Wednesday, March 26, 2014

CL&P Shut-Off Notices for Paying On-Time!

Numerous customers of Connecticut Light & Power Company are experiencing alarming shut-off notices and late charges for their on-time payments! Why? Because CL&P changed their accounts receivable operations to Dallas, Texas and the former two-day payment processing service in Hartford now means two weeks in Dallas.

Why would a major corporation want their payments floating in the U.S. Postal Service travelling from Connecticut to Texas? I’m sure somebody at the company has a “good” answer but it completely defies logic.

Many of my constituents have contacted me to share their frustration with CL&P’s customer service department in response to a CL&P shut-off notice. One person told me, I’ve never been late paying my bills and now they send me a shut-off notice and charge me a late fee?”

Another constituent received a shut-off notice and the power was turned off. Unfortunately, their payment was received on-time by CL&P and the power was restored. After a contentious phone call to customer service CL&P removed the “reconnection fee” from the customer’s bill.

Phone calls to CL&P often result in a response saying “don’t worry, we received your payment.” Tell that to a senior citizen who’s never experienced the alarm of a shut-off notice!

CL&P should promptly pull the plug on their new out-of-state payment operations and refund the inappropriate late fees to their customers who paid on-time.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Government Spending Exceeding Constitutional Cap

It seems like yesterday, but two decades have passed since then-Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker signed a state income tax into law.

And while many of us can vividly recall the huge taxpayer rallies which were held at the State Capitol during that time, we may have forgotten that the hated tax hike was tied to a measure which restricted state government spending increases to inflation and personal income increases.

They called it the “Spending Cap” – a cap on the amount of your money our state officials could spend.  It aimed to reassure a nervous public that the tax on our personal income would not become the politicians’ license to spend.

Fast forward to today.

The income tax has not proven to be the cure-all for Connecticut’s budget problems.  In fact, it has proven to be the predecessor to a variety of other tax hikes, including the recent record-setting tax hikes on sales, estates, corporate profits and, yes, the income tax.

Meanwhile, the spending of your money has not been brought under control. Your state government continues to have a penchant for spending whatever revenue becomes available.

This year, there is a move by Democrats in Hartford to change the definition of the “Spending Cap”.  By altering the definition, the majority party would be able to enact future spending increases.  In other words, the “Spending Cap” - one of our only checks on runaway government spending - would be forever altered.

I have a big problem with that idea of handing our elected officials more blank checks to spend even more of your money, and I hope you see why.

Think of a family on a budget.  Let’s say a family has been spending more money than the household is taking in as income.  To get back on track, you agree to abide by a spending allowance of a certain amount each week.  Sure, there are temptations to spend on unnecessary items, but common sense usually prevails and the disciplined approach proves to be the best long term solution.

In the State of Connecticut’s case, changing the definition of the spending cap to suit elected officials’ spending habits would be a terrible mistake.  Our state is broke, yet we continue to borrow, tax and spend your money as if there will be no consequences to the spree.

There of course will be consequences.  They will arrive in the form of higher debt and even more taxes on our children and grandchildren.

The bill to unscrew the spending cap is House Bill 6352. I hope you will join me in opposing the move to give our legislature a license to spend.

CT Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Creates More Problems

Tonight the Connecticut Senate voted to approve allowing undocumented immigrants the opportunity to receive an official state driver’s license. Following nearly six hours of debate with minority Republicans expressing numerous concerns of identification security, the measure passed 19-16 with only two Democrats opposing the measure.

Four states currently offer licenses for undocumented immigrants – Illinois, New Mexico, Utah and Washington. Two of these states have unsuccessfully attempted to repeal their law. According to the Connecticut General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has pushed to repeal the law, arguing that it leads to fraud, human trafficking, organized crime, and significant security concerns.

Seven states previously offered licenses for undocumented immigrants but repealed their laws – Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Tennessee and California. Two of these states are reconsidering their repeal.

Why have nine states – 82% of the states currently or previously offering licenses for undocumented immigrants – repealing their laws? Sounds like problems to me!

I opposed the bill in Connecticut because the proposal clearly had many weaknesses the majority Democrats refused to address.

One of the major flaws in the bill is requiring a background check that only looks at Connecticut criminal history. Background checks required for the purchase of guns in our state requires a national criminal check yet this proposal only checks in-state criminal records. Why?

Undocumented immigrants have a high likelihood of transiency – meaning they often cross state borders. Why are the Democrats ignoring this fact? Why are law-abiding gun owners who are U.S. citizens held to a thorough national background check while undocumented immigrants in Connecticut need only have a clean record in one state to pass muster and be issued an official government identification document?

Connecticut legislators are not empowered to enact federal immigration laws. Our national illegal immigration problem must be fixed in Washington. Issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants is poor public policy and should not be enacted in Connecticut until our federal government fixes our broken immigration system.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tax Freedom Day Comes LAST to CT!

Last year, “Tax Freedom Day” arrived in Connecticut May 5th. 

Tax Freedom Day measures how long Americans work to earn enough money to pay the year’s tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. On May 5, 2012, Connecticut had the dubious distinction of being the last state to achieve “freedom.”

This year, Connecticut has finally attained tax freedom on May 13. Again, we are the last state to be free of taxes for the year. It took us eight more days to accomplish that last place finish.

And your tax freedom could arrive even later in 2014.  Why?

  • The largest gas tax hike in Connecticut history is scheduled to take effect July 1.
  • Taxes on businesses, which were supposed to sunset this year, might not.
  • State aid to cities and towns is being shifted and could result in higher local property taxes.
  • Connecticut could soon approve borrowing hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to pay for ongoing state expenses.  Guess who will be called upon to pay off those maxed-out credit card bills?
Friends, we are heading in the wrong direction.  State spending is out of control, and your taxes are hiked to pay for wasteful government programs.

Have you had enough?

I hope you will stand with me in demanding spending cuts and reductions to our highest-in-the-nation tax burdens.

How can you help?

Call your state legislators.  Call Governor Malloy at 860-566-4840.  If they don’t respond, keep calling them. 

On this “Tax Freedom Day”, we recognize that our freedom is being eroded.
Together, we can reclaim it, but I need you to demand it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Assisted Suicide in CT is a Bad Idea

I stand in firm opposition to House Bill 6645, An Act Concerning Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients. This legislation promotes the culture of assisted suicide in Connecticut, and tells citizens that suicide is an acceptable solution to life’s hardships.

I am adamantly opposed to this legislation and any attempts by government to authorize any form of assisted suicide. Suicide is wrong, especially when it is assisted by loved ones or physicians. Humans are given the gift of life. People like me who hold strong convictions in their faith believe that it is not our duty, or within our ability, to control the beginning or end of our life. With this legislation individuals will decide when their lives end, and they will be protected to have their loved ones assist in ending that life. As a faithful Catholic, I do not feel comfortable granting that authority to anyone. Life is the most basic gift of a loving God, to which humans have stewardship, not absolute dominion. No one, including the government, should ever intend to cause their own death or assist in the taking of another’s. I fear that with this legislation we are legitimizing suicide – a very dangerous precedent.

I am very concerned about the negative impacts this legislation would have on some of society’s most vulnerable populations - the elderly and the disabled. I am worried that this legislation will open the door for abuse of the elderly and disabled by allowing those around them to influence their decision to commit suicide for their own gain. This proposal has no safeguard for abuse, and there is a lack of appropriate monitoring of the mental capacity of those who will receive the lethal dose. Furthermore, there is no way of knowing when the lethal dose is administered or if it was done so voluntarily. With a lack of safeguards in place there is no way to know if suicide is what the person truly desired or if it is a priority of those around them.

In states where assisted suicide has been approved suicide rates have increased. Thirteen years after assisted suicide passed in Oregon, the suicide rate was 41% higher than the national average.

I am concerned that the same will happen in Connecticut. The Legislature should not create the culture of death that will surely come with this proposal. As elected officials and public servants we should be fostering a culture that supports those who are fighting death, whether they are elderly or sick. We should encourage them to fight with strength of character and to live the life that they have been blessed to have fully, to the very last breathe. We should not be encouraging them to give up and a way to tamper with their own fate.

I strongly urge you to contact your legislators and ask them to oppose House Bill 6645, An Act Concerning Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

God Bless You, Caroline Phoebe Previdi

I just left the Funeral Mass for Caroline Phoebe Previdi, age 6. Caroline was a first grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School and died tragically with twenty-six other victims at the hands of a madman. Last Friday was a day that broke our hearts in America.

I never met Caroline but her great-grandparents, Eugene and Phoebe Previdi, were special people in my life. Papa Gene was my first boss at age fourteen when he handed me a broom and told me to sweep a huge parking lot on a very hot summer day. I’ll never forget those blisters. I didn’t know then how Papa Gene’s lessons would impact my work ethic for many years to come. Aunt Phoebe was a gentle saint who always told me Papa Gene didn’t really mean the harsh things he said to get me to focus on my job.

Caroline Phoebe Previdi, her family, classmates and the Newtown community paid a huge price for a madman’s terror. I hope and pray this heavy price produces changes in America.

We must begin the debate – a civil discourse – about violence in America. Why do we accept violence in our culture with pre-teens becoming proficient in extremely violent video games and Hollywood releasing movies of carnage on Christmas Day. Why is New Haven considered the fourth most dangerous city in America?

I am a firm defender of the Second Amendment and believe many of the comments in the past several days about changing gun laws have been inaccurate and sometimes misleading. Yes, I agree we should look carefully at our laws – both state and federal – in the upcoming legislative sessions in Hartford and Washington. A civil discourse will be far more productive in finding solutions.

Earlier this year I began studying Connecticut’s assault weapons ban to better understand how our state has some of the strongest gun control regulations in the country.  The state legislature enacted the ban in 1993. Congress passed a 10-year federal ban in 1994. Efforts to renew the federal ban have been proposed a number of times unsuccessfully.

I discovered a loophole in Connecticut’s assault weapons ban during my research and plan to submit a bill that seeks to correct the deficiency. Weapons manufactured prior to the ban may be dismantled to recycle the part containing the gun’s serial number and rebuilt with modern parts that would otherwise fall under the existing assault weapons ban.

Let me be perfectly clear about the assault weapons ban – it will not stop the classroom carnage visited upon Sandy Hook. The madman’s weapon is not classified as an assault weapon. Should we study that classification during our upcoming civil discourse? Yes. Should we review the size of ammo magazines and consider the former federal limitations be enacted in Connecticut? Yes. Should we honor the Second Amendment during our deliberations? Absolutely!

The serious problem with the gun control debate in light of the Sandy Hook tragedy is the absence of debating mental health in America. We must not seriously consider gun control without acknowledging the inadequacies of mental health policy in our country.

We have witnessed an alarming pattern with shooting rampages of overwhelming evidence of insufficient or un-prioritized mental health treatment for deeply troubled young men turned murderers. How can our country keep turning a blind eye to this healthcare tragedy? A civil discourse on this topic will tell us how to fix the challenges of access to mental health services and begin to address the stigma within our society that forces patients and their families to hide their affliction.

A third area for debate is school security. Surely much has improved in this area as evidenced by lockdown procedures that clearly saved lives in Sandy Hook. Can we improve? Yes and we may be able to make substantial improvements without breaking the bank. Once again a civil discourse will be far more productive in finding solutions.

In honor of Caroline Phoebe Previdi I am stepping out in search for workable changes to keep our schools safe. Papa Gene and Aunt Phoebe produced a very special family and I’m sure Caroline Phoebe Previdi’s parents and grandparents will be holding us all accountable in the legislature to make a difference with a bi-partisan approach to help stop a repeat of this terrible tragedy.

God Bless you, Caroline Phoebe Previdi.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Broken Hearts in America

Our hearts are broken in Connecticut and across America. No words can explain the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Now is the time for prayer – prayers for the victims and their families and prayers for the Newtown community that they may begin the steps of healing.
Many people have asked me, “What can I do to help?” My first first answer is prayer. Those who wish to directly support the families may contribute here:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown, CT 06470