Public Safety and Security Committeee
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
12:00 PM in 2D
The meeting was called to order at 12:02PM by Chairman, Sen. Larson T. S03.
The following committee members were present:
Adams T. 146; Arconti D. 109; Boyd P. 050; Dauphinais A. 044; DiMassa M. 116; Fishbein C. 090; Fusco J. 081; Gonzalez M. 003; Ohler B. 064; Orange L. 048; Paolillo A. 097; Rovero D. 051; Siegrist R. 036; Simmons C. 144; Skulczyck K. 045; Sredzinski J. 112; Vail K. 052; Verrengia J. 020; Zupkus L. 089
Representative Joe Verrengia called the meeting to order and said the meeting would be recessed by the call of the Chair so the respective members of the committee can return to caucus.
The meeting was reconvened at 1:17PM by Chairman Senator Tim Larson. Exit rules in the event of an emergency were briefly recited. There were no remarks given by the Chairs. Moving forward, Chairman Larson went on to Section III in the agenda to start discussion on the bills to be reviewed and voted on by members.
III. BILLS FOR REVIEW
1. S.B. No. 957 (RAISED) AN ACT CONCERNING THE REGULATION OF GAMING AND THE AUTHORIZATION OF A CASINO GAMING FACILITY IN THE STATE. (PS) JFS to Floor
2. H.B. No. 6265 (COMM) AN ACT CONCERNING PAWNBROKERS, SECONDHAND DEALERS AND PRECIOUS METALS OR STONES DEALERS. (PS,PS) JFS to Floor
3. H.B. No. 7092 (RAISED) AN ACT CONCERNING SMOKE DETECTION AND WARNING EQUIPMENT IN RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS. (PS) JFS to Floor
4. H.B. No. 5174 (COMM) AN ACT CONCERNING THE PENALTY FOR ASSAULT OF AN OFF-DUTY POLICE OFFICER OR DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION EMPLOYEE. (PS,PS) JFS to Floor
5. H.B. No. 5671 (COMM) AN ACT CONCERNING THE DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND HOMELAND SECURITY. (PS,PS) JF to Floor
6. H.B. No. 6041 (COMM) AN ACT PERMITTING NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS TO SELL RAFFLE TICKETS ONLINE. (PS,PS) JF to Floor
7. H.B. No. 7095 (RAISED) AN ACT REPEALING PROVISION REGARDING INVOLUNTARY RETIREMENT AND TEMPORARY RETENTION FOR CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM. (PS) JF to Floor
8. S.B. No. 849 (RAISED) AN ACT ESTABLISHING A TASK FORCE TO STUDY SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT REFERRAL PROGRAMS ESTABLISHED BY MUNICIPAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS. (PS) JFS to Floor
9. H.B. No. 7094 (RAISED) AN ACT CONCERNING FINGERPRINTING SERVICES FOR CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS CHECKS. (PS) JF to Floor
10. H.B. No. 5298 (COMM) AN ACT CONCERNING THE SAFETY OF EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS AND PATIENTS DURING EMERGENCIES. (PS,PS) JF to Floor
11. H.B. No. 6266 (COMM) AN ACT CONCERNING BOXING EVENTS AND MIXED MARTIAL ARTS MATCHES. (PS,PS) JF to Floor
12. S.B. No. 889 (RAISED) AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPOINTMENT OF A FIRE MARSHAL AND POLICE OFFICERS AT THE CONNECTICUT AIRPORT AUTHORITY. (PS) JF to Floor
13. S.B. No. 806 (RAISED) AN ACT ALLOWING MUNICIPALITIES TO ESTABLISH A GRANT PROGRAM TO REPLACE OR REPAIR CONCRETE FOUNDATIONS. (PS) JFS to Floor
14. S.B. No. 890 (RAISED) AN ACT CONCERNING RECOMMENDATIONS BY THE OFFICE OF THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL REGARDING THE STATE FIRE PREVENTION CODE AND LICENSES FOR DEMOLITION. (PS) JF to Floor
15. H.B. No. 7136 (RAISED) AN ACT CONCERNING THE PENALTY FOR ALTERING REMOVABLE WINDSHIELD PLACARDS FOR PERSONS WHO ARE BLIND AND PERSON WITH DISABILITIES. (PS) JFS to Floor
16. H.B. No. 7137 (RAISED) AN ACT CONCERNING CHARITABLE BINGO GAMES, BAZAARS AND RAFFLES. (PS) JF to Floor
17. H.B. No. 7238 (RAISED) AN ACT CONCERNING TECHNICAL REVISIONS TO STATUTES CONCERNING THE COMMISSIONER OF EMERGENCY SERVICES AND PUBLIC PROTECTION. (PS) JF to Floor
18. H.B. No. 6260 (COMM) AN ACT CONCERNING TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR STATE AND LOCAL POLICE REGARDING THE ELOPEMENT OR WANDERING OF CHILDREN DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER. (PS,PS) JF to Floor
19. H.B. No. 6954 (COMM) AN ACT ESTABLISHING A TASK FORCE TO STUDY INSPECTIONS OF RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS BY LOCAL FIRE MARSHALS. (PS,PS) JF to Floor
20. H.B. No. 7239 (RAISED) AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE REGULATION OF GAMING TO PROTECT PUBLIC SAFETY AND A COMPETITIVE PROCESS TO ISSUE A GAMING LICENSE. (PS) JFS to Floor
Addressing Item 1, S.B. No. 957, the Chair asks for a motion on this bill. Motion: Rep. Orange. 2nd: Sen. Cassano.
Chairman Larson asked if there was any discussion on this bill. Senator Craig Miner was recognized by the Chair, and said he has let his feelings be known over the years about casino expansion, and on that, he would vote no, but because the state needs money, will vote to move both bills forward to keep the conversation going.
Senator Cassano said for a bill to move it has to get out of committee first. Then it goes on to leadership, the AG, and the tribes. He suggests it passes out of committee to move forward with a product that is good for Connecticut and that this is not the final step.
Representative Dauphinais stated it is a very complex issue. She believes in the open process of bidding and struggles with the exclusivity to the tribes, but adds whether we allow it or we don't there will be revenue lost, and she will vote yes on both bills to put it out there.
Representative Fishbein says he is in favor of an open process no matter who the participants are. His understanding was the proposal was to block fleeing jobs northwards, otherwise he doesn't think this location would even be considered. Though he respects his colleague's opinions, he does not support the bill.
Committee Co-Chair Senator Tony Guglielmo remarks he does not think we need a third casino.
Representative Orange says she doesn't usually comment on bills and hears people saying they feel one way or the other about either of the bills. She prefers the Senate bill and reminds members the Indian tribes are friends of ours. She feels getting big businesses involved doesn't always work out, and because it is a much bigger issue than the Public Safety Committee or General Assembly, she will be voting yes to keep the conversation going.
Representative Rovero says he will probably be voting no on both bills because of what he interpreted from what the Attorney General said yesterday is we could lose $260 million dollars in revenue so that we might gain $30 million. He is opposed to the first bill because of the towns not being able to vote on something as big as this and how it would affect them in a referendum.
Senator Gomes said he is voting yes on both to get it out of here.
Representative Verrengia thanks all the members who were here throughout this process. He says there were many closed door conversations with interested parties on both sides and we thought it was very important to hold the informational hearing and be transparent on this issue. We would like to provide the general public with the opportunity to hear what we've been hearing in regards to this casino. He notes he is really impressed with the new members for their due diligence and the excellent questions they've asked, but it is our committee's intention today to move this bill forward and adds this issue is so complex with potentially profound ramifications for the state of Connecticut.
Senator Larson says he would like to echo Rep. Verrengia's comments, as he believes we've done a magnanimous job in allowing the public to come testify and concerned parties to come in and talk about opportunities. It's the intent of this committee to vote both of these out of committee. It takes a while for bills to become law, but it's incumbent upon us to take the steps to make this happen.
Chairman Larson asks the committee clerk for a roll call vote. The motion passes, 20 yea, 5 nay.
The Chair says votes will be held open until five and says the next item they will move to on the agenda is number twenty, H.B. No. 7239. Motion made by Rep. Verrengia. 2nd: Sen. Cassano. The Chair asks for discussion.
Rep. Verrengia says this proposed substitute language is fairly new from what we've seen in the past. He has always been concerned how this casino would best serve Connecticut, but having said this, he has also been concerned we would violate the existing compact we have with the tribes, and any action would jeopardize this, so what this bill does is take out the authorization for a commercial license, in other words, we're going to have a competitive process. Although we received an AG's opinion, it wasn't very clear. With the DCP and the Department of Economic Development, they will have until January 1st, 2018 to put an RFP process together. This process includes a lot of things.
First and foremost this will include a referendum for any towns the casino would be built in; it also includes a host town agreement that includes an investment amount of not less than 8 million dollars; there's also a capital investment piece that the respondent to the RFP process would agree to provide a capital investment of not less than 300 million dollars for a proposed casino; it also has language protecting parimutuels; the responder would also have to show the ability of being able to pay a licensing fee of not less than 250 million dollars; the responder would also agree to pay a minimum of 35% of the gross revenue from the operation video slot machines, and a minimum of 10% of the gross revenue of all other games; the respondent shall pay a 5 million dollar application fee which will be refundable if not chosen or are not approved by the state for the license, with a part of that being waived for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe.
Rep. Verrangia surmises this has been a work in progress, but he felt it was important to define some of the fees just mentioned, because he thinks one of the problems with the other bill, the Tribal bill, was that it lacked any of that financial criteria. He asks for discussion.
Rep. Fishbein says he has reservations about the language before us. One thing is how much control is given to the Department of Consumer Protection to come up with the RFP. He feels we should have more of a stake in that. He thinks the concept of paying for a ten year license is getting him closer to where he'd like to be in terms of the ability to pay. He thinks maybe later there could be a set fee and then the percentages instead of all these ups and downs we've been experiencing. He adds he does not see here what came up at the last public hearing, a payment to bid. He feels there should be a price for participants to bid and hopes to see an amendment on the floor but recognizes it is a work in progress.
Sen. Witkos says he would also like to see this bill move out of committee but one thing that hasn't been mentioned in the conversation regarding both these bills is the current appeal that's in the second circuit court on a lawsuit that was filed regarding exclusivity and we're still waiting to hear the ruling on that, so it would be prudent upon this body to move them out so it would give us the ability, depending on the judicial action, to tell us what direction we should be going.
The Chair calls for a roll call vote. The motion passes, 21 yea, 4 nay.
Chairman Larson announces we will now move on to item two and try to get through the rest of the list. Item #3. H.B. No. 6265. He asks for a motion. Motion: Orange. 2nd: Verrengia. He asks if there is any discussion.
Sen. Miner says he needs more background on these changes especially moving the dollar amount to five hundred dollars from one thousand.
Sen. Larson says some people don't have bank accounts.
Sen. Minor suggests requiring everything to be paid for by checks and this is the action we should be taking. He wishes we never had the opportunity to vote on this bill and points out this is another opportunity for our publics valuables to be turned to cash, and that they are items that can't be replaced that are memorable.
Rep. Fishbein says his mother's jewelry was recently stolen when his parents' home was broken into. He asks why are we doing it this way?
Sen. Larson responds so current holders have a way to continue their certification.
Rep. Fishbein says in reading the substitute language it says those who got their license on such a date but others after that date are being told different ways they can do things. Sen. Larson says they should defer to our LCO for an answer. Rep. Fishbein continues and says it's being argued they're being treated differently. He inquires if we can't modify or grandfather this, to which the LCO answers, we could, and we are getting rid of the sunset now. Rep. Fishbein says but that's not before us now. The LCO replies no. Rep. Fishbein says then he will defer. It is anti-business and anti-public safety. Sen. Larson adds we'll work with you and try to sister these together.
Sen. Cassano says he concurs with Rep. Fishbein. Pawnbrokers have ten days to melt your gold, it should be twenty-one. He also felt pawnbrokers shouldn't be able to give as much as one thousand dollars in cash on items brought in but only one hundred dollars.
Sen. Gomes says pawnbrokers should be held accountable, and he would like to see checks written for everyone who brings in items.
Sen. Larson says he doesn't want to disparage either of his towns two businesses, and they are not all drug users who pawn. He thinks it's a quick turnaround for cash for people and adds some items get a good price. He felt checks would add bank fees that would make the pawning more useless. He asks to move the bill forward.
Rep. Rovero notes this bill was brought forward for the pawnbrokers not the people.
Rep. Orange says it's a little of both. Some people don't want a check or the fees. She agrees the pawnbrokers were instrumental, as well.
Sen. Witkos says he will support the bill to get it out of committee but won't support it on the floor.
Rep. Dauphinais says she will support the bill to get it out of committee but would like to see it made into something for all.
Rep. DiMassa says he will support the bill.
Rep. Simmons also says she will support the bill to get it out of committee but has some questions to ask the police chiefs.
Rep. Fishbein again states he would like to see some of the language restored.
The Chair asks for a roll call vote. The motion fails, 13 yea, 12 nay.
Chairman Larson says the committee is holding item #3 and moves on to item #4 H.B. No. 5671 and asks for a motion. Motion: Rep. Verrengia. Second: Rep. Orange. Discussion.
Rep. Vail inquires if this allows a civilian to apply and be hired or only a sworn in officer. Sen. Larson says yes. Rep. Vail asks what is the intent of this bill. Sen. Larson summarizes. Rep. Vail determines he has a problem with them not being included and for that reason will not be supporting the bill.
Rep. Boyd remarks the mission of the State Police and D.E.M. are very different. He feels this shouldn't be a big blob but they should work together, and he will support this bill.
Rep. Orange points out that Connecticut created a Department of Homeland Security after 9/11 under Governor Rell and has been kept in place under Governor Malloy. State police, firemen, etc. were all put under one umbrella. She says she and former State Representative Dargon were concerned some smaller commissions would get lost. There is a little disruption now. The Commissioner would have all 9-1-1 calls to go to one group instead of dispatch. She says she is hoping to vote this out to figure out the original intent and keep the conversation going.
There is further discussion about whether or not a law enforcement or non-law enforcement individual can be put in this position
Sen. Cassano says he supports this bill and that he serves on Homeland Security. He feels it is different than public safety. First Net and Homeland Security are two different animals. It's based on the quality of the individual to do the job. 15-20 years shows this works.
Sen. Miner says he would take a civilian over a sworn officer and asks if the current position is held by a sworn in officer. Hearing it is not, and there is no fiscal note out of this, the Governor could appoint someone which would verify that someone was getting a salary from the state.
Rep. Boyd says this position has never been held by a uniformed officer. The Commissioner has always been from the outside.
Rep. Fishbein observes that Commissioner Shriro has the tools to do everything in this bill now, so he doesn't understand why we're voting.
Chairman Larson calls for a roll call vote. The motion passes 14 yea, 11 nay.
Moving to H.B. No. 6041 the Chair asks for a motion. Motion: Rep. Verrengia Second: Rep. Sredzinski. Hearing no discussion Sen. Larson calls for a roll call vote. The motion passes 23 yea, 2 nay.
The Chairman says item #7 on the agenda is being held.
He asks for a motion on item #8 S.B. No. 849 on the agenda. Motion: Rep. Orange Second: Sen. Cassano. Hearing no discussion the Chair calls for a roll call vote. The motion passes, 25 yea, 0 nay.
Chairman Larson states item #9 is being held.
Moving to item #10, H.B. No. 5298, the Chair asks for a motion. Motion: Rep. Orange. Second: Rep. Sredzinski. Asking for discussion.
Rep. Sredzinski says this law would allow D.P.H to make things easier and urges passage. The Chair calls for a roll call vote. The motion passes 25 yea, 0 nay.
The Chair moves to item #11, H.B. No. 6266 and asks for a motion. Motion: Rep. DiMassa Second: Rep. Paolillo.
For discussion, Chairman Larson says he understands there is an amendment currently section 1 that is not consistent and ask for a motion to strike section 1.
Rep. Boyd says all sports venues should have some taxes on events. Rep. Fishbein says then MMA events would not be taxed where as others would. Hearing this is the case he says he will not support the bill. The Chair calls for a roll call vote. The motion passed 23 yea, 2 nay.
Item #12 S.B. 889 is addressed next. The Chair asks for a motion. Motion: Rep. Orange. Second: Sen. Cassano. Hearing no discussion the Chair asks for a roll call vote. The motion passes, 18 yea, 7 nay.
S.B. No. 806, moving on to the committee bill that addresses the crumbling concrete foundation issue, Sen. Larson asks for a motion. Motion: Rep. Verrengia Second: Rep. Orange. Discussion involves many of the committee members agreeing how large a problem this is and how important it is these people are helped.
Chairman Larson recognizes Sen. Miner with the understanding he has an amendment. A voice vote is asked for after some discussion and the amendment passes.
Sen. Guglielmo says there will be over a billion dollars of damage by the time this is through. No commercial buildings have been affected yet but people have paid for their taxes, insurance and some are even homeless now. He says he is generally not a big government guy but we help hurricane people, why not this?
Rep. Fishbein says he is sympathetic but does not believe this is a state or public safety issue. He mentions his own home being under water, as many peoples are but he's not asking for help. He says Rep. Davis on Judiciary wanted a foreclosure committee and concludes the state does not have the money to fix this so he cannot support this bill.
Rep. Boyd says he is not a fan of big government either, but since he represents many of the towns being affected by this, he feels we need to help them in some way and not throw up our hands and do nothing. He thinks the feds need to come to the table and it should be a team effort.
Rep. Rovero says his job as a state rep is not to spend money but this needs to pass as it is a heartbreaking situation.
Rep. Skulczyck says he understands Rep. Fishbein's issues but that this is out of control, and after 2 A.G.'s have looked at this, we can't keep kicking the can down the road. He thinks we need to work with the federal government and CROG.
Rep. Dauphinais says she also is sympathetic but if we bail them out then we should bail out the cities going bankrupt and who own homes there. She does not feel more burden should be put on the taxpayers.
The Chair calls for a roll call vote: The motion passes 19 yea, 6 nay.
Item #14, S.B. No. 890. Motion: Rep. Orange Second: Rep. Verrengia Hearing no discussion, Chairman Larson calls for a roll call vote. The motion passes 25 yea, 0 nay.
Item #15, H.B. No 7136. Motion: Rep.Verrengia Second: Sen. Cassano. Hearing no discussion, the Chair calls for a roll call vote. The motion passes 25 yea, 0 nay.
Item #16, H.B. No. 7137. The Chair calls for a motion. Motion: Rep. Verrengia. Second: Rep. Rovero. Discussion.
Rep. Fishbein says we hear we need to do more with less and DCP is saying we need to do less with less which he is in favor of, but they still want their hand in it. He feels the municipalities should handle this.
The Chair calls for a roll call vote. The motion passes 19 yea, 6 nay.
Item #17, H.B. No. 7238. Motion: Rep. Verrengia. Second: Sen. Guglielmo. Asking for discussion, Rep. Vail asks this is not a place holder bill? Sen. Larson says no. The Chair calls for a roll call vote. The motion passes 24 yea, 1 nay.
Item #18, H.B. No. 6260. Motion: Rep. Verrengia. Second: Sen. Cassano. Chairman Larson asks for discussion.
Rep. Zupkus says in talking to police this is an important bill that includes special needs and downs syndrome people.
Rep. Rovero asks if this includes Alzheimer's patients?
Rep. Zupkus says no, it is just for juveniles.
The Chair calls for a roll call vote. The motion carries, 25 yea, 0 nay.
Ending with Item #19 on the agenda, H.B. No. 6954, Sen. Larson asks for a motion. Motion: Rep. Verrengia Second: Rep. Sredzinski. In discussion, Rep. DiMassa asks for an amendment to strike section #2 because he wants to make sure it's only a study. He asks for LCO to explain and is told their goal is to strike the task force. Rep. DiMassa says he is fine with the study but he does not want a liability on the towns. He wants no language that is ambiguous that would lead to liability. In a voice vote the motion carries. No discussion after the amendment. The Chair asks for a roll call vote: The motion passes 24 yea, 1 nay.
Chairman Larson reminds the committee the meeting will remain open until 5 PM to leave votes open. He thanks the members and staff. Ranking Member Rep. Sredzinski thanks the committee and staff and says this committee is not for political purpose but for public safety. Sen. Guglielmo also thanks everyone as his first time as Co-Chair.
The meeting was adjourned at 5PM.
Asst. Committee Clerk