2006 Legislative Agenda
- Investigative Subpoena - This has been an annual issue before the CT General Assembly and we have been able to defeat it every year. We killed it in Judiciary this session. That bill was limited to “white collar” crimes. The legislation has been weakened every year in an attempt to pass it. I would think the Chief State’s Attorney might propose a compromise but at this point we haven’t seen such a proposal. He was pushing his proposal with a two year sunset at the end of last session. He also talked about additional changes in the grand jury system.
- Mandatory Minimums - The Program Review and Investigations Committee has done a study of mandatory minimums and are releasing their recommendations. A number of groups are organizing around eliminating the mandatory minimum and enhanced penalties related to school zones. In most urban areas there is no place where such penalties apply. (In New Haven literally the only place they don’t apply is the Yale Bowl) while in suburban communities the areas covered are fairly small.)
- Sex Offenders - Speaker Amann along with Attorney General Blumenthal proposed a 10 point plan to deal with sex offenders that included such proposals as civil commitment and GPS tracking of offenders. ACLU of CT needs to look at these proposals and decide if we want to take a position and provide some opposition to some of the proposals.
- Death Penalty - It is doubtful that we will have the votes this session in either house to abolish the death penalty. We might be able to make to work on some of the recommendations of the Death Penalty Commission such as requiring that a panel of State’s Attorneys to decide to seek the death penalty rather than have individual State Attorneys making that decision, though there is reluctance from legislators to revisit this issue so soon and in an election year.
- Housing - We always expect to have to continue our battle to preserve our affordable housing appeals act. There also may be an effort to provide more funding for fair housing enforcement and mobility training.
- Campaign Finance – Parts of the bill that passed has raised some constitutional concerns including ban on lobbyists contributions and solicitations; access for minor and petitioning party candidates. We might want to lobby to amend the bill to correct those parts of the legislation, hopefully with other advocates of campaign finance reform.
- Billboards - There has been a lot of court cases around the country around billboards and banning adult businesses from advertising on billboards, we will need to watch for similar legislation.
- Transgender - We are working with a group on legislation to add “gender identity and expression” to our anti-discrimination statutes. There is a CHRO declaratory ruling that gender identity and expression is covered under sex in our statute. But the community wants it codified in legislation. The Anti-Discrimination coalition of which we are members are considering add the amendment to address the Ballard decision in this legislation as well.(See Below)
- CHRO - CHRO may propose again a bill that will add “sexual orientation” to our protected case statute, 46a-58(a). There has been a CT Supreme Court ruling Ballard which found that this is a door into CHRO for people who may have an action under a non-CHRO statute. So there is a statute 10-15(c) that prohibits discrimination in our public schools. We added sex orientation to that statute in 1997 but there seem to be no real remedy for violation of this statute. Ballard ruled that discrimination under this statute can be heard at CHRO under the protected class statute. In other words the protected class statute is the door into CHRO for non-CHRO discrimination statutes. But sex orientation is not covered in that statute.
- Civil Union Religious exemption- The Catholic Conference spent a great deal of time after the civil union bill passed trying to pass an amendment that would allow groups affiliated with the church to be exempted from the statutes. The amendment would have exempted Catholic Hospitals and the Knights of Columbus Health Insurance plans. The law states clearly that no religion or person must perform civil unions. We will need to defend against such an amendment again this year.
- Adoption- ACLU of CT will continue to oppose the release of adoption records without the birth parents and adoptee’s permission for records where the birth parents were given assurance of the confidentiality of those records.
- Revocation of Parental Rights- ACLU of CT will monitor any legislation that limits the rights of birth parents access to due process to make an informed decision to relinquish those rights.
- Racial Profiling - In light of the national study just released that showed that minorities are more likely to be subject to search and arrest when they are stopped for traffic violations, ACLU of CT might want to revisit the racial profiling legislation. We might want to look first at ways to help the African American Commission to complete the studies that are requested by the present law and assessing the problems with the existing law and address this in the 2007 session.
- Tasers - ACLU of Northern California has done a study of the use of tasers and recommended legislation in CA. Given the recent death in CT from a taser such legislation might be viable. The Northern California proposal proposed the use of tasers only by law enforcement and then only in life-threatening situations. This might be difficult since we don’t even dictate in State law when law enforcement can use firearms. But the second proposal was to require police departments to adopt policies around the use of tasers and that such policies be public. A hearing on this issue may give us some power to get police departments to adopt model policies.
- Habeas Corpus – A recent case has renewed calls to limit prisioners’ right to habeas appeals. We will need to watch for this legislation
- Prison Overcrowding - The PR&I Committee has a study on mandatory minimums. And legislation we can support might come out of that study.
Privacy and Technology
- Traffic Cameras - we helped to kill legislation that allowed for cameras at traffic lights that would automatically give a ticket to the owner of a vehicle that ran a traffic light. There was also concern about police access to black boxes in cars involved in accidents. We expect both of these bills to resurface.
Privacy and Youth
- Statutory Rape - There are a number of groups interested in reviving the legislation that would have increased the age difference between a minor and a consensual partner where sexual activity is considered statutory rape which we lost last year. There may be an attempt to revive this legislation.
- Sheff - We will monitor legislation around the magnet school funding formula and transportation funding to ensure magnets schools are getting the funds necessary for them to succeed. We also monitor the bonding for the Hartford area new magnet schools.
- Choice - We expect that there will be an attempt to pass legislation around parental involvement in abortion especially since there may be a decision in the New Hampshire case during the session.
- Emergency Contraception (EC) – The Coalition for Choice may work with CT Sexual Assault Crisis Centers to introduce legislation that requests hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims.