It’s February after an election year, which can mean only two things: pitchers and catchers report soon and there’s an influx of bills in a new legislative session that make you go “stfu!”. Don’t ask me what stfu stands for. Seriously, it’s 2011.
So in a year where the only focus should be the economy, stupid, there already is no dearth of head scratch inducing bills that have been or are about to be proposed in the State legislature. I bring you these only as I can – with heaping amounts of derision.
So let’s get started:
Proposed S.B. 104: An act concerning the penalty for the sexual assault of a minor. Don’t bother reading it, it’s a proposed bill so there’s nothing more than a statement of purpose. I’ll tell you what the proposal is: one strike. Yes. One strike for people convicted of sexual assault of a minor under “certain circumstances”. That means, under “certain circumstances” you sexually assault a minor, the penalty is life.
I’ll tell you why such boneheaded bills get proposed: publicity and feeding into hysteria. Senator Witkos, who must know that there’s no chance in frozen Connecticut that his bill will pass, has introduced it only so he can look “tough on crime” (which we all know is on the way out and there’s no chance in frozen Connecticut Witkos will ever look ‘smart’ on crime). The implications of a bill such as this are frightening nonetheless. Apart from the severity of the penalty, there will almost certainly be no more plea bargaining for this sort of offense. What’s the incentive? None. Go to trial. Watch the system crumble. Watch children further traumatized. Good times, Witkos.
Proposed S.B. 87: An act concerning the prevention of convicted felons from receiving state social service benefits. If you thought 104 above was the extent of Witkos’ bright ideas, let me disabuse you of that notion. Here is another of his bright ideas. The statement of purpose is laughably uppity: To require that persons receiving state aid are law abiding citizens.
I hope, dear reader, that you have no need for me to list the various ways that this bill is a bad idea and insidious at worst. Whether the chicken came before the egg, the impact of this bill will squarely fall on the minority communities of Connecticut, whom some might argue have the greatest need for social services.
Proposed S.B. 395: An act concerning drug testing for recipients of cash assistance benefits. It seems that Sen. Kane is drinking whatever Witkos is. This bill would require periodic drug testing (yes, let out that sigh right about now) of people on state welfare. Hey, at least it’s no “one strike” bill. A first offense requires an evaluation. A second requires mandatory (!) drug abuse treatment and only a third will strip away benefits. Because there’s nothing like making poor people poorer to get them to stop using drugs.
Proposed S.B. 695: The “gun offender registry” bill. Proposed by longtime Senator Looney (now you get it), the bill would create a registry, similar to the sex offender registry, of people convicted of using guns during specified crimes. It helps keep track of gun users or something, apparently.
But I can’t hate on Looney too much, because for every crappy bill like the above, he proposes several good ones. For example, the bill legalizing less than an ounce of marijuana, the bill reducing the “drug free zones” to only 200 feet as opposed to 1500 feet and only during school hours, the bill to videotape interrogations, the bill to automatically make provisional pardons final after 5 years of crime free life (beautifully titled “To allow former offenders a better way to become productive members of society”), the bill making it illegal to detain in pre-trial status people charged with misdemeanors for longer than the maximum punishment (aka the bill “To create a more rational criminal justice system”);
and finally S.B. 788 which would give citizens the right to sue police departments who interfere with a citizen’s right to photograph or videotape events as long as they are not interfering with the police’s ability to perform their duty. Perhaps because of this or this?
Proposed H.B. 6076: The “residency restrictions” bill. Proposed once again by Rep. Roldan of Hartford, this is a reprise of the bill from last year, creating a 2000 foot buffer zone around schools, bus stops, parks, etc., prohibiting sex offenders from living there. You really want a link to my opposition? Fine. Word on the street is that Roldan himself is pretty sure that the bill won’t pass and yet has to introduce it to…I don’t know…avoid talking about the budget?
The Day of New London has more on other silly bills that shouldn’t have even taken seed in the minds of our esteemed legislators, but yet, here we are.
Oh, there’s a death penalty abolition and eyewitness ID reform bill too, but those deserve their own posts.