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Legislatively Speaking
Session faces tough decisions
 

By Alma Graham, CT State Grange Legislative Director

  FEBRUARY 4, 2013 --

At the opening day of the 2013 Legislative session Governor Malloy introduced some of his agenda items he would like to see proposed this session.   This is a long session and the budget will be one of the top items that the legislature will address.  Governor Malloy has already informed the state agencies that they will see budget cuts.  The state universities are already talking of increasing tuition as much as 12 percent to help compensate for these cuts.

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School is also playing a big role in bills that are being proposed.  There are three issues that seem to have moved to the forefront.  One is violent video games and entertainment.  There has been talk for some time about the possible influence of violent video games on children’s behavior.  Some people are also finger pointing at the movie and television industry blaming violence in television shows and movies as having a negative influence on children and young adults.  Do these need to be regulated more?

The second and more serious issue is the lack of adequate treatment and monitoring of mental health issues.  These are illnesses that many feel have not been treated with the same care and concern as physical illnesses.  Are we supplying the proper care for those in need?  Are we just pushing medication on them and setting them back into the mainstream.  Is this something that the state is not doing enough for?  Is this the state’s responsibility to monitor?  Is this something that the medical community needs to address further?  What influence do the insurance companies have with this issue?  Do we need to set up a mandated reporting system like we have for suspected child abuse requiring teachers, doctors or other individuals to identify and report persons that they feel could be of harm to themselves or others?  What would be the guidelines?  Would a child be stigmatized for the rest of their lives by a false identification of a mental issue?

The third is the most serious and most controversial of all the issues; gun control.  There will be many bills and a lot of discussion over this issue.  The Second Amendment of the Constitution gives us the right to bear arms.  There are some who feel that this should be repealed.  Many totally disagree with that viewpoint.  The gun that was used in Sandy Hook is reported to be an assault style weapon.   This incident has opened up the gun control discussion at every level of government.  The President has appointed a commission to recommend what is needed to deter this type of tragedy from occurring again which includes looking at possible changes to gun control regulations.  Governor Malloy has also set up his own commission to study this issue at the state level.  How can we prevent guns from being obtained by those who plan to do harm to others with them?  How do we determine who they are and do they already have access to guns?  Over the years the state legislature has enacted laws to help control and monitor certain types of weapons.  Do we need stronger enforcement of these laws?  Do we need to set up a special registration system when guns that are classified as assault weapons are purchased?  Do we need more control and recording of purchases of high capacity ammunition magazines?  Should there be a recommendation of a total ban on these types of weapons?   How will this affect ownership of other types of guns?  The sportsman community is very large and has a strong economic impact.  Look at the growth of sporting goods stores in recent years.  How will this affect those who are part of the sportsman community?  Is any sort of gun control needed at all?

The real question is how can we make sure that something like Sandy Hook never happens again?  Legislators and special interest groups need to work together and look at the problem as a whole.  They need to stop trying to blame others and work together for a reasonable solution.

 
 
 

 
     
     
       
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