Cross-posted at Pelto’s Point (New Haven Advocate)
“Run, run, fast as you can!
Can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!”
And away he ran!
Like the gingerbread man, it can be pretty difficult to catch up with those pesky legislators.
On Tuesday, the General Assembly’s General Law Committee successfully “killed” an effort by State Representative Kathy Tallarita (D-Enfield) and State Senator John Kissel (R-Enfield) to allow liquor to be sold on Sundays.
Actually, truth be told, the committee successfully stopped an effort that would have allowed a recorded vote to be taken on the issue and then proceeded to defeat the measure by voice vote thereby eliminating the need to actually be on record as being personally opposed to Sunday sales.
No, you got it. By preventing a recorded vote to be taken on the issue of whether liquor should be sold on Sundays, the majority of legislators on the General Law Committee (in fact, all but two of the Democrats and Republicans on the committee) can now tell their constituents that they didn’t technically vote against Sunday liquor sales they are only on record as having voted against a motion that would have required that the vote on Sunday sales be by roll-call which, of course, is a completely different from being on record as actually being opposed to the sale of liquor on Sundays.
Message: Imagine a mailing in next year’s election trying to pin down the incumbent for voting against the vote to record the vote on the vote to sell liquor on Sundays when they say they were never recorded as having voted for (or against) the sale of liquor on Sundays.
The vote to hold a roll call vote was defeated 13 to 2 which was then followed by a voice vote in which the chairs determined that the majority of those present and voting were opposed to the amendment which would have allowed the Sunday sale of liquor.
Putting aside the fact that a recent Quinnipiac Poll found that Connecticut voters support Sunday liquor sales by a margin of 66 – 31 percent and that the legislation to end the Puritan-era Blue Law had gubernatorial support for the first time, lobbyists for the liquor store owners were able to once again kill the bill, albeit in a roundabout way.
First, the Democratic co-chairs of the Committee refused to place the Sunday liquor bill on the committee’s agenda thereby preventing a debate and vote on the bill, which in turn, forced the bill’s sponsors to try to amend another bill. It was then that the committee members defeated the motion to have a recorded vote, ensuring that, at least for now, the legislation was dead without having to have their names recorded as being opposed to the proposal.
The sale of liquor on Sundays could come up later in the Session as an amendment to some other liquor related bill or as an amendment to the state budget.
The veteran lobbyist for the liquor stores, who has so successfully stopped the legislation year after year, claimed that allowing the sale of liquor on Sundays would lead to 350 liquor stores going out of business and 600 people losing their jobs since many small liquor stores could not survive the additional costs of being open on Sundays and the corresponding competition from grocery stores that are already open on that day.
In previous years, the leadership of the General Law Committee refused to even hold a public hearing on the issue. This year, a hearing was held on the legislation and liquor store owners and their employees packed the meeting demanding that legislators save jobs by killing the legislation that would allow them to be open on Sundays.
And so the gingerbread man remains on the run and as arrogant as ever, glad to in be in the Land where “Everyone Lives Happily Ever After”, although legislators might want to remember the rest of that children’s story.