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

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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.

Copyright 2017 WNPR News. To see more, visit WNPR News.

This report comes from the New England News Collaborative, eight public media companies coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter at WNPR. He covers science and the environment. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.