolls – at least not while people are watching.
But the "implementer" always shows up at adjournment of the legislature's regular session or in a special session soon afterward when legislators are tired and rushed. The "implementer" is long and complicated, and only the legislature's top leaders and the governor and their staffs put it together. With hardly anyone watching, it is often stuffed with disreputable provisions called "rats."
Exactly where did the contract-making provision come from? Nobody knows, because Senate President Martin Looney, House Speaker Matt Ritter, and the governor aren't telling, though this "rat" could not have made the "implementer" without their approval.
So after the Yankee Institute and some Republican legislators spotted the "rat" and publicized it just before the state House of Representatives was to vote on the "implementer," the House saw a wonderful irony. Speaker Ritter and the House Democratic majority leader, Rep. Jason Rojas, made the motion to remove the contract-making provision from the bill – even as they had approved it in the first place.
The "rat" was removed and now maybe the embarrassment to Ritter and Rojas will be a reminder to ordinary legislators to keep a closer watch on their sneaky leaders –and a reminder to the press and public to keep a closer watch on the whole bunch.
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Predictably enough, nothing came of the clamor directed at the legislature this year about the exclusive zoning practices of many suburbs, even though the data was overwhelming, the clamor came from Democrats, and Democrats dominate the legislature.
But suburban Democratic legislators won't touch zoning while welfare and education policies keep manufacturing poverty in the cities and scaring suburbanites about the potential occupants of inexpensive housing in their towns.
So everything was back to normal last week as Governor Lamont, also a Democrat, announced grants of $5.5 million to 27 towns, most of them suburbs, in the name of preserving "open space" in places that already have a lot of "open space" but little inexpensive housing. Those grants will make sure there is even less land available for inexpensive housing in the suburbs.
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SMELL THE ‘EQUITY': Juneteenth, now a federal holiday, is perfect for the phony "woke" era – posturing based on a false premise and distracting from rather than alleviating inequality.
Contrary to the claim made for it, Juneteenth does not mark the end of slavery in the United States in June 1865, since slavery continued for another six months until ratification of the 13th Amendment. As a federal holiday now Juneteenth will just patronize Black people while doing nothing about the disintegration of the cities most of them live in.
Juneteenth tells them: "Are your children without fathers? Are they not being well educated? Are you getting shot at or drug-addled? Are you stuck in a cycle of poverty? Is your rent going up but not your income? Then let's have a party and give government employees another paid day off. They'll be sure to attend!"
Indeed, the cost of paying federal employees not to work on Juneteenth is estimated at $600 million. As Juneteenth becomes a state holiday, it will cost government far more. Unfortunately, its political correctness does not extend to funding Juneteenth by repealing Columbus Day.
Can't you smell the "social justice" and "equity" already?
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.