WNPR

Push To Amend Connecticut's Constitution Stalls, But Advocates Remain Hopeful

Jun 12, 2017

A resolution to change the state constitution has stalled in the legislature. It would modify how the state transfers public lands, but needs to jump through some legislative hoops before appearing as a ballot question for voters. 

The measure calls for greater transparency in the sale, transfer, or disposal of state parks and forests.

Today, the legislature can transfer those lands through something called a “conveyance act,” which can be a complicated process involving amendments. Sometimes they happen without public hearings.

“We come from the simple premise that public lands are owned by the public and for the public,” said Eric Hammerling, executive director of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. “Therefore, we think that the General Assembly should be required to have public input before they enact a law giving these lands away, or selling them, or swapping them.”

Hammerling and other advocates and legislators are pushing for a constitutional amendment -- requiring public hearings and a super majority vote in both legislative chambers before the state can bargain public lands.

The legislature signed off on the measure last year, but when the 2017 session ended, it wasn't called for a vote.

Hammerling said there will be one more opportunity for the legislature to sign off on it next year, for the question to appear on the 2018 ballot.