Calling All Connecticut Voters
Unlike our neighbors in Massachusetts, New York and Maine, our state has allowed the Connecticut Legislature to just give away or sell publicly-owned lands, including those in State Forests and Parks without any public comment or notice.
This annual shady vehicle for back-room political favors and periodic scandals can be reformed if voters approve a ballot initiative this November changing the State Constitution. Sierra Club strongly supported bill SJ35 which passed this year, allowing all CT voters to decide on this referendum in 2018.
The Public Lands Referendum
By voting "Yes" on "Question #2,” also called the Public Lands Referendum, you are voting to amend Connecticut’s Constitution to require public hearings be held before public lands are given away or sold. It would also require a two-thirds majority vote if those lands happen to be State Parks, Forests or agricultural lands. This bill will at long last allow the sunlight of public scrutiny and comment to shine on what has sometimes been a murky political patronage process.
These annual "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" give-aways have typically happened in the dark, during the last days of Legislative
sessions. During this annual "Conveyance Bill,” there is little or no chance for the public to know or comment upon these land transfers.
The Public Lands Referendum puts the brakes on that by first exposing any such deals to proper scrutiny during public hearings. The referendum will finally put Connecticut in line with other states that have required this check and balance for years. Second, the required two-thirds majority protects our State Parks, State Forests and agricultural lands from short-term political dealings.
Unlike public laws, which can quietly be reversed later, this Constitutional amendment would require public hearings. Come November, all Connecticut ballots will give you a chance to vote for saving our public lands. We urge you to support it, and vote "Yes" on "Question #2."
If you want more reasons to vote “Yes,” read:
10 Reasons We Need a Constitutional Amendment to Protect Public Lands
For more information on the coalition that CT Chapter Sierra Club belongs to in supporting this initiative, and for an interesting list of our coalition member organizations near your town and all across the state, visit:
Kenneth Selling is a Sierra Club Outings Leader and Conservation Activist