EDITORIAL | Does it Matter

Does it matter what is happening in Hartford? With just a few days left in the current session it very much does matter.

Connecticut is facing an insidious threat to its democratic principles, one that lurks in the shadows of the legislative process: rats. These are not the small, furry rodents that scurry in dark alleys, but rather sneaky pieces of legislation that undermine public participation and transparency. The infestation of these legislative rats poses one of the gravest affronts to democracy in our state.

At the heart of a healthy democracy lies the fundamental principle of public participation. Every citizen should have the opportunity to engage in the legislative process, voicing their concerns and contributing to the decisions that shape our communities. Yet, in recent years, we have witnessed a disturbing trend of rats being slipped into bills at the eleventh hour, bypassing public hearings and citizen input.

The consequences of this clandestine maneuvering are dire. It erodes trust in our institutions and disenfranchises the very people they are meant to serve. When controversial measures are buried within obscure legislative language, the public is left in the dark, unable to hold their elected officials accountable for their actions.

The bipartisan nature of these rats only underscores the severity of the problem. Regardless of political affiliation, lawmakers have succumbed to the temptation of backroom dealings, sacrificing transparency for political expediency. Whether it’s blocking a proposed development or circumventing local governance processes, these rats undermine the integrity of our legislative system.

Consider the recent examples of legislative malfeasance that have come to light. In Middlebury, a small town outside of Waterbury, a state representative used a rat to halt a development project near his own home, depriving local residents of their right to participate in the decision-making process. Similarly, in Stamford, a former state representative manipulated the state budget to stifle local charter revisions, effectively silencing the voices of her constituents.

Perhaps most egregious is the case of the housing bills sneaking their way through the legislature under the cover of darkness. By slipping amendments into unrelated legislation, lawmakers bypassed the committee and public hearing process, robbing the public of their right to scrutiny and debate. The financial burden imposed by these unfunded mandates threatens to cripple municipalities across the state, exacerbating the affordability crisis facing Connecticut residents.

It is time for this epidemic of legislative rats to end. Our elected leaders must be held accountable for their actions, and the public must demand greater transparency and accountability in the legislative process. Term limits, checks and balances, and robust public oversight are essential to restoring faith in our democracy. We are reminded of the quote from President Gerald Ford “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

As we gear up for the next election cycle, let us remember that every vote is an opportunity to rid our state of these legislative pests. It is incumbent upon every Connecticut resident, and every member of our community, to demand better from our elected officials and to denounce any attempts to undermine the principles of democracy. Only then can we ensure that the voices of the people are heard and respected in the halls of power.

Does it matter what is coming out of Hartford? You bet it does!

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