Government Administration and Elections Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Government Administration and Elections.
REASONS FOR BILL:
To make certain changes to the administration procedures of the Department of Public Works to authorize the auditing of large constructing contracts by the auditors of public accounts. To implement the environmental review of certain state land transfers. To make technical conforming changes to statutes concerning grants payments to municipalities by the comptroller's office. To authorize a study of advertising on state buildings. To exempt the names of minors enrolled in parks and recreation programs from full disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act and to also exempt under such act responses to bid solicitation by public agencies. Included in this bill are sections of HB 7373, HB 6248, HB 5249, HB 7146, HB 7148.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Nancy S. Wyman, State Comptroller.
Comptroller Wyman submitted testimony in favor of the bill as it would give her the ability to create a position as Assistant Comptroller which would bring her office in line with the Treasurers and Attorney Generals respective offices. The ability to do this would provide the Comptrollers office greater flexibility to meet their business needs. She also stated in her written testimony that within the bill are certain grant payments to municipalities to which her office has reviewed changes and has no objection too.
Ralph J. Carpenter, Commissioner, Department of Transportation.
Commissioner Carpenter testified in opposition to the bill stating that his department feels that conveyance or transfer of land alone will not significantly affect the environment, since the transfer is to a municipality would not direct cause an impact or pollution. Stating further that if any development was to take place after the land has been sold or transferred that use or development on that property must be in accordance with applicable local and state land use and environmental laws, regulations or permit requirements currently in place. In closing the Commissioner also that this bill would impede DOT's excess property sales program and leasing activity due to delays for processing property releases and would urge the Committee to oppose the bill.
James T. Fleming, Commissioner, Department of Public Works.
Commissioner Fleming testified that this bill would allow DPW to achieve administrative and operational efficiency as they continue to service their clients' agencies and the state's construction needs. He also pointed out that the release of certain information will have a negative impact on the state's bargaining position and may result in the state taxpayers having to pay a higher price for the goods or services being negotiated and that this bill seeks to provide a temporary exemption from FOIA until negotiations are complete and a contract is executed.
W. David LeVasseur, Under Secretary, Intergovernmental Policy Division, OPM
Mr. LeVasseur testified that in opposition to the section of the bill involving Environmental Impacts Statements. OPM has began the process of posting notice on the OPM website regarding proposed transfers of such surplus property from state ownership, in order to solicit public comments for any interested members of the public. These comments are then forwarded from OPM to the appropriate State agency which in turn would make a recommendation to OPM regarding the ultimate transfer of the surplus real property. In closing OPM believes this adequately resolves the issue that prompted this legislation and urges the committee's rejection.
Rep. Linda A. Orange, 48th District.
Rep. Orange testified in favor of this bill stating that it simply adds an exemption to the FOIA requirements to parks and recreation programs either operated or sponsored by any government agency. She also pointed out that schools already have full protection for the sole purpose of protecting the privacy of their students and the parks and rec. departments around the state should enjoy the same exemption.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Paul Brady, Executive Director, American Council of Engineering Companies of Connecticut.
Mr. Brady testified in favor of the bill but offered a language clarification, instead of “background in engineering” it would read “Professional Engineers licensed in the State of Connecticut”. The Committee thanked him for his suggestions and will work on the bill as it moves forward.
Richard Norris, Past President of the Connecticut Recreation and Parks Association, Current Director of the Windsor Recreation and Leisure Services Department.
Mr. Norris testified in favor of the bill stating that they fully support providing information such as it relates to the number or participants, ages, genders, and home community in the aggregate of children enrolled in programs , but not personal information such as: name, address and phone numbers. Mr. Norris thanked the committee for raising the bill and looks forward to its passage.
Kachina Walsh-Weaver, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities
Mrs. Walsh-Weaver testified in support of the bill section that would reduce the amount of time from 15 to five days for payment of emergency relief grants from the state to municipalities and urged its passage.
Roger Reynolds, Senior Staff Attorney, Connecticut Fund for the Environment.
Margaret Miner, Executive Director, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.
Both Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Miner testified in support if the mandate Public Notice of all state land transfers and thanked the committee for raising this bill again as it was within minutes of going through last year and would urge the committees support again this year.
Karl Wagener, Executive Director, Council on Environmental Quality.
Mr. Wagener testified in favor of the section pertaining to Environmental impact statements. Mr. Wagener pointed out that it requires the Commissioner of Environmental Protection to develop a policy for reviewing surplus lands at her option, and it establishes a procedure for notifying the public of land transfers through the environmental monitor. The Council on Environmental Quality publishes the Environmental Monitor, and has determined that we could accommodate these notices at no cost. In closing he stated that this bill is a very modest proposal for addressing a true need and would urge the committee's favorable vote.
CEPA working group also submitted a statement in support of the bill.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Colleen M. Murphy, Executive Director and General Counsel, Freedom of Information Commission.
Mrs. Murphy testified in opposition to the bill as currently drafted but stated that the FOI Commission does not object to the concept of the bill rather the language of the bill as drafted. The committee thanked her for her testimony and will work on language as the bill moves forward.
Robert Fromer, Environmental consultant,
Mr. Fromer testified in opposition to the bill and its specific section related to Environmental impact statements and its wording and would offer new language for the committees review but would urge the committee's rejection to the bill as drafted.
Reported by: Sean Brittell