CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY

SENATE

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Senate was called to order at 3: 13 p. m. , the President in the Chair.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon. Can the Senate please come to order? Members and guests, please rise. Direct your attention to Reverend Noele Kidney who is going to lead us in prayer.

NOELE R. KIDNEY:

In these difficult times, may our leaders find in their hearts the guidance and wisdom to do what is best for the people of Connecticut. Amen.

THE CHAIR:

Amen. Thank you. Well, you know what? I'm gonna have you come up, Senator Gerratana, and lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Thank you.

SENATORS:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Thank you very much. At this time, Mr. Clerk, do you have anything on your desk?

CLERK:

Just today's calendar, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator -- Senator Duff. Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Madam President, I will yield at the moment for any points of personal privilege or announcements. Are there any points of personal privilege or announcements? Seeing none, Senator Duff.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Madam President. If I can mark a few items go --

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Please proceed, sir.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Madam President. On calendar page 14, Calendar 344, Senate Bill 938 -- I'd like to mark that as go. On calendar page 11, Calendar 287, Senate Bill 42, I'd like to mark that item go. On calendar page 3, Calendar 43 -- I'm sorry -- calendar page 43, Calendar 193, Senate Bill 974. I'd like to mark that go.

On calendar page 45, Calendar 249, Senate Bill 901, I'd like to mark that go. On calendar page 12, Calendar 308, Senate Bill 977, I'd like to mark that item go. On calendar page 16, Calendar 351, Senate Bill 575, I'd like to mark that item go. On calendar page 19, Calendar 388, Senate Bill 885, I'd like to mark that item go.

THE CHAIR:


Thank you, sir
. Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 14, Calendar 334, Substitute for Senate Bill Number 938, AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH'S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE STATE-WIDE ADOPTION OF THE MEDICAL ORDERS FOR LIFE-SUSTAINING TREATMENT.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon again, Senator Gerratana.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Madam President, I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and passage of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on acceptance and passage. Will you remark, Ma'am?

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Yes. Madam President, before I explain the bill, I would like to have an amendment called. It is LCO Number 6268. If the clerk would please call and I'd be allowed to summarize.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

LCO Number 6268, Senate “A” offered by Senators Gerratana and Somers, et al.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Gerratana
.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

I move adoption, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on adoption. Will you remark?

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Yes. Thank you. The amendment before us cleans up some of the language in the underlying bill and also inserts in some areas, language that is needed to -- as the bill makes some sense. [Laughing] Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further on the amendment? Will you remark further on the amendment? If not, I'll try your minds. All those in favor of the amendment, please say “Aye”.

SENATORS:


Aye
.

THE CHAIR:

Opposed? The amendment passes. Senator Gerratana.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, this is a very important bill before us and I'd like to explain the bill, of course. It establishes a statewide program for the medical orders for life sustaining treatment in our state. Currently, the Department of Public Health has a voluntary -- I'm sorry, has a program that is a pilot in some communities that has been very, very successful.

I understand over 150 individuals have been participating and when I say that -- use the term voluntary, this is strictly a voluntary protocol that can be used between a practitioner, a medical doctor, an APRN or a physician assistant and his or her patient. It is not a legal document. Many people feel that this is an advanced directive; it's not in the legal sense.

An advanced directive is a legal document that you usually work with an attorney to draw up and the difference between MOLST and an advanced directive is a MOLST is live-sustaining. What to do in cases -- in this case, for individuals who may be in advanced frailty close to Hospice or palliative care or may be in a terminal illness such as cancer and a MOLST being a medical order you actually spend the time with your practitioner who undergoes training through the Department of Public Health and you go through the protocol -- there's actually a form that you fill out and it becomes a medical order that goes with you no matter where you go in the state, whether it's for emergency care in a hospital situation or in a nursing home or anywhere else.

An advanced directive, as I said, is a legal document and is usually comes into play when you are incapacitated, when you can no longer make a decision. Now I just want to talk a little bit about the importance of this legislation. Many of us here in the state have loved ones that may be in these particular situations that I described and it's very important that once this diagnosis comes down and once you're mom or dad have reached a point in their life where they have to make these kinds of decisions -- have a MOLST -- medical orders for life-sustained treatment -- are so important because this builds good relationships and gives the opportunity for you to take care of your loved one.

The Connecticut MOLST is a written medical order, as I said, and I also said patience approaching the end of a serious [Clearing throat] -- excuse me -- life limiting illness can complete the form with their healthcare provider. As I said, it is not an advanced directive or a DNR -- Do Not Resuscitate -- and they are only actionable when the patient has lost capacity as I also explained. Most as a way for the patient and the doctor and their loved ones and caregivers to talk about the medical protocols that they wish to make their end of life a comfortable part.

The bill also establishes an advisory council on MOLST. It would be composed of representatives from the Medical, Judicial, and Legal and Public Health and Health Care as well as Disability and Advocacy fields. The committee worked together to create policies or they will work together to create policies, training and forms for the pilot programs and it will be an on-going council at the DPH. I encourage the chamber to please support this very important legislation. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further on the bill? Senator Somers, good afternoon, Ma'am.

SENATOR SOMERS (18TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. I too rise in support of this bill. This is a bill that has been in the works for quite some time and I think it's important for us to keep in perspective that this allows the patient, even if they have had a living will crafted 20 years ago, it allows them to have their voice at the time of their -- when their life is ending and it's also important because there are many times when an elderly family member who may be sick has children that might be in their 60's, let's say and they may want something different than the person who is coming to the end of their life and this allows that person make the decision for themselves.

It also allows them to be very specific as far as what types of care and treatment that they themselves would like rather than being guilted by family members into doing perhaps something that they don't want to. It's good for the patient. It's good for a quality of life at the end of your life and it's also good for the physicians who have administer the care. A lot of thought was gone into this bill. I know that Representative Srinivasan worked on this tirelessly and I hope that you will support this going forward. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you very much. Will you remark further on the bill? Will you remark further on the bill? If not, Senator Gerratana.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Madam President, if there's no objection, I would ask that this item be placed on our Consent Calendar.

THE CHAIR:

Seeing no objection. So ordered. Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 11, Calendar 287, Senate Bill Number 482, AN ACT CONCERNING THE PREPARATION OF RACIAL AND ETHNIC IMPACT STATEMENTS.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon, Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and passage of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on acceptance and passage. Will you remark, sir?

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. This is a bill comes to us through the Government Administration and Elections Committee. It is a bill that actually I really wanted to see us do. Currently under the law, we have the requirement to prepare racial impact statements but it doesn't really happen in the way that I think we originally imagined.

So what this bill does is it changes our approach to the impact statement. At the request of a member, if we might have an impact on the population of those who are incarcerated in our state, a racial and ethnic impact statement would be created. I think it's good policy and I would urge this chamber to passage -- pass this. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? Senator McLachlan. Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. I stand for the purpose of questions to the proponent of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, Senator Winfield, for your work. We miss you on Government Administration and Elections. You were a terrific Co-Chair of the Committee and I know this is an issue that's very important to you. The questions I have pertain to the current process that we have to develop a racial impact statement. I wonder if you could share with us what is the difference between our current process and what you are proposing. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Through you, Madam President. That's an interesting question. Currently, for the bills that come before us that are deemed to have an impact on our population as discussed when I brought out the bill. There's supposed to be the preparation of one of these statements. I will be honest with you, I haven't really seen that which is part of why I got involved with this issue. I think we had imagined that there would be a landscape where for every bill that we were talking about, there would be the preparation of one of these statements.

I think one of the things that makes this a better way of approaching this issue is because I don't think we actually need it for every single thing that might actually have an impact. So this allows for a member who recognizes that they're dealing with an issue where that information might be important to request it and also reduces the number of times we would be doing it. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator McLachlan.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Senator Winfield. So it's my understanding that there is a process laid out for a -- an area that would require a racial impact statement whenever a proposed bill is likely to increase or decrease the correctional facility's population. And it's my understanding that that can be requested now by the Judiciary Committee membership. Is that your understanding as well? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. If you can give me a moment, I want to deal with the law as it's currently written. So beginning -- in the first year that I got here, 2009 -- what the law says is that a racial and ethnic impact statement shall be prepared with respect to certain bills and amendments that could if passed, increase or decrease pretrial or sentence population of the correctional facilities in this state. So that's what the law says we -- we're gonna do.

Now can one of us who is a part of the Judiciary Committee request as it relates to this that this be done? Absolutely. But as I read the law, we should be doing these for -- any of these things and we should have put a process in place but we should be doing this already for all of those things. What I'm suggesting is that I haven't really seen that work in a way that I imagined that it would work, one, and I think we don't necessarily need it for every single thing that might have some impact.

We need it for those things where that information is pertinent to what we're doing to help us get the bill through this building. So through you, Madam President, I hope that that answers the question.

THE CHAIR:

Senator McLachlan.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Senator Winfield. I think along with you, I arrived in 2009 also and since my arrival, I have served on the Judiciary Committee and I don't believe I've seen a racial impact statement. I'm not sure why, but I don't believe I've ever read one or seen what it looks like. So it seems to me that if that's the tool that we need to be more effective in our lawmaking then we certainly should have them.

I guess my only concern is that we seem to have a process in place where the Judiciary Committee can shepherd through the requirement that's currently in place -- the membership of the Judiciary Committee can vote to request an impact statement and this process actually exists in our joint rules -- of the Connecticut General Assembly.

So my only reluctance -- and I did support this out of committee. I don't object to the concept of racial impact statements. I think my only objection is that if one member of the legislature raises their hand and makes the request, I'm a little concerned that we may have a requirement of racial impact statements which I've never seen in almost nine years now -- over eight years, anyways.

That all of a sudden, we're gonna have all these racial impact statement requests and we don't have the staff to take care of that. The fiscal note on the bill has no dollar value to it, but it does have a rather unusual warning statement that additional staff may be required.

And so, for those two reasons, I raise those concerns to the proponent to see if you can share with us why it's still a great idea for one member of the General Assembly to request a racial impact statement when in fact, we can get them already under the current budget constraints that we have, what happens if all of a sudden, we need more staff to take care of this? Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. So I will make an attempt to answer all of the questions that were embedded that interrogation. So I've already explained what the law currently allows for. I've actually asked for racial impact statements. I've never actually seen one myself. I think that should be -- that should indicate how well our process is working. I think it is important to remember that we're talking about bills that would likely increase or decrease the prison population. I think that's a very small subset of the bills that we do here.

There's a lot of impact on certain communities based on their demographic information but to increase or decrease the prison population, we're not talking about a lot of bills through any session. I've been here -- this is my ninth session. I usually deal with those bills. There are one or two bills directly a session. I'm pretty sure that the people who prepared the fiscal note are professionals.

I don't think one or two potential statements is really going to require us to have additional staff and even if it does, it's not gonna require us to have additional staff that's going to be five or six people. So the reason I think it's important for an individual to be able to request and to be the one to know that that request was made was because I've attempted to do this in the past under the system we have. It hasn't worked and it would be useful to -- at least the work that I do -- that we have this ability. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, sir. Senator McLachlan.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Senator Winfield. I will continue to support this bill. I thank you for bringing it forward and I just think that we should keep track of what the burden may be. In the future if we discover that this is gonna create a challenge for staff to complete this assignment, then we'll have to either rethink it or see to it that there's enough staff to monitor and execute this request. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further on the bill? Will you remark further on the bill? If not, Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Madam President, if there's no objection, I'd ask that this be placed on Consent.

THE CHAIR:

There's an objection. A roll call vote will be taken. Mr. Clerk, will you call for a roll call vote and the machine will be open.

CLERK:

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate. Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk, can you make another call please?

CLERK:

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate. Immediate Roll Call in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

The machine is closed. Have all members voted? All members have voted. The machine will be closed. Mr. Clerk, will you please call the tally?

CLERK:

Senate Bill 482.

Total number voting 36

Those voting Yea 35

Those voting Nay 1

Absent and not voting 0

THE CHAIR:

The bill passes. (Gavel) Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On Page 43, Calendar 193, Senate Bill Number 974, AN ACT REQUIRING THE STUDY OF ENERGY SOURCES. And there are amendments.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield. Good afternoon again, sir.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Good afternoon again, Madam President. I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and passage of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on acceptance and passage. Will you remark, sir?

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. The bill before us was to do a study of energy sources but we are going to amend it, so I believe that the clerk is in possession of LCO 8384. I'd ask that he call it and I be granted leave of the chamber to summarize.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

LCO Number 8384, Senate "A" offered by Senators Looney, Duff, et al.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Winfield
.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. What the --

THE CHAIR:

Excuse me, sir. Can the chamber please quiet down a little bit? Thank you very much. Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. Thank you. Madam President, what this amendment does is --

THE CHAIR:

Move adoption, sir?

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Sorry. Yes, absolutely. I move adoption.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on adoption. Will you remark, sir?

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. I got a little excited.

THE CHAIR:


I know
. It's okay.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

What this amendment does is it strikes the language in the underlying bill and replaces it so that what we are doing in the first section is creating a work group. And that work group is established to study broadband internet access and consumer data privacy. It's also going to study standards related to the protection of consumer data.

It's going to study the definitions of sensitive and non-sensitive consumer personal information and methods of enforcing consumer data privacy. The members that will be a part of this are the Attorney General, the officer -- the Office of Consumer Council, a member of the Commerce Committee, a member of the Energy Committee, representative of non-profit with expertise in data privacy, members of the broadband industry, an attorney with consumer privacy expertise.

Also, there's a report that would be due from the working group that would be due January 15th to the Committees of Cognizance which would be Energy and Commerce. This is an important thing, particularly in this session. There is no mileage reimbursement for that working group.

And then we get to Section 2, which looks at the existing data breach notification statute that we have and it makes it clear that the CVC code -- that three digit code that's on the back of your credit cards or debit cards does not have to be breached along with your account information in order to require customer notification. I would urge adoption.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further on Senate “A”? Senator Formica. Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR FORMICA (20TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Pleasure to see you again. I rise in support of this amendment. This is -- you know, a problem that is becoming more prevalent with regard to data breach moving forward and unauthorized access of credit card information. This bill seeks to extend some opportunities that the attorney general has been interested in. That is covering -- monitoring services for up to two years now if this happens, so I urge adoption. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further on Senate “A”? Will you remark further? If not, I'll try your minds. All those in favor of Senate “A”, please say “Aye”.

SENATORS:

Aye.

THE CHAIR:

Opposed? Senate “A” is adopted. Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Madam President, if there is no objection, I'd ask this be moved to the Consent Calendar.

THE CHAIR:

Let's try on this one. Seeing no objection. So ordered, sir. Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 45, Calendar 249, Substitute for Senate Bill Number 901, AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH'S RECOMMENDATION REGARDING ADOPTION OF A MODEL FOOD CODE.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Would the senate stand at ease for a moment?

THE CHAIR:

Senate will stand at ease for just that moment. The Senate will come back to order. Senator Duff. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I would yield to Senator Gerratana, please.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Gerratana, do you accept the yield, Ma'am?

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

I do, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Great.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

So sorry, I was working on other legislation in the hallway.

THE CHAIR:

No problem, Ma'am.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and passage of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on acceptance and passage. Will you remark, Ma'am?

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, the clerk has an amendment, LCO Number 8243. If he would please call and I be allowed to summarize.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk. Sorry. The Senate will stand at ease for a moment. The Senate will come back to order. Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

LCO Number 8243, Senate "A" offered by Senators Gerratana, Somers, et al.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Gerratana.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I move adoption.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on adoption. Will you remark, Ma'am?

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, this amendment is a strike-all amendment. It changes -- it actually doesn't change the underlying bill in its intent but it does change the organizational -- the organizational way that the bill is written and what it does is that we are having -- this comes from the Department of Public Health, having the Department of Public Health adopt a new food code and it's based on the model food code which is developed and promulgated on the federal level.

This is very important for a number of reasons. One is of course, the Department is the entity that regulates and oversees and makes sure that the food that we eat in commercial establishments or in schools or a variety of situations is regulated and appropriate. It handles and addresses everything from the temperature of the food and how it should be held and how it should be prepared and also, this bill regulates and makes sure that each establishment has a food code manager.

Someone who is certified and oversees and makes sure -- particularly in -- depending on the classification of the establishment -- such as -- and in this case, class III or class IV, an establishment that serves food to the public to make sure that that food is safe for us to eat. So the food code is important to update because of course, there are new -- there's new technology in food production and preparation as well as everywhere else in society. It modifies the definition of the four classifications of food establishments.

The old code talked about food service but in this case we're actually talking about establishments. We do have certain exemptions such as for soup kitchens and we have specific regulations here for farmers markets which are already in statute but we updated the language and made it consistent with the food code.

We also had to do -- one of the sections because I know I had discussions with Senator Frantz about legislation we passed previously on sous vide and acidification of rice used in sushi. There is a section in the bill that addresses that because as we phase out the old food code and institute the new there would be a year gap and the department can issue a variance so that these establishments can continue to serve food under the old law. So with that, I would urge the chamber to adopt the amendment. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Just for correction, it will be marked Senate “B”. Will you speak further on Senate “B”? Senator McLachlan.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I stand for the purpose of a question to the proponent of that amendment.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Senator Gerratana, thank you for your work on this legislation. My question is, does this proposed amendment significantly change the operation and/or regulation of restaurants in the State of Connecticut? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Gerratana.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Thank you, Madam President. My understanding that the restaurant association is in complete support of this legislation. In fact, they have been asking for it, if you will, which is why we had to do special legislation in the past. They have been keeping up with of course, the education and training that is needed in the restaurant setting in particular.

Many of them and some that I have even talked to have asked me to have our food codes updated. So I know this is greatly needed. It will change in the sense that the certification and training of the person who oversees food production -- as I understand, has to be certified -- and that is something that is greatly needed and they are, I know, in complete support. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator McLachlan.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Senator Gerratana. I have no further questions but just a comment. I've had an experience very recently as a commercial realtor trying to help a new restaurant start up in my home town and get all the necessary permitting required and build a new kitchen and I'll never forget going in to visit the restaurateur as he was finishing his construction and about ready to get a certificate of occupancy and he gave me a tour of the kitchen. And I was amazed as he pointed to a small sink that looked like a sink that would go in a dollhouse -- it was tiny, as big as a laptop, in fact.

It was just a tiny sink but it was next to three other sinks and he said that that sink is required by regulations here in Connecticut to wash your hands but there are three other sinks lined up right next to it and so he said, you know, it seems sort of silly to have a fourth sink lined up next to three others that are already there for pot washing and yet, that sink costs another $ 250 or $ 300 dollars -- I forget what it was.

The point was, he used that as an example but he said there were many other things that didn't seem to be common sense requirements. And some highly burdensome. Certainly the fancy grease trap is one of the very expensive costs to build a restaurant kitchen. But my point is just to -- for us to remain aware as we are laws that affect small businesses that we question our professionals. We understand the health department is a professional in the field. But I don't think there's any logical explanation for having a fourth sink lined up next to three others.

So I use that as an example that I hope my fellow legislators will look carefully at legislation that we pass and make sure that we're not creating a financial burden to our small businesses. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Senator Formica.

SENATOR FORMICA (20TH):

Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon again, sir.

SENATOR FORMICA (20TH):

Thank you, Madam President, although a bit late, I must recuse myself from this particular piece of legislation and I will be leaving the chamber. And I apologize for not being able to get up sooner.

THE CHAIR:

No problem. We'll wait till you leave the chamber. Senator Miner. Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. I too have a couple of questions on the amendment, please, if I might, through you.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Section 4 -- the section seems to speak about the serving of food. Which is separate and apart from food sold. And so through you, Madam President. It's not uncommon for me to go to the grocery store on a weekend or a hardware store and find somebody selling a plate of cookies or anything like that, as a fundraiser for a cross country team or some lake association, all usually charitable, most of which I would assume at this point, don't run over to Torrington Area Health to get a permit.

Is there anything in this language -- the section that I just referred to that would require any of those circumstances to have a permit -- after the passage of this? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Gerratana.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Thank you, Madam President. No, Senator Miner, in fact, later on in the bill -- I was frantically trying to go through it -- there are exceptions as I mentioned: soup kitchens, bake sales, that sort of thing. I think in other parts of our statute there are some guidelines, if you will. Regulations that address this but the classifications are class I, class II, III, and IV. I believe is what we're talking about.

They're already in statute and the thing that we have to understand is that these classifications then are degrees, if you will, of how and where food is served -- how that will be regulated. There are -- for instance, a class IV would be vulnerable populations like school children in a school cafeteria, that sort of thing, and along with these classifications as I said for establishments, what you're talking about would not be an establishment per se.

It wouldn't be a restaurant, it wouldn't be a school cafeteria, it wouldn't be a place where food is served normally. So if you wish and if we could stand at ease, I will actually go to and look at the parts of the bill that if he wishes, that exempt -- I think there's a laundry list of incidences and instances as you described.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Miner.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

So -- thank you, Madam President. And I thank the gentlelady for offering. No, I -- I mean, I would take you at your word that these are exempt -- these kind of bake sales, cookie sales, generally homemade products, generally for a dollar, generally nobodies making a fortune and I don't know whether the level of risk in that circumstance would rise to the level of a permit or an inspection, but I am curious about the reference of an exemption for a soup kitchen.

It strikes me as odd that we would somehow make a determination that in a place that would prepare what I think would be a full meal more often than not, the people of need get -- the kitchen in which that's prepared -- the mechanism in which that may be prepared, the licensure under which that might be prepared, would somehow be exempt. Is there any reason to worry about whether or not the standard of preparation either in maintaining temperature or anything like that in a soup kitchen would somehow be risky business because they are carved out of this? Through you, Madam President.

Senator Gerratana.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Through you, Madam President. I would like to direct you to Section 8, Senator Miner, and in there, nothing in this section or sections 3 to 7 inclusive of this act shall limit the authority of directors of health -- but it also goes on lines 288 that says the exemption -- well, actually -- 281 talks about certified farmers' markets shall not limit the authority of the commissioner of Agriculture and then in 288, the provisions of the food code that concern the employment of a certified food manager and any reporting requirements relative to such food manager shall not apply to an owner or operator of a soup kitchen that relies exclusively on services provided by volunteers, any -- excuse me.

Any volunteer who serves meals from a nonprofit organization and it goes on there. So what we are doing in this legislation is actually saying that there are exemptions from having that certified food manager but these situations would be classified under -- and they are in different parts of the statute -- under the classification of food establishments and those -- like class I and is there vulnerable populations involved and that sort of thing.


And that would be determined at the establishment of the soup kitchen from what I understand would be established as to who are you serving, are they considered vulnerable in which case then I will say that the concerns that you raised would be a direct so that we make sure that food temperature is appropriate, that certain procedures regarding the handling of food is appropriate
. But you would not need to have the -- this process overseen by a food -- a certified food production manager. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Miner.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

Thank you, Madam President. So all the safeguards that we would be looking for with regard to public health must still be in place?

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Yes.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

You just don't have to have the certified person on premises and that does permit an opportunity for all the things that are listed in that section again, theoretically, no reduction in public safety, public health, just that -- what might be otherwise onerous title to have to meet every time its functioning.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Gerratana.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Through you, Madam President. I'm sorry. Yes. That's correct.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

Thank you --

THE CHAIR:

Senator Miner.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

I thank the gentlelady for her response.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further on the amendment? Will you remark further on the amendment? If not, let me try your minds. All those in favor of Senate “B” please say “Aye.

SENATORS:

Aye.

THE CHAIR:

Opposed? Senate “B” is adopted. Will you remark further on the bill? Senator Gerratana.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

I think Madam President, we need a roll call vote since Senator Formica has recused himself.

THE CHAIR:

That's true. Thank you very much.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

You're welcome, Madam.

THE CHAIR:

At this time, Mr. Clerk, will you call for a roll call vote and the machine will be open.

CLERK:

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

If all members have voted, all members have voted. The machine will be closed. Mr. Clerk, will you call the tally?

CLERK:

Senate Bill 971.

Total number voting 35

Those voting Yea 35

Those voting Nay 0

Absent and not voting 1

THE CHAIR:

The Bill passes. (Gavel) Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. On the next item, I mark that -- I'd like to mark that item PT please.

THE CHAIR:

Yes, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

And if we can then move to the next two items that I've marked.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 16, Calendar 351, Substitute for Senate Bill Number 575, AN ACT CONCERNING PRACTICES AND PROCEDURES OF THE RISK REDUCTION CREDIT PROGRAM. There are amendments.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon, Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. [Clearing throat] Great to see you this lovely Friday afternoon. I would at this time move adoption of the Joint Committee's favorable report and passage of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on adoption and passage. Will you remark, sir?

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

This bill basically is two pronged and in effect, one of them is to codify what members of the Judiciary Committee believe are exemplary procedures of the Corrections Commissioner Scott Semple in using the risk reduction credit program at this time. In speaking to the Commissioner, even just as recently as yesterday, we all realized that while he's been doing a fantastic job, no one remains commissioner forever.

And so it would be very beneficial to codify the internal practices that he's utilizing in the Department of Corrections. And the other prong of this bill is to add four extremely serious crimes to the small number of crimes that would disallow an inmate from utilizing the risk reduction program: assault in the first degree, assault in first degree of an elderly, a blind, disabled, pregnant, or developmentally disabled person, assault of a pregnant person resulting in the termination of pregnancy, and sexual assault in the first degree. And I urge my colleagues to support this bill. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? Senator Doyle.

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

The clerk has an amendment, LCO 8313. May the clerk please call and I be allowed to summarize.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.


CLERK
:

LCO Number 8313, Senate “A” offered by Senators Looney and Duff.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Doyle.

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. I move adoption of the amendment.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on adoption. Will you remark sir?

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. This amendment is a strike everything amendment -- a strike-all amendment as we're aware. Senator Kissel has mentioned that this program was -- you know, is performed very well by our current commissioner. I think everyone universally believes Commissioner Semple's doing a great job and this overall risk reduction program, over the past several years, since its creation -- there's been some issues through the years -- I would -- it was created maybe five or so years ago.

A few years ago, the legislature added some additional crimes to the list that Senator Kissel just mentioned so today, this amendment here would seek to create a task force to have a deliberate review of the overall risk reduction credit program and kind of look into a significant delivery process to see if additional offenses should be added and also to take a closer look at the internal procedures used in the administration of the program codified. You know, the file copy talks about converting over to having the Department do official regulations and this would give us an opportunity to consider if that's an appropriate decision.

But clearly, overall, the program whether you support it or not and some do, some don't -- I think we all agree Commissioner Semple does an excellent job. He responds to us and he's an excellent commissioner. So I think this task force would be a good way to review the entire program, make it deliberate and see which -- if we should add some more and whether we should, you know, make official regulations for the procedures that the Commissioner uses. So again, Madam President, I urge the chamber to adopt this amendment. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Will you speak further on the amendment? Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I rise to oppose the amendment. Not because the amendment doesn't have merit, which it certainly does -- I would support it strongly if it was added to the underlying bill that he's trying to amend. Because this is a strike-all, it takes away a very good bill, a bill that's necessary, a bill that could help to protect and save lives.

So I just would suggest that maybe the proponent of this amendment might want to reconsider and make it an add-on to the bill that's being discussed -- the underlying bill. Because if that were to be the case, not only would we have a measure that would help to -- help to be a safeguard for the general public but it would also help to analyze what is happening as well and you could make further improvements to that once you have the information. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further on the amendment? Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. I also rise in opposition to the amendment. While I'm never opposed to studies as a matter of practice, and usually they're quite beneficial, and in just speaking to Senator Doyle at this time, I believe the task force reflects the equal balance in this chamber. I do feel that it's widely acknowledged that the current practices of the Department of Corrections under the oversight of Commissioner Semple are looked at very favorably and I would hate to lose that aspect at this time of the bill. And to that extent, I would ask for a roll call. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

A roll call vote will be taken. Will you remark further on the amendment? Will you remark further on the amendment? Seeing not. Mr. Clerk, will you call for a roll call vote on the amendment and the machine will be open.

CLERK:

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate on Senate Amendment Schedule “A”. Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

Immediate roll call in the Senate on Senate Amendment Schedule “A”. Immediate Roll Call in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

All members have voted. The machine will be closed. Mr. Clerk, will you -- no he already voted. The machine is locked. Senator Martin, did you want to change your vote, sir? Guess not. Okay.

Mr. Clerk will you call for a -- call the roll -- I mean, sorry -- the tally?

CLERK:

Senate Amendment Schedule “A”.

Total number voting 36

Those voting Yea 18

Those voting Nay 18

Absent and not voting 0

THE CHAIR:

At this time -- [pause] the Chair is going to vote in the affirmative. And the amendment is now adopted. (Gavel)

At this time, Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. Well as that amendment now becomes the bill, I don't know if there's any opposition. I don't see any, so I'd just like to move that bill to Consent, at this time.

THE CHAIR:

Oh, okay. Seeing no opposition. [Laughter] All right with me. Okay. Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 19, Calendar 388, Senate Bill Number 885, AN ACT CONCERNING RECOVERY OF PAYMENTS FROM COLLATERAL SOURCES BY A MUNICIPALITY WITH A SELF-INSURED HEALTH PLAN. And there's an amendment.

THE CHAIR:

Oh, you're right. Senator Kissel, we have to turn back -- oh you put it on Consent. Yeah. Senator Kissel, please proceed, sir. It's so good to see you again this afternoon, sir.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

[Laughing] Delighted to see you once again, as well, Madam President. I move adoption of the Joint Committee's favorable report and passage of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on acceptance and passage. Will you remark, sir?

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. The clerk should have in his possession, LCO Number 8396. I would move adoption of the amendment, waive a reading, and ask leave to summarize.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

8396?

THE CHAIR:

8396, sir?

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

That's correct. I know it's just -- probably -- it's been in the machine for like four minutes or something like that. We may have to wait a little bit.

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will stand at ease. Senator Kissel, it hasn't been filed yet. Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

LCO Number 8396, Senate “D” offered by Senators Kissel and Suzio.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

I move adoption and waive the reading and ask leave to summarize.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on adoption. Will you remark further, sir?

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Essentially we had debated the previous piece of legislation which would codify the practices of the Commissioner of Corrections and also add four very serious crimes to the list of -- to the very small list of crimes which would disallow someone from receiving risk reduction credits.

These four crimes, are one, assault in the first degree, essentially assault with a deadly weapon or disfiguring assault. The second crime is assault in the first degree of an elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant, or developmentally disabled person. The third crime is assault of a pregnant person resulting in the termination of her pregnancy. And the fourth crime is sexual assault in the first degree, forcible raping, gang rape, intercourse with a person under the age of 13, when the defendant is or when the defendant is more than two years older.

All of these are class B felonies and extremely serious crimes and the amendment is -- the bill is -- the amendment is tailored rather, to be prospective only so as to make sure that any vested rights that current inmates have would not be affected but it was the sense of many of us in the Judiciary Committee that these are crimes so heinous and serious that they should disallow someone convicted of them from receiving risk reduction credits. And at this time, Madam President, I would like to yield to Senator Suzio if he would accept the yield.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio, do you accept the yield?

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Yes, I do, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President. It's very nice to see you this afternoon. I rise --

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, sir.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

I rise in strong support of the proposed amendment. I was here six years ago almost to the day when the original law was passed regarding risk reduction earned credits and I remember thinking at the time that there'll be some tragedies as a result of this law. Little did I know that only six months later, a murder would occur only four blocks from where I live in Meriden -- an innocent store owner -- elderly store owner -- named Ibrahim Ghazal was murdered in cold blood by an inmate who had been released prematurely from prison under this program.

And I remember seeing up close and personal the faces of the family and the victim's family members and the suffering that they endured because of that terrible crime and violent crime. I promised the family at that time that I would do everything I could to improve the law and to reform the law and to make criminals guilty of extremely violent crimes not eligible for participation in the program and this amendment today is a step in that direction. It's a small step but it's a good step. A step in the right direction.

I just happened to take a look at the statistics for the first five years of the program -- five years and four months during which 44,000 prisoners were discharged under the program and 705 of those criminals were -- had been convicted of the crimes that we're bringing up today that would not be eligible.

So it's a small segment of the population but it's a segment of the inmate population that has committed extremely vile and violent crimes and this is a move to -- as Senator Kissel mentioned, prospectively to remove them from eligibility to participate in the program and to make certain they serve the full sentence for the heinous crimes that they committed and I urge all of my fellow members here in the circle to support the amendment.

I urge you to think about the victims and their families who have suffered as a result of these crimes and to think of it in terms of an improvement and a reduction in the potential for crimes of this nature to be committed by criminals from -- who have been released from prison early. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. A few questions for the proponent of the amendment.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes, Madam President. Thank you. And through you, I guess my first question is about the concept of risk reduction credits. Since we're seeking to eliminate the things for which it applies, could you speak a little bit about the concept of risk reduction credits and why we sought to do it in the first place?

THE CHAIR:

I'm sorry. Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. The concept of risk reduction credits is to incentivize good behavior of inmates in the Department of Corrections. I've gone to some national symposia regarding the implementation of the risk reduction credit program -- both states that lean Republican as well as states that lean Democrat have adopted this.

The one difference in Connecticut, going back to when it was originally adopted was under the national model, they had urged states to try to build bipartisan support by making it prospective and making it only apply to non-violent crimes then circling back after about a year and assessing its efficacy. In Connecticut, we raced forward not with just non-violent crimes, but with some very violent crimes and in fact, modifications had to be put forward in the House before the House even adopted it.

And it also was retroactive based upon an inmate's scheduled report of activities which undermined a lot of support and indeed by having those two differences from the national model unfortunately in Connecticut there was not bipartisan support and it actually broke along party lines with not a single Republican vote of support. In the meantime though, under Commissioner Semple and his predecessor Commissioner Arnone, there's been reviews done within the Department of Corrections.

It's applicability has been tightened up and indeed there's discussions between leadership of the Judiciary Committee and the Department of Corrections regarding trying to determine, a, if there's any other crimes that would disallow an individual from receiving risk reduction credits but also what misbehavior that an inmate might be engaged in, which would cause them either to lose all or some of the acquired risk reduction credits.

There are positive feedback when I go on tour of my correctional facilities and I have six correctional facilities within my district and folks know that I never lose an opportunity of reminding folks that I have the most correctional facilities of any other state senator, but the men and women who are on the front lines say that to a great extent it has helped with inmate's behavior issues when the rules and regulations regarding its applicability are spelled out in a bright-line test.

The other area that we have to look at and is a subject of much criticism is an individual receiving risk reduction credits simply by signing up for a course but never even participating in a course, let alone finishing the course. And there are again, discussions going on between Judiciary Committee leadership and the Commissioner and his staff regarding that because there's just something that strikes most folks as fundamentally unfair although the Department of Corrections feel that it's their fault if they don't have enough to staff to bring the programs forward but if you go to a college, they're not gonna give you credit for a course if it's overly booked and you can't get in there.

So there's mixed reviews at this point in time but I believe the risk reduction program in the State of Connecticut is moving in a much more tightened well-regulated direction and that's my assessment of where it stands right now. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. I thank the proponent of this amendment for that response. Another question, through you, Madam President. So it seems to me, I believe that what I heard was that the way that we got to passing risk reduction credits may not have been the way that we wanted to but that we did pass something that has been in effect for a little bit of time. And then that there was going to be some review conducted about whether or not we should pull back, what we should be doing, and we have a bill in front of us.

Does this bill that's in front of us come from a review or does it come from a sense that these particular crimes are egregious and so they should not be attached to risk reduction credits? I guess my question really is how did we actually get here? Is it the sense that they're egregious and so therefore they shouldn't be there or is it through a review process that is not looking for a particular answer but that arrived [sic] us at this point? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. Through you to proponent of the question. When we originally passed the risk reduction credit program, there was an assessment as to what the public's view of the program would be and whether the overall majority of the public would find it acceptable. And so that's an subjective assessment and this continues along that line and by that I mean, nobody thought somebody who committed murder should get risk reduction credits.

And then it got expanded to home invasion and severe acts of violence against individuals and I'll be quite frank, it was in the environment where we had just gone through the whole Cheshire triple slaying and everything that was associated therewith. And so how the public feels about certain crimes impacted how we even started this program.

These are very serious crimes and it follows along the line of being more subjective than objective, whether one would be able to conduct the study, and sort of drill down to find out which inmates convicted of what crimes do better with the risk reduction program as to others. I don't know if that's possible.

I would guess that we would get some feedback from something like that but there is always this sort of circumnavigation where sort of do an assessment of where the public feels regarding our corrections and criminal justice policy and I would state that this is a -- we feel that there's strong support not only within the public but within members of the Judiciary Committee to add these four very, very serious crimes to -- again, that very narrow coterie of crimes where one would not be allowed to utilize these programs. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. I, again, thank the proponent of the amendment. I'll just make a statement and then I will sit down. It is precisely for the things that were explained in the last exchange that I rise in opposition to this amendment and I guess, therefore, the bill. It seems to me that everything that I've read about risk reduction credits or earned credits or anything that's in this realm, suggests that what it actually does is it moderates behavior in a positive way and that the incentive that we're seeking is a good thing for our criminal justice system and actually offers protections to people.

We want to make sure that the people who get out of our system have improved while they're in the system. That's what we have sought to do. That is what the science -- I've read many studies -- suggests that we would be doing and I think it's actually more dangerous to do what we are seeking to do under this proposal and so for that reason, I rise in opposition. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further on Senate “A”? Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. I would just state that part of the equation in coming up with these four additional crimes is the effect upon the victims and the victims' families and there needs to be some element of predictability at the time of sentencing when a crime is so heinous. It doesn't mean inmates can't take programs, it just means they're not gonna get additional time off for taking those programs. But knowing that there's a difference of opinion amongst my friends and colleagues here in the circle, I would now ask for a roll call vote on this amendment that becomes the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further on the amendment? Senator Looney. Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR LOONEY (11TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Speaking in opposition to the amendment, Madam President. Madam President, risk reduction credits are not automatic in our system. That inmates do need to meet certain standards to be awarded these credits. They have to show good faith, participation in programs, compliance with rules.

It isn't done in a vacuum and it's not an automatic thing that is guaranteed to those -- to shorten their sentences so that we depend upon the corrections staff to make a judgement as to how active and engaged the inmate is in these programs in order to be able to access the credit. And prison is supposed to rehabilitate as well as to punish. It has multiple purposes.

In fact, our entire criminal justice system has several different motivations that are often studied in criminal justice classes in isolation but in reality, often operate together and that is the purpose of retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, and restoration, often resulting in some sort of compensation for the victim but these purposes all operate at the same time in our system and it is important to remember that there is a significant issue of management of the prison population.

And the issues relating to the safety of the corrections staff and also to rules compliance so that if an inmate has no incentive to attempt reform, the likelihood that he will even begin down that path is very minimal. And one of the things that we have seen most often, Madam President, is that the most dangerous offenders coming back into society are the ones that are designated as end-of-sentence releases.

The ones that served a maximum sentence are under no supervision when they come out because they have served the max that they would have been in any circumstance required to serve. They're not on any kind of supervision, they're not on parole, they're not coming to a halfway house. They come out the prison door onto the street. Those are the ones who are and have been identified for years as the ones most likely to reoffend. Because they often come out without any kind of support staff.

Here in New Haven, many of them wind up in a homeless shelter on the first night that they've been released and this is a chronic problem. Some said well they were the hardcore offenders who didn't comply with the rules and didn't earn credits but everyone must remember that almost everyone except for that small number of people who are sentenced to life in prison do come back. They do come back into society. They are living in our communities.

They are out on the streets and it is in all of our interests to try to find ways to rehabilitate them if they are going to come out or at least give them some incentive to come out less dangerous to the community than they went in. We saw an example of this some years ago, Madam President, when Governor Rowland, I believe during one of this campaigns looking to take a tough on crime stance argued in favor of doing away with access to weight lifting rooms and exercise rooms for the prison inmates, saying that it was costing them too much and that prison was too much like a hotel and they needed to suffer more, I think he put it, while they were in prison.

And surprising to some, the corrections union came out against that proposal because they said that access to exercise facilities and access to weight rooms was something that they could use as a disciplinary tool. That is, to grant that access when the prisoner was being compliant, to withhold it when the prisoner was not being compliant. So these issues are, I think, a lot more complex than what is reflected in this amendment today.

Certainly these are serious crimes but it is in all of our interest, and it's in society's interest to try to do everything we can to make sure that those who come out of prison, as I said before, are less dangerous than when they went in. And if they have not been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, then they are going to be out in our community once again. It is in all of our interests if everything that can be done to deter them, if not to rehabilitate them while they are in prison, it's in all of our interests to do even though the offense was serious.

So I would urge rejection of the amendment and I think that we have already dealt responsibly with this issue by passing the amendment to the previous bill that constituted a study of all of these issues to report back to the General Assembly next year. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further on Senate “A”? Will you remark further? At this time, I'll call for a voice vote -- a roll call vote. Roll call vote, the machine will be open. Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate on Senate Amendment Schedule “A”. Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

All the Senators are in the chamber. Please vote.

Mr. Clerk, will you call the roll call vote and the machine will be closed.

CLERK:

Senate Amendment Schedule “A”.

Total number voting 36

Those voting Yea 21

Those voting Nay 15

Absent and not voting 0

THE CHAIR:

The amendment passes. (Gavel) At this time, will you speak further on the bill that we just adopted? If not, Mr. Clerk, call for another roll call vote and the machine will be open.

CLERK:

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate. Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

All Senators please vote. Senators in the chamber.

All Senators have voted, all Senators have voted. The machine will be closed. Mr. Clerk, will you call the tally?

CLERK:

Senate Bill 885.

Total number voting 36

Those voting Yea 21

Those voting Nay 15

Absent and not voting 0

THE CHAIR:

The bill passes. (Gavel) Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, if we can go back to the previously marked PT.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 12, Calendar 308, Substitute for Senate Bill Number 977, AN ACT CONCERNING ACCESS TO ORIGINAL BIRTH RECORDS BY ADULT ADOPTED PERSONS.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon, Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. It's good to see you today.

THE CHAIR:

Good to see you, sir.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

Madam President, I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and move passage of the bill, waive its reading and seek to leave summarize.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on acceptance and passage. Will you remark, sir?

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

Yes. Madam President, I believe the clerk is in possession of an amendment, LCO 7034.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

LCO Number 7034, Senate “A” offered by Senator Cassano.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

Yes. Madam President, this is a strike-all amendment for Senate Bill 977, an act concerning the regional -- concerning access to original birth records by adult adopted persons. This was in fact, the law before 1975 and there have been a few changes over time and it's time to provide equal protection under the law for all adoptees and that's not the case at this particular time. Recent experiences show that there's a variety of different things that are happening in this area.

It's ironic that if you look at some of the bills that we've done in the past 10 days, probably 20 or 30 percent of those bills have been directly impacted by changes in technology. We live in a new world and in this world of technology, people do things differently and many of our bills reflect that. This is another one of those bills. A bill passed a few years ago.

It has literally denied anyone who was born after 1983 access to their birth records and today, we can go on and you see the ads every night on television from a variety of different places or you can simply go online, pay a substantial amount of money, give a DNA test and you will get much of the information we're looking for today. We're saying with this bill that we want to treat all adoptees the same way. One of the concerns is the term intermediary. Is there intermediary?

On the existing system there is, but the reality is the intermediary tends to be the adoption agency itself whether its child and family services, whether it's the church, a community group, any of the groups that provide adoption. That would be the intermediary that you would go through and try to get the information necessary. In all cases, the intermediary would talk with the birth mother, if alive, and if the birth mother refuses contact she can do that. In fact, fill out a statement that says I refuse contact. She can refuse to provide information if she wants -- doesn't want to provide medical information or any background. Or she can in fact, encourage the reunion. There are all kinds of alternatives that are left.

Why is this important? Everyone in this circle, I assume, we're not young kids anymore, except for one of us maybe. [Laughter] We get an annual physical every year and there's a form we fill out: family history. Any history of Aids? Well, for this age group might not be. Allergies, asthma, heart disease, cancer, depression, diabetes, cholesterol issues, hypertension, kidney disease, mental illness, or osteoporosis, family psychiatric history, substance abuse history, family substance abuse history, psychosocial history, it goes on and on.

We fill these out. You have to go to the doctor's office minutes early to fill out all the forms, right? But they fill those forms out so that we can be treated properly. We have a variety of medications, of specialists and so on to help us deal with various cancers and types of diabetes and things like that but if you're one of these people that are adopted and have no medical history, you can't get that treatment because you don't know you have that in your system.

And so, just -- in the right of fairness to these people, so that they and their children can have a safety valve, this bill is significant. It protects the health of the adoptees, the health of their children. You get access to the -- to your birth certificate. We do this through the Department of Public Health. It does take time. There clearly is a back log. We've talked with various agencies as well as DCF which also is an intermediary for children involved but it is a bill that should be passed and for me, personally, I think I'm no different than everybody around this circle.

We run for office cause we want to have an impact on people's lives. I mean, every time we're voting on big ticket items we buy trucks and build bridges and all these other kinds of things but we don't have the opportunity many times to do real direct people bills. This is a bill that is directly impacting many people, many people, who had this right and then it was taken away from them. It was taken away from them when they were much younger and probably didn't even know they had a need to research this. I would ask if I can, to yield to my Co-Chairman, Senator Logan.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Logan, will you accept the yield, sir?

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

Yes, I do, Madam President. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you.

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

So as the good Senator has indicated, you know, this law builds upon a law that was passed in 2014 and restores the right of every adopted adult citizen in Connecticut to obtain a copy of her original birth -- true birth certificate and I think that's very important. What I've been hearing in the halls and in talking to many of my fellow good senators, I think there's a bit of misinformation out there, misunderstanding in terms of what this bill is attempting to correct.

So in order to understand more clearly what we are trying to pass now, it's important to understand what was passed three or so years ago. So Public Act 14-133, which required the Department of Public Health to give adopted individuals age 18 or older whose adoptions were finalized after October 1, 1983 or their adult children or grandchildren uncertified copies of the adoptees original birth certificate on request.

So those are, again, folks that were -- whose adoptions were finalized after October 1, 1983. So if your adoption was finalized after October 1, 1983, you have a right for an uncertified copy of your birth certificate. So again, this law builds upon -- this bill would build upon that law that was passed back in 19 -- in 2014. That law has worked successfully as intended. That law was passed.

Anyone whose adoption was finalized after October 1, 1983 has access to their birth certificate. No complaints, no issues, as far as I know no lawsuits, no problems, no horror stories. Not a problem. So now we have all of those individuals who are adopted -- whose adoptions were finalized prior to October 1, 1983 -- after October 1, 1983, not an issue. You have access to your birth certificate. Your adoption was finalized prior to October 1, 1983, you have a problem.


So Senate Bill 977 requires the Department of Public Health to issue an uncertified copy of an original birth certificate to an adopted person who is 18 years of age or older or the adopted persons adult child or grandchild
. Identical in terms of what is available for folks whose adoptions occurred after October 1, 1983.

I stand here in support of the amendment and the underlying bill for the following reasons: including equal protection under the law. Adopted persons should be treated like any other ordinary person who can obtain his or her original birth certificate. If you are someone living, working, paying taxes, raising children, or not raising children, but part of our society -- you should have a right to your birth certificate. How can anyone argue to give an adult person a copy of their birth certificate? This bill affirms what I consider to be a human right, if not a civil right. It is a basic human right for every person to know his or her biological origins.

Keep in mind that prior to 1975, all adopted -- all adult adoptees in Connecticut had access to their birth certificates. Up to 1975 every had one access to their birth certificates. This is not a new concept. Both had access to it for decades. This bill allows birth parents to privately communicate with adoptees. The law requires the Department of Children and Families to provide birth parents with a contact preference so the birth parent can provide a contact preference from allowing them to -- and allowing them -- there's a form they can fill out which will allow them to privately express their preference for contact or no contact.

This is about giving every adult the opportunity to get access, to have a copy of their birth certificate. You know, what I often hear as far as some of the counter argument is that there were women, perhaps couples, who decided that they wanted to put up their child for adoption and that they had the understanding that they would never be contacted. That they would never be found out about it but remember what I just told you. Prior to 1975, everyone had access to their birth certificate.

So any sort of a handshake or verbal agreement that was made prior to 1975 was contrary to the law. So that argument, to me, does not hold true. Also, it's an issue of the parent who gave up their child and the actual child. When you take a look -- look at yourself or look at your children. When you or your child was three or four or five years old, you would tell your child what they can eat, what they cannot eat, what shows they can go to, what schools they can go to or not go to. You can even tell them which friends they can have or not have.

As children move into adulthood the natural course of things in our society -- as a parent, you have less and less control and right over your children, by law. To me, it seems wholly unfair to allow certain parents to be able to deny another human being -- another adult human being access to their birth certificate. An uncertified copy of their birth certificate. Anyone in this room who is not given access to their birth certificate would be outraged. What do you mean I cannot have access to my birth certificate? I had nothing to do with that agreement when I was born. When I was a child.

I believe that this bill actually protects the adopted parents. Protect them because it provides more privacy than regularly available consumer DNA testing and social media. What kind of control do you have with DNA testing that you can go on the internet and get a test and find folks that match your DNA? Or use it on social media to find relatives of yours and put two and two together and in many cases that's what's happening and zeroing in on who your parents are. Very uncontrolled way of being found out.

This bill allows for a controlled way for that to happen. The parent that gave up their child can have some say in terms of how that information is given, in terms of their birth certificate to the adoptee. As the good Senator pointed out, this bill helps to protect the health of adoptees and their children. Today, many adoptees are able to locate their biological relatives as I mentioned, based on DNA testing, therefore -- thereby obtaining current family medical history information.

But until DNA testing is nearly completely accurate, which may not be possible for maybe a few -- maybe several years -- the health of adoptees and their children is at risk unless we pass this bill that allows everyone to have access to their birth certificate and again, remember, this is not a new concept. This is not avant-garde. Prior to 1975, everyone had access to their birth certificate -- copies of their birth certificate. If you're adopted after October 1, 1983, you have the right to have access to your birth certificate.

I think it's important that we consider that. The right of the individual who's just trying to live their life and wants a copy of their birth certificate. We are not asking for some sort of -- extra perk in life. Or something that is not enjoyed by the vast super majority of people living and working here in the United State of America. I move for adoption of this amendment and the underlying bill and I urge all of my fellow senators to think with your hearts and correct this wrong and do this thing today. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Guglielmo.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Just for purposes of a question to the proponent.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

I just want to make sure my understanding's correct. If the child goes to the intermediary and this I'd like to have just for the record -- I think I understand it correctly -- and then the birth mother refuses then those records remain closed until the birth mother's deceased? Is that correct?

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

Yes.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

Okay.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Guglielmo.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

And just as follow-up, was there any thought given to just having their release of medical information without names because that would take care of some of the information that you raised about going to the doctor's office and not being able to complete, you know, your family history.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

Yes, thank you for that question, Senator. In fact, we had a discussion earlier in the lobby with DCF who does a lot of the work as an intermediary. Parents have various options. Some parents want to provide no information. If they don't want to provide any medical history or any information whatsoever, they don't have to. Then eventually, if they pass -- they can get those records at that time. But it literally is up to the parent. They can remain as anonymous as they want and say as little as they want.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Guglielmo.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

Thank you, Senator. Yeah, a good compromise in my view would have been if we could have had some way to get them the medical records no matter what and still kept the mother's identity private if that's what she decided. Well, thank you very much. Thank you for your answer, Senator.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator McLachlan.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I stand for purpose of a question to the proponent of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

On the amendment. Thank you, Madam President. Senator Cassano, this bill -- I don't see -- well. Let me start this way. Did this bill before us, as we're discussing today, have a public hearing? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

Yes, it did.

THE CHAIR:

Senator McLachlan.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Thank you, Madam President. When I look at the bill history though, the bill originated as a different topic. Could you clarify for us what was the basis of the public hearing? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

There were two bills at the same time. I believe one in Health and one in P and D. We conducted a public hearing. I believe we had 141 pieces of testimony or people that testified. I do have a copy of that in the file. I don't have -- I probably have if I look here, the title of the hearing but the hearing was specifically on this bill -- in P and D.

THE CHAIR:

Senator McLachlan.

SENATOR MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you. Thank you, Senator Cassano. Certainly the Senator and I have had discussions on this bill over the years as it certainly was a topic for Government Administration and Elections in the past. I'm grateful that we've had some level-headed discussions on it and agree to disagree. And it's difficult to disagree when I hear a passionate plea from one of my colleagues here in the circle just a few minutes ago and I understand that viewpoint.

I understand the viewpoint of the individual who is seeking their record. But the problem I have and this is where it all stops for me -- is that there are too many mothers who made a very difficult decision -- they made a very difficult decision to seek adoption options. And in doing so, also made a very difficult decision to let their child go to adoption. And I can't for a minute -- not for a minute even imagine how difficult that decision was, how much pain they felt when they made that decision, and how long the pain remains perhaps even to this day.

But here's my point: when they made the decision they were told, clearly, this is confidential. And will remain confidential. And this legislative body has no business stepping into that agreement. We don't have any business stepping into that agreement. What happens to a mother who has declined to communicate with their birth child for personal reasons? What happens if that mother had a child at a very young age?

One gal who I spoke to who was a freshman in college made a very difficult decision to seek adoption services for the child and decided to allow the child to be adopted. And that mother went on to finish school, found a professional career, got married, and has four children with her husband and they're now married over 25 years. Now this child that she had before marriage, while a freshman in college, is not known to her family. See, she was told that this was confidential.

Now you can argue that she should have told everybody about it. You can argue whatever you want. But that was her decision. We have no business stepping into that. I urge rejection. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further on Senate “A”? Will you remark? Senator Somers. Good afternoon, Ma'am.

SENATOR SOMERS (18TH):

Good afternoon. I rise in opposition of this bill and I've heard a lot of the arguments that we've heard previously and I understand and I sympathize with those folks who really -- are in -- for the right to know who their birth mother was. However, when I looked at the testimony here, the majority of the testimony is coming from those who are adoptees but there's no consideration for the mother who made the decision as we've heard from Senator McLachlan to make what I would consider a very difficult and courageous decision to give a child up for adoption -- in a confidential manner.

I've talked to physicians about what we've heard including my own husband who happens to be a physician -- about what is necessary for medical records and what do you need to know and his response was very clear in that there is no one that I cannot treat because I didn't know who their mother was. Looking at someone's family history is only one little piece of the whole picture of your health and that really resonated with me.

When you take a medical history, your family's -- you know, history is part of it, but it's not all of it. And if someone's gonna do a workup for heart disease or diabetes they're gonna do that regardless of whether your mother or your father actually had that disease. It's just one indicated amongst many. We talked a lot about the protection of the rights of the adoptee but how about the protection for the mother who made that decision to give up their child? Access to birth certificates, we've heard, were available before -- I think the date was -- what was the date? I can't remember. 1975.

What I'd like to know is years ago, when you gave up a child for adoption, was your real name used or were you Jane Doe? Or Kate Smith? That's a question that I have not had an answer to. I think it's really important for people to understand what we would be doing with this legislation. I got a call from an 85-year-old woman who lived in Stonington Borough who was in tears on the phone to me, expressing please do not support this bill.

I had a child when I was younger. My husband doesn't know. My children don't know. My grandchildren don't know. The only person that knows is my mother and the God that I believe in and you will be exposing me to something that I cannot bear. I made the decision to go forward. It was confidential. I thought it would be sealed. Yes, there are technologies that someone can try to look for me, but why are you making it easy for them? Think about me. I made a life-changing decision when I was young person and I cannot face my children. I cannot have this conversation. I am terrified of the idea.

And this is really exposing an older generation in some respect -- or a more advanced aged generation, I'll put it that way. I think now when you go and you decide to make the choice to give up a child to -- for whatever reason it may be -- you have options and check boxes that you can decide at that time. But maybe before 1973, you didn't have those choices and I think that we would be going against something that was promised to these women years ago.

I would like to also -- to remind people that more than 50 percent of the children that are born now -- a father is never listed on the birth certificate. So if we're concerned about health issues, the father is not on there many times, so let's put that in perspective. I think it's our duty as the legislature although difficult it may be to someone who has been adopted and doesn't know who their original birth mother is or their original DNA origin -- I think we have a obligation to protect those who make a very difficult decision and actually a gift to others who are able to adopt these wonderful children, to protect their privacy.

To protect their confidence and knowing what we know about different health conditions and the medical history being just one part of a very intricate puzzle, I think it would absolutely be the wrong thing to support this going forward and I adamantly oppose it and I hope you will too. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark? Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon, Ma'am.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

My, is this a difficult topic for discussion for us today. Very much so. Because it probably affects those of us that are women that have given birth to children, that are grandmothers, probably more intimately than probably anyone else that is discussing this -- except for the actual individual -- the mother that this bill seeks to disclose, I would say. I would like to associate my comments with Senator Somers who made a very important disclosure that many people don't realize, generally, publically, that 50 percent of those situations where a child is given up for adoption, a father is not identified.

And there's no question there is just as much probability that a medical condition could occur. It's often said that many of us, including myself, seem to take after my father or the father's side of the family. So that's really uncertain. So it's really only addressing maybe half of the puzzle but the reason that I'm standing up to discuss this is because when I was just newly minted as a state senator downstairs in the House, I was asked to become a ranking member of the Human Services Committee at that time. Prior to my arriving there and in fact, that's where Senator Gerratana and I met each other and became very good friends because there seemed to be a lot of dissention in that Committee prior to our arriving.

So much so, that leaders on both sides of the aisle came to a few of us to say if we couldn't help to repair some of the function of that committee, a little bit more bipartisan, a little bit more civility. And one of the biggest issues that was brought before us that year was this bill. Believe it or not. We're talking almost two decades ago. Can you imagine? So this bill has been around and it's come back again and again for a very long time and each time the debate surrounds the issues that we're talking about right now.

There is no question that if I were to vote on whether to have mandatory disclosure for adoptees, I would absolutely vote in favor. I do believe in open adoption. I really do believe it. And we have many family members too in the war years, there were a lot of things that happened and oftentimes there were situations where children were born out of wedlock that happened also during the Vietnam war era as well, when there were children that were seeking the actual father of their birth and had difficult time finding that out.

But in this situation we're talking about something that is very important to recognize. That if it were not for the fact that the mother would remain anonymous, that child would -- may have never been born. So the very advocates of some of this legislation, when they talk about needing to find out more information, whether it's just because they need to find out where their roots of origin are, but also what medical conditions and situations they should know about -- they were very fortunate. Think of all the children that weren't born. They were given that gift of life.

And in those situations, that decision -- that heart wrenching -- probably the most difficult decision a woman could face ever in her life -- that decision may have been predicated on the fact that they would remain anonymous otherwise they may not have gone through with that birth. That that child wouldn't be there. And just as Senator Somers talked about the person that reached out to her -- we had many that reached out to us then because remember that was a few years back and those women were younger at that point.

Now they're getting older and some were so terrified they would not even disclose their name on the phone call when they called us because believe it or not, a couple of decades ago, we didn't have as many computers, we didn't have a lot of emails. In fact, in many cases, we would get 100 letters for every two or three emails we got. Now it's exactly the reverse. So there was a lot of interaction by phone, by letter and so forth.

We could get letters as well and some of those letters did not have a name because they were so worried about someone finding out who they were and the calls were heart wrenching. The tears were real. They were absolutely terrified that their entire life could become undone if at that stage of their life cycle, that everything could be -- could fall apart. I would say to them, how courageous. How thankful as a society we should be that they chose to have that child rather than to abort that child at that moment because oftentimes that was the balance.

Those were the decision they had to make at that moment, that they chose that because it certainly enriched someone else's life to behave -- to be able to access a baby that they may have desperately wanted and they couldn't have one and they were able to create a family and be able to have an amazing, more enriched situation. Not to mention, certainly, the benefit to that child that was adopted. We have very many famous situations where we have some of the most brilliant entrepreneurs, scientists, adventurists that have been adopted at birth.

So I know that this is a very difficult situation to discuss. There is no question about it but I go back to the fact that in that time period, prior to 19 -- was it 85 or 83? That was the situation that people found themselves in and they had a choice at that time. They could have an open adoption. But those that chose to say, I will only do this if my identity is not disclosed and at that time, that was the agreement that was made. And that agreement shouldn't be taken lightly at all.

All that many years later, especially at a time when so many years have passed. It is patently unfair. It is breaking the trust. It is breaking a promise. And I think it's cruel. It's cruel. Because you can destroy a life that someone has made or even if now they're the sole survivor of that family you want them to be able, at some point, to rest in peace. And that's why in all other circumstances I would say, absolutely. Open adoption. You go into it with the rules known in advance.

But in the case where they're making that very difficult decision to have that child or abort that child -- not have that child at that moment and they were told with the law behind them, a certainty that they would not have to be disclosed sometime later in life that this is really the wrong move to make. No matter how many good arguments that are made otherwise, that this is an agreement that should be kept. And that is probably why after all these many years and a couple of decades, we've yet to really pass this bill along.

Because the recognition is that it is the wrong thing to do for those individuals, those mothers, those women who at this stage of their life are probably well on in years, I can imagine. What a time to really intrude in their life. Unless they willingly and want to and many probably have changed their minds over that period of time. Maybe they have decided that it would be okay.

But wouldn't it be better for them to make that decision and talk to their families first and let them rather than for this to happen at them and put a shock to their livelihood and their life? So I think that this is a very dangerous direction for us to go. I think in some ways it's very callous to the women that this so affects and we heard so many stories about what has happened and intervened in their life. Some have gone on to get married and have another family and have other grandchildren. Can you imagine how disruptive it would be? In some cases, this probably has wonderful happy endings when it's all agreed upon and everybody comes together.

I've heard many adoptees often say, you know, they worked so hard to find their birth parent, and in fact, we had a family friend and neighbor, who both of their children were adopted and then they had a third. It often happens sometimes they had their own natural child. But it was interesting because the son so much wanted to find out and worked so hard and the daughter didn't want to know at all. And it's interesting because the son that was adopted found his birth parents and was very, very unhappy that he did.

It did not work out the way he intended, and yet, the daughter who also then found her birth parents turned out to be a wonderful situation and they built a relationship and it worked out very, very well. But in both cases, those situations involved a voluntary agreement on both sides and that there was open adoption. They could follow through on this. This is a very different situation and I implore the circle to think very hard about that.

That what you might be saying is the right thing to do and all things being equal, you're failing to recognize the agreement that was made at the time, that this child could have either been born or the decision could have been made to not have a live birth at all and that those individuals have a lot to be grateful for that the choice was made for life in that situation and we should respect it and we should allow those women to be the ones to make that decision. It was their body.

It was their choice and it would be an awful thing for us, at this stage of their life span, and I would presume that it's quite -- you know, advanced life stage, for us to intrude and disrupt that life right now when we you know, stand on high moral ground on a certain principle with considering the damage that it would do to that individual woman. I can tell you those stories were heart wrenching. And there's a lot of pain to go on both sides of that coin but I would say to the individual looking.

I said, be grateful they chose your life. You have a lot to be grateful for and for that reason, Madam President, I needed to stand up to talk about that experience on that committee during that period of time. The debate was raging much more than we've had this year. It really was. There were a lot of individuals that came forward.

But as I said, the vast majority kept their anonymous nature, made us promise on that committee, if they talked to us that we would not disclose who they were because they couldn't even take the chance that it might even slip out just even a little in the media and that's why they wouldn't come forward to testify in committee personally and we got a lot of anonymous letters. Hand written, typed, and sent to us beyond just the phone calls itself.

So I thank you, Madam President, for allowing me to discuss this issue. It took quite a bit of our time on the Human Services Committee that many years ago and here we are again, debating this issue today, but I certainly do not support this bill right now, that would disclose the identities of I think a group of women that we should protect and keep our promise to them. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I will not speak long about this, but I do bring to the circle an experience and perspective that perhaps nobody else has in this circle regarding this topic. From 1979 to 1992, my wife and I basically were a shelter home for pregnant young women and we had dozens of young women stay with us to have their babies and then go on with life. Many of those young women kept their children but there were those who decided to give up the babies for adoption.

I'll never forget the very first experience I had regarding this cause I had no idea what to expect. We had this young woman living with us for several months and then she had her baby and the procedure was that once the baby was born, the baby was immediately taken away from the mother. There was no touching, no caressing, not a moment of embrace or anything like that because the approach was that once that happened, the bond is so strong between a mother and her child that it makes the separation associated with giving up a baby for adoption almost impossible.

Frankly, I think having a baby under those circumstances and giving the baby up for adoption is one of the greatest acts of self-sacrifice and love that I've ever witnessed in life. It's heroic to me and I know from watching these women during that period of time, it was a difficult decision for them and I think back -- in fact, I'm thinking back to the first one back in 1979 now -- so that's 38 years ago. It's hard to believe.

So that young woman is now probably approaching 60-years-old and of course, her baby is approaching, you know, 37, 38-years-old. And I am inclined to support this bill because the love that inspired these young women to give up their babies is still there. And I'm certain there's a yearning somewhere in their heart, wondering what happened to the children that they did have and I believe that the passage of time makes it easier for a coming together.

Both the young woman at the time who is now a mature woman, someone approaching 60-years-old and the child that they had is well into adulthood -- I don't think personally, that the reunion is that traumatic in a bad way. It might be traumatic in a positive way in a sense of love and being reunited with someone that you made a great sacrifice of love for but personally, I -- knowing the love that motivated these young women to give up their babies at time, I mean, it's almost incomprehensible to think about it.

When I reflect now and think back about Nancy, the first young woman who did that that stayed with us and I think, wow. A woman who's capable of that kind of love is just someone I look up to and have great admiration for and I can't imagine that someone who could love that much would be afraid to see their child again. I just can't imagine that. I believe that it could be a very healing experience for both the child and the mother and I believe that it would be a good cathartic experience for both.

There's a natural human longing, I would say, to wonder on the part of a parent, you know, what happened to your child. Where do they stand? And of course, unequivocally, this was being motivated by the children themselves who want to come and recognize and see their mother for the first time. Imagine if you were in that situation, not knowing who your mother was. It's just a natural instinctive curiosity and I think it's reciprocal.

I think it's very natural for -- I would bet you that many of the young women who gave up their babies that stayed with us wonder what happened. And they themselves might be afraid to go and approach and intrude on the life of their child, fearing that they might disrupt the life of the child and in fact, if anything, I think that's probably the greater motivation.

They practiced heroic love when they gave up their child for adoption and it's heroic, I think, to continue to not pursue the natural instinct to wonder where that child is today, what that child was doing. It is sacrificial love. It's the greatest form of love. So my instinct is knowing the kinds of women who did this who did this great sacrifice -- I believe that passing this law is not adverse to their interest. I think it is something that's a good thing. I think it's something that would be beneficial to both the child and the mother.

Can you imagine being reunited with a baby you had 40 years ago? I just -- I get -- I get goosebumps at the thought of -- again, knowing these young women who made this great sacrifice back then and I think, wow. I believe every single one of them -- the women I knew. The women who gave up and practiced this heroic love, I think that most of them would be receptive and interested in seeing their child again and I think that if they've avoided it, it's not because they fear what's gonna happen to their life and how knowing that child or having that child come back into their life will disrupt their life, I think that that kind of woman who could practice that kind of love is more fearful of disrupting the child's life and what the implications are.

So I think when the child themselves seeks out the mother, I think a lot of these women would be relieved and would be happy to see their children again. So I urge my brothers and sisters in this circle just to think carefully about this. I know you all are and I know it's not an easy decision and I know that you've heard from both sides of the table on this but again, I speak as someone who knew many of these women, who had them live with my wife and myself.

I got to know them very personally and the kind of people they are and were and I believe it would be a good thing for them and certainly it would be a good thing for the children. So I urge my brothers and sisters in this circle to vote for this bill. I think it's a good thing and it'll be a blessing to both the mother and their child. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark? Senator Kissel first. Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I have a couple of questions for the proponent of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

So, I -- I'm just trying to get clarity on, and I'm confused because I've been given a lot of information by folks on both sides of this issue. I just want to make sure I understand crystal clear what we are being asked to vote on today. So for the -- before 1983, if you were born after October 1983, right now, in Connecticut and you want access to your birth certificate, what is the procedure that you use? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

If you are quote protected, the 1983 rule then you -- there are two possible ways. The proper -- three possible ways. Probate court is number one, which is expensive and time consuming. A second option is DCF. DCF has a program where they reach out to the mother. What's most important -- this is not a process of revealing the mother. This is a process of obtaining the birth certificate.

The mother will respond back, usually, responds back to DCF and will indicate, I do not want to have any contact whatsoever with my child, or I will provide the medical records or some combination of that. But that is an option in the letter to the birthing mother. That's only for those after 1983.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Kennedy
.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

Yes. Thank you very much. So because this is an important point that I -- I've just gotten different responses to and that is the concept of a confidential intermediary. Because I hear from some proponents of the bill that right now if a child is born after 1983, there is basically unrestricted access to birth certificates, but what I'm hearing from the proponent of the bill right now is actually that's not in fact true.

That for somebody who wants to seek their birth mother, that they would have to go through a confidential intermediary whether that be the Department of Children and Families or some other private adoption service. Is that true? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

Through you. To my knowledge, that is correct. Because I don't know else unless you do ancestry. com, you've gone through an adoption process. You lived with somebody through some agency. It might be a religious service, it might be a community service, an agency or whatever it might be, but somebody was in -- the intermediary between the mother giving up that child and you going to a new family.

That would be the intermediary that you would go through and again, going back to some of the earlier comments, I admire the women that have gone through and had their children and gone through the sacrifice of giving up that child. That had to be a very, very difficult time for these parents but this is an opportunity for that child that they gave birth to, to at least get medical records. They don't -- it's not documented with their name, address, where they live, telephone number or any of that. It is basically the medical records.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

So, though you --

THE CHAIR:


Sorry
. Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

Through you, Madam President. So I understand that if the adoption took place through the Department of Children and Families, does the proponent of the bill -- do you know how -- what percentage of all adoptions take place through the Department of Children and Families and what percentage take place through a private agency? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

I couldn't even possibly guess at that. If I were to guess, I would say Children and Families would be a limited population compared to the much broader field of the national agencies that do adoptions. Almost all of the religions or religious organizations in the country have some system within their practice or their religion where they provide a variety of services to people of -- that are part of that parish or church or congregation. So then I would think it would be much wider in the non-public sector.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Kennedy
.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

Thank you. So if I were born before 1983, and I wanted to seek my -- get a copy of my birth certificate but I didn't know what agency facilitated the adoption when I was born or that agency may no longer be in existence or perhaps that agency may be out of state -- may not even be in Connecticut. How do I go about the process of obtaining my birth certificate? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

I believe my colleague, my Co-Chair Senator Logan might have the answer to that question.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Logan, will you accept the yield, sir? Senator Logan.

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

I do, Madam President. Thank you. So to try to help clarify, I'm going to refer to Public Act 14-133 and I'll first talk about those -- discuss those whose adoptions were finalized after October 1, 1983 and then I'll discuss the rights of those under current law whose adoptions occurred before October 1, 1983.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy, do you have --

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

No, so I'll do that now.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

-- restate the question. If I were born before 1983, and I wanted to have access to my birth certificate, okay, I'm just curious to know if -- how I would go about finding out the agency. How would I even -- where would I call? How would I go about obtaining that birth certificate?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Logan.

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

Right. So if an individual were to contact multiple -- or different agencies in the State of Connecticut, the current law, the act requires the Department of Public Health -- so it's the Department of Public Health -- to give adopted individuals age 18 or older whose adoptions were finalized on or after October 1, 1983 or their children or grandchildren, uncertified copies of the birth certificates.

Under current law, people adopted before October 1, 1983 -- again, who go through the Department of Public Health, they or their adult children or grandchildren or certain relatives of deceased adoptee can obtain the original certificate through a court order. So before 1983. If the birth parents are alive, the court can only issue such order with the consent or in certain circumstances, the consent of a legal representative or guardian ad litem, the act repeals certain procedures related to the adoptees or other authorized applicants court petitions to accessing a missing or incomplete biological relative's identifying information.

So they would go through the Department of Public Health, they'd have to get the consent of the living parents in order to get access to their birth certificates. But once the -- if both parents are deceased, then that individual, the adoptee, their children, grandchildren then can have access to it. So this current law would change that and give those individuals whose birth parents are still alive -- would give them the opportunity to obtain their birth certificate.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

So just to clarify. They would have the absolute right then to request the birth certificate irregardless of what the birth mother had to say. Is that -- this is the point of clarification. Is that your understanding? It would be -- cause right now what you just explained to me was they would contact the birth parents and if the birth parents didn't object, they would release the birth certificate but if they did, they wouldn't release the birth certificate?

I'm just trying to understand. I'm sorry. I'm just trying to make sure I understand. Because this is -- you know, a kind of a tough issue. I'm just trying to make sure I understand fully what exactly we're asked to vote on.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Logan.

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

Through you, Madam President. Right. So the individual seeking their birth certificate would not contact the birth parents directly. In Connecticut. They would go through the Department of Public Health and make a request. For example, George Logan would like to have a copy of my birth certificate and I am a adopted individual.

The Department of Public Health would then have to obtain permission from the living parents in order to be able to give them -- the adoptee -- a copy of his or her birth certificate. Without that consent of the living parents, under current law, the adoptee would not have access to their birth certificate. Would not be able to obtain a copy of their birth certificate. That is what we are attempting to correct with the current bill.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

So --

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

I'm sorry. Through you, Madam President. So the change that you would like to make in our state would be to be able to provide a copy of that birth certificate, the Department of Public Health which would have a copy of all the birth certificates from what I understand -- they -- the parents, the birth parents would not be contacted at all? Is that what you are proposing? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Logan.

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

Through you, Madam President. So under the current bill, the living birth parents -- parent or parents would have to be contacted because they would have to indicate how they would like the contact to occur. Whether it's no contact, so the adoptee would obtain an uncertified copy of their birth certificate. Or if the parent wanted to have contact, the Department of Public Health would have to arrange that. But the adoptee would not be contacting the birth parents directly under our bill.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

Okay. Well, thank you very much for that clarification because that was the point of confusion. So from what I understand, through this law -- if we should adopt this law, in the General Assembly, there would in effect be an intermediary whereby the adopted child would contact the Department of Public Health and the Department of Public Health would contact the birth mother.

There -- because I'm confused because some proponents of the bill seem to suggest that it's time to do away with this anachronistic system of an adoptee having to go through some sort of state agency and that they have an absolute right to their birth certificate and I'm confused. I just wanted to make sure that we're all clear that the -- what is being proposed is in fact, like an intermediary, is being proposed.

So if we vote for this, we're voting for a system that would allow an adoptee to contact the Department of Public Health or maybe another intermediary, I don't know, and having that intermediary contact the parent. Now, if we were to adopt this rule -- this new law, if the parent said no, I'm not interested, okay, and we're talking about, again, for people that were born before 1983. I understand the system is different. But if parents said no, what would be the process at that point in time? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Logan.

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

Through you, Madam President. So the procedure would be similar to what we have for individuals that were born -- that were adopted -- their adoptions are finalized after October 1, 1983, they would go through the Department of Public Health. The only sort of objection that the parent could have regarding the birth certificate and availability of that birth certificate to the adoptee -- is that they -- I don't want to have any contact with the adoptee.

So they would control how the contact would occur. So whether they want to have direct contact with the adoptee or not, through that process would be up to the birth parent. But the issue of whether the adoptee had access to his or her birth certificate would be out of the hands of the birth parents in this law.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

Thank you. Thank you for this clarification cause it is confusing, at least to me. So I'm interested by a couple of other points that the proponents have made. That -- talking about the sort of the DNA testing that evidently is the rage. Everybody wants to know, you know, what their DNA says about them.

They talk about how this exposes the people -- the birth parents in a much less private matter than legislation facilitating the communication. So why is the DNA -- ancestry. com etcetera, why -- I'm just trying to understand why is that less private than the system that you are proposing? Through -- a question to either of the proponents of the bill. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Logan.

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

Through you, Madam President. So the concept there is with our bill, the adoptee goes to Department of Public Health and the Department of Public Health will do their research to find out if the birth parents are alive and whether they want to have any contact with the adoptee but if you go through public channels, social media, or DNA testing or ancestry. com, there the -- you're really looking to find any touches to blood relatives through your DNA. So the idea there is if you do that, you will -- the adoptee will have -- potentially gain access to family members in their attempt to hone it down to who their parents are.

So the idea there being is that the live parents would have less control because the adoptee can go out through social media, through ancestry. com, find aunts, uncles, second cousins, first cousins, and that -- in that fashion, you know, to exposing the birth parents is an uncontrolled manner as opposed to the adoptee going to the Department of Public Health and that arrangement being coordinated through the Department of Public Health. We're doing a much more direct and private channel or manner.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

I see your point, Senator. Thank you.

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

Yeah, that was the only thing.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

I think that's a fair point. So -- but just following up on a response that you gave a few minutes ago, you said that if under the -- assuming that we passed the law, it -- in the General Assembly this session and it becomes the new law, people will be able to get access to their -- there'll be an intermediary who contacts the birth mother and if the birth mother wants no contact with that person, that will be respected but they still get access to the birth certificate? Is that correct? Whether or not the birth mother wants contact or not, they still by law, will be entitled to their birth certificate. Is that a correct understanding of the proposal? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Logan.

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

Through you, Madam President. Yes. Which is the case for anyone whose adoption was finalized after -- currently -- under the current law -- after October 1, 1983.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

So I'm curious if DCF -- first of all, is there a fee that's involved if I am -- somebody who is seeking to -- my birth certificate or birth mother is there a fee? I would imagine this would an expense to the State of Connecticut but I don't know. Is -- how is this conducted right now? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Logan.

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

Through you, Madam President. I don't have the exact amount of the fee but that fee will be borne upon the adoptee similar to when you seek a copy of your birth certificate from you know, town hall or from other -- another source. So it will be a revenue plus for the State of Connecticut but it will be a very, very minor and nominal one.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Cassano, have you stood for -- Senator Cassano, please.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I would add to that that the adoptee in seeking the birth record information pays a fee that is twice the amount of the normal fee. I believe it's $ 600 dollars. I'm not sure on that, but I know it is twice the amount. OFR has said that it is a slight benefit to the state financially.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

Thank you, Madam President. So could you -- since we -- I guess the General Assembly made a change to this law. I'm told just a few years ago to account for the state, that we have the 1980 -- October 1, 1983 date. I was not serving in the Chamber at that time. Could you please tell me, how did we arrive at that October 1, 1983 cutoff date? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

I too was not here. But I have a copy of the bill. It was Public Act 14-133. This was based on a -- I believe an agreement with the legislature and some of the adoptee organizations who had made commitments to families and one of those commitments recognized and so the cutoff date was 1983.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

And I'm taking that secondary from what I've heard.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

I've just heard again, anecdotally through talking to people that that was -- there was some sort of -- that was some sort of date. In other words, did something change on that date that made that date the cutoff date by which people before 1983 would have no rights whereas the people after 1983 would suddenly have -- you know, the right to access their birth certificate -- I'm just confused. Why on Earth would we pick October 1, 1983? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

I can't give you the exact date but it clearly was based on a agreement with church organizations and commitments made by the organizations prior to adoptees and so, they were -- anybody that would be adopted at a later date would be under a different circumstance. That guarantee wouldn't be there.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

Thank you, Madam President. So I -- like, how -- through you, Madam President. I'm just wondering what do you do if you need your driver's license or you need a passport or something like that? I mean, like -- how -- what do you do if you don't have a birth certificate and you're a citizen of the State of Connecticut? Like, how do you get a passport or something like that? I don't know how that happens. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Cassano.

SENATOR CASSANO (4TH):

You stay home. There are people that came before us that said they could not get a passport. They did not have an original birth certificate and could not get a passport. I don't know if that was correct. Senator Logan, I think is -- I know has some information on that.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Logan, would you like to take the yield, sir?

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. They have birth certificates. The issue here is access to their original birth certificate. They were adopted so the adoptees do have birth certificates from the adoptive parents. It's a matter of getting their original birth certificates.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

So -- yeah, so I'm sorry. Now I'm really confused. So now there are birth certificates but those birth certificates are for when the child was adopted, so is the date on the birth certificate the date the child was born or the date the child was adopted? Who is on the birth certificates for these children that were born before 1983 if they were adopted -- I don't understand. What does that birth certificate look like? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Logan.

SENATOR LOGAN (17TH):

Through you, Madam President. Yes, this is not an issue of figuring out the birth date of the adoptees. They have birth certificates. It's with their correct birth date for the most part and it has -- it lists other people as their parents. Their adoptive parents. This is a matter of finding out who their biological parents are. Having their original birth certificate which in some cases, may include just one parent. In some cases, may include both parents on the birth certificate. So it's a matter of having access to their original birth certificate. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy.

SENATOR KENNEDY (12TH):

Okay. Thank you. I was confused because I think it's common sense that people want access to a birth certificate and we need birth certificates so I'm glad to know that actually there are certain kinds of birth certificates, maybe not their original birth certificate which is the item at issue today. So, look. I appreciate the answers to these questions. In my view, I do think that the State --

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kennedy, excuse me a moment. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, we have to PT this bill, please.

THE CHAIR:

Bill will be PT'd.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. For a few more markings, please.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. On calendar page 44, Calendar 224, Senate Bill 501, I'd like to mark that item as go. On calendar page 1, Calendar 550, Senate Joint Resolution Number 62, I'd like to mark that item as go and on calendar page 6, Calendar 194, Senate Bill 17, I'd like to mark that item as go.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 44, Calendar 224, Senate Bill Number 501, AN ACT CONCERNING THE CONSTRUCTION OF TUNNELS FOR INTERSTATE ROUTES 84 AND 91 IN THE HARTFORD REGION.

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will stand at ease a moment, please.

THE CHAIR:

Senate will come back to order. Thank you. Mr. Majority leader. No -- Senator Leone.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. It's good to see you up there.

THE CHAIR:

Good to be here.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Mr. President, I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and passage of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. The item has been moved for acceptance and passage. Would you remark further? Senator Leone.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. Ladies and gentleman, the bill that we have before us is Senate Bill 501, an act concerning the construction of tunnels for interstate routes 84, 91 in the Hartford region. And what this -- this is an idea that is actually thinking big. It's thinking big and it's thinking different and it's thinking for the future.

And it's an idea that was put forth by a good colleague of ours, Senator Tim Larson as well as his sibling in Congress, Representative John Larson who are trying to improve the region area. And now just the region area but the State of Connecticut by improving our infrastructure in a way that will allow our infrastructure to thrive but at the same time help revitalize not only the City of Hartford but the Hartford region and thereby affecting the state going forward.

And it's about proposing a tunnel that would go under the Connecticut river to relive the congesting through that it was caused by the construction of I-84 and cutting out, right through the heart of the Hartford city many, many years ago. And as we all know, that congestion has steadily increased and we're all trying to think of alternatives on how to do it differently. And this is a big idea on how to do it different.

We've seen these type of ideas happen around the world where tunnels can change how roadways are built, how infrastructure can move, how infrastructure building can alleviate congestion and this is that type of idea. But given the fact that it's an expensive proposal, it really can't be done with just Connecticut dollars and I know that our congressional delegation is working hard in Washington D. C. to obtain federal dollars so that this type of idea has the chance to succeed and what this bill simply does -- they say that if the federal dollars become available then this idea can attempt to move forward.

So there's still work to be done but what we want to do is be put in the position that if federal dollars become available then Connecticut has a chance to think different, to think big, to try and do something bigger and better than what was ever done before and this is a proposal that attempts to put us in that predicament and a good predicament that if federal dollars become available and are released we have the chance.

The chance to do something different that hopefully can be beneficial to not just the City of Hartford, to not just the Hartford region and not only to the State of Connecticut but to the whole Northeast corridor because if it can be done here, it can be done literally anywhere. So I think this is a really innovative way of thinking. It's thinking for the future, it's preparing for the future, if the future gives us the tools that we need to succeed. So with that, I would yield my comments to Senator Larson.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Leone. Senator Larson, will you accept the yield?

SENATOR LARSON (3RD):

Yes, Mr. President. Thank you very much and thank you, Senator Leone. As you have previously mentioned, you know, the genesis of this idea has been long in the works. If you look at the geographical confluence of what we refer to in East Hartford as the mixmaster where route 2 and 84 come together and then circle over bridges in Hartford -- our three Charter Oak, Founders, and Bulkeley Bridge, that same area of highway and infrastructure is equivalent to downtown Hartford. The Bulkeley bridge as been determined to -- after 15 years after being built, was statistically out of service. The same traffic today that goes over the Bulkeley Bridge is three-quarters of the traffic that ends up going over the George Washington Bridge.

So you can imagine the amount of volume that that bridge takes place. So when Congressman Larson was looking at this and looking for alternatives which he has been doing for probably 10 or 15 years, we've had several meetings on this and we determined that, frankly, connecting what would be the Charter Oak Bridge through the south end of Hartford, if you will, might be a wonderful alternative and in fact, be able to take the mixmaster down and the I-84 down and return that infrastructure back to the City of Hartford.

In fact, it was in October of 2015 when I had the pleasure of joining our lieutenant governor to a trip to Taiwan which we looked at various infrastructure models and changes along with Dr. Henry Lee [phonetic]. We spent five or six days there and toured their country and it sort of tipped off my brain that that might be an opportunity to look at this infrastructure.

And then in conversations with many, particularly Chuck Sheehan who at the time was -- has worked for the state, has done the Adrian planning project, was the former CEO of the MDC and actually, who has done tunneling through the City of Hartford, suggested this very application. That in fact, you could tunnel under the Connecticut River, through the south end and basically alleviate an awful lot of the pressure on that for both 84 East and West, and 91 North and South, and give the residents of Hartford an opportunity to get back and recapture this river.

We then joined Congressman Larson and several folks from the Connecticut area along with Senator Fonfara on a project called Rebuild America and this would be, in fact, one of the first opportunities to be put into that program and John does have a wonderful rapport and a bipartisan relationship with folks in the Transportation Committee down there and we believe that there is strong support for this. Currently, President Trump has been looking for opportunities with infrastructure and we believe that this could be one of the key elements in that.


And as we all know if you don
't have something in the tee and there's money available you're late to the game, you're not in the queue, you're left off the drawing board. So what this would do would allow us to be included in that study which is currently going on on the mixmaster and 91 projects right now so that we might have an opportunity to apply for what would be some significant federal money. This is a large project.

It's arranged anywhere depending upon how you stage this or what you look at, somewhere between $ 7 to $ 10 Billion dollars but it is a huge job creator for the capital city and for the region and it would certainly relieve an awful lot of the traffic tension throughout the capital city and then return some of what is now 84 back to boulevards and main streets for future economic development in both Hartford and in East Hartford. So I would like to thank the Senate Chair of Transportation for including this in the study and ask my colleagues to support this effort. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Larson. Additional comment on Senate Bill 501? Senator Fonfara.

SENATOR FONFARA (1ST):

Thank you, Mr. President. It's good to see you up there tonight. Mr. President, I stand in support of this initiative. I want to thank Senator Larson. I want to thank most especially his brother, Congressman Larson for their vision and I say their because I know that Senator Larson had a big hand in developing this concept but I rise because I think this is such a visionary proposal that should be part of the consideration of the Department of Transportation in deciding our future and the intersection of I-84 and 91 in Hartford that has long been the bane of our existence.

To have a highway and I'm certain that the good Senator has already articulated this but if I could add to it, that's has cut off from the river, that has affected our ability to enjoy one of the most pristine natural resources in New England, that has resulted in millions of cars a year that have no intention of stopping in the capital city, no intention of stopping the State of Connecticut but the travel through the capital city cutting us off from resources, cutting off communities.

I think the opportunity to pursue this endeavor -- at least have it be considered among other that the department is now considering, is an important aspect to add to this review. So I stand in strong support of the proposal and I thank you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Fonfara. Is there additional comment on this matter? Additional comment on Senate Bill 501? Senator Boucher

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you very much, Mr. President. Mr. President, this is indeed a very bold and huge, I might say, project that's being proposed for our capital city here in Hartford and we listened to the testimony on this with great interest. The numbers can be staggering given the financial situation that the state is in right now, so I do have a couple questions please, if I could for clarification, if I might. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Yes. Senator Boucher, to whom would you be directing --

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Well -- and that's a very good question. I will leave it up to our Chair to determine if he has the answers to those questions or those that are very deeply involved in the issue. The first question I have is that it is estimated this project could be $ 7 to $ 10 Billion dollars. That's a very large number. What portion of this would be a state responsibility should this move forward? Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Boucher. Senator Leone, would you care to respond?

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Yes, Mr. President. I would definitely like to and I think that's a really good question because we want, you know, finding out the true cost is always important when we're dealing with such a innovative idea. And the numbers you mentioned, $ 6 to $ 7 Billion dollars, that could most definitely be the number. It could be less, it could be more. But again, this is all predicated on federal dollars coming downstream to put us in a position to accept those dollars if they were to become available. Through you, Mr. President.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. What I was looking for, Mr. President, is it a 10 percent share, a 20 percent share or greater? Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Leone.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Through you, Mr. President. The general consensus has always been -- there's been the 80/20 rule whenever we're dealing with these kind of projects. But as with the new administration coming forward, opening up different ideas on how we can fund our infrastructure, it is entirely possible that it could be 100 percent funding coming down.

So until we see how these federal dollars would actually become available, it could be either/or it could be generally the 80/20 rule. It could even be 10 percent or it is even possible that it could be fully funded. I would suspect that if our congressman and our Connecticut delegation had the ability to shape this in any way, I would think it would be 100 percent fully funded. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Leone. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Yes. Thank you, Mr. President. I appreciate the answer. So I'm guessing that it could be as much as $ 2 Billion dollars for a share of the -- the state's share of that particular project which certainly would be at the outer bounds of most of what we do. In fact, it could be the total sum of maybe a year's bonding capacity for our state. So it is a serious matter. It is a serious project. But it certainly -- a good case has been made for it being a deserving project, for sure.

Based on that number and how large the figures are, there was some mention by the good senator from Hartford that there is an established relationship with this new administration and with the Department of Transportation and would the entire state delegation be behind this in order to move it given that there's many competing states with big projects and I presume the relationships with this new administration would be important so how likely do you think that Connecticut would do, given those relationships as they stand right now? Mr. President, through you.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Leone, would you care to respond?

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Yes. Thank you, Mr. President. I think our relationships are always improving. The important thing is that when the meeting that happened down in Washington D. C. when this idea first generated Connecticut interest, I was fortunate enough to be able to go down along with my colleagues and what was interesting in that meeting was it was not just federal officials that were there, it was many community leaders from the Hartford region, a lot of private people from the Hartford region as well as public officials from the Hartford region.

So even though this potentially could be an 80/20 or a 90/10 rule, that does not necessarily mean it would be totally on the backs of the State of Connecticut. There are varied interests that are willing to step up and participate so the number could be even less than what we're currently speculating. But again, in terms of the relationships building, our goal is to improve each and every relationship to the degree possible that we could make this proposal succeed. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Senator Boucher, you have the floor.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Yes. Thank you so much, Mr. President. And I really appreciate the answers. Given the magnitude of the expense on this, has this been a part of our Department of Transportation's short and long-term planning and if so, is there a timeframe for this project to bear fruit? Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Yes. Thank you, Senator Boucher. Senator Leone, would you care to respond?

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. There is no current time frame on this project. This is all predicated on when and if the federal funds do come forward and we would include that in any future plans. This was a plan outside our current ideas that we were thinking at the moment, so this is -- would be a new addition to the potential tools in the toolbox, so to speak, if this were to move forward. Through you, Mr. President.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Mr. President, I thank the good Senator and Chairman of the Transportation Committee for his answers. It is a very large project. It's a huge project and should we get anywhere near close to this, I would presume that this would be a part of a state transportation plan. A plan that would have to have a public hearing and it would be aired by the public because obviously, the sheer size may in fact then knock out other projects in the state.

Surely, just by the sheer size. Has any thought actually been given to the proponents of this amendment and bill as to what would it replace? In other words, it seems difficult that it would be in addition to but may have to replace other projects that are on the short or long-term horizon. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Boucher. Senator Leone.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. I'm not sure I understood the actual question. Could you maybe repeat or articulate in a way and I think other colleagues may also want to weigh in, but I want to make sure I have the chance to try to respond. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. During the time here, I have rarely seen a project that would be in a couple of billion dollars potentially, if it were a 20 percent and even a billion dollars if we're 10 percent. Given that number, it would appear that should it be proposed in any given year, if you added that to current projects that are being planned for now, would be added to those current projects or would it replace other projects so that we would stay within the confines of what we could afford? Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Boucher. Senator Leone.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Through you, Mr. President. Again, this is not intended to replace any current projects and if again, if this were to come to fruition, it would be added to our list and I would be sure that the State of Connecticut as well as even the legislature would weigh in on whether it would be feasible or not. So I want to make sure that we put Connecticut in play to succeed if it were to come forward.

So Connecticut will still have an ability to have a say in this moving forward. But again, we really want to make sure that we get as many federal dollars as possible and we're speculating on what we have may to pay but it could easily be the other way around where it could be 100 percent fully funded. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Leone. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. That concludes the questions I have for the good Senator. I really appreciate the answers. Overall, it's something of course, that we would want to support. We want to support our capital city. It is a very forward thinking idea. The numbers however, are so staggering it does give one pause.

The concern I would have is if in the event that something like this would be approved, if in fact, the federal government would look at Connecticut favorably an of course, there are a lot of other priorities given our rail infrastructure needs and the most congested corridor in rail traffic in the entire United States, there are a lot of competing needs as well. The question for me, and I'm still thinking hard about this, particularly since this is predicated on whether federal funding would be available.

So it -- that helps this process along very well and I sincerely want to support our Hartford delegation that have worked so hard on this but I do worry that if in fact that it ever did come to fruition, is it something that Connecticut could actually afford and be able to pay for whatever their partnership amount would be, whether it was $ 500 Million dollars, a Billion, or $ 2 Billion dollars, could the State of Connecticut afford this along with its other infrastructure needs as well and that's what gives me pause, I must say.

But again, I tip my hat off to the delegation that has worked so hard on this both at the city level and at the state and at the federal level as well. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Boucher. Is there additional comment on Senate Bill 501? Senator Fonfara, for the second time.

SENATOR FONFARA (1ST):

Thank you, Mr. President. I'll be brief. Mr. President, I'd first like to thank Senator Leone for his leadership. He took the time out of his very busy schedule to go down to Washington and where we all heard from the federal Department of Transportation, the commissioner and his staff were there from the Connecticut Department of Transportation as well as, as Senator Leone indicated, several people from the business community and the Hartford area, community groups as well.

But maybe one point that wasn't mentioned earlier in the discussion before I came into the chamber, Senator Boucher and I very much appreciate your comments and always looking out to make sure that we're doing things as efficiently as possible but there's a couple of points. One is the -- if the proposed lowering of the I-84 viaduct which is in -- right now, one of the alternatives being considered -- or proposals being considered has raised a lot of concerns with the business community along that area.

Yet, in Hartford and others because it's estimated some two or three years of disruption -- major disruption if that were the plan, going forward and that has not been calculated in the cost. If that plan were to be considered. A second is, and I know that Senator Larson may have mentioned this, certainly Congressman Larson has, that the replacement I believe of the Founders Bridge, the cost of that being such a unique bridge, is enormous and not certain that that can -- would be -- has been calculated in the cost as well. So there are opportunities.

The last point I'll make is what we learned from the Department of Transportation in Washington was that the ability to recover revenues in particular, one aspect beyond tolling is that if you have development surrounding the area where that has been reclaimed and you can use that to offset the costs, because now you have revenues that are flowing from that, that's another method that the department allows for paying for investments such as this.

It's a relatively new approach, I understand, and that could be used because there -- under the proposal that this bill would allow for would be the reclamation of enormous amounts of property right now that the highway systems take the space of so just wanted to add that to the debate. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Is there additional comment on Senate Bill 501? Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO (34TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. If I can, ask to Senator Leone, if I may. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, Senator.

SENATOR FASANO (34TH):

Thank you. Senator Leone, if I read the bill correctly before us, it is predicated upon federal funds become available to the state. Is that correct? Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Leone, would you care to respond?

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. Through you. Yes, that is correct. If federal funds become available to the state, the Department of Transportation may consider using such funds to construct the tunnels for interstate through 84 and 91 in the Hartford region so this is all predicated upon if federal funds become available. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Leone. Senator Fasano, you have the floor.

SENATOR FASANO (34TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. And then once they become available, the commissioner of DOT may consider using those funds, if I read that correctly? Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Fasano. Senator Leone.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Through you, Mr. President. You are correct. The commissioner or the Department of Transportation may consider using those funds.

SENATOR FASANO (34TH):

And do you --

THE CHAIR:

Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO (34TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. Do you have any reason to believe or has the Department of Transportation indicate that if they were to get the funds that they would not ever consider using those funds? Through you, Mr. President.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Through you, Mr. President. I believe the Department of Transportation is open to any available funding from the federal government, so I don't see why they would not consider those federal funds. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Leone. Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO (34TH):

And I would agree with that statement so I guess the question is, why do we need the bill? If in fact, the federal funds maybe become available and you and I both concur that the DOT would use all federal funds to become available why do we need the bill to achieve an end that we both agree would be a natural occurrence based upon the operation of the Department of Transportation? Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Fasano. Senator Leone.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Through you, Mr. President. I would assume these federal funds are by no means an easy to obtain and we want to make sure that if our congressional delegation were to obtain the funds, we have this in place so that it would bolster the argument to release those funds to the State of Connecticut. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Leone. Senator Fasano, you have the floor.

SENATOR FASANO (34TH):

So I guess that was the reason why I asked the first question. If there's any reason to believe that DOT would entertain these -- that any reason to believe that DOT would not entertain this matter, would it not just be appropriate for DOT to write a letter to the commissioner to say that if federal funds become available to the state for the construction of tunnels through 84 and 91 in Hartford region, we would definitely consider using those funds? A statement from DOT would achieve that purpose, would it not? Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Fasano, do you care to respond?

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Through you, Mr. President --

THE CHAIR:

Excuse me, Senator Leone, would you care to respond?

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

That's okay, Mr. President. Through you, Mr. President. Yes, that also entirely could happen. But I believe this sends a strong statement that the Hartford delegation and then hopefully the entire State of Connecticut is in full support and this adds even more weight to that proposal. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Leone. Senator Fasano.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

So I guess what I'm eluding to is, as much as I understand that, we have a situation that we don't really need the bill. And I appreciate the delegation. Senator Fonfara and also Senator Larson and you, Senator Leone. I appreciate you guys work very hard in this circle. But it gets me kind of nervous when we bring legislation with what if's and could be's and in the future. We do need transportation in the State of Connecticut and in particular, we do need transportation needs in Hartford, the mixmaster, and things of that nature. And that's the reason why this year when budgets come forward, we need to be -- pay particular attention to our transportation budgets.

Currently there's a budget put forth by members in this chamber that completely eliminates all of the money in the transportation fund. Every last dollar in the transportation fund down to zero. That's what the budget does. So if you're gonna do a piece of legislation that says if we get federal funds, we will do this and then you drain the money from the very bank that you're gonna borrow from and use to pay -- should it not be fully funded -- 20 percent, 10 percent, you're not sending the right message to Washington.

The message you need to send to Washington is we will accept this money and oh by the way, if we do and we gotta put in -- our skin in the game, we are in the economic position to put our skin in the game. So when you take out $ 211 Million dollars in fiscal '18, $ 206 Million dollars in '19, and then an additional sweep of $ 50 Million dollars in '18, you're sending the wrong message. That is not the message we need to send. The message we need to send is we want your money. Give us your money. We're gonna vote to take that money from the federal government and we're prepared to run if we get it.

That's the type of fiscal planning we must do with this budget coming up. Because this is important to Hartford and this is important to Connecticut. But if we're asking Washington to make that step, we must be committed to make that step. The budget that's presented says no. And if I was in Washington, I would say don't give it to Connecticut yet. They don't have the money to make it work. That's why what we do in this building and what we submit in this building goes beyond the political nature of this room, goes beyond the gold dome and speaks volumes in the real world. We must be careful. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Fasano. Is there additional comment on Senate Bill 501? Senator Leone.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. I want to thank everyone for their comments innovative new idea. I want to thank my Senate Co-Chair for asking some relevant questions and hopefully we're able to answer them and I even appreciate our -- Senator Fasano's questions on making sure that Connecticut is in a position to play and I believe that the leadership of this building will handle the issues that are before them and when the federal dollars become available, I think we'll be in a position to participate in the future of our state, moving forward, with those federal dollars.

And I don't think we would move forward if we were not able to do that. So I still believe that this is a good piece of legislation. It is a good strong message that we are willing to participate and establish the relationships necessary to make this go forward and most importantly, aside from the impact -- the positive impact that we'll have on this region and our state, if we were to enact such a project, just imagine the number of jobs, the number of -- the ripple effect it would have in our community economically as well as socially as well as technologically wise.

This has -- this is a big idea because it can establish and achieve big outcomes. It's happened in other parts of the country and it's happened in other parts of the world. I don't see a reason why we can't participate in some of those potential gains moving forward. This just establishes the ability for us to be in a position to participate if and when those federal dollars come forward. So I would urge our participation and Mr. President, when the vote is taken, I would ask for a roll call vote.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Leone. When the discussion on the bill has concluded, we will order a roll call vote. Is there additional comment on the bill at this time? No. If not, the clerk will please call for a roll call vote on Senate Bill 501.

CLERK:

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate. Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will all of the members please check the machine to make sure that your votes are properly cast an so we will close the machine. The clerk will announce the tally.

CLERK:

Senate Bill 501.

Total number voting 36

Those voting Yea 30

Those voting Nay 6

Absent and not voting 0

THE CHAIR:

The Bill is passed. (Gavel) The clerk will please call the next item, Senate Joint Resolution Number 162. Excuse me, Number -- Senate Joint Resolution 62.

CLERK:

On page 1, Calendar 550, Senate Joint Resolution Number 62, RESOLUTION CONFIRMING THE NOMINATION OF THE HONORABLE JED N. SCHULMAN OF FARMINGTON TO BE A FAMILY SUPPORT MAGISTRATE.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Doyle, the [crosstalk] Chair of the Judiciary Committee.

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Good afternoon, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Good afternoon, Senator.

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and adoption of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

The matter has been moved for adoption. Would you remark further?

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Yes. Thank you, Mr. President. Magistrate Schulman was first appointed as a family support magistrate in April of 2008. He's before us this evening for the first five year term in the recent -- in the process we now -- in the past, magistrates do not come before formal votes in the chamber because of hard work of a few years ago, we now require them to come before us. So Attorney Schulman or Magistrate Schulman, as I said, was appointed in 2008.

He's a graduate of University of Connecticut and got his Bachelor of Arts. He got his law degree from Hofstra University. He is a resident of Farmington, Connecticut. Without a doubt, he's a very articulate and smart judge. He's a very harder worker. He has drafted the handbooks for all the family support magistrates. He really puts in a lot of time to provide these handbooks for the new magistrates so they know how to perform on their job.

During the public hearing process in the Judiciary Committee, some issues did arise regarding the temperament of Mr. Schulman on the bench. Because of these issues raised, the leadership of the Judiciary Committee, the bipartisan leadership, including Mr. Chairman Kissel, we met with Judge Schulman, representatives from the Judicial Department.

We all expressed our concerns about his -- some issues of temperament that was present to us, some personal issues involved, which -- you know, might justify it but still, I personally don't think there's any justification but we had a good discussion. It's the first time in my career where we directly addressed some concerns of temperament. I'll be honest, I received other representations from lawyers and others saying how he's done a great job and they do not see the temperament issues.

Regardless, I met with him -- actually, we met with him, expressed our concerns. The Judicial Department agreed. They're going to work with Magistrate Schulman just to assure us that there would be no further temperament problems in the future. That being said, I'm comfortable supporting Attorney Schulman for another term to be a family support magistrate and I urge the chamber to approve Magistrate Schulman. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Doyle. Additional comment? The distinguished Co-Chair of this Judiciary Committee, Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much, Mr. President. It is great seeing you up there this afternoon. I also stand in strong support of Magistrate Schulman. As Senator Doyle pointed out, I don't believe the good magistrate put his best foot forward during the public hearing.

We urged the Judicial Branch and I believe that they very much do this to try to inform people what it's like to come before the Judiciary Committee for either an appointment or reappointment and most of the candidates take that very seriously but some perhaps do not understand the rigorous nature of the hearing and the hearing process. And I can understand that in this instance because as Senator Doyle pointed out, this is the first time that a family support magistrate has had to come before the Judiciary Committee to be questioned on his or her reappointment.

What took place was unfortunate but while there was an individual that testified against Magistrate Schulman based upon his deportment, it was clear that he also had some very good qualities. As Senator Doyle points out, that he's worked on handbooks for the Family Support Court Services but he's also put together items through software where individual decisions on individual matters all brought together and he shares that with all his other colleagues.

So he's a very meticulous, very precise, and my gut feeling is that he's tough on himself as -- on the other individuals around him. The other thing is that, while not an excuse, his wife is extremely ill and yet he's been lovingly at her side as she is in a nursing home capacity at this time and that can describe some of the stresses that he's feeling and while that's not an excuse for being curt with individuals, it certainly is an explanation as to some of the pressures that he's undergoing.

So in totality, we felt it was very important to stress how important it is that our citizenry respect the Judicial Branch. Its [Laughing] -- its importance as far as kneading out justice and so we held his renomination, set up a meeting, and as Senator Doyle indicated, myself, Senator Doyle, Chairman Tong, and ranking member Rebimbas as well as, I believe Vice-Chair Stafstrom were in a meeting with the head of the support services and Judge Schulman and we had a very frank discussion. And he took it very seriously and so we don't do this often but when we do do it, we mean it.

That being the case, in my view, to not support a renomination -- you would have to do something extremely drastic and I don't believe Judge Schulman for a second has done anything extremely drastic. One thing that did come out of the meeting though, which in my 25 years as a Senator and 23 on Judiciary, I have never seen. There is a plan that was developed after that meeting to make sure that Magistrate Schulman reflects upon past conduct and increases his deportment and composure while working as a magistrate.

This includes assigning a judge mentor to Magistrate Schulman, periodic unannounced visitations to his court by anonymous Judicial Branch personnel, periodic review of the audio recordings of what takes place in his court by a judge, counseling regarding stress management, materials regarding dealing with pro se litigants in your court, periodic interviews with all staff that are in his court, and quarterly in-person reviews and discussions by the Chief Family Support Magistrate, the Chief Court Administrator, and the Deputy Chief Court Administrator.

This is unprecedented. This is like really being on probation. And I believe it shows not only that Magistrate Schulman takes this very seriously, but the Support Services and the Judicial Branch takes this very seriously as well. And we will circle back in -- next legislative session. There will have been at least two quarterly reviews by that time and we will see how things are going. I want to give Magistrate Schulman the benefit of the doubt.

We are all mere mortals with foibles. Not every day is our best day and pretty much anybody in this circle -- somebody could point to that one bad day and try to expound upon that but as a whole, most of us rise to the challenge and on occasion, individuals trip up and I do believe in redemption and giving people a second chance. So for that reason, I would urge my colleagues to support the renomination of Magistrate Schulman. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Kissel. Is there additional comment? Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. Thank you, Mr. President. I listened to Senator Kissel. I appreciate his comments, but his comments are the reason why I'm going to oppose this judge. I appreciate the fact that the leadership of the committee had a meeting with Judge Schulman. Would have loved to have been in that meeting. As Senator Kissel is telling us that what is before us is an unprecedented case, I'm telling this body often when we have judges, that one of the most difficult things that I have to do is figure out whether or not I should vote to put one of these individuals back on the bench.

Over my years on the Judiciary Committee, I've been instructed that one of the things we have to look at in order to determine whether we put people back on the bench is their comportment. There was a day where we were to hear from the judge and think about voting on him but the process for this judge was different than others for a reason. The comportment of this judge -- and I understand there may be stressors in an individual's lives but the comportment of this judge is just not what it should be.

The demeanor that some say they've had to experience with this judge is not what it should be and I think what the committee found was not what we believe should be in place, which is why we have this very abnormal process in place as outlined by Senator Kissel. I'm disturbed by the fact that in order for him to have the ability to sit on our bench, we have to put in place all of these things that are outlined and I've said over and over again, there's a commentary that often is part of what we do in general about the public paying attention to what we do.

And the public, at least experience I have when it comes to judges is often questioning what it is we do with these judges because we find out some things that are disturbing and yet, they're able to be back on the bench. If this is unprecedented, if in my nine years here, if in -- the previous speaker's 25 years here, we haven't seen this -- if we have people who come and say there's a problem, we should not be putting that person in the position that we could potentially be putting them back in if we vote yes on this nominee.

And so I would urge all of us to think deeply about what it is we're doing about the public who sees us put people back on our benches, who sees us listen to them and still put people back in the position. I recognize all of the good things they've done but this isn't just about that.

This is about what people believe about our justice system and us, and I believe that we should send the message that if you can't control yourself enough to get through the process where you're looking for your job, what are you going -- what is your demeanor when you're not looking for your job? That's an important thing to think about. So I rise in opposition to the nominee. I think it's important for us to think a little bit deeply about these things. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Winfield. Is there additional comment on Senate Joint Resolution Number 62? Senator Gomes.

SENATOR GOMES (23RD):

I've listened to all the comments that were made by Judge Schulman. I am a member of the Judiciary Committee and I listened to other things when he came before the body and I listened to what Senator Kissel said and read off that list. I think that is a real damaging indictment of a judge to have us pay attention to the things that's gonna happen in the future concerning that list.

All those things -- the comments that were on that piece of paper that you read denotes that in the past, that they had some sort of a problem with a -- in all those stages. Even to the stage of some of his staff, there were comments about how he treated his staff, how he talked to people in the courts, how the people who were sort of indigent and can't afford lawyers came in his court pro se and how he treated them.

Now, I believe in redemption too. But I remember how many people were sort of involved with his court that they got short shrimped and this concerned their lives. I have to worry about some of those people because some of those people might have been some of my constituents and I think -- judges come before us and magistrates come before us so seldom -- eight, nine years apart that you give somebody a walk now for the next eight years or so, it just doesn't match up to some of the comments that were made about this judge and what he did while he was on the -- while he was sitting on the throne there.

I say throne because I -- some judges after a while sitting on these -- sitting on the bench there begin to think that they are sort of like a God and they can treat people any way they want. I say all this to say these are the reasons why I thought -- and they came back to me and they said Ed, I heard the comments in fact, some of the committee came back and told me that they gave him a good talking to and that they think that he's gonna pay strict attention to what they said and there will be changes. It might be. They might confirm him today. But he won't get my vote. That's the end of my comments.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Gomes. Additional comment on Senate Joint Resolution Number 62? Senator Markley.

SENATOR MARKLEY (16TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. I will echo the statements of my friend, Senator Gomes. You know, I think that to be a judge is one of the greatest honors that people can have in this society and I think they have to be held to the very highest standards. The -- what we found out about treatment of staff was something that I found particularly troubling.

That's a kind of abuse that bothers me profoundly, no matter who does it and I very much appreciate the efforts that the chairs of the Judiciary Committee made to impress this judge with a severity of the problems that have been brought to attention. But we're dealing with a grown man in a highly respected position and I don't feel like a matter of probation is necessarily appropriate in this case like it would be for a student. I think that sometimes it's necessary for us to make a statement about these things. I'd say that we sit in this chamber and it's not unusual for people who sit here to aspire to become a judge. This is a lofty position but I'd say that for many of us to be a judge would seem even more privileged.

And yet, we would accept ourselves the idea that if we were rude, if we did things publically that reflected badly on our character, our demeanor, that the voters would have every right to turn us out of office and if we had acted in that way, there would be little regret at our losing our seats. It would seem to be something that we had deserved and I think that this judge, from what we heard on the Judiciary Committee, is in that category and I will be voting against his reappointment. Thank you -- this magistrate. Thank you very much.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Markley. Additional comment on the resolution? Senator Guglielmo.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. Just a question for the proponent, if I may.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed with your question, Senator.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

Thank you. Senator, if this magistrate does -- and there were a list of conditions. If he fails to meet these conditions, is there any recourse available to this body or anybody else? Say he fails to go to the anger management classes? He just decides not to participate.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Doyle, care to respond?

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Yes. Through you, Mr. President. While the items delineated by Chairman Kissel are not -- you know, your written agreement or sort, but I would say in a more general response to your question is if the conduct of this magistrate rose to a level that the legislature wanted to act, we could impeach him.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

Okay.

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

But being said, that doesn't mean that this -- the conditions delineated by Chairman Kissel really are not a written agreement and their kind of more -- you know, pro formal, off the record. It's more, we would continue to observe like any judge or judge we have -- and if conduct rose to a level we could impeach him. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Doyle. Senator Guglielmo.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

Yes, but impeachment would be very rare in Connecticut. We haven't done it very many times, have we?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Doyle.

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Through you, Mr. President. It's a very -- you are correct. Very rare. Through you, Mr. President.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

Through you, Mr. President. Just a final question.

THE CHAIR:

Yes. Senator Guglielmo, you have the floor.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

Is this his -- first eight year term -- this one that he just completed?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Doyle, care to respond?

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Through you, Mr. President. Well, first of all, the magistrates -- we're dealing with the family support magistrate and they have five year terms but this is not his first term. He's been there since 2008.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

Okay.

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

So -- and this, again, just -- sorry to point out. This is the first time that we have all magistrates going through the -- kind of -- this similar process we have for judges and I'll be honest. I think it's a good thing that now all magistrates will come through the process but this is the first time he's come through the formal public hearing process. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Doyle. Senator Guglielmo, you have the floor.

SENATOR GUGLIELMO (35TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Senator.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Is there additional comment on Senate Joint Resolution Number 62? Senator McCrory.

SENATOR MCCRORY (2ND):

Thank you, Mr. President. Just -- I'm sitting here and I'm listening to the comments from my colleagues and I -- first of all, I'll say I believe in giving people a second chance. I honestly believe that. I -- with everything in me, I come from a situation where I watched every day where people make mistakes and you give them an opportunity. You give them an opportunity to present themselves so that they could distinguish themselves for positions such as a family magistrate. Such is very important.

Hey, like I said, I believe in it but when it's your opportunity to come before a body, a Judicial Committee and this is my first year sitting on the Judicial Committee. This is my first year actually seeing all the appointed judges and magistrates. And when I watched how the hearing began with Magistrate Schulman, I was stunned. I was shocked. You're here -- this is your time at bat. This was his opportunity to show to everybody in the State of Connecticut, even if he had history before.

We don't know what happened before but clearly, people wrote in about his conduct and the way he handled himself in the courtroom and it wasn't good. So he had an opportunity to prove everyone wrong in this hearing. It was his to lay it out on the line for everyone and quite frankly, he failed. He failed before my eyes. But yet, I still believe in giving the opportunities for people to correct themselves and Senator Kissel laid out a list of items that this magistrate could do to prove himself again.

So I think it was about four items and it's not something that -- it was a gentleman's agreement. Go through anger management. Do xyz. And my colleagues asked is there any recourse if he doesn't make it, if it doesn't happen and we know if it doesn't happen, if he doesn't -- if he's successful, we're not gonna impeach him. That doesn't happen here.

My suggestion would be, well can't we just wait a year, let him go through everything that needs to be gone through, and bring him back before us again so he can prove himself once again that he is capable of being in such a trusting position in our Judicial system? I just think that's common sense. I did not want to speak.

I was just going to vote no but after hearing the commentary, guys, we are putting someone that's gonna be in charge of people's livelihood. The people that have worked with him, gives him a no -- no -- they told us no. He doesn't treat people well. But yet, we're gonna stand here, give him a second chance which I really believe in -- gave him a second chance, he fell, put parameters before him and just say okay, go through it. And even if he goes through it and not successful, you're still gonna be a judge -- a magistrate. I just don't get it. This is too important of a position.

I mean, I believe, you have to vote your conscience but I can't imagine, there are other qualified individuals out there who have probably work their behinds off their entire judicial -- lawyers, being a litigate -- who want to die for a position like this. So I ask my colleagues. I mean, you have vote your own conscience. I just believe in when you have your opportunity and a lot of people don't get this chance -- you've gotta put your best foot forward. You've gotta show you get yourself. And then come back to us and let us vote you in. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator McCrory. Additional comment on Senate Joint Resolution Number 62? Senator Somers.

SENATOR SOMERS (18TH):

Good evening, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Good evening.

SENATOR SOMERS (18TH):

You know, I'm listening to the testimony and to the comments made by my fellow senators and I want everyone to think for a moment, what kind of message it sends to those who are going to go in front of this magistrate if we as a senate consider sending someone back who has to go to anger management classes, who has been a judge or a magistrate -- excuse me, since 2008 and should know better.

This is one of the most prestigious honorary positions that one can have. People strive their entire careers to obtain this level of honor, respect, and to be in that type of a position. And I cannot support a reappointment as a magistrate, going forward, based on what we've heard and the conditions in which this person would have to be reviewed and coddled when they should know better and I hope you will join me in not supporting this reappointment. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Somers. Additional comment on Senate Joint Resolution Number 62? Yes, Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. If I may, a question or two to the proponent of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, Senator.

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

Thank you. Through you, Mr. President. I'm curious if under the current practice, does a magistrate have to go through the judicial selection process? Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Witkos. Senator Doyle, would you care to respond?

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Yes, Mr. President. These magistrates do not go through judicial selection. They're nominated by the governor and then they are, you know, their subject to grievances and the like, along the way. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Doyle. Senator Witkos, you have the floor.

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. I'm curious as to if -- we're changing the process, I understand that this is the first time that magistrates have to be confirmed by this body. Why wasn't the process changed to require them to go through a judicial selection process? Through you. If the good Senator knows. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Witkos. Senator Doyle, care to respond?

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Yes. Through you, Mr. President. Well, at the time the -- it was prior to the recent legislation. Magistrates really didn't have to go through any formal legislative affirmation process so it was determined by the parties at that point not to have to go through judicial selection. Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Doyle. Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

Thank you and through you, Mr. President, to Senator Doyle. Are all the other conditions, whether it's pay benefits, retirement age requirements through our judicial nominees the same for magistrates? Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Witkos. Senator Doyle.

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Through you, Mr. President. I believe the salary's less than judges but I think they have similar benefits. They have similar state employee benefits but I believe the salary is less than our judges.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Doyle. Senator Witkos, you have the floor.

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

Thank you. So are those salaries set through state statute like our judicial justices? Through you, Mr. President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Witkos. Senator Doyle.

SENATOR DOYLE (9TH):

Through you, Mr. President. Yes.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Witkos.

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

Thank you. I thank Senator Doyle for those answers. No further questions, Senator Doyle. You know, I stand in -- and align my comments with those previous speakers who spoke about an individual who I think has taken his job for granted, who hasn't learned from his ways. Nobody continues for a long period of time to rise to the point now where they've got conditions placed upon their employment so greatly that they're gonna be revisited in a year -- almost guaranteed -- guaranteed a job for the next five years.

That's very troublesome to me as Senator McCrory put it so eloquently, that there are people that would -- that their biggest dream to become a magistrate in our judicial court system and what kind of a representation are we setting the citizens of this state when people appear before these individuals who look for equal treatment? We look at the symbol of law where the lady of justice is blinded. But I don't know that this -- the people that appear before Magistrate Schulman actually get a fair shake, based on the comments that I've heard. I believe he does not deserve to be returned --

THE CHAIR:

Senator Witkos, would you yield to the majority leader?

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

Mr. President, I yield to Senator Duff.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Witkos. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, we need to PT this item, please. Can we move to the next item on our calendar?

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. The matter is marked Passed Temporarily and if the clerk will call --

CLERK:

Page 6, Calendar Number 194, Substitute for Senate Bill Number 17, AN ACT ASSISTING STUDENTS WITHOUT LEGAL IMMIGRATION STATUS WITH THE COST OF COLLEGE.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Good evening, Mr. President. How are you this evening?

THE CHAIR:

Good evening, Senator.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

I'm glad you're up there, Senator because you've been such a champion on behalf of our Connecticut Dreamers and I'm really happy to bring out a bill and I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and passage of the bill and waive its reading and seek leave to summarize.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Bye. The matter has been marked. Would you remark further? Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Yes. Thank you, Mr. President. It's really a pleasure to bring this bill out to the chamber. A bill that would equalize access to financial aid for all the students who pay into institutional financial aid and contribute to that fund. This bill passed our committee in a bipartisan manner. Our community and indeed, all of New England depends on immigrants and a highly educated work force to support economic growth.

I live in a community that has more than 70 languages spoken in its public schools, a community that values this influx of immigrants, and it thrives in part because of the families who moved to our community specifically for our diverse schools. I was particularly inspired on this bill by a young student from Hall High School in West Hartford. She's been up at the legislature many days urging us to pass this bill so that she'll be able to attend college.

It's not insignificant when it comes to this bill that both the leadership of UConn and the leadership of the Board of Regents too time to come testify and come lobby members on this bill to say this is important to them because they believe this makes their universities stronger and that students deserve access to financial aid if they pay in with their own tuition dollars to this fund that is distributed.

These universities know the value that students who are immigrants bring to their campuses and their classrooms. They're from different backgrounds. They're working hard. They're willing to meet the demands of college and pay their own tuition. Colleagues, I hope you've taken some time to talk to the dreamers, no matter what your position is on this bill. You can't help but be moved by their stories.

Their ask is very simple. They're students. They're paying tuition. They're asking for the benefits that come and are available to all students who pay tuition. They're not asking for any special favors. They're not asking for any state or federal support for their tuition, they're just asking for fair access to a fund that they pay into. I leave you with a story that I'm putting together that I've heard again and again from students in Connecticut, and likely from your very high schools.

These students attend our public schools from preschool through high school. They're fully funded in our public schools and they're part of our communities and then they turn 17 or 18 and it comes time to apply to college and their parents then tell them that they're undocumented. Many of these students had no idea till they applied for college.

They go to their college counselor who says you have to fill out the FAFSA and their parents say, we can't. We have no access to federal financial aid because you are not a citizen. So they're not asking for that. They're simply asking to go to college like their colleagues and to have access to the funds to which they pay into. So I hope the chamber will join me and support this bill to build a great workforce in Connecticut. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you very much. Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you. Thank you, Madam President. I rise to ask some questions to the proponent of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Please continue.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. In looking at --

THE CHAIR:

I -- we can barely hear you, Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Is that better?

THE CHAIR:

That's much better. Thank you, sir.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. In looking at the language of the bill, it strikes me -- one question that jumps off the page is do universities need a state approval to make this decision? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye, are you ready?

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Please continue.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

And I'd like to thank the gentleman for his question and also to compliment him for his attention to this issue. Like me, he sat through hearings, he listened, he was incredibly respectful and I know he's been thinking through this issue. Through the process of the public hearings, what we heard both from the Board of Regents and from UConn is that they believe that they need this bill in order to allow students to have access to the financial aid fund that they pay into. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. And I would like to also thank my fellow Co-Chair of the Higher Education Committee. We have done our best, I think, to understand each other and do our best to work together throughout this year and I can say so for our colleagues in the House and it's been a good experience and I think that we have done some good for the people of Connecticut.

With regards to that answer, the reason why it is a bit concerning and I think we need to look into federal immigration law and how it overlaps with this issue. So if we look at immigration law and we look into the history of immigration law, federal versus state, immigration is regulated at the federal level. Under rules established in 1952 with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act, INA and then the Immigration Reform and Control Act or the IRCA in 1986, through federal congress.

This was done, essentially, to try and curve the legal immigration and to shore up more revenue for welfare and other expenditures in our federal government and it also strengthened sanctions against employers who were to hire illegal immigrants whether or knowingly or unknowingly. Now I'm wondering, is there -- are we overstepping the boundaries here with federal law if we were to pass this law allowing -- now it clearly, it doesn't seem like it's directly affecting the IRCA passed in 1986 by congress because it's -- we're not denying welfare.

However, we are opening up an additional benefit to someone who is documented as -- or undocumented here -- whatever technical term you like to use -- here illegally. So do we -- we have considered that this can potentially and in the eyes of federal -- the federal courts, is it possible that we are overlapping federal law and in -- can it be seen that we are breaking federal immigration law? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President. And through you, I appreciate the question. I think Senator Linares is pointing out the complexity of some of these laws and I think over the time that we've been working on issues of access to higher education for undocumented immigrants, we have been very careful to live within the boundaries of statutory language that is allowable and also with this bill being very careful to be clear to our institutions of higher education, that they can access their own tuition-based financial aid dollars but that these students are not -- do not have access to Pell grants to subsidize student loans and so it's been carefully crafted. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Linares
.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, Senator, for your answer. With regards to higher education and the amount of students that currently attend our universities the question has been asked of me how many students currently are in our higher education system that are undocumented? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Bye
.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. This data is very difficult to gather -- the exact numbers, how many are in our system. Students simply pay tuition. They don't have to say I'm paying tuition and I'm an undocumented immigrant. We do know there are some students because of the testimony from the Board of Regents and from UConn but I do not have a number. The one thing we do know is that each one of them pays into a fund for financial aid so the more undocumented immigrants in the system, the more money is paid into that fund. The fewer, the less money paid into that fund by undocumented immigrants, so it's relatively proportional. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Linares
.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Senator, for your answer. Do we have an idea of what the total population of students are, going through our higher education system between CCSU, UConn, and the community colleges? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Bye
.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I could get that answer if the Senate would stand at ease. I don't have that exact number if the Senator would like me to do that, I can find that information.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares, would you like us to stand at ease for a minute so that Senator Bye may ascertain that information?

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Yes, Madam President. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will stand at ease. Senator Bye. The Senate will return.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I just learned some things, just now. Madam President, there are about 85,000 students matriculating for credit at the Board of Regents and UConn has slightly over 30,000 students. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Senator, for your answer. And out of those students, what percentage of them currently pay into institutional aid? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Every student who pays tuition pays into the financial aid pool. Through you.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you. Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Senator. So we have every student in the system paying into institutional aid. What is the percentage or what is the cost of institutional aid for each student? Does it vary? Do you have some students paying a higher percentage of institutional aid? Do you have some universities or state college programs that don't have institutional aid? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Through the testimony at the public hearing, the testimony was at about 15 percent of tuition is then dedicated to a pool of institutional financial aid. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President and thank you, Senator. So approximately 15 percent and every student in our higher education system is paying this out of their tuition? The institutional aid pool, what is that used for? Obviously it's aid to students, but specifically, what are we look -- what -- how is it distributed and do we know how much money is in the institutional aid pool as it exists today? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I'm hoping that the gentleman will accept the proportional issue that 15 percent of tuition dollars go in because it would take me a long time to get a total number on that but that is the number and the other question underlying that was so how do the institutions use that financial aid? And the testimony at the public hearing was that they use this financial aid to help develop classes. You'll hear and my son actually works in admissions and you hear him talk about how they're to build a class.

A class that is diverse in age and race and balanced in gender. They use it -- I know in Connecticut they use it to try to attract valedictorians for example. At UConn they use institutional aid for that regardless of financial circumstances but it's used to help students access higher education and the individual admissions offices working with their faculty and their leadership develops the guidelines for how to distribute that aid. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. So it doesn't appear that we have an exact number of you know, what is currently in the pool for institutional aid for students. However, one could easily deduce that this would be a pretty large number. We have tens of thousands of students paying 15 percent of their tuition into institutional aid. We all know the expense that is higher ed these days. It's very expensive.

We know that students -- graduated students have racked up a trillion dollars of debt going to colleges and universities across the country. We haven't seen that level of debt in our history for folks that are my age that are still paying off their student loans, working two jobs to pay this debt -- so pay their student loans down. It's a little frustrating in some ways that the cost of higher ed is immediately inflated 15 percent.

That's a big number as the cost of tuition continues to rise, the percentage obviously will continue to rise as well, hence, inflating the cost. Obviously, we need to -- as a society, we're -- this is a way for us to work to get people that as the Senator had mentioned, who are valedictorians who are doing well who have a strategy and a plan to go through college and take on a career, to go through that system. But I would like to understand, through you, Madam President, how is the institutional aid distributed? Is there --

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares, I hate to tell you this, but I can't hear you. I think it's my age now yours though. Just saying.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

[Laughing] Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you very much.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

I'll do my best.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you so much. I appreciate it so you have a question for Senator Bye?

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

I do. How is the institutional aid distributed? Is -- are there administrators at the university who determine who gets the institutional aid and then how does that process work? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Bye
.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. First, a quick reply on the debt cause certainly debt is a big problem for students. But students who attend our public universities and community colleges generally have far less debt than students who attend the for-profit or private colleges so this bill is specific to our public universities which work very hard to kick down student loan debt. It certainly exists. It's a problem but it's lower.

Each institution uses the financial aid, as I said, to develop a class that they're looking to develop to enhance the learning experience. The other thing I'd like to remind Senator Linares about is that up until public college, students who are undocumented immigrants in the United States have access to 100 percent financial aid from pre-k through 12th grade in our public schools and then when they go to higher education, they're expected to pay full fare at the public college.

The only financial aid they have access to is this institutional financial aid which is a very, very small portion of all financial aid available because most students who need financial assistance receive Pell grants first before institutional aid. They receive subsidized loans and then some financial aid but the financial aid office takes information from families. Those of you sitting around the circle who filled out a FAFSA no doubt remember that. That's a federal financial aid form.

It's very detailed and it's designed to recognize family wealth. And in the case of undocumented immigrants, the testimony was that the financial aid offices will develop forms to make sure all families are representing all income and that they could do that really at no more cost. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Senator. So my understanding, based on your answer, Senator, is that the institutional aid is distributed based on family wealth and I'd like to --

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

In part.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

In part, thank you. I'd like to peel that back a little bit and try understand exactly what that means because we had a conversation in this chamber the other day about -- I think the term was -- I forget -- indigent -- excuse me, thank you. It's been a long couple days [Laughing] and we talked about -- I believe that the number was $ 70,000 dollars a year for a single filer and a couple up to $ 120,000 dollars a year.

So it brings to light -- certainly brings to the light, the topic and I think it's worthy of conversation understanding when the -- when higher education administrators look at distributing this institutional aid, what do they view as -- how do they break it down as far as a family's wealth? For example, when does the trigger come into play, how do they decide if a family is worthy of institutional aid, is there a certain annual income, when -- at what point does the family become eligible? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:


Thank you very much, Senator Linares
. Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. There is no definitive bar. A family could be from a millionaires family but they were valedictorian of their class and the University of Connecticut may say, I want that student and I know that if I give them some institutional financial aid, they will come here. There may be a student with a disability whose overcome great odds, is from a wealthy family but the university says I want that kid here because of what they're gonna bring.

There could be a student who wins math awards all over the country and his family is very wealthy and UConn says I want that student in my engineering program. So it can be merit, it can be that they bring diversity or it could be financial need. Colleges are trying to make up a class that leads to the best possible education. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. Senator, so is it fair to say that it's based on the discretion of the university and that there is not a formula that the university uses to distribute institutional aid? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I will say that there is -- there are formulas that they use but then there are always other things that help a college decide. Sometimes what happens is maybe a student gets into URI and UConn and they call the financial aid office at UConn and say, URI gave me another thousand dollars and I really want my kid to come to UConn and here's something special about them and sometimes the institutions dig deep and say, we want that kid here for whatever reason. Something -- maybe they play the tuba.

There are all kinds of things that colleges take into account and any one of us who represents a community where where your college goes to -- where your child goes to college is the ultimate judge of how you were as a parent. I've watched parents get their children to play the obo so that they can get into a particular college and get financial aid. So I think every parent knows that what colleges use for financial is both income plus other items.

Some people go who are very wealthy go for free because they're an athlete and the college chooses to use their financial aid to recruit that athlete. So there are all kinds of reasons, but underlying this question, I believe, Madam President, is are undocumented immigrants taking from a pool that could be helping other people and the testimony at our public hearing was both UConn and the Board of Regents testified that to the extent that undocumenteds are paying into the pool, if they weren't there, they wouldn't be paying into the pool but if they are, there they are paying into the pool.

That the effect of this is negligible on their financial aid budget. That was their testimony and in fact, it was quite something to watch President Ojakian come up to this building and lobby lawmakers because he thinks this is so important for his institutions and he thinks it's so important cause higher ed is about giving kids a chance and I think we have to listen to the leaders of those institutions in our state and UConn was just as positive, saying we want this.

The head of admissions came up and said this is very important to us, for us to be able to develop a class that we want and one other point. I know the community that I live in, the town manager has talked about having a 15 percent immigrant but that we want that kind of diversity in our schools, we want different kind of families in our community because we know that during those economic and educational benefit to our community and I think it can go on at a very broad level and part of what makes our country so great is the diversity of thinking and backgrounds and cultures that come together to form new ideas. And so I think our higher education systems are saying we want this and I think we should be listening to them. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. Reading through this bill, Section 1 says that for the purposes of this section, institutional financial aid means funds set aside from the anticipated tuition revenue of an institution of higher education for the purpose of providing tuition waivers, tuition remissions, grant education expenses, student employment for residents of the state enrolled as full or part-time students in a degree granting program and enrolled in a precollege remedial program and who demonstrates substantial financial need.

So it does appear Madam President, and I appreciate the good Senator for her answer. But in going through the bill, it does appear that there's a section of this bill that states demonstrating substantial financial need which is obviously what the institutional aid was meant for. I'm concerned that we might -- we may run into an issue where you have families across the state -- it really comes down to a fairness issue. You have families across State of Connecticut who are here legally, who have followed the laws, who are -- who have not broken any immigration law and working hard to pay their bills, make sure that they are saving for their children's college and in some cases, may need to access this institutional aid pool.

In that case, will -- by allowing undocumented immigrants who access this pool -- Madam President, I have a question to the proponent of the bill. Will this in some ways send more of the institutional aid to undocumented immigrants rather than people who are here legally who are struggling as well financially who want to see their kids go to UConn or CCSU? Will they possibly miss out on that institutional aid because now we've opened institutional aid to a wider pool of applicants? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. The testimony at the public hearing was that because undocumented students pay full tuition, they're paying into this tuition fund that they actually bring dollars to institutional financial aid and the more students there are, the more tuition they're paying, the more money that is deposited into that fund and the testimony was that the impact would be negligible and that was the testimony.

So in some ways, right now, I know Senator Linares used the word fairness -- right now, undocumented students are attending our higher education institutions and they're paying full tuition like everyone else and they have no access to the financial aid fund set up specifically from tuition for students. So I was struck at the public hearing that right now the situation is not fair. Because the undocumented immigrants are actually subsidizing all the other students in Connecticut with their tuition payments. Through you, Madam President.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Please continue.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

In listening to the good Senator's comments, it doesn't seem like we have enough information here to know exactly what the pool looks like. However, we do not know how many undocumented immigrants are going through our higher education program. We do have a general sense of how many students are going through the program in total. Through the public hearings I believe the number was 100 to 200 students, possibly more. That was a number thrown around. It's obviously an approximate number because we don't seem to have clear information. I think what is hard to understand is going back to the point of the fairness issue.

If you have a -- if you have a family who is here legally who has paid, that have gone through the legal immigration who has through the immigration program -- federally -- legally -- how -- what I'm struggling to understand if more of those students are going through the higher education program and paying into institutional aid, and then you have a group of students who are not here legally, who have not gone through the federal immigration program legally, all of a sudden having access to a pool of money -- a much smaller contingency, we'll approximate it at 100 to 200 people -- they're paying in a -- in the research that I've done -- they would demonstrate substantial financial need because under the research we've done -- I've done here -- about 50 to 60 percent of folks that are here undocumented here illegally could qualify for substantial financial need.

So you have a pool of people who as a percentage qualify for institutional aid and as a percentage there's a much larger amount of folks going to our universities who are here legally who are contributing but will in aggregate lose the option to get institutional aid. So what -- one of the -- one of the reasons why this stood out to me is I received an email from a family in Colchester and the family that I had met throughout the years, she would -- this was a mother of two children -- single mother.

She's very concerned that she was not going to be able to send her daughters to a local Connecticut college because of her financial position. Her concern with this policy is that her daughters would not be able to qualify because of the increased amount of folks that are in the pool that are eligible for institutional aid. And it seems to me that that's -- that's a possibility.

That under this new law, that a family who is -- and again, we don't have the exact formula for how the university determines financial assistance and the need for financial assistance, but a family that is middle class that is working to save and pay for college may lose out on the ability to get financial aid with this increased number of people who will need it. And so that to me is a fairness issue.

Because as I had said before, you have people that are here legally that are following the laws and we are a country of laws and when a student goes to the university, where we need to teach our students about life at universities, not just whatever their major is, whatever they're focused on, but also principles, ideas, and the law, most importantly. And if the first -- if we -- if we send the message that it's okay to be here legally, my -- illegally -- my concern is that we are missing that right from the start. Now, that does not mean that if someone opposes this measure that they oppose immigration.

Immigration, clearly, needs to be reformed at a federal level. It's been a topic of recent debate, as everyone knows but it needs to be reformed. It needs to work. And we are a country of laws and if we are sending the message in Connecticut that you can be here illegally and get financial aid I question whether or not we are sending a message that it is then, therefore, okay for people to come here illegally.

Now I would argue that if we want to solve this problem, the right way to do it is to encourage our -- encourage folks that believe in this program to petition the federal government to make those kinds of changes and that, I think, would be best for everyone because then people can get their legal identification, they could be here illegally and it brings -- this brings me to another point of the bill -- Madam President.

With regards to filing an affidavit with the Institution of Higher Education and as it reads stating that such person has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file such application as soon as he or she is eligible. My question to the proponent of the bill is why wouldn't the student be eligible to file for citizenship if they could file to go to a university? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. This particular language was put in for some Republicans on our committee who asked that we add this to the bill. I would need to have the Senate stand at ease to give the proper answer to the word eligible and why someone wouldn't be eligible. If the Senate can stand at ease.

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will stand at ease. The Senate will return to order. Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President. It's a very good question and it really goes back to what Senator Linares was saying, which is that immigration needs to be reformed because right now, there -- this says as soon as you can, you have to apply. But right now, for many, there is no path at all. But they have to sign an affidavit that says as soon as they're eligible, they will.

We added this to the in-state tuition bill and then the House ranking member asked that we add this to this bill just to be clear that both -- to access in-state tuition and to be eligible for institutional financial aid that affidavit be signed. And just one other response to my colleague's questions and comments around fairness and around who's gonna have access to those pool of dollars.

I think it's important to know that at most colleges well over half of the students at any college receive some financial aid and the concern was about, what about legal residence and what's not fair. The truth is, if you are a legal resident, you have access to Pell grants, you have access to subsidized loans federally, you have access to the Willis Scholarship, you have access to in-state tuition because let's remember that the only undocumenteds currently who have access to in-state tuition are those who graduated from a Connecticut high school and attended a high school at least two years.

If you're undocumented, you have no access to Pell funds, no access to subsidized loans, you're often paying out of state tuition which can be double. The only pool of money that those students would have access to here are -- is the pool of money that they themselves are paying into. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, Senator, for your answer. I think that everyone listening to this discussion -- I would hope anyone that's listening to this discussion who is undocumented would have listened to this discourse and say, well then this is a -- certainly encourage them to file for legal citizenship if in fact, it's true as you had said, which I believe it is, which, if you are a legal citizen that you do have access to more of those programs.

Which is why again, I think it's -- it is important that we reform our federal immigration law so that we can make those things easier for people who go through this system who are here legally. Now I want to talk quickly on this point with regards to if he or she is eligible to file such application. That to me is a bit concerning. Now I believe I went to college probably in -- probably out of everyone in this chamber, I was the one to go to college -- I was -- I went to college not too long ago as compared to some of other folks in this chamber and that is not -- I am not an old joke --

THE CHAIR:


Are you making an age reference, Senator Linares?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

[Laughing] I tried to say that in the most diplomatic way as possible.

THE CHAIR:

Because some people can go to college and still be older.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

That's true. Exactly a woman here --

THE CHAIR:

Just saying, Senator Linares. So I'm a little confused, what you're talking about.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

We had a woman here just the other day who is 90 I believe, who Senator Logan --

THE CHAIR:

I think she graduated.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

And she graduated. So I stand corrected, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you very much, Senator Linares. But you have a question?

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Yes. Well --

THE CHAIR:

And your question would be?

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

A statement, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Oh, thank you.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

In remembering the application process of applying to different colleges, it's very intricate and so it takes some time and I imagine that someone that is able to complete an application to go to a state university can also go through the process to apply for citizenship and so I bring that up because it's concerning that we are saying here that someone who has filed application to legalize his or -- immigration status or will file such application as soon as he or she is eligible.

So we're not even saying that you had to have filed before you had filed for college. That's a concern. I think that it's reasonable to have asked a person to have filed for their citizenship. I think that is the appropriate sequence rather than to say as soon as they're eligible. I think that leaves this legislation and the statute open-ended for various forms of interpretation. Which is concerning because someone then can go through our higher education system, they can get financial aid, and they can say well you know what, I don't want to be an American citizen. And that's obviously counter-intuitive ultimately to the goal here and so that's a little troubling. The language to file such application as soon as he or she is eligible is a little concerning in this bill.

The other point that I wanted to make a comment on, Madam President, was that this isn't just for tuition. It seems like this is for campus employment, student employment, for residences -- for students that are residents at the time, part-time students -- so this is open to more than just tuition. That someone can be competing for a job on campus and as I read the federal immigration code, I'll bring it up again -- that the federal immigration law passed in 1986 that the goal was to make sure that it would strengthen sanctions against employers.

Now, in this bill, it seems to be that this can also be used for student employment and so we have on one hand, immigration law that is saying that -- encouraging our business owners, our employers, to make sure that they are hiring someone of legal status and then here we have legislation that is point -- clearly saying that they're going to use institutional aid to hire someone who is not here legally. So it seems pretty clear to me that that is blatantly against federal law and so I'm not sure if that was taken into consideration in the debate. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. In it lists several different ways that institutional aid can be used. Student employment could perhaps be -- I know that if students are resident assistants then they do receive a reduction in their tuition. I'm quite sure that our higher ed institutions are following all the appropriate laws related to hiring workers. I also just want to point out one other point for the folks listening at home as Senator Linares pointed out -- is that students who come to our universities or state colleges and our -- and UConn -- foreign students receive access to this fund, currently.

So I wonder if foreign students would make Senator Linares as uncomfortable as students who are undocumented because foreign students are also paying tuition and accessing that fund in the same way that we're asking that undocumented students be able to pay tuition and access that fund, so I think it's an important point to make because foreign students have visas so they are eligible for institutional financial aid. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. As I'm reminded from a colleague on this side of the chamber that foreign students come through a legal process. Undocumented students have not gone through a legal process and so there is certainly a difference in the two matters as it pertains to foreign students and students that are here undocumented or illegally. So it appears to me like there are a lot of issues with this bill but I would like to dive a little further.

So Madam President, as it stands, what are the laws with regards to -- as far as institutional aid, what is the guideline? If the student is to commit a crime, is the student is to break campus law, can they have access to institutional aid currently as it stands? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Every campus has penal codes and our police have penal codes and all of those would be followed for anyone who commits a crime. There's absolutely no difference for a student who's undocumented. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. And through you, Madam President. The information that is collected, do students -- will students share their personal information with the university that they are undocumented? How is that information collected and what is done with that information once it is collected? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Like all students who are undocumented who matriculate, it could be an undocumented student, it could be a student for another country. They give all the information that's asked of them by the university. That's how it works. They have to comply with the rules of the university in the same way that every student does. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. So if I interpreted that correctly, Madam President, that the information of undocumented students would then be public information and the question that I have -- the follow-up question I have is, is that information then accessible to the federal government? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. If the gentleman will repeat his question one more time, I want to be sure I answer it correctly. Through you.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares, please repeat your question.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. So if a student applies for institutional aid and they are undocumented, they're here illegally, is that information then documented at the university and then is that information available to local and federal governments? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. To the best of my knowledge, there is no question on a college application asking students documentation status. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

So if there is no question, how are they not already avail -- how are undocumented students not already -- how do they not already access institutional aid? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. The current rules are that to access financial aid, you must complete a FAFSA, and again, as anyone in the circle can tell you, it's a complicated process and you have to have a social security number to apply for a FAFSA. Through you, Madam President and that's the document that the college uses to determine financial aid. Through you.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. So in lieu of filling out a FAFSA, they would file an application to the university? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Yes. They would file an application but they would not be able to access financial aid in that application. Generally those two run together. You apply for college and as you apply for college, you apply for financial aid and the college looks at the application.

I mean, it may or may not surprise Senator Linares to know on the fairness issue with higher ed, if you apply to a college and say I need no financial aid your chances of getting into that college go up, often tremendously. It's not as merit-based as many people believe when it comes to getting into college. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Senator, for your answer. So under this bill currently, there's no information that would be shared to the federal government, there is no education that takes place on behalf of the university to educate the student or would-be student on how to file for legal citizenship, the information is not shared with the federal government, is that my understanding? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. The goals and objectives of the university is to provide an education. It would certainly be my experience and my understanding that the student went to student services and said I need help with a, b, or c, generally the colleges and the adults at that college try to help that student with that but the primary objective is to enroll the students in classes, to build classes that are learning from each other and the other students in the classes and it provide that student with a top-notch education so they can carry on with their career and their life.

I should also say that having a degree makes it easier for an individual to pursue legal status as an immigrant so that's another important thing that this bill does, giving students access to higher education that then makes it easier to access immigration and follow a path toward legal citizenship. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES (33RD):

Thank you, Madam President. And I appreciate the good senator's answers to my question. I do -- I have empathy for the students that you know, are looking to get this institutional aid. I understand why they want to. We live in a great country and getting a college degree is a way for people to get a leg up, to improve yourself, and to improve your chances for a good job and I understand that. And in America, because we're a land of opportunity, we're a magnet. We're a magnet for immigration.

My concern with this policy is that we are turning on the magnet for folks to come here illegally. Now, we want people to come to Connecticut. We want immigrants to come to Connecticut. We -- in my opinion, I think it is most responsible for us to advocate for people to come here legally and now -- for many reasons. In this day and age, it's unfortunately, not just simply documentation but also it's to -- we want to understand who people are that are coming to this country.

We want to understand they're safe, we want to understand -- we want to know and we want people to know that we are a country of laws and those laws need to be respected. So now, if we allow for this policy, we are essentially lifting a lever and saying that it's okay to be here illegally and the concern that I have with that is that currently our universities, our state universities, use state tax dollars. The majority of funds going to the university are money that has been bonded. We've bonded billions of dollars to our state universities.

That is taxpayer money. Taxpayer money sent directly to these universities. And that is taxpayer money in -- as a large percentage if not all, paid for by folks that are here legally and so, it seems fair to me and accurate and appropriate that when debating institutional aid you cannot -- you should not separate institutional aid from the funds of the rest of the institution. Most of that -- most of the money flowing into higher education is money from tax dollars.

And so it appears to me that unfortunately, this would pull a lever allowing for an increased flow of illegal immigration to Connecticut at a time -- hence, at a time when we're struggling with our budget, we're struggling financially. Increasing the burden of budgets at higher education. Now I understand that higher education and colleges across our state are struggling with enrollment and this could be a way to increase enrollment but the question needs to be, why are universities struggling with enrollment in the first place?

And I think that's deeper -- that goes deeper than just -- than opening institutional aid. I think it has a lot to do with higher education at a macro level where you know, folks are leaving colleges with lots of debt and with little job opportunities. Now in Connecticut, we have to do a better job of making sure that we provide more opportunities in employment.

Now we're seeing -- unfortunately, we're seeing businesses leave Connecticut and I think that if we were able to structure and right size our government to reduce the burden of taxes and regulation on industry, we would see more opportunities and I think that hopefully, I know that Senator and I have done some work to improve the opportunities available to students and improve the opportunities that colleges have to build relationships with the private sector to hopefully make enrollment more attractive but I don't think that skirting federal immigration law is the appropriate way to take on that measure.

And I have a heavy heart on this issue. I'm a bit conflicted and you know, because I do value immigration greatly. My grandfather and grandmother waited six years to immigrate to this country legally and they endured a communist dictator for six years. They lived in a refugee camp for one year. Two of my uncles during that time became very sick and when they finally made it to America my grandfather racked up 20,000 dollars of medical bills and -- that he couldn't pay so he made a deal with the hospital that he would pay the bills over time.

It took him 20 years but working as a guidance counselor at a local high school, he was able to pay back the bills and I've heard this story of him -- of -- from my uncles of him, my grandfather, paying back the federal government his welfare check and he followed the law to get here. He brought his family here the right way and I think that -- and I know that a lot of families of immigrants understand how difficult that is going through the immigration process legally requires a lot of patience.

It's a difficult thing to do and so a lot of immigrants who are here legally express to me frustration that illegal immigrants have access to the things that make America great without having to go through the legal process and that's frustrating. Frustrating for a lot of legal immigrants. And I think that we would both agree that reforming the -- reforming federal immigration is something that is clearly important because if left undone, as a state we will continue these kinds of challenging debates.

But ultimately, to me this is a matter of fairness. I think that we can grow our economy in Connecticut without skirting federal immigration law. We can grow our economy by doing the things I talked about earlier which are you know, reducing the burden on businesses, allowing businesses to grow unscathed through regulation and if we focus on that we can solve some of our enrollment issues. But I do understand the intention. I do appreciate the good senator's work on this bill.

I just -- I feel that we cannot -- we cannot turn on this magnet for increased illegal immigration at a time when we are struggling financially as a state, when folks that are here who are middle class folks -- are struggling to make ends meet, want to see their kids go to local universities and this, in my opinion -- my interpretation of this bill will decrease their access to institutional aid. Working class people that are here legally and that's not okay. That makes it harder for people in Connecticut and we have an issue with folks that are working folks leaving this state.

The average income of a family that has left Connecticut is $ 250,000 dollars a year and the average income of a family moving into Connecticut is $ 32,000 dollars a year or less. And so I think that this can potentially exasperate that issue. So with that, Madam President, I know that we've debated this now for over an hour, but I have some concerns still with this piece of legislation and do not support it. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Are there any further comments? Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Good evening, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Good evening.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you. Nice to see you there.

THE CHAIR:

Nice to see you.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

In my favorite color as well. I decided to go yellow today and try to channel the sunshine into our Senate chambers.

THE CHAIR:

Can you turn up the heat in here too?

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

[Laughing] There are some of us who are paying very close attention to this debate this evening because it touches us personally. It touches us deeply. It touches us in a way that others might not quite understand. And I preface that by saying first of all that the great Chairman of the Higher Education Committee works tirelessly to improve the situation for so many and does it with a great deal of heart and passion and care.

But when this discussion involves fairness, you cannot help to be moved by the fairness that was discussed by the good Senator Linares when he talked about his family's situation. The long and very difficult road to gain access legally to this country, to the American dream that this country represents and the kind of hardships they went through in order to do it. There are many in both the Senate and the House that have similar stories. Just right here on this side of the circle, we have Senator Leone.

We have Senator Hwang, we have many representatives in the House that took that long and difficult journey to -- for legal immigration to get to this country. A great deal of expense, myself included -- a. k. a. Antonietta Iannuzzi from a little tiny town in Central Italy that had no running water, that most of our family including myself were born in a bedroom upstairs in the farmhouse that we lived in. Most of those families had very little income. Many were illiterate, no formal education. My mother did not have one day in school. My father had a fifth grade education.

What they did have were two brothers -- he had two brothers that immigrated to Connecticut right before the war yet the families were separated during that -- those war years and as a result, it took a long period of time for their brother, my father to be able to be sponsored to come to this country legally. And in doing so, he had to prove that he had a job waiting for him so he would not become a burden to the State of Connecticut's taxpayers. He had to have sponsorship with tests for character.

They had to do a background check with regards to criminal activities. They had to have a check on the health of the family members, all of us included to see if we had communicable diseases that we might somehow bring an illness to the citizens of this country. It took a long time.

It took selling everything they had. It took living in a tenement building next to a river that was spewed with chemical waste from a chemical plant and a rubber factory and it was living in a community where you may have been the poorest family but still grateful to access a public educational system that at the age of seven and eight and nine, you worked with your father in jobs rather than playing on a playground with other children.

A very difficult road to hoe but yet with an aspiration to climb that ladder and do better and have an educational system that could do so much better than their parents and so many did but those aspects of the process and the difference between those with legal status and those without legal status is a very wide, wide range and serving as ranking member of the Higher Education Committee previously, before we were 18 to 18 tie, we had a lot of discussions around this issue when the issue of in-state tuition was being debated at length.

And I can recall at that time, that there was a commitment made that if we did just pass in-state tuition that we wouldn't go further than that. We wouldn't go for scholarships. We wouldn't go for financial aid. Sort of reminded me of the great debate we had here in the circle that if we passed a ban on capital punishment we wouldn't let the one sitting on death row such as the murderers of the Cheshire family get off the hook. And in both cases, we didn't live up to the commitments that were made at that time and we're facing that very same debate here.

The question is, do individuals that do not have legal status have access to a valid driver's license? That's another debate we had in the Higher -- in the Transportation Committee not long ago. Do individuals, no matter their circumstances that are in this state without documentation -- do they have access to in-state tuition? Well they do. Do they have access to now scholarships? And in this case, there's a movement to make sure that they also have access to financial aid and that encompasses, I believe, things such as tuition waivers, tuition remission, grants.

And as the discussion was just had by our good senator about employment opportunities and raises the whole issue of the kind of conflict between in fact, even in the state constitution prohibits the hiring of those not in this state legally. In our constitution. So you have a conflict between the aspects of providing financial aid in our Connecticut colleges, a conflict between our state constitution and our federal laws as well. So with all of that, then does this -- what we're doing right here in order to become legally employed, do they not have to have a social security card? I guess they do.

So we're setting this -- putting the steps in place to try to develop a highly employable person at the end of this road through higher education and put them in a situation where they cannot legally be employed. It was stated and I listened carefully, that maybe this might help and it begs the question because when we were debating in-state tuition, one of the prerequisites was they must be on a path of getting citizenship and what I heard from the discussion here this evening was so far they haven't had anyone -- had -- successfully obtained legal citizenship through that and this particular proposal that we're looking at right now has the same prerequisites that they have to be in a path to legal citizenship.

So it really is a conflict of sorts and almost not doable and you know, as such, I'm very concerned about the process we're putting in place and the conflict it has with law and what seems to be growing further and further away, the concept of abiding by a system of law. Why do you meet? Why do we pass legislation if in fact we only abide by those that we think we like, versus those that we don't like. Our -- we have set up a situation where the individual can't be legally employed, they don't have a right to a vote, they don't -- aren't able to access a social security card and yet we're trying to be fair and I can't get my head around that.

The fairness issue. Is it fair for all of those that have gone through all of these steps, gone through -- passed all of these barriers, and then just say to a whole 'nother group, that never mind, those rules only apply for this group. They don't apply to all of you and for many that have gone through the same experiences that were just described here this evening, it is very hurtful. It's letting everybody else get ahead of the line and having others wait oftentimes many, many years if at all that they are successful.

They have had to have the scrutiny that others don't have to have. And that's also a matter of fairness and that is not to say that all are deserving and good people. In fact, the vast majority are. I believe that in my heart of hearts and we are very generous, giving, compassionate society in this country, thank goodness.

But I have to say that the conflict that this presents to us in this state is that example of a wider debate and a big conflict on a federal level that has to be rectified at that level so we don't set up a situation where a great deal of money and expense has been used and then set up individuals for failure in a system that should be welcoming to them and providing actual legal process for legal status and to be a fully functional member of our community and of our state.

Individuals that do have legal status, individuals that can get a social security card, that can be gainfully employed and can vote and be participating fully. So for that reason, I don't know that I can support this this evening, going forward. I am going to still listen to a great deal of the debate as you can imagine but there are many of us that a tremendous amount of interest in this issue because we have not only talked about this but we've lived it, we've walked the walk of gaining the citizenship that we all sought and the participating in a state that is incredible and has allowed us to even serve here in the legislature which is a pinnacle for many of us. Thank you very much for allowing me to discuss our point of view on this issue, Madam President and I hope you have a very good evening.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you very much, Senator. Senator Flexer, for what reason do you rise?

SENATOR FLEXER (29TH):

Good evening, Madam President. Madam President, I rise to discuss Senate Bill 17.

THE CHAIR:

Please continue.

SENATOR FLEXER (29TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I rise in strong support of the legislation that is in front of us and I first want to thank the tremendous work of my colleagues. Our leader Senate President Looney and Senator Bye, the Co-Chair of the Higher Education Committee. I think this is such a critical piece of legislation and I am grateful that this chamber has supported this measure many times in the past and I'm hopeful that this year will finally be the year that we say to these students that we're gonna create fairness in our state's financial aid system.

The students, the dreamers, who have been advocating for this legislation over the last couple of years, you can't miss them. Here in the capitol building or in the legislative office building. They have been the most consistent advocates that I can think of. Coming here, bravely explain to us their own unique, personal stories, the stories of coming here as a young child, you know, they did not choose to come here. This was a decision that the parents made.

They grew up here, for many of them this is the only home they've ever known, and they worked hard, graduated from high schools in our state and they have gone on to pursue bachelor's degrees and many of the students who have been here over the last several years, advocating for this legislation recognize that they're not the ones who are gonna benefit from this. By the time this bill passes, if it does finally this year, these students will have completed their four year degrees. They will have completed their degrees by working two, three, and four jobs. Their parents working two, three, and four jobs to pay those tuition bills.

Tuition bills that include up to 15 percent of that tuition going into this financial aid pool. All students at public universities in Connecticut pay into this financial aid pool, the institutional aid pool. And these are the only students in Connecticut where we say you have to pay in but you can't have access to this money. They are in essence subsidizing the education of all of the other students at those institutions. It's completely unfair that these students have to pay into this system of financial aid that goes to support everybody, goes to support students based on need and based on merit and yet, they can't access this when they've worked just as hard and in some cases, harder than other students have had to.

I -- when I was a college student and I was able to access financial aid -- institutional aid and I too am the daughter of an immigrant but I recognize that unlike the students that have been advocating so fiercely for this bill, I had privileges that they did not -- they do not have. I'm the daughter of an immigrant who was English speaking and who was white and was a beneficiary of immigration policies that were more favorable to people who are English speaking and white and while my mother worked very hard to come here and she gave up a lot in the course of her life to make sure that my sister and I could attend public universities here in the State of Connecticut. It wasn't the same struggles that these students who have been advocating for this bill have faced.

These students are facing much more serious challenges in terms of being able to access educational opportunity in the first place by virtue of their immigration status and by virtue of the fact again that they're paying into the system and not being able to access this aid. This bill has the broad support of the people who run our public higher educational institutions in the state of Connecticut. The president of the University of Connecticut supports this as does the president of the Board of Regents that runs all of our community colleges and our state universities.

I think it is absolutely critical that we move forward with this for fairness and to also give these students an opportunity to access higher education. The students who are in high school now who are undocumented, who do not -- who may be looking at college and realizing they're not gonna be able to afford unless they are able to access this institutional aid. If we can open this aid up, more of those students will be able to get a college education.

These students are going to live here in the State of Connecticut and the question before us tonight is whether or not we're gonna make it easier for them to have better opportunities to get the highest level of education that they can obtain and be able to afford it just like everybody else in the State of Connecticut has the opportunity to. And this bill is really important to our economic future as Senator Bye mentioned earlier in the debate, in New England in general, we have a demographic problem. We have an aging population and then the one area where we're seeing growth is in the immigrant population, young people who are coming here to this region.

This is an opportunity for us to say to these students, stay here in Connecticut. Students who go to our public institutions of higher education whether it's UConn or the community colleges or the state universities, they stay here in Connecticut. We want these students to stay here. We want the best and the brightest to stay here and we want to make sure that they can get every educational opportunity and finally, I just want to again comment on the fortitude and the bravery of the students who have been advocating for this bill.

Again, many of them are not gonna see the benefit if this bill finally passes but the fact that they have been here again this year in this climate in our country when unfortunately, they have to be more fearful than ever that coming out as undocumented could risk their immediate safety and the safety of their families and yet they have still come forward and explained their stories, told us their personal situations and said that they are undocumented, putting themselves at great risk so that people coming up behind them may have the benefit of accessing this financial aid that they've already been paying into.

I hope that the members of this chamber this evening will look at this legislation seriously, understand the courage that these students have had for so many years, asking just for fairness. Fairness that they can get some of the money that they've been paying into. I hope that members of this chamber tonight will vote for this measure and that the House will take it up in the next coming days and we will finally give these students the fairness that they've been fighting for for so long. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark? Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President and good evening. Madam President, I rise in support of this piece of legislation. I guess I should say again. I would like to associate myself with the comments of Senator Mae Flexer and thank the Chair of Higher Education for bringing us back to a point where we're debating this bill. I don't really have that much to say on this. To me, it's actually pretty simple.

We do no good by the State of Connecticut for not passing a bill like this. This bill should go through both this chamber and the chamber downstairs. To me it's really simple. The status of the individuals that we're talking about for me is not an issue. What's at issue is that they paid into a system and the way system works is there's need-based financial aid that you can access through that system.

And I just think if Tom and Bob come to me and they pay me some money and I say I'm gonna give back some of that money to the people who pay me and I look at Tom and I say something about your status means that you don't get the money back but Bob, your status is fine. You get the money back. I will call that robbery and I don't think the State of Connecticut should be involved in a robbery. So I would urge the members of this body to consider what it is we do if we vote against this and vote for this bill. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark? Will you remark? Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President. If I may, I have a few questions for the proponent of the bill.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Bye, prepare yourself
. Please continue, Senator.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President. To begin with, there were some numbers that were discussed with Senator Linares was asking questions and I made some quick notes but I didn't quite grasp or get them all. He was asking about the number of students in our public colleges and I wrote down quickly the numbers 80,000 and 30,000. I was wondering if the proponent can provide some statistical information regarding students matriculating in Connecticut Public colleges, how many receive financial aid, if I may. Through you, Madam President.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. The number of students matriculating was between 85,000 at the Board of Regents and a little over 30,000 at the University of Connecticut. We did not answer the question how many receive financial aid. I did suggest -- I know when I worked at Trinity College, 75 percent of those students received financial aid. My guess is the number of students receiving financial aid at our state colleges is at least that. I could take a moment and get a more exact number, but the majority of students that attend higher education have help whether it's a Pell grant, student loans that are subsidized or institutional financial aid. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

And again, through you, Madam President. Do we have any statistical information on the number of undocumented students that are currently matriculating at Connecticut's public colleges or units of higher education? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. No, we do not have really good numbers on this because students do not self-identify as undocumented. I do know -- I remember during the in-state tuition debate, at -- the number of graduating from Conard High School in West Hartford who were going on to college with something like four or five and that was a high school of 1,500 in Connecticut.

I know we do tend to have more undocumented immigrants than maybe other communities so the number is not a large number, if you used Conard High as your example. Part of this is because of the idea that the families get no financial aid and that's very hard to access higher education. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

And through you, Madam President. Have there been any studies or estimates developed by the units of higher education or any independent authority regarding the population of undocumented students currently or historically matriculating to our universities? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. When this question came up in our public hearing it was very difficult to get a number however both institutions, both the Board of Regents and UConn, were very comfortable saying that the number -- in many ways, the number doesn't make that big a difference because basically as Senator Winfield reminded us, this bill is really about access to a fund that students pay into and so the more students there are, the more students are paying into the fund. So whatever the number is, there's a proportional amount of money going in and a proportional amount of money coming out. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Through you, Madam President. So we really have no idea whether we're talking about ten students or 10,000 students? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I think it's very clear that it's not 10,000 students. As I've pointed out, at the high school in my town of 1,500 there were four students, maybe 10 students. It's not a really high number going to our institutions of higher education but if it was 1,000, those are a thousand students paying full tuition, full in-state tuition or full out of state tuition and paying into a fund to which they're asking to have access to. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you. And again, through you, Madam President. It's my understanding that UConn itself has an applicant pool that substantially exceeds the number of student slots that are available annually. Is that a true observation? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Absolutely. UConn is a highly competitive school. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

And through you, Madam President. Does the proponent of the bill have anything specific regarding UConn applications versus enrollment? Through you, Madam President. And how many students are denied the opportunity to be educated at UConn because of the high standards that -- and its appeal? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I can get that in just a second. Through you.

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will stand at ease. The Senate will return to order. Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. As it turns out, it's a more complicated question than it seems because students may apply to UConn Storrs and be denied but then get acceptance to UConn West Hartford or Avery Point or Waterbury. But there are 36,000 students who applied to Storrs and there were 3,800 awarded. So it's highly competitive and I think that's something we should be very proud of as a state. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you. And through you, Madam President. So the evidence is that we are turning away student applicants to UConn by the thousands, annually? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

From Storrs, yes. But they may be offered acceptance to the branches or to our state universities and colleges. I think if you took our system as a whole, it is an open access system. That there is a spot for anyone in our public higher education system who applies and wants to attend. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you and through you, Madam President. So that means that UConn at Storrs, there is an over-subscription of applicants for the limited spots at Storrs? By typically there's thousands of more applicants than there are slots available? That would -- would that be an accurate description?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Absolutely. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

So as a consequence to that, does that mean, since we're denying students the opportunity, the educational opportunity to matriculate to UConn that for every student who's an undocumented student at UConn, a documented -- a legal student is denied a spot at UConn? Because the slots are being taken up by students who are here with undocumented status? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Bye
.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I understand what the gentleman is asking but as I said earlier, every student would have access to some place in our state university system and the university of Connecticut and it is true, there are only a certain number of spots. Those are taken by all different kinds of students and also I would say, including students from other countries who receive access to the University of Connecticut including students from other states who have priority over students from Connecticut.

In some cases as the admissions officer said, they're working on putting together a class that gives the best educational opportunity to the students who attend the University of Connecticut and I'm very proud of the state that we have a system that accepts every student who wants to attend higher education at one of our higher education institutions in Connecticut. I think that's something we should be proud of. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

And again, thank you, Madam President. Through you, so the testimony of the proponent of the bill though is that indeed at UConn there are not enough student slots available to satisfy all the applicants that indeed we are turning away applicants who want to matriculate at UConn and therefore basically any undocumented student who is accepted at UConn to matriculate at Storrs is replacing a student who could be there legally from Connecticut or somewhere else in the United States or perhaps even a foreign student. Seems to me that's an accurate description. Is it not? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Bye
.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. It is actually legal for any student to attend UConn that UConn accepts. Through you.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

I just want to say now for the record, I'm not questioning whether it's legal for a student to attend UConn, the issue I'm bringing is the legal status of this student. And we know that there are apparently a number of students who are matriculating to UConn who are undocumented students. By definition, that's what this debate and this bill are all about. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Excuse me, Senator
.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Yes.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff, for what reason do you rise?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I move to PT this bill, please.

THE CHAIR:

So ordered.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Can Senate stand at ease, please?

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will stand at ease.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Madam President?

THE CHAIR:

Sorry. Senator Duff. Back to order please. The Senate -- the Senate will come back to order now. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, our Senate President would like to speak on the bill I just PT'd. So if we can just recall that -- calendar page 6, Calendar 194, Senate Bill 17. He would like to make some comments on that then we'll move to PT the bill once again.

THE CHAIR:


Mr
. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 6, Calendar 194, Substitute for Senate Bill Number 17, AN ACT ASSISTING STUDENTS WITHOUT LEGAL IMMIGRATION STATUS WITH THE COST OF COLLEGE.

THE CHAIR:

Okay. I'm sorry. Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and passage of the bill.

THE CHAIR:


Motion is on acceptance and passage
. Will you remark, Ma'am?

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Yes. Madam President, I'd like to yield to Senator Looney.

THE CHAIR:


Senator Looney, will you accept the yield, sir?

SENATOR LOONEY (11TH):

Yes, I will, Madam President and thank you, Senator Bye for the yield and Madam President, speaking in support of the bill. This is a bill we know it is an uphill climb this year. We're well aware but we don't want to lose momentum toward ultimate passage of this item which will ultimately pass because there is an undeniable element of equity here.

Madam President, [Clearing throat] there are facts and there are facts. And for some, the only relevant fact regarding this debate is that these students entered the country as undocumented when they were brought in by their parents at an early age. And for some, they cannot get beyond that fact as the only relevant fact in this debate. Despite the fact that these young people, in many cases, have no knowledge of life in any other country except the United States. In some cases, they were brought here as infants or before they were two or three years old and in some cases, went through our entire school system in grades K through 12.

And we have already invested in these students by providing them in many cases, a K through 12 education here in the State of Connecticut. And it really does seem arbitrary that now we put obstacles in their path to reach their ultimate goal of aspiring to be fully educated college graduates in our society and enable to contribute at a higher level.

We have made some progress in this area, Madam President, and in 2011, we passed the Public Act 11-43 that allowed undocumented students who met certain conditions regarding prior residency in the state to pay in-state tuition at our colleges and recognize that they are in fact, our own residents.

They have grown up in many cases with our children. Went to school with our children and in grades K through 12. That was fair and compassionate and pragmatic legislation because it is an investment in our future as well as in the future of these young people.

And allowing these students to qualify for in-state tuition has assisted many in pursuit of higher education and as Senator Flexer mentioned earlier, many of the students that were advocating for this bill this year are those who are struggling to get through college currently with the benefit of in-state tuition but without the benefit of other aid and so they are in effect, doing what high minded do, is lobby for something which they themselves may not benefit from but believe is important for those who come after them who are similarly situation to the way they are currently.

But again, many others, despite the fact of availability of in-state tuition find college to be unaffordable or have to make only very incremental progress toward a degree because they have to spend so much time working and being able to go to school only part-time. But Madam President, that has been progress that we have made but again, many of these students have lived in this state for their entire lives and they also have exactly the goal that we would hope that all American kid would have, to be ambitious, to be hard-working, to have hopes for the future, plans for the future and motivation to contribute to our society at the highest level that their abilities will allow.

But again, as I said, Madam President, there are some who see the only and most relevant fact as being the fact that these students entered the country as undocumented at the time of their entry with their parents. That I think, is not the most relevant fact. Is not the most important fact. The most important fact is that they are here among us. That in many cases, they exhibit all of the values that we would hope to see in American young people: hard work, hope in the future, dedication to self-improvement. These are all the things that we ask of our own children and hope to see in all of the children who we have a chance to influence by our own conduct and our own motivation.

So that is, I think, a fact that is of greater importance. That in my view, in effect, far outweighs and submerges the fact of their questionable entry into the country. We cannot afford to in effect, diminish the opportunities of those who are motivated to achieve and to work hard and to be successful. Our society depends on the energy, the ability, the creativity of these young people and all the young people growing up here in Connecticut. We should not put an artificial barrier among those who have already shown that they deserve their opportunity by working so hard despite their lack of opportunity in so many ways, and the obstacles put in their paths.

So their motivation in many ways is an inspiration to native born American kids who in some cases as we know, are unfortunately not as hard working, not as well motivated, not willing to take on the challenges. Not to say that there are many in that category but obviously there are some for whom these students would be a model. So, and I think it is important that they are representing what we hope to see in all young people, a desire to be able to contribute at the highest level that their abilities allow. That, I think is a more important fact than the fact of their entry into the country and the circumstances that placed them in the category where sometimes they are not even aware.

We've heard stories and testimony given at various hearings. Many of these people were not aware that there was a distinction between them and the friends with whom they grew up and were attending high school until it came time to start looking into attending college. And it was only at that time that they became aware of their background and the fact that there was a huge gulf between them and the other young people who had been their friends and whose aspirations they had shared.

So since they represent what we hope to see, in aspiring hard-working young people, I think it really is short-sided of us and short-sided of us in our behalf as well as theirs to place these obstacles in their path and again, it is a matter of simple equity that these institutional funds are funds that are created out of tuition and fees paid by the students and now since they are students, since they are able to attend at the in-state tuition rate, they are paying tuition. They are paying fees into this fund but yet are the only students who are barred from receiving aid out of those funds.

I think there's been a lot of misunderstanding of this bill and the fact that some people thought it was giving them access to federal financial aid or other forms of financial aid or other university-based scholarship aid. None of that was true. It was only the category of institutional aid where we make the equity argument that this is a fund in which the students themselves pay and it is only fair that based on need and circumstances they be allowed access to be considered for assistance out of that fund.

No other category would be available to them. I think there is a tremendous amount of misinformation out in public about exactly what kind of financial aid they are eligible for under this bill. So I think if we really want to celebrate our own values and endorse our own aspirations that we hope for in our own children, our own grandchildren, we would want to see these young people succeed as well. Because they are exactly like the other native born American kids who are working hard, who are aspiring, who are indistinguishable from these young people except for the circumstances of their birth and how they came to be in this country.

So again, in effect, they have these limitations of being placed on them because of the fact of a decision made by their parents, to come here, in many cases when they were so young and despite that clouded circumstance of entry, many of them have excelled and have done exactly what we would hope that all young people growing up in the United States would do. So Madam President, I think that this is an important bill.

It's one that we should pass this year and even should it not pass this year, it's one that I think it's important to keep in front of us as a goal that we need to move forward with and I think when it does finally pass, it's something of which we should all be proud because I think the reasons and the arguments against it really amount to, in many ways, a sort of self-defeating desire to cut off opportunity for people who in many cases have proved that they deserve it.

So Madam President, I would urge support for this bill. I think it is an important measure of who we are and who we ought to be and who we should aspire to be as the people of the State of Connecticut. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Looney. Appreciate that comment. Senator Duff, why do you rise, sir?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I move to PT this bill, please.

THE CHAIR:

The bill with be PT'd.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Senate stand at ease, please.

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will stand at ease. Sorry, Senator Duff. Good evening, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Good evening, Madam President. It's quite a show up there. Thank you. Madam President, would the clerk now please call calendar page 38, Calendar 547, House Bill 7124?

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 38, Calendar 547, Substitute for House Bill Number 7124, AN ACT CONCERNING HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR FERTILITY PRESERVATION FOR INSUREDS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Larson.

SENATOR LARSON (3RD):

Good evening, Madam President. I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and passage of this bill.

THE CHAIR:

The motion is on acceptance and passage. Please remark, sir.

SENATOR LARSON (3RD):

Thank you very much, Madam President. This is a -- this bill expands the range of people eligible for infertility coverage under certain individual and group health insurance policies. Called House Amendment “A” this bill is a strike-all amendment that replaces an underlying bill.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR LARSON (3RD):

Thank you. The amendment requires policies to cover medically necessary costs of diagnosing and treating infertility. Through this definition of infertility --

THE CHAIR:

Senator Larson.

SENATOR LARSON (3RD):

Excuse me, Madam President. Yeah, I'd like to move this in concurrence with the House.

THE CHAIR:

The motion is to adopt it in concurrence with the House. Please proceed.

SENATOR LARSON (3RD):

Thank you. The amendment requires policies to cover medically necessary costs of diagnosing and treating infertility. Through this definition of infertility current law limits coverage to those who are presumably healthy and unable to conceive, produce -- conception or sustain successfully pregnancy during a one year period. The new language requires infertility as a medical condition eligible for insurance coverage. The bill has been negotiated with the Department of Insurance and the fiscal notes brings no cost to the state. This is no considered a new mandate.

THE CHAIR:

Excuse me. I'm sorry. General Larson [sic] I apologize. Are you talking about the entire bill or the -- the bill was incorporated into that -- that was incorporated with House “A”?

SENATOR LARSON (3RD):

In concurrence with the House.

THE CHAIR:

You are doing the bill. Thank you very much, sir. I'm sorry.

SENATOR LARSON (3RD):

Shall I proceed?

THE CHAIR:


Please do
.

SENATOR LARSON (3RD):

Thank you very much. As I stated before, the new language requires infertility as a medical condition eligible for insurance coverage. The bill has been negotiated with the Insurance Department and no -- and the fiscal note brings no cost to the state. This is not considered to be a new mandate.

I could go on about the specifics of the bill but I think now most of you know what this does. I'd rather talk about the woman who has become the greatest advocate for this passage. A woman who soon after giving birth to her daughter had difficulty breast feeding, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Needless to say, her life and the lives of her loved ones were thrown into turmoil. So many decisions needed to be made. One of the many involved with her whether or not to consider fertility treatment.

After a double mastectomy, medical treatment, raising a newborn, in hope of freezing her eggs, she found out insurance did not cover the procedure for infertile women. The cost was $ 10,000 dollars. At a time when most of us would suffer from defeat, this woman took it upon herself to educate herself and those around her, becoming the greatest advocate for others in a similar situation. She presented cost, data, and incredible research to support her proposal for insurance companies to cover fertility preservation for cancer sufferers.

Thanks to her and my colleagues in the House, Representatives Lesser, Simmons, and Steinberg, this bill, House -- passed the House unanimously and I hope it will pass the Senate tonight unanimously as well. But first, let me welcome Melissa Thompson to the chamber. Ladies and gentleman, Melissa Thompson. [Applause]

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further on the bill? Senator Larson.

SENATOR LARSON (3RD):

Thank you, Madam President. I'd like to yield my time to Senator Kelly.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kevin Kelly, please. Will you accept the yield, sir?

SENATOR KELLY (21ST):

Yes, Madam President. And thank you, Senator Larson. Thank you, not only for the yield but also for your collaborative leadership with regards to this issue in the Insurance Committee and for everybody that brought it here this far, at least legislatively. We have a saying right here on the carpet in front of us, the qui transtulit sustinet with the three grape leaves, which go back in time to our -- the roots of our history and in this city where it was decided that Connecticut was gonna be the bold experience of a government by the people, for the people, and of the people.

And we all go out during Memorial Day and we remember sacrifices of our Veterans. And it wasn't just for a sacrifice in a battle but it was for a sacrifice of a way of life that is much different than anywhere else in the world. And what it really talks about is freedom and liberty and our individual ability to take our government where it needs to go. Tonight we are blessed with an individual who actually puts into action that concept.

Melissa Thompson has an idea that she has brought to our government to improve the lives of others. She did the best job that I've seen when a person comes to our committee. In the six years that I -- this is the seventh year -- that I've been doing this, she was prepared, she had all the issues addressed, and when new ones confronted her, worked around to get to yes. It was quite impressive to say the least. Then when it came over here to the people's House, both downstairs and here, we got to a new forum and she continued to work the bill.

Folks, when we talk about demonstrating what it means to be an American and to exercise our freedoms and liberty in a respectful, responsible and meaningful way, this bill is it. I am so happy to align my remarks with Senator Larson and to support this bill because of what she not only did to get it to where it is today, but to what it will mean to the lives and families that it will help. I urge everybody in this circle to support this because this is truly a wonderful and meaningful bill. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? Senator Toni Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. And we all warmly welcome Melissa Thompson here. As was just stated by our previous speakers, it is rare to have this kind of efficacy and hard work on a bill that someone has so passionate about, no question, and has won all of us over. We get very distracted by a lot of bills. People don't realize that we often entertain in a long session, 4,000 bills and between three to four hundred of them actually make it through the committee process.

So you can get distracted very easily and so for Melissa to be here and literally be in our faces in a nice and warm way, it was very helpful but for some of us -- some of us women, this has touched us personally. You may not know this, but with my third child, after two months of being pregnant, my Ob-gyn said that he thought he found something very serious -- a very serious lump in a breast and said he was very concerned and because I'm that old, if those of you that remember Happy Rockefeller, she was the wife of a very famous and very fine politician.

She passed away from what they termed as Happy Rockefeller's cancer and he was certain that this was what I had. And it was a very difficult conversation when you're two months pregnant. The decision was you can abort this baby because if it is that cancer, your body is functioning at 600 times its normal rate -- in other words, your metabolism is really revved up. And if you have anything working, it could be much more fatal than otherwise. But I'm not certain and so to extract it, if you want to go under local, maybe we can preserve the baby and see what happens.

So I chose to go under local and I remember very distinctly. It's very a strange feeling to be under local when someone's doing a major operation, an hour-and-a-half length, and you feel the tugging and you hear what he's saying to the nurses and others and he looked at it and he says, you know, maybe it's not. We'll have it tested. And I was one of those fortunate people that it turned out to be benign after they took it out but it really brought the issue home to say just how critical, that if in fact, that were indeed cancer, it would change everything.

It would change your life, it would have a devastating effect on the infant that you are carrying, and it would change and threaten your own life in the process. So how important is it to understand that in order to preserve a life, you have to preserve the eggs that you are having for your future children in a way so that you can actually have this child during a time when it is safe to do so. And I think that we've come a long way in understanding this.

I think Melissa has brought it home to everyone to make it understand this and how incredibly important it is for us to be able to have a path to new life for an individual so deserving so that they can confront whatever illness they have and recover fully and well from it and I think this is just an outstanding moment we have this evening and congratulations to you, Melissa. I think you're gonna have an awful lot of support.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you very much. Will you speak -- will you remark further? Senator Leone.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I rise in support of this very important piece of legislation and perhaps if not as important, maybe even more importantly, I rise on behalf of Melissa Thompson for all her efforts and for being the face of someone -- of many people that have had to go through this sort of ordeal and the simple fact is, Melissa could have come up asking for assistance regarding her situation and then gone home, hoping we would do something. But she chose to do something different.

She chose to tabulate and collect and present an argument so that this chamber, this legislature, would have the facts to actually act and do something even more. To spearhead this legislation so that others wouldn't have to go through the same situation. And it's always the human story that matters. It's usually the human story that gets our attention and drives home the point. Most likely, each and every one of us has known someone or maybe even someone within our own family is afflicted with this type of disease and cancer and cancer knows no bounds.

It's not racial, it's not economical, it just -- it can affect anybody at any time. And this piece of legislation affords a person -- a woman, the ability to preserve their eggs so -- in the hopes that they can overcome this dreaded disease, in the hopes that they have a chance at a future family and who are we to take away that hope? Who are we to prevent that from happening? And I would gather as we all try to assist those who are afflicted with this, this is a piece of legislation that moves the ball in the right direction so that that hope can become a reality.

And sometimes that hope may not come to fruition and if it doesn't come to fruition, it's this piece of legislation that aspires and allows for other people to have that hope. For other people to have a chance at a family, to have a chance at a second life. And so the fact that Melissa took on this extremely important battle and agenda when she could have chosen to just ask for assistance and go home, she chose to be the face and make sure that others don't have to go through what she had to go through. And I think that's a testament to her strength and to her resolve and we only wish her the best.

But more importantly, I urge and support this piece of legislation and hope others do as well. I was fortunate enough just to learn a little bit about Melissa, briefly, and then when she said that she was from Stamford or moved to Stamford, that made it even easier -- from Westport to Stamford -- for us to support her but that's just a small piece. The more important piece of the bigger picture and it's that bigger picture that makes us human.

It's that bigger picture that connects us. It crosses party bounds and it brings us together because it's a true human story that any one of us could face. And it's one that I hope no one has to face but if you do, this gives us a measure of solace, a measure of hope, and hope is what brings us together. So I would urge support. I do want to thank Melissa for being the face and the strength of this issue when you did not have to and that says more than words ever could. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Senator Hwang.

SENATOR HWANG (28TH):

Thank you, Madam President. And what lovely company you have up there.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. I picked mine.

SENATOR HWANG (28TH):

All right. I want to acknowledge Melissa and I want to share the story of meeting her. We met her at an American Cancer Society event and she was such a breath of fresh air, coming right to you and saying what are you doing to fight cancer? And these are valuable lessons and words in which someone like her makes an impact on you. So when you have advocates like Melissa coming to you, she makes an impression because she isn't talking a Democrat or a Republican. She's talking about an individual fighting for their lives.

So I want to compliment her. I want to compliment all the advocates that are fighting cancer every single day in their families because at the end of the day, that is the most critical fight that they can have and we need to support them in every possible way. And I find this bill to be very interesting in the context that when you're talking about supporting people that are fighting cancer and fighting for their lives, to consider saving their eggs and their possibility of extending the miracle of life, is that not the most fascinating extension of making something out of a very difficult and challenging predicament, as I would say it?

So what you have done is thinking out of the box to take something that is so challenging and creating an opportunity for others to look to the future and I'll leave by simply saying again, obviously I support this bill because of the mission that it fulfills but I want to take an extra moment to extend my warmest thoughts, my warmest thoughts and prayers for your recovery every single day, to be better and better and better. So thank you, Ma'am.

THE CHAIR:


Amen
. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? If -- Senator Moore.

SENATOR MOORE (22ND):

Thank you, Madam President. I just want to say, I was not going to speak but I have in the last 24 hours had two young women be diagnosed with breast cancer all under the age of 35 and I just got a call that my cousin has died of breast cancer and -- another young woman but it people like you, Melissa, who stand up, who advocate for all those other women to make it aware -- make people aware that you have to fight for everything that you get.

And it takes -- sometimes it takes going through this journey of cancer for people to pay attention so you are for so many other women, courage and strength and the determination because we need to see women like you who even though you've been through a horrible experience, you stand and you fight for other women. So, to me, I say God bless you and I'm proud to know you. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Moore, I'm sorry about your loss. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? If not, I'm gonna call for a roll call vote. Mr. Clerk, will you please call for a roll call vote and the machine will be open.

CLERK:

Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate. Immediate Roll Call has been ordered in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Gomes, Senator Miner, Senator Hartley.

The machine will now be locked. Mr. Clerk, will you please call the tally, please?

CLERK:

House Bill 7124.

Total number voting 36

Those voting Yea 36

Those voting Nay 0

Absent and not voting 0

MELISSA THOMPSON:

Thank you on behalf of all of us. The bill has passed. (Gavel) [Applause]

THE CHAIR:

We all say keep hope alive and keep fighting, honey. We want you to keep fighting and take care of that little one for us. Thank you all very much. Melissa, you really are a role model to all of us. God bless you.

At this time, Senator Duff, good evening, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Good evening, Madam President. I have a marking I'm just looking for the page number. Senate will stand at ease for a moment.

THE CHAIR:

Take your time sir. Senate will stand at ease. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Last night or earlier this morning, I should say, we referred Calendar 182, Senate Bill 775 to the Finance Committee only to learn that we already did it and it passed. So I -- So --

THE CHAIR:

Can we retract it?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

You know, it's a lovely committee this time of the year. [Laughter] But we can't send it back. So we want it back.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

So I'd like to make a motion that we reconsider referring Calendar 182 and Senate Bill 775 and leave it right here in the circle where it belongs.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, sir. So ordered, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. The next bill I'd like to mark as go is calendar page 10, Calendar 274, Senate Bill 786.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 10, Calendar 274, Substitute for Senate Bill Number 786, AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATION MANDATE RELIEF AND THE TRANSPARENCY OF ENDOWED ACADEMIES.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Good evening, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Good to see you.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and passage of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on adoption and passage. Will you remark?

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. Well, first I've just got to say, this is not nearly as exciting or passionate or moving -- this bill, but it's still a good bill so I won't just say it's going to pass though. So, the bill before us provides flexibility to our districts in this fiscal climate. We're providing additional mandate relief and also provides transparency in regard to our three endowed academies. It does a variety of things including allowing the State Board of Education to approve alternate school years -- alternative school years.

It doubles the validity of a temporary teaching certificate. It increases terms for superintendents that are allowable. It allows Boards of Ed to jointly -- that jointly employ a superintendent to reduce number of meetings. It allows Boards of Education to enter into cooperative arrangements to provide administration and central office duties and it provide -- it requires that incorporated or endowed high schools or academies provide some transparency.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg. Will you remark further on the bill? Will you remark further on the bill? Senator Boucher. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Yes, Madam President. Madam President, I rise to support the amendment and our good chairman of Education --

THE CHAIR:

The bill?

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

And the bill.

THE CHAIR:

We don't have an amendment.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

That's right. We don't have an amendment this time. One of those rare moments when we're entertaining an actual bill without an amendment. So it's quite a unique evening, here. And I must say that it -- I am very -- it's such a pleasure to get up and support one of the two major mandate release bills that were actually passed through the Education Committee this year. We've had a very fine experience working together on so many really good educational efforts that have been in such a tough economic time that we're experiencing -- we're actually trying to produce some mandate relief to our districts.

But from a legislative intent purpose, we wanted to make clear a couple of concerns that may have been expressed by some of our endowed academies, the unique construction here in Connecticut where we have a private independent school that for many years including 100 years, some of which have two-thirds of their student body as public school students that have been really helpful to a lot of their neighboring communities and in order to allay any concerns on their part, may I -- through you, Madam President, pose a few questions just to clarify that section that involves endowed academies? Through you.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you very much and through you, to the good Chair of the Education Committee, when there was stated a requirement in this bill for an academy to hold a public hearing, would this public hearing be in each town sending district or just in one town and one public hearing? So we wouldn't have the issue of some sending districts might have six or seven towns that are sending to that academy -- and some cases even 11. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Through you, that would be one public hearing in a location of the academy's choice. That could be at the academy or in one of the towns, whatever is most convenient to them but only one public hearing is necessary. And that in fact, could be their annual meeting. If they have an annual meeting, they could use that at the same time as their public hearing, as long as it is properly noticed and the public has ample opportunity to participate.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you, Madam President. That's very clear and very helpful to those institutions and I think they readily would accept that responsibility. Another question, through you, Madam President, would be that if this -- an academy already holds a public hearing, would they have to hold an additional public hearing or would that be suffice? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Thank you, Madam President. No, only one public hearing is required by this bill.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you --

THE CHAIR:

Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. And the last clarification regarding an audit requirement and being able to make sure that an audit is produced and that that audit would be noticed and at a proper time and be recorded by the Department of Education. That requirement -- would that be for the most recently completed audit as oftentimes it might be in the fall of that previous year, and they would have to notice it in that spring time, early summer and they wouldn't be able to do the current years until that following September. So the question is, would it be the most recently completed that would be noticed and not have to schedule an additional audit in between their normal yearly audit time? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Yes, that would be correct. Most recent audit.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. I really appreciate the answers to those questions. That clarification for legislative intent. I think that this was well negotiated on all parties' part and should be really approved by the Senate. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. I also want to just thank Senator Boucher for her good work on this. We did spend an awful lot of time trying to pull this together and make sure all the concerns were addressed. So if there is no objection, I'd ask that this item be placed on the Consent Calendar.

THE CHAIR:

Okay. Seeing no objection. So ordered. On the Consent Calendar. Senate will stand at ease. Senator Duff, why are you standing, sir?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I'd like to refer a bill, please.

THE CHAIR:

Oh, please proceed, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. On calendar page 7, Calendar 214, Senate Bill 1000. I'd like to refer that item to the Appropriations Committee.

THE CHAIR:

Seeing no objection. So ordered, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I'd like to mark a few items for our Consent Calendar.

THE CHAIR:

Oh, please proceed, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. On calendar page 22, Calendar 411, House Bill 7128. I'd like to move that item to the Consent Calendar.

THE CHAIR:

So ordered, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. On calendar page 27, Calendar 453, House Bill 7238, I'd like to move that item to the Consent Calendar.

THE CHAIR:

So ordered, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. On calendar page 9, Calendar 268, House Bill 7131, I'd like to move that item to the Consent Calendar.

THE CHAIR:

So ordered, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

On calendar page 25, Calendar 434, House Bill 5442, I'd like to move that item to the Consent Calendar.

THE CHAIR:

So ordered, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

On calendar page 34, Calendar 529, House Bill 6297, I'd like to move that item to the Consent Calendar.