To Avoid A Constitutional Problem, The Legislature Should Vote On Union Contracts

Last year I wrote at length about a state legislative process that allows collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with state employees to become law without legislators actually voting to approve the agreements. Under the “deemed approved” process, a CBA is presented to the legislature for consideration. If the legislature does not reject the CBA in thirty days, it becomes law.

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Emoluments, Pension Deals And More On The Legal Eagle Show

I had the pleasure of joining Marcia Chambers today on Legal Eagle, her weekly radio show on WNHH, the New Haven Independent’s affiliated radio station.  We discussed a wide range of topics, including the recent arrest of a reporter in New Haven for photographing a potential crime scene, President-Elect Donald Trump’s impending violations of the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution, and a potential constitutional problem with a recent deal between the Malloy administration and public employee unions to fix the state pension system.  Click here to listen to the show on SoundCloud.

Kudos to Ted Kennedy, Jr.

In an interview with the New Haven Independent’s Marcia Chambers, State Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford) offers some excellent thoughts on ways to reform the budget-making process in Connecticut.  In particular, he challenges the use of so-called “e-cert” procedures for passing the budget, which make it impossible for rank-and-file legislators to thoughtfully consider a budget before they are required to vote on it.

I, along with many other folks, have been complaining about misuse of the e-cert process for many years.  I’m glad Senator Kennedy is speaking up on this issue.

State Whittles Away At The Watchdog Agencies

In her op-ed in The CT Mirror, State Representative Mary Mushinsky (D-Wallingford) writes about an unanticipated, end-of-the-legislative-session, 50% cut to the personnel budget of the General Assembly’s Office of Program Review and Investigations.  “The Office of Program Review and Investigations is the nonpartisan staff office that supports the oversight work of the bipartisan Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee. At the direction of the committee, PRI staff examines state programs and systems to determine efficiency, effectiveness, compliance with legislative purposes, and whether corrective actions, modification, or elimination are necessary.”

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Happy Birthday CTNewsJunkie!

Some people can’t get started in the morning without a cup of coffee. I can’t get started without reading CTNewsJunkie, the fantastic online news site that covers Connecticut state politics, public policy, the courts and our health care system.

CTNewsJunkie turns 11 this summer. That is a remarkable achievement for an online news site these days. It is an achievement that would not have been possible but for the extraordinary efforts of Editor-in-Chief Christine Stuart and business manager Doug Hardy (who just happens to be Christine’s husband).

Since 2006, when she took over the reigns from founding editor Dan Levine, Christine Stuart has made CTNewsJunkie a force to be reckoned with. She is indefatigable in her pursuit of a story and in her desire to ensure that the public has the facts it needs to keep a watchful eye on our government.

As a good government advocate, I believe that our democratic institutions function best when they know they are being watched. So, as traditional newspapers continue to shed jobs due to declining ad revenues, sites like CTNewsJunkie will become increasingly important to the continued success of our nation’s great democratic experiment.

So, happy 11th birthday to CTNewsJunkie, here’s to many more birthdays, and please, dear readers, show your support for CTNewsJunkie by making a donation today.

 

 

Thumbs Down On The SEEC Settlement With State Dems

Earlier this week the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) settled a long-running, high-profile case involving the Connecticut Democratic Party (CDP). Although the terms of the settlement are commendable in many respects–including imposing the largest election law violation fine (excuse me, “voluntary payment”) in state history–the SEEC exercised poor judgment in deciding to settle the case. Rightly or wrongly, justly or unjustly, the settlement creates the appearance that a major political party in Connecticut can “buy” its way out of an embarrassing investigation by the chief regulator of our state campaign finance laws. [Disclosure: I am a Democrat and have contributed to the CDP in the past.]

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