CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY

SENATE

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Senate was called to order at 10: 46 o'clock a. m. , the President in the Chair.

THE CHAIR:

The Senate please come to order. Members and guests please rise. Let's direct our attention to the acting Reverend Kehoe.

REVEREND TIM KEHOE:

Please bless us with an inner strength so our lives and our work may be a blessing unto each other. Amen.

ALL:

Amen.

THE CHAIR:

At this time, Senator Witkos, would you come up and lead ups in the Pledge or Allegiance, please?

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

(All) 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:

Mr. Clerk is there anything on your desk?

CLERK:

We've got Senate Agendas Number 1 and 2 for the reconvened session dated Monday, July 24, 2017.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Duff good morning, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Good morning Madam President. Madam President, I move all items on Senate Agendas Number 1 and 2 dated Monday, July 24, 2017 be acted upon as indicated and that the agenda be incorporated by reference to the Senate Journal and transcript.

THE CHAIR:

Seeing no objection, so ordered sir. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Would the clerk read the call on Agenda Number 1?

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

Communications from the Secretary of the State reconvening the 2017 regular session of the General Assembly whereas the 2017 regular session General Assembly adjourned on June 2, 2017, in accordance with the Constitution of Connecticut and whereas the Governor has disapproved a bill passed by the 2017 Regular Session of the General Assembly and has transmitted same to the Secretary of the State with his objections. And, whereas, said bills were not reconsidered by the General Assembly or was so disapproved by the Governor after said adjournment.

Now Therefore, as required by Article Third of the Amendments to the Constitution of Connecticut, I hereby call the 2017 Regular Session of the General Assembly to reconvene in session at Hartford on Monday, July 24th, 2017, at ten o'clock in the morning, for a period not to exceed three days following such reconvening, for the sole purpose of reconsidering and, if the General Assembly so desires, repassing said bill.

Given under my hand and the Seal of the State of the State of Connecticut, the City of Hartford, this 13th day of July, 2017.

Denise W. Merrill

Secretary of the State

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I would move that we recess and we will come back later.

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will stand in recess.

(On the motion of Senator Duff of the 25th, the Senate at 10: 50 a. m. recessed. )

CLERK:

There will be an immediate Senate Democratic Caucus. An immediate Senate Democratic Caucus.

The Senate reconvened at 6: 35 p. m. , the President in the Chair.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

(DICTATION BEGINS HERE) Have Senate Agendas Number 3 and 4 on his desk please?

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

I've got Senate Agendas Numbers 3 and 4, both dated Monday July 24,2017.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I move that all items on Senate Agendas Number 3 and 4 dated Monday, July 24, 2017, be acted upon as indicated and that the Agenda be incorporated by reference into the Senate Journal and transcript and immediately placed on our Calendar.

THE CHAIR:

Seeing no objection, so ordered, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Would the clerk please call on Senate Agenda Number 2, Senate Resolution Number 60?

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

Senate Resolution Number 60, RESOLUTION CONCERNING THE RULES OF THE SENATE FOR THE RECONVENED SESSION OF THE 2017 GENERAL ASSEMBLY. LCO Number 9188 introduced by Senators Duff and Witkos.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I move adoption of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on adoption. Will you remark further sir?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. These are our standard rules for the Senate for our reconvened session of the 2017 General Assembly.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? If not, I'll try your minds. All those in favor, please say aye.

SENATORS:

Aye.

THE CHAIR:

Opposed? The motion is adopted.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, would the clerk please call on Senate Agenda Number 3, House Joint Resolution Number 201, House Joint Resolution Number 202, and House Joint Resolution Number 203.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk. One at a time, sir.

CLERK:

House Joint Resolution Number 201: RESOLUTION CONCERNING THE JOINT RULES OF THE RECONVENED SESSION OF THE 2017 GENERAL ASSEMBLY, LCO Number 9192 offered by Senators Duff, Witkos, and Representative Ritter.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I move adoption of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

Motion that adoption. Will you remark further, sir?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, these are Standard Joint Rules for our reconvened session.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? If not, I'll try your minds. All those in favor please say aye.

SENATORS:

Aye.

THE CHAIR:

Opposed? Motion carries. Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

House Joint Resolution Number 202, RESOLUTION CONCERNING THE EXPENSES OF THE RECONVENED SESSION OF THE 2017 GENERAL ASSEMBLY, LCO Number 9194 introduced by Senators Duff, Witkos, and Representative Ritter.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President, I moved adoption of the resolution please.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on adoption. Will you remark sir?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. This is our, again, standard resolution on the expenses of the reconvened session.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? Will you remark further? If not, I'll try your minds. All those in favor please say aye.

SENATORS:

Aye.

THE CHAIR:

Opposed? Motion carries. Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

House Joint Resolution Number 203, RESOLUTION CONCERNING THE PRINTING OF THE JOURNALS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FOR THE RECONVENED SESSION OF THE 2017 GENERAL ASSEMBLY, LCO Number 9193 introduced by Senators Duff, Witkos, and Representative Ritter.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President I move adoption of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on adoption. Will you remark?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President this is, again, standard on our printing of the journals for the reconvened session.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? Will you remark further? If not, I'll try your minds. All those in favor please say aye.

SENATORS:

Aye.

THE CHAIR:

Opposed? The motion carries. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, will the Senate stand at ease for a moment?

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will stand at ease. [long pause]

The Senate will come back to order. Senator Duff, where do you stand, sir?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, will the clerk call from Senate Agenda Number 4, House Bill 6880?

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

Substitute for House Bill Number 6880, AN ACT CONCERNING THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING LAND USE APPEALS PROCEDURE.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, having been on the prevailing side of the vote when it was passed in the Senate, I move for reconsideration of the Bill. And, this is not a vote on the bill, this is just to bring it for reconsideration.

THE CHAIR:

Is there any discussion? Then I'll try your minds. All those in favor of reconsideration, please say aye.

SENATORS:

Aye.

THE CHAIR:

Opposed?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President, --

THE CHAIR:

I guess there was an aye there. Okay. Motion passes. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I will now yield to the chair of the Committee on Housing for purposes of the motion to repass House Bill 6880. Senator Slossberg.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg. Good evening, sir -- ma'am.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Good evening, Madam President. I move re-passage of House Bill 6880 in concurrence with the House.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on re-passage and concurrence. Will you remark ma'am?

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Yes, thank you Madam President, I will. This Bill before us came to us during the regular legislative session and passed overwhelmingly by this chamber, a 30 to 6 vote, and on July 7th, the Governor unfortunately vetoed it. The Bill itself made modest changes to 8-30g, and the Governor's veto should be overridden for several reasons. First, the Bill itself represents the voice of many citizens who have been asking for responsible changes to this particular law for a very long time.

Second, it is sound public policy. Despite what you've read in the newspapers, it actually strengthens the state's efforts to encourage affordable housing in several ways. It recognizes the affordability and desirability of deed-restricted affordable manufacturing home parks. It adjusts the threshold for second and subsequent moratoria for mid-sided towns that to a level that is at least economically, theoretically achievable. The current level is impossible to achieve, and it is no wonder that in the 30 years of this legislation that this law has been enacted not one mid-size city has been able to even come close to this goal. And, the reason for that is not a lack of interest in building, it is that it is impossible to actually achieve. By keeping the threshold at an impossible level, towns are discouraged from building affordable housing or making any effort towards actually reaching a moratorium because they know they're never going to get there. And, so what this Bill does is it recognizes the reality on the ground that many of our communities are building affordable housing, they just can't build them fast enough or often enough in order to meet this threshold. And, once you get to a moratorium, the control goes back to the local Planning and Zoning Board. Now, in the legislation in this act, 31 cities are exempt from this because they have 10 percent of housing that are deemed affordable. In those communities, when an applicant developer brings a proposal, it goes before the Planning and Zoning Board, and the Planning and Zoning Board gets to make sound policy decisions about that development. In the other communities, the remainder of the 138 communities that are not exempt, they do not have this local zoning control, and thus a private developer, a predatory developer is able to bring an application to build anywhere they want, anything they want, and they are very successful.

This Bill also makes minor changes to point systems to encourage more family units, as well as Senior Affordable Housing and it requires towns to develop Affordable Housing Plans. Third, it does not undermine the existing act. The existing Act is an appeals procedure, and while we have many proposed Bills in the Housing Committee that talked about changing the burden of proof or outright repeal to this legislation those were harmful and those were rejected. And, instead, what we have before us is a reasonable, modest reform to a statute that is not effective currently. Finally, the Governor's veto doesn't reflect any specific reasons for the veto, other than the blanket conclusion that these provisions somehow weaken this Act. The Governor's veto talks about there being no problem, that it's easy to get to this threshold, it's easy to get to a moratorium and that if towns just did what they were supposed to do and just kept building they would be able to meet this threshold. And that's simply just not true. During our Committee hearing the Commissioner of Housing even acknowledged that there is a significant problem with predatory private developers who merely use the appeals procedure as a bargaining tool to circumvent local zoning laws, having nothing to do with affordable housing and no interest in actually building affordable housing. These private developers abuse the process and use the appeals procedure to make significant profit. It then falls upon the municipality to prove that the developer -- that calls upon the developer to prove -- excuse me, it falls upon the municipality to prove that the development endangers public health or safety. This is a high standard with the vast majority of cases being decided in the private developer's favor. I would make the point, and it's important to note that no other state in our country grants private developers this carte blanche to local zoning. No other state in the nation gives private developers this ability.

In addition, the veto message said that the Affordable Housing Law already offers towns a variety of ways to create their fair share of housing and yet in the 30 years of this statute, nearly seven -- only seven communities have been able to reach a moratorium. And, of those seven, they are small communities who needed to build maybe one project in order to meet the threshold. As I said before, not one mid-size community has ever qualified for a moratorium. A mid-sized community, like mine in Milford, would need to build 700 units of housing in four years to qualify for a moratorium. In the history of our state, we've never seen a housing boom that would develop that amount of housing in that time. And, so what this Bill does, is it changes the threshold to recognize the reality on the ground. House Bill 6880 requires communities to be proactive about affordable housing and for the first time we will require communities to actually develop an affordable housing plan every five years. I believe that this requirement coupled with a more realistic threshold will create more success than we've had with the current statute. Of the 185,000 units of affordable housing in our state, a little over 5,000 of those units are as a result of 8-30g. For 30 years of law, that's approximately 160 units of housing. We can do better. We must do better. Connecticut has many tools in the toolbox to address affordable housing and to the Governor's credit, this administration has been very proactive and very successful in using those tools. This is a tool that could be much better than it is right now and that is why that Bill should be overridden -- this veto should be overridden and this Bill should become law. I'd like to thank all the members of the chamber and the circle who have participated in this effort, who have worked diligently on what was a bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation, and I ask for the chamber's support.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Will you remark further on the Bill? Senator Hwang, good evening, sir.

SENATOR HWANG (28TH):

Good evening, Madam President. I rise in support of this override vote, but before I go, I want to acknowledge the great work that was done by Senator Slossberg, Representative Larry Butler, Representative Kupchick, and the countless other individuals that have heard hours and hours of testimony from both sides of the aisle. I think we crafted something that reflected some of the changes that needed to occur. I think when we look at 8-30g as a statute nearly 30 years in the making it had indeed a very noble mission. We had a blue panel discussion that addressed the issue of past practices that may or may not have been right in its treatment of a diverse population that we want espoused, but saying that 30 years later -- nearly 30 years later we are looking at a statute that has remained static and it has not fulfilled the ultimate mission of affordable and workforce housing throughout our state. When you look at comparable states like Massachusetts and various other communities, states in this country, they have adapted and made changes to keep up with the changing time. For us to go back to the past practices of redlining and biases, they may have existed, but the fact is if we do not make changes and we continue to do the same thing to apply a statute that has not kept up with the times we are doing a disservice. We are not solving the problem.

So, what we tried to do as a Committee was to hear all sides of the story, and I really genuinely felt that we were open and receptive and engaged in hours and hours of discussion. The bottom line was this was not a significant overhaul, or as certain people have said, a significant weakening of this legislation. This was a tiny movement, a shift to allow our municipalities to encourage with a carrot rather than a steak to lead them to build them more affordable workforce housing. What I'm fearful of this inability to override a statute that was thought out, that was bipartisan that incorporated view points and changes is the fact that we will go back to the same adversarial, stay out of my town unless you sue me kind of attitude. Our reality of this statute is it hasn't solved the problem, and for us to continue to think doing the same thing over and over and over again would fix the problem that is inherently there is in some medical terms insanity. So, I implore this chamber to see beyond what was thrown out, the feelings, the fear, the innuendos, and recognize -- for me as a fellow Co-Chair of Housing, there is nothing important, more important than to afford every individual in this state affordable workforce and appropriate housing. It is fundamental to what we espouse to be part of the American dream. And, I have publicly, publicly acknowledged the great work that the Governor has done in regard to eradicating chronic homelessness of our Veterans and chronic homelessness of people out in the streets. I, I compliment and applaud those efforts, and those efforts were because we made changes. We made innovative collaborative, multi-party changes for us now to say that we should not change 8-30g, that we will weaken it, and disrespect the tremendous work of all Committee members, all the advocates that gave all of the time and effort to share their viewpoints. It's disrespectful to the people we represent.

This is a small change, and if we should override this, the fact that if I share with advocates that oppose this override is simply this; the work has only just begun. This is a part of a fresh new change to say here's a new look. Here's a new look for housing advocates. Here's a new look for the administration. Here's a new look for people that have opposed 8-30g to come together and say this is a new start. Let's solve the problem by working together rather than us versus them. So, I implore us to consider the override as a step forward in a collaborative bipartisan effort to solve a problem. It is so long overdue, and it isn't the end of the solution. It is a small start. So, I urge support. I urge us to explore the fact that even though we may disagree, to get 24 votes moves us forward to fixing a problem that we all agree exists and over nearly 30 years of 8-30g has not solved. We might cite certain communities, but the problem exists. People have need for housing everywhere in our state. We have not solved the problem and for us not to do anything is what we call again insanity. So, I urge the override support. I urge us to understand the renewed commitment, that this is a start. It is not the end. We have a tremendous need to do right by every individual in the state, and I'm repeating myself because there can't be a more important mission, what we do in this. And, I want to compliment the 101 Representatives that stood up and said we're going to represent the people, and we need a change. And, I hope the Senate can show its strength by representing that 24-plus Senators can make that change. So, I urge support. Thank you, madam.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Will you remark further? Will you remark further on the Bill? Senator Winfield, good evening, sir.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Good evening, Madam President. I rise in opposition to the override. I have listened to the Bill being explained. I listened to further explanation of the Bill. I find it interesting that we are talking about overriding this Bill in order to have more affordable housing. I think about the history of the Affordable Housing Statute, how we got to it. The state of Connecticut had an issue with affordable housing, that 25 percent of the people in the state, in 1990, spent about 35 percent of their income on housing. The cost of housing was an issue. It became an issue not only for the people who were paying for housing, but it became an issue for our businesses.

There was a Blue Ribbon Commission that was put together, and they came back with recommendations, which started the process, but you know that commission had to be extended a year in order to get support. So, we're talking today about doing what we've been doing for 30 years and some might call it insanity, but from the beginning of the 8-30g statute. From the beginning of our attempt to deal with affordable housing in a way that would work for Connecticut because the laws had not, there were people who pushed back from day one. And, so I don't know that it's necessarily that the statute doesn't work. I think sometimes people don't want it to work, and I'm not suggesting that's anybody in this circle, but I am suggesting that in the state of Connecticut there are people who don't want the 8-30g statute to work. And, so yes, you can find yourself 30 years later without that statute working even if it could work.

So, I don't know that I would call that insanity. You know, this is an issue that's important. It's important to a lot of people because if we can't find ourselves in a place where we have affordable housing, we can't find ourselves in a place where young people who we need to in this state, want to stay in this state. We can't find ourselves in a place where we have young people who businesses need in their businesses. We might be seeing some of that right now. We can't find our self in a place where those young people are paying into our tax space and on and on and on. So, it's important. It's important for other reasons. We're not talking about low-income housing. We're talking about affordable housing, which has the same effect on those people as low-income housing distributed throughout our state might have. It gives people opportunities to be in places they would not be. It gives them opportunities to raise their young children in places they would not be raising them.

Now, I know a little something about this. I am the product of a mother who had raised me in a housing project in The Bronx, and because of that I was not one who she wanted to go to school in the schools in that area because the schools in that area weren't great. So, we pretended like we lived somewhere else so that I could go to school in that other place because we didn't have opportunity where we lived. And my concern for affordable housing is that we're not even talking about the people that we usually try to keep out of communities and we don't want to do it in this state. That's a problem. Now, I will admit that I was on the package, if you will, during the session, but you may remember that during the session I said when we voted on this Bill that I was teetering at the edge because I didn't know what the right thing to do is. I'm in a place right now where I was teetering on the edge during the session because I didn't know exactly what the right thing to do was. I was willing to go forward, but when we come back here now with the Governor having vetoed the Bill, I'm in a position where I feel as though I'm not just working with my colleagues to see what we can do and take a leap of faith, but I'm actually working to override the Governor's veto to fight for a Bill that I was teetering on. I can't bring myself to do that. I can't bring myself to do something that I see as potentially, and I'm not suggesting that it necessarily does -- but potentially is going to limit opportunities for people, that is potentially going to be another barrier for those young people who we talk all the time about wanting to have in our state, that is going to potentially be a barrier not only for them wanting to be here, but for them wanting to raise their children here, for them wanting to spend their dollars here, for them wanting to put all of the things that we need for the state in this state.

So, I rise in opposition to overturning the Governor's veto. And, it doesn't' really matter to me what the reason was that the Governor vetoed the Bill. It matters to me that I understand on a personal level what it is to live without opportunity, without access, and we're not even really talking about that population. And, it also matters to me because I was the Chair of Housing for a while. And, when I was the Chair of Housing I got to sit in New Haven, one of the cities that I represent, and listen to people come to me from various cities and talk to me about why they wanted to overturn -- because that's what the conversation was about -- the Affordable Housing Appeals Act, the 8-30g. And, when I listened to those conversations, the conversation was about what this would do to the community, how it would make their community look, the character of their community. But when I think about how we got to where we got to with the Affordable Appeals Act, we expressed we were thinking about making sure that wasn't part of what we were talking about. The law is written in such a way that that can't be taken into account. And we can say what we want about that's not what we're doing here, but the conversation repeatedly goes back to the very same thing. As a matter of fact, if you were paying attention to the conversation earlier in the chamber downstairs, much of the conversation was about what does this do to the communities in the way the communities look and how it functions and all of these things that we expressly cannot take into account. That matters to me because it says to me that what we are doing here is not as we seem to have intended it, and I've already expressed what I think some of the unintended consequences are as it relates to young people, as it relates to tax dollars, as it relates to potential jobs. I think that's something that we should be thinking about. I don't think it's insane to think about that. So, I just want to make sure that I have this right. I want to make sure I understand the Affordable Appeals Act. I want to make sure I understand what we're doing here. So, let me ask the proponent of the Bill a question, if I might Madam President. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Please prepare yourself. Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Why does Connecticut have the Affordable Housing Statute that we have?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Thank you. Through you, Madam President, it's my understanding the Affordable Housing Statute was passing some 30 years ago in conjunction with Fair Housing Act efforts.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Thank you, Madam President, but why does Connecticut have it's particular Affordable Housing Statute?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Thank you. Through you Madam President, it's my understanding that this was passed at a time when there was exclusionary zoning in our state and concerns about that and this legislation was passed as a result of it, and in fact was modeled on a Massachusetts legislation that was similar. However, the Massachusetts legislation didn't choose to encourage the private, private developers to develop housing. They went down a different path. They actually worked with the municipalities and the people in communities to develop things cooperatively.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes, thank you Madam President, and through you Madam President, what are the obligations of municipalities with respect to the act?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

It depends upon whether you're an exempt municipality or a non-exempt municipality. If you're exempt, you have no obligations with regard to the act; the act does not apply to you. If you are a non-exempt municipality, you don't have any real obligation, other than when an applicant comes with an 8-30g proposal the procedure changes.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes, thank you Madam President. And through you Madam President, and thank you for that answer. There is what is called a 10 percent list. Could the proponent of the Bill tell me about the 10 percent list, what it's purpose is?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Thank you. Through you, Madam President, the purpose of the 10 percent exemption was actually very clearly expressed when the Bill was passed originally and that was to recognize that those communities that have a disproportionate share of affordable housing, which is defined differently under the 10 percent than it is under the 4 percent that they would not be subject to this appeals procedure and they would retain local control over their housing development projects.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Thank you, Madam President. And through you Madam President, this 10 percent that we're talking about, if the proponent knows, at the time was it the goal or was it a floor, or how was that perceived?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Yes, thank you. Through you Madam President, actually I got a chance to speak with one of the crafters of the Bill originally to ask that very question and what I was told was the 10 percent was never intended to be a goal for any community or any other community and that they chose 10 percent because that would exempt the communities that they wanted to exempt specifically to ensure that they would not be subject to the provisions of this act.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes, thank you Madam President. I think I'll move a little bit to some of what I heard that the good proponent of the Bill could take a seat if she would like for a minute. So, I heard a conversation about the voice of the people. Interesting, I know that a lot of people have had opportunity to talk about this Bill but there are people who have a lot that they would like to say about this Bill that are represented by others of us in this circle. There is a concern. I remember when we had the discussion in New Haven that I was talking about. There was a concern about some of what was happening. I remember sitting there with myself as a Senate chair and Representative Butler as the House Chair of Housing. I remember sitting and having people say things to me in relation to our efforts around affordable housing that people around the circle who were there at the time might remember, and wondering to myself if they were looking at who the chairs of the committee were because there were things like you know when we have people coming into our community, they bring with them who they are and those people and character and all of those types of things.

So, I'm concerned about us making decisions because of the voices that have been raised. There have been voices raised historically on a lot of issues, particularly around housing and some other issues, integration of school, and other things that yes, the voices have been raised but they weren't the right voices to listen to. And, so I have a concern about that. And, I know there's a conversation about how it's impossible to achieve what you need to achieve under the statute for certain communities. I recognize that. I do wonder, though, some of these communities that we're talking about whether you can achieve the thing that is not a goal, the 10 percent or the lower number, but whether you can achieve that or not, should we not be making efforts towards it? I know that there are communities in this state where for periods of years, 8, 9, 10 years they've had 0 units built. That doesn't seem to me like the problem there is a problem of inability to achieve and I recognize it in a discussion early on. There was a conversation about communities feeling discouraged because they know they'll never meet the number. It reminds me of a conversation we had a couple of years ago around the Alvin Penn Act about police not collecting data because nobody was paying attention. It's the law. We should be doing it. It's the right thing to do. I would feel more comfortable fighting, as I put it, to override the Governor's veto if I felt that regardless of what the possibility was, all the communities involved were striving to make this happen. But the history in our state says something different. It doesn't indicate it's striving toward the number. Discouragement doesn't allow us to say the law doesn't matter.

Now, I might be discouraged that the speed limit is 65 miles an hour, it doesn't mean I get to go 80 because I like to drive faster. It's what I want to do. It's not how it works. I might be discouraged that the law does whatever it does, but I don't get to just say well no I'm not going to do it. Particularly, in a position I'm in. I'm in a position as an elected official and the people who we're talking about are not just the people in this municipalities, but they're the people who represent them, the elected officials who represent law and order.

So, we don't get to just say, well I'm discouraged so I'm not going to do it. We don't get to say well I don't like the character, so I'm not going to do it. We get to do something different. We get to come into this place and have conversation. We get to try to get people who are sitting around a circle to agree with us or come a little closer. That's what we get to do. What we don't get is to just say I'm discouraged, so I'm not going to do it. And, when you have municipalities that for years have not made progress that the Federal Government has even had to come into some of our municipalities, you don't get to say I am not going to do it because I don't feel like I'll ever get there. Well, you'll never get there if you don't move down that path. So that brings me to another question. So, I'm hearing all of this conversation about predatory developers, but I'm not sure what a predatory developer is, so if that could be explained to me. Through you Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Yes, thank you, Madam President. Thank you for the question. A predatory developer, I think, while it's not a term that is defined. I think it is used generally in the context of this is a developer who comes with an application to the Planning and Zoning Department in a town and says, for example, “I'd like to build 12 houses on this 2-acre lot”, and the Planning and Zoning Department says, “but that's against our local zoning, we can't put 12 houses here, it would require you to take down every single tree. It would require you to build these houses all the way to the ends of the setback, and our sewer system can't handle it in addition to the fact that it will cause major traffic problems because it's not zoned for 12 houses. This is not zoned for that. It is zoned for nine houses, not 12 houses. ” The developer then says, “well you know what I can't make a good enough profit on nine houses, I can make a better profit if I can develop 12 houses, so I'm going to bring an 8-30g application, and I'm going to win because I have more money than the city has. I have more experts than the city has, and I'm going to take you to court, and I'm gonna win because two-thirds of the cases that go to court the developer wins. And, so I'm going to go to court and I'm going to get the court to say I can build 23 houses here, and then I'm going to come back and I'm going to say to the town, now give me my 12.

That's a predatory developer. That's not a developer who's interested in building affordable housing, and what's even worse is when they come back and build; whether it's 12 or 15 or 18 and they take down every single tree in the area and they create these very dense developments what's even worse is that it's only for 30 years that 30 percent of those houses are deed-restricted. The rest of them, 70 percent of them are market rate. So, for example, in my community in Milford, we just had this exact thing happen. And do you know how much those houses are going for, $ 419,000 dollars. That's not affordable, and in 30 years when the deed restriction is up, it'll be 100 percent market rate and boy that developer went home with a nice big profit. And you know what happened when they took down all the trees? They left one, and in the last big storm that one tree fell down on the neighbors next yard and broke the house in half. That's a predatory developer; that's one.

A predatory developer is a developer who says I have a 1-acre lot that's zoned R-12. 5 but I want to build 12 houses here and I want to put them right on this spot. And, it's not zoned for that. And the next-door neighbor who's a single mom with three kids that she's trying to put through college and she's put every penny, every penny of her life savings into that house is now living next door to this massive development and the developer decides that he's going to put the gas line on her property line. Now, mind you the plan that went to planning and zoning that they you know, that they approved cause it's an 8-30g, the gas line was supposed to be next to the building but instead the developer said to me, “hey guess what Senator it's 8-30g, I can do whatever I want. ” And he put the gas line right on the people's property, and now if anything goes wrong they are responsible for this. That's a predatory developer. Because you know what? None of these developers have anything to do with affordable housing. They're not talking about the good and noble things that the people in this circle care about. They're not talking about developing housing and creating opportunities, they're talking about profit, about profit and greed. That's what this is about, and that's what this Bill is about. It's about trying to address that in some very challenging way, but that is what I believe is a predatory developer, and that's what we're trying to address.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes. Thank you, Madam President. I thank the good Chair of Housing for that answer. In the answer, I heard that there was a number of housing units to be built, that there was inadequate sewage, and yet the proposal was approved. I guess that makes me ask a question about what are the reasons for denial? Because I labored under the belief that the law speaks to that very issue, so if the proponent of the Bill could talk to me about what -- how denial comes about. What are the tenants of denial? I would be appreciative. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Thank you. Through you to Senator Winfield. A denial in the statute, which is not addressed in this Bill at all, but a denial in the statute says that Planning and Zoning can deny an application for matters of public health, public health and safety and any other matter reasonably before the commission meaning the Planning and Zoning body. So, that's what is defined there. And although that sounds pretty broad, we have 30 years of case law that shows that it is very difficult to actually prove you have a public health or safety issue or “any other matter reasonably before the commission. ” And, why is that so hard, you may ask? Maybe you won't.

But, I'm going to answer it anyway. It is so hard because what happens is the applicant comes with their application and they are you know well-funded, and they come with their experts, and they come with their expert engineer and they come with all of their expert people and they get up in front of Planning and Zoning and they explain the application and they prove all of the things that they want and they say “don't worry you know I've got a drainage engineer and this drainage is going to be good. Even though everyone in the neighborhood has had sump pumps, when we asphalt over this whole 2 acres don't worry it won't affect anybody else, I promise. I'm an engineer and I know that's going to work. ” So, they have all of these experts and the city, of course, is not represented by anybody, except for the public, the people who live in the neighborhood and come and say hey listen I've lived in this town, I've lived on this property for 20 years and I know my basement always floods, but that's not -- that doesn't have the same weight as an expert. So, then what happens if Planning and Zoning says look we don't like this application, we think it's going to cause this problem or that problem and they say it's a public health and safety reason and they articulate that, then it goes to court. And it goes to court and it generally ends up with one particular judge who has been hearing this topic for many years and at that time the burden of proof shifts and it shifts to the municipality.

At that time, the municipality has to hire their own counsel to come in and argue the appeal. And they have to then prove that the application that they didn't create, that someone else that the developer brought, that that application violates public health and safety standards or any other matter reasonably before the court. And while maybe that doesn't sound like it's too hard, in two-thirds of the cases the municipality loses. And sometimes why do they lose? They lose because they run out of money. They run out of money to be able to put a lawyer on and continue to fight this over and over again even when a development clearly is not in the best interest is going to violate public health and safety standards. In addition to that, their inability to do that -- excuse me -- they have to make their case and they have the burden of proof of showing that. And in 30 years of this statute that standard has been very, very high and very difficult to attain. So, I think that was your question of why is, you know what is -- why are the appeals so difficult.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes, thank you Madam President. I do appreciate the answer. It was responsive to the question. I guess first I'll put on the record what I believed, and I can be corrected in the next exchange, but I believe that the things to consider were inadequate water supply, inadequate wastewater disposal capacity, a documented traffic safety problem, and inadequate emergency access. I can be corrected in the next exchange about that just to be clear on the record. The conversation lead us to a point where we talked about the standard for denial. I guess my question is it seems to me that with it being put forward as that it is high. The standard is high, but I guess the question is should it not be high? Through you Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Thank you. Through you Madam President, no whether it should be high or low, it should be reasonable and the problem that -- the challenge is that you have presumption of proof on a municipality and a municipality with limited resources, and they are you know if they get 15 applications in front of them it ends up being a lot of money for them to continue to advocate and at some point, they just say “you know what, we can't continue to do this. ” So, the discussion about traffic safety, you need an expert. You need an expert to then do a study; all of that costs. Everything costs, and that's what it is. So, the challenge is not really whether the standard is high or low, but the reality is that you know it's a legitimate question about public health and safety, but it's not one that the municipality is always able to make, especially when they may have 15 applications in front of them or not. So, that becomes a very significant challenge.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes, thank you Madam President. I guess that raises in my mind another question. You know it seems to me that what we're saying here is Connecticut has a history with affordable housing that lead us to the statute as its composed, and yes, it's different than in other places, but it's composed the way it is because of our history. Because we were concerned about things like the conversation about character. We were concerned about things about aesthetics and more general ways of denying affordable housing proposals and so we had the Blue Ribbon Commission. We had the work that went on and we wound up with 8-30g. It seems to me that the standard being high, and I guess we could quibble whether about high is reasonable or not, but it seems to me that the reason why the statute lays out the way it lays out is because of that history. So, I guess there's a balance that we have to get to as with anything else. But I'm concerned that a lot of the conversations we've had have been about these predatory developers. That's a big part of this issue.

You know if people are to be taken seriously then a lot of what the problem is are those predatory developers and as we talk about those predatory developers what I'm understanding from people is that the real problem here, as it pertains to those developers is this high standard, that it's hard to get over, that it costs to get over, but it engenders in my mind a question which is then how do we deal with that history that we have if we don't have a particularly high standard that we've never really, to my mind, wanted to have because remember as I said earlier in the conversation from before the time that the Bill was passed we had to extend in order to get support. There have been people the whole time who've been pushing back against the statute. And if we're concerned about the issue of predatory developers, how does the Bill before us deal with that?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Slossberg.

SENATOR SLOSSBERG (14TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I am going to write down the question because there's so many things to talk about here. Thank you for the question. Through you, Madam President, so the question is how does the Bill actually deal with predatory developers.

In all reality, what this Bill does, we worked really hard as the good Senator knows because he was a part of it. We worked really hard to make sure that we did not do anything to tinker with the actual way the act works with the appeals procedure. We had a long discussion on the floor here previously here about the burden of proof, but we didn't propose to change that because there were too many people in this building and outside this building that felt that any change along those lines would've really been a problem. That would've been a real attack on the way the act works, so what we tried to do instead was go along the lines that we've been going along with to some extent and say let's tell our municipalities that they should be striving for a moratorium, that they should be striving to make progress towards building affordable housing and try to get to a place where they have made enough progress that they've earned a moratorium and they can then have the local control back for a period of time, and if they continue to make progress then they can get another moratorium. And, so what we decided to do was to try to make it, was to ask the question -- to answer the question of why aren't towns getting a moratorium, and when we started to look into this, we realized while out of the 138 towns that are required to follow this law that this pertains to only seven had gotten a moratorium and they were all small towns, and there wasn't one, not one mid-sized town that had reached the moratorium.

And, so we looked at that and said well okay what's going on with that? You know you've had 30 years to do that and so we said okay, well you know what that thresholds staying where it is because if you haven't built it in 30 years then you should be subject to the act. But, if you get to that threshold, then in the next one or the one after that if you are making progress and you are building affordable housing then you can get another, you can get a moratorium. But we have to make that a goal that's economically possible. And, as I said before, for mid-size communities to build 700 units of housing in four years from start to finish -- remember it's gotta get the certificate of occupancy, that's impossible. That's never been done. And, in this economy, I would suggest it's definitely not going to be getting done. So, what we said was all right let's make this reasonable and try to get towns to get to a moratorium to bring that local control back, but they have to be making progress. If they're making progress, then you get the reward of a moratorium. If you're not making progress, you're not getting anything, you're stuck. You are subject to the act. So, the way this Bill deals with predatory developers is actually by saying to towns here is what you need to do to get to a moratorium.

It is a goal that you can at least theoretically achieve, now go build the housing, which is why we keep saying this strengthens the act and doesn't weaken it, it strengthens it because it actually makes it more workable for communities because they don't get anything if they don't make progress. If they don't build it, they don't get anything. Previous to this question, if I may, Madam President. The good Senator asked the question of well how should we be dealing with this issue if this statute not so effective, and I would suggest that we have a lot of tools in the tool box of ways that we've been doing that are really good but more importantly, I think we ought to be following the Massachusetts model for which this legislation was originally built on, except we didn't want to put together a government agency to work with communities and developers to actually build housing.

So, instead what we did was we said here, private market, you go make it happen. You have carte blanche. Here's the keys to all the cities, go build. When the market's good, it gets built. When the market's not good, it doesn't get built and no matter what happens the municipality gets blamed. So, I think there's a better way, but I think this Bill is one step in the right direction to trying to actually recognize we have a problem and that we can actually do better than where we are right now.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Winfield.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Yes, thank you Madam President. First, thank you to the good Senator. I have a lot more questions that I could ask, but I think I will put a period on it right there and just say that for the reasons I enumerated at the beginning of this exchange, I will be voting no on the overturning of the Governor's veto.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? If not -- oops Senator Flexer's coming. Senator Flexer.

SENATOR FLEXER (29TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President I just wanted to briefly rise in opposition of overriding the veto of the measure before us. I wanted to associate myself with the comments of Senator Winfield, especially in his opening remarks. He and I have a somewhat similar background in different ways in that my family, too, when I was very young experienced what I've come to learn is academically appropriately described as housing insecurity. And, so I think this is a mistake. I think Connecticut has some of the most racially and economically segregated communities in the country, and I think we should be proud of our strong affordable housing statute and it would be a mistake to move forward with this override and weaken laws that are moving towards creating more economically and racially diverse communities. This law is important to moving towards that goal. We've done a lot of great work over the last couple of years in the area of affordable housing, particularly under the leadership of Governor Malloy, and we should abide by his veto. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? If not -- oops, sorry Senator Gomes.

SENATOR GOMES (23RD): I won't say much, but I should say something. When we talk about 8-30g and the specifications of it and what it has produced and what it has not produced all we ever run into from some of these developments or towns is the fact that they would always claim there are predatory developers that took advantage of this. It isn't the Bill that is bad. Maybe there's somebody out there with a mind like the predatory developers that might take advantage of it, but you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. I spent six years from 2005 until 2012 as Co-Chairman of the Housing Committee and every year somebody would come, some legislator would come. Every year with some different device to unsettle or to take 8-30g apart and every year we fought them off and kept 8-30g intact.

The Bill is essential, and we talk about what it does for people. We're looking for 10 percent of affordable housing to be built and it's needed, not in the small communities, big communities or whatever communities. We have a lack of housing and people have a lack of an ability to rent a house. Just a couple of years ago they said if you lived in Bridgeport and you wanted to rent a two-bedroom house, apartment, that you would have to be making $ 24 dollars an hour. We're out here fighting for $ 15 dollars an hour and what is happening? It just isn't happening. People don't have the money to make it. We want affordable housing, 8-30g is it, and I am in favor of not overriding the Governor's veto. Bye.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? If not, Mr. Clerk will you call for a roll call vote and the machine will be opened.

CLERK:

An immediate roll call has been ordered in the Senate. An immediate roll call has been ordered in the Senate. Will all Senators please return to the chamber?

THE CHAIR:

Members of the Senate, we have found out that the machine is not accurate at this point. We're going to have to close the machine, reset the machines for two-third vote, and we're going to ask you to vote again. So, I'm going to be cancelling this vote. Now, Mr. Clerk will you call for a roll call vote again? The machine is now open.

CLERK:

Immediate roll call has been ordered in the Senate. Immediate roll call has been ordered in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk will you call the tally? The machine will be closed.

CLERK:

House Bill Number 6880:

Total number voting 36

Necessary for Adoption 24

Those voting Yea 24

Those voting Nay 12

Those absent and not voting 0

THE CHAIR:

The Bill has been re-passed. (gavel) Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. That concludes our business for the day. I move that we adjourn the veto session Sine Die.

THE CHAIR:

So ordered. (gavel)

On motion of Senator Duff of the 25th, the Senate at 8: 08 p. m. adjourned Sine Die.

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