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The Constitution State Needs a Constitutional Amendment

Connecticut is called the Constitution State because it was the first government to adopt a written constitution when The Connecticut General Court adopted the Fundamental Orders on January 14, 1639.

I wonder how many of our state legislators have read the constitution they swore to uphold in their oaths of office?

You do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that you will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the state of Connecticut, so long as you continue a citizen thereof; and that you will faithfully discharge, according to law, the duties of the office of …. to the best of your abilities; so help you God.

The Connecticut Legislature and Governor certainly ignore our constitution when passing legislation.

Let’s start at the very beginning:

PREAMBLE

The People of Connecticut acknowledging with gratitude, the good providence of God, in having permitted them to enjoy a free government; do, in order more effectually to define, secure, and perpetuate the liberties, rights and privileges which they have derived from their ancestors; hereby, after a careful consideration and revision, ordain and establish the following constitution and form of civil government.

ARTICLE FIRST
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

That the great and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established,

WE DECLARE

SEC. 1. All men when they form a social compact, are equal in rights; and no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive public emoluments[1] or privileges from the community. (Emphasis added.)

Today it seems that a significant portion of our legislature’s time is spent considering bills to give exclusive privileges to various special interests. For example, Connecticut House Speaker, Matt Ritter, recently laid out his legislative agenda for the upcoming session, which includes establishing incentives to attract people to the mental health profession.

Why does Connecticut have an Arts, Culture and Tourism fund that has spent as much as $15 million in a single year to benefit one very specific group of Connecticut business people? Why does Connecticut waive sales and property taxes for 20 years for data center operators, but not for other businesses? In fact, Connecticut offers 33 special interest benefits, including:

  • Enterprise zones – to benefit people who locate in the, “right area.”
  • Benefits for people who locate their business near airports.
  • Tax credits for Angel Investors.
  • An 80% abatement of local taxes for bioscience companies.
  • An 80% local tax abatement for business that locate near defense plants.
  • A 30% tax credit for companies in the digital animation, digital media or movie business.
  • A 7-year full abatement of local taxes for “Entertainment Districts.”
  • Insurance industry reinvestment tax credits.
  • Property tax exemptions for manufacturing machinery.
  • 100% tax credit for investments in certain urban or industrial sites.

You get the picture.

My point is not to debate the policies or their effectiveness, my point is that all of these laws seem to directly violate Article First, Sec. 1 of our Constitution. If our government would like to operate in this manner – picking special interest winners at the expense of everyone else, the legislature should vote on a constitutional amendment to delete Sec.1 and bring it to a popular vote, as required for any amendment to Connecticut’s Constitution.


[1] Emoluments are defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as – The profit arising from office or employment; that which is received as a compensation for services, or which is annexed to the possession of office as salary, fees, and perquisites; advantage; gain, public or private. Webster. Any perquisite, advantage, profit, or gain arising from the possession of an office.

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