More on Why to Vote “YES” on Ballot Question #2

Kenneth Selling

All Connecticut voters will be asked to decide on a referendum changing the CT Constitution to protect our state's public lands. Rarely has there been such an easy, important opportunity to help protect state forests, state parks and agricultural lands.

 

The Problem:

For years, Connecticut has oddly allowed our State Legislature to just give away or sell publicly-owned lands (including those in State Forests and Parks) without any advance notice or public comment. These transfers have sometimes become vehicles for dubious backroom political favors and even scandal. Such land transfers have then been announced later, after "the deal is done."

 

A Solution:

The referendum would amend the Connecticut Constitution to require that public hearings be held before our public lands are sold or given away in the annual Conveyance Bill at the end of Legislative sessions. It will also require a two-thirds majority Legislative vote if the lands being conveyed are state parks, state forests or agricultural lands.

 

Unlike public laws, which can quietly be reversed later, this change in our Constitution could not be easily undone.

On Election Day:

The initiative will appear as "Question #2" on all state ballots. Voting "Yes" will approve these changes. This campaign is being supported by a huge range of local land-trusts and diverse environmental organizations, all across Connecticut.

 

It will also finally allow Connecticut to catch up with our neighbors in New York and Massachusetts, and in Maine, who already have similar Constitutional requirements for transparency.

 

How it will Work:

Voting "Yes" will finally require the sunshine of public scrutiny be required before such deals happen. It will not prevent the State from making land deals and swaps, which are sometimes helpful trades or minor adjustments to roads, etc. Indeed, these "conveyances" are not always problematic and can still be done if this Referendum passes.

 

But, this initiative will finally dampen the temptation of some legislators or groups to receive under-the-table favors in exchange for giving away or selling public lands. Such deals would only be allowed after the public has first been informed about them and then given a chance to comment.

 

Take Action:

Sierra Club Connecticut strongly urges everyone to "Vote 'Yes' on Question #2" on your ballot.

 

To learn more reasons why, read:

Top 10 Reasons Why We Need a Constitutional Amendment to Protect Public Lands

 

Are local groups in your town involved? Want to see a video about all this? For information on the big coalition Sierra Club belongs to supporting this initiative, and to find an interesting list of our coalition member organizations, check out: Protect CT Public Lands

Kenneth Selling is a Sierra Club Connecticut Outings Leader and conservation activist.

Provided by the Sierra Club Connecticut.  Paid for by Sierra Club Connecticut, Samantha Dynowski, Director.  Additional information about the Sierra Club Connecticut may be found at the State Election Enforcement Commission's website 

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