Legislative update: privacy for state employees, property assessment rules

HARTFORD — The addresses of about 200 employees in the state Attorney General’s office would be protected from public disclosure, under legislation that passed the House of Representatives Wednesday.

The bill, which passed 111-33, next heads to the Senate, including a rare instance in which a liberal Democrat, Rep. Peter Tercyak of New Britain, voted with conservative Republicans led by Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco of Wolcott, the top GOP lawmaker on the Government Administration & Elections Committee, who voted against the bill.

“There is no reason for the state of Connecticut to make this information public,” said Rep. Dan Fox, D-Stamford, co-chairman of the GAE Committee. During a recent public hearing, Attorney General William Tong testified that his staff often represents Department of Correction Officers in court and are subject to the same kind of threats from prison inmates.

“The office of the attorney general is no different from us here,” Mastrofrancesco said of fellow House members, whose addresses are readily available in various state records.


The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation to allow some towns to enter into agreements to fix assessments on property or air space. The bill, which passed 131-12 after a brief vote, next heads to the Senate.

In communities where legislative bodies are a town-meeting-style of government, the local board of selectmen, if allowed by local ordinance, could participate in the fixed assessments.

According to an analysis of the legislation, current law limits such agreements to the legislative bodies, which sometimes meet only once a year. Fixed assessments would be fixed for up to 10 years for long-term improvements, including offices, manufacturing, retail uses, multi-family housing and parking.


People in possession of plastic gift cards worth five dollars or less would be allowed to exchange them for cash under a consumer-friendly bill that was approved Wednesday by the state Senate.

The current maximum amount that can be redeemed for cash is $3. The legislation, which next heads to the House, would not include gift certificates sold below face value to non-profits; paper gift certificates, or retailer gift cards that do not have a retail establishment in the state.

State Sen. Patricia Billie Miller, D-Stamford, co-chairwoman of the Banks Committee introduced the legislation, starting an hour-long debate over the difference between a donated card or one that was purchased outright. She said that retailers would decide whether they were straight-up gift cards or charitable donations.

"Instead of having a gift card with a small balance sitting in your drawer, Connecticut residents will be able to redeem that remaining low balance and put it toward something else they may need,” Miller said after the vote.

The bill would also eliminate the requirement to provide the proof of purchase or a gift receipt.

Republicans led by Sen. Paul Formica, a restaurateur from East Lyme, said the bill seemed to be confusing, and questioned whether it would create problems for retailers who had given away cards for charities. “It is so fuzzy to me right now,” said Sen. John Kissel of Enfield. The bill passed 24-9.

kdixon@ctpost.com Twitter: @KenDixonCT