Making Democracy Work

2018 Ballot Questions

League of Women Voters of Connecticut Position on the November 6, 2018 Ballot Questions

There will be two ballot questions on the November 6th ballot. The LWVCT urges a Yes vote on both of these ballot questions. Passing them will amend the Connecticut state Constitution to provide greater transparency in how each issue, a special transportation fund and conveyance of CT property, will be implemented. Open Government is an essential part of our Democracy. Below are the two ballot questions, in the order they will appear on the ballot. LWVCT has included our advocacy rationale for each question.

Ballot Question 1

Ballot Question 1: Special Transportation Fund -- preserve it as a permanent fund for transportation purposes only. ("Lockbox" Amendment)
"Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to ensure (1) that all moneys contained in the Special Transportation Fund be used solely for transportation purposes, including the payment of debts of the state incurred for transportation purposes, and (2) that sources of funds deposited in the Special Transportation Fund be deposited in said fund so long as such sources are authorized by statute to be collected or received by the state?"

CONTENT AND PURPOSE OF THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT
If this amendment is approved, it would impose constitutional protections on state transportation funding. These protections, commonly referred to as the "transportation lockbox," are currently established only in the Connecticut General Statutes. Specifically, this constitutional amendment, like the statutory lockbox, would do the following:
1. preserve the state's Special Transportation Fund (STF) as a permanent fund;
2. require that the fund be used exclusively for transportation purposes, which include paying transportation-related debt; and
3. require that any funding sources directed to the STF by law continue to be directed there, as long as the law authorizes the state to collect or receive them.
Background: The STF
By law, the STF is a dedicated fund primarily used to finance state highway and public transportation projects as well as operate the Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Transportation. The law directs a number of revenue sources to the fund, such as (1) state fuel taxes, (2) most transportation-related fees and motor vehicle-related fines, and (3) a portion of state sales and use taxes. STF resources are pledged to secure bonds for transportation projects and must be used first to pay debt service on these bonds.
LWVCT ADVOCACY RATIONALE
The LWVCT has been advocating for a "lock box" on the money in the Special Transportation Fund since 2013, and appreciates the bi-partisan manner in which the CT State House and Senate approved this legislation in the session that ended in May 2018. The voters now have the chance to vote Yes to approve this constitutional amendment to keep future governors or lawmakers from accessing the Special Transportation Fund for purposes other than transportation.
LWVCT supports this ballot question/amendment and urges a YES vote.

Ballot Question 2

Ballot Question 2: Transparency of Process of Transferring or Conveying CT State Properties.
"Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to require (1) a public hearing and the enactment of legislation limited in subject matter to the transfer, sale or disposition of state-owned or state-controlled real property or interests in real property in order for the General Assembly to require a state agency to sell, transfer or dispose of any real property or interest in real property that is under the custody or control of the agency, and (2) if such property is under the custody or control of the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, that such enactment of legislation be passed by a two-thirds vote of the total membership of each house of the General Assembly?"

CONTENT AND PURPOSE OF THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT
If this amendment is approved, it would limit the General Assembly's ability to pass legislation that requires a state agency to transfer (sell or otherwise convey) any state real property (land or buildings) or property interest to non- state entities. It does this by imposing the following conditions:
1. a legislative committee must first hold a public hearing to allow for public comment on the property transfer; and
2. the legislation must address only the property under consideration.
In addition, for property that belongs to the state Department of Agriculture or the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the legislation must pass by at least two-thirds of the membership of the state House of Representatives and of the state Senate.

Further Explanation
The Connecticut General Statutes establish various procedures that state agencies must follow to transfer state real property. Alternatively, the General Assembly may transfer property through legislation, known as "conveyance bills," without subjecting the transfers to the statutory procedures. The constitutional amendment would prohibit the General Assembly from transferring property by passing these types of bills, unless the above conditions were met. The amendment would not apply to transfers made by state agencies under the statutory procedures.
LWVCT ADVOCACY RATIONALE
Transparency in government is a bedrock principle of the LWVCT, and the State Board applauds the overwhelming bipartisan support this amendment received in the legislature in May 2018. It is now up to the voters to vote YES to approve this constitutional amendment providing greater transparency for the public and added protections for Connecticut's beaches, forests, landmarks, and other public lands.
LWVCT supports this ballot question/amendment and urges a YES vote.


(Explanatory text, above, was prepared by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Research and approved by the General Assembly's joint standing Committee on Government Administration and Elections in accordance with Section 2-30a of the Connecticut General Statutes.)
(Exact wording of the ballot questions, but not the titles, comes from the Connecticut Secretary of the State's Office of Election, Legislative, and Intergovernmental Affairs.)

For additional background information, see lwvct.org