Helping Provide Relief
at the Pump
The high price of gasoline threatens consumer confidence, burdens Connecticut families and endangers the fragile progress our economy has made here in Connecticut. As gas prices continue to climb, we must do all we can to help consumers find relief at the pump. Last month, I joined my colleagues in the Senate in passing a comprehensive plan that caps the gross receipts tax at $3 a gallon wholesale.
More importantly, our plan strengthens protections against price gouging, cracks down on oil profiteering, and requires that savings from the cap on the gross receipts tax get passed along to consumers.
As the State of Connecticut, we can’t affect the price of oil on the international exchange—we can give our Department of Consumer Protection and Attorney General the tools they need to ensure that large oil wholesalers don’t take advantage of rising prices to unfairly gouge consumers.
The Democrats’ proposal:
- Legislatively declares a 30-day period of petroleum market scrutiny by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Consumer Protection in anticipation of further wholesale price spikes.
- Amends the petroleum profiteering statute to provide for investigations of price gouging whenever the wholesale price rises by 15 percent or more within 90 days (the wholesale price has increased 40 cents—more than 15 percent—in the past ninety days).
- Grants the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection authority to impose Unfair Trade Practice fines on large gasoline wholesalers and distributors who are in violation of profiteering laws.
- Puts a permanent circuit breaker on the gross receipts tax on motor fuels at $3.00/per gallon wholesale.
- Prohibits oil wholesalers and distributors (those who pay the gross receipts tax) from passing on anything purporting to be based on the tax for the portion of any sales price over $3.00 per gallon.
- Institutes similar profiteering protections in regard to home heating oil.
Protecting the Rights of Citizens to Record Police
Last month, I testified before the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee in favor of legislation that would allow a person to bring a cause of action against a law enforcement officer who interferes with the person taking a photographic or digital still or video image of an officer in the performance of his or her duties provided that the individual was not otherwise interfering with the officer.
That’s why I am sponsoring SB 245, An Act Concerning the Recording of Police Activity by the Public, in part, due to the 2009 unjustified arrest of Father James Manship, who was charged with interfering with an officer after videotaping a police action at an East Haven convenience store.
I’m pleased to report that the the bill passed in the state Senate on April 19th. It now moves on to the House of Representatives.
In Connecticut, citizens have a right to record police officers. However, there have been recent incidents in which officers harassed and threatened citizens who were attempting to exercise this right. I believe that creating a possible cause of action against officers who attempt to intimidate citizens in this manner would serve as a deterrent to this behavior. Officers who are following appropriate law and procedure should not object to this recording so long as the recording does not interfere with the officer's ability to perform his or her legitimate duties.
Combat Veterans Should Be
Welcomed Home With a Job
I believe veterans who risked their lives on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan should be welcomed back to Connecticut with the prospect of a job. That’s why I have co-sponsored a Jobs Bill that does just that.
The problem of unemployment among military veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan is particularly pronounced in younger veterans. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that 30 percent of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed. This is twice the rate of their non-military peers.
The STEP-Up for Veterans initiative seeks to reverse this trend of disproportionately high unemployment among young veterans by connecting them with meaningful employment upon their return. Specifically, the bill would make any Connecticut-based business that hires an unemployed combat veteran who served in Iraq or Afghanistan eligible to receive a grant covering a significant part of that veteran’s salary and training costs during the first 6 months of employment, up to $12,000 per veteran. The legislation proposes an additional $10 million in bonding to fund the program.
This program is an important part of the Democrats’ proposed five-point plan that builds upon the landmark jobs legislation passed during the October 2011 Special Session.