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Rep. Shaban: Start of 2014 Legislative Session Brings New Challenges, Opportunities

State Rep. John Shaban reviews bill proposals in the House Chamber on February 6th, opening day of the 2014 Legislative Session.
State Rep. John Shaban reviews bill proposals in the House Chamber on February 6th, opening day of the 2014 Legislative Session.
The 2014 Legislative Session convened this week, marking the start of a three-month-long “short session,” during which only bills related to financial matters may be considered by the General Assembly.
 
This year I will continue to serve as House Republican Leader of the Environment Committee, in addition to membership on the Judiciary and Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committees.
 
The legislature faces many challenges and opportunities as we begin a session that will focus in large part on making adjustments to our biennial state budget. Despite a $1.1 billion deficit projected for the next budget cycle, this year will see a $506 million one-time boost of excess cash from over-borrowing and some unforeseen income due to several large estates paying estate tax.
 
I am pushing for $5 million of that revenue to be dedicated to the Statewide Firearms Trafficking Task Force, which is the group charged with investigating illegal gun transfers and possession. Illegal handgun trafficking is the greatest source of gun violence, and the task force has been successful in taking guns out of the hands of criminals – but they are limited by inadequate funding and staffing. We need to focus more on what’s coming into our state in a criminal’s car trunk, and less on what’s in a law-abiding citizen’s gun safe, in addition to building upon the mental health reforms passed last year.
 
One of the environmental initiatives I am pursuing this year would allow Licensed Environmental Professionals to provide more frequent, incremental monitoring of construction jobs. The increased regularity of assessments will help prevent costly delays within the construction industry, and allow environmental assessors to more quickly identify issues that may negatively affect the surrounding area. A similar bill I’m proposing would promote efficiency in hazardous waste remediation by allowing for interim oversight throughout the process. This would not only streamline remediation, but help ensure more steady environmental evaluation.
 
I am also proposing a bill through the Energy and Technology Committee that would require the repair or replacement of a utility pole damaged as a result of an emergency by the first qualified person to arrive at the pole. It would also authorize that person to charge the owner the fair market value for the service. This legislation would allow utilities to better share their resources during an emergency and ensure that power is restored more quickly to customers.
 
You can follow committee meetings and House debates as they unfold live on Connecticut's public affairs television network, CT-N, or by streaming the proceedings online by visiting www.ctn.state.ct.us.
 
I encourage folks to continue to provide feedback to me as the legislature seeks to address the issues facing our state. If you have any questions or concerns related to state government, contact me at 800-842-1423 or john.shaban@housegop.ct.gov. Also, please follow my legislative activity throughout the session by logging on to my website, www.repshaban.com, and by connecting on Facebook: www.facebook.com/repshaban.
 
State Rep. John Shaban represents the 135th General Assembly District communities of Easton, Redding and Weston. Serving his fourth year in the legislature, Rep. Shaban is Republican House Leader of the Environment Committee.



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