On May 4th, the legislature adjourned the 2016 legislative session, and the last day included some very good news! See below.
(Please note that the legislature did not vote on the FY17 budget or the bond package before the midnight adjournment, but will do so in a Special Session that will occur next week. More news on that when it is completed.)
SJ 36 Passes in Both Chambers!
Senate Joint Resolution 36 passed last night in both the House and the Senate! This was an enormous step in putting a constitutional amendment in place to better protect our state lands (including our conservation and agricultural lands) from being sold, traded, or given away without a more transparent public process.
This was one of WLA’s policy priorities for the year, and we offer our hearty thanks to the legislators who championed this bill! There are many legislators who were supportive, but Senator Kevin Witkos and Rep. Roberta Willis deserve special thanks for their extraordinary efforts to get this passed in both chambers. WLA also applauds Connecticut Forest & Park Association for their tremendous leadership and Connecticut Land Conservation Council (and many others!) for their hard work on this all session. WLA is proud to be a partner in this effort!
Because of the legislature’s rules for constitutional amendments, however, to get a question to amend the Constitution on the ballot this November required a 3/4 majority vote in both chambers. This threshold was more than met in the Senate, where it passed by a 31-5 vote. It fell short of this threshold in the House, where it passed, but only by a simple majority of 82-65. What does that mean? It means that this resolution must pass again in either 2017 or 2018 by a simple majority for the question to get on the statewide ballot in 2018. With the success this year, and with terrific partners in the legislature and the conservation community, we have total confidence that we can make this happen! In the meantime, please thank your legislators if they were supportive of SJ 36! This is a tremendous success!
Bill to Enhance FarmLink Program Passes
House Bill 5383, which WLA helped get raised and supported through the legislative process, passed last night in the Senate. It had previously passed in the House, and is on to the Governor for his signature! This bill expands and enhances the FarmLink program and will provide the Department of Agriculture more flexibility to fund the boots-on-the-ground work needed to connect farmland owners with farmland seekers. It also allows the Ag Viability Grant program to fund programs and services that promote farmland access and farm transfer.
Many thanks to the Environment Committee leadership for their support of this bill which will help improve access to farmland – particularly for our young farmers in Connecticut.
Many thanks to each and every one of you who reached out to your legislators this session! It is truly appreciated.