Hartford Mayor, Council Offer Legislative Priorities
Delegation Hears Wish List
By JENNA CARLESSO
January 08, 2013
HARTFORD —— Mayor Pedro Segarra and the city council met with Hartford's legislative delegation to share their priorities for the regular session that begins Wednesday.
The city's wish list was extensive.
Instead of presenting a unified set of priorities for the legislators — including three newcomers — who will represent the city for the next two years, Segarra and some members of the city council shared their own priorities. These ranged from proposals to revive the mattress disposal and red light camera bills to a plan that would adopt a uniform statewide vehicle tax rate to a proposal that would reduce the personal property tax burden on small businesses in Hartford.
The ideas were discussed with the city's legislative delegation during a meeting Monday at city hall. All but two members of the delegation — state Sen. John Fonfara and Rep. Minnie Gonzalez — were present. Colleagues said Fonfara couldn't attend because he was at a funeral.
Incumbent Reps. Matthew Ritter and Douglas McCrory, Reps.-elect Angel Arce, Brandon McGee and Edwin Vargas, and Sen. Eric Coleman participated.
City council President Shawn Wooden said the council and the mayor hadn't yet worked together on a collective list of the city's top priorities because they didn't want to limit the ideas being shared.
"It was a beginning to a conversation," Wooden said Tuesday. "Over the next couple weeks there will be more discussion and looking at items where there's a broad consensus and advancing those items."
He said the mayor and city council plan to meet again with legislators as the session gets underway.
Segarra's priorities for legislators included the revival of the two bills — one that would allow the use of cameras to catch red-light runners and another that would create a program, funded by mattress manufacturers, to cover the collection and recycling of used mattresses.
Segarra noted that illegal mattress dumping has been an issue in the city, with residents, landlords and even businesses dumping mattresses illegally to avoid disposal fees. Fees can range from $10 to $45 per unit, he said.
Additionally, the mayor suggested legislation that would ease the tax burden on businesses with 50 or fewer employees by reducing the amount they would have to pay in personal property taxes for up to three years. He also asked that legislators consider a plan to create a state-operated domestic violence and aggravated assault database, which would include the names of people convicted three or more times of the same offense.
Council President Shawn Wooden put forth several suggestions concerning small and minority contractors, including encouraging lawmakers to require that all cities and towns abide by the same minority business enterprise standards.
Councilman Larry Deutsch, the panel's minority leader, recommended, among other things, that legislators draft a bill to create a uniform statewide vehicle tax rate and legislation that would require uniform insurance rates, not discriminating by city or by zip code.
"It was a healthy and fruitful discussion," state Rep. Matthew Ritter said Tuesday. "Obviously now we need to narrow some things down. There were over 30 concepts discussed yesterday. We're going to have to prioritize."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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