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Fight for Public Lands Moves to November

CT State Capitol

After achieving the necessary 3/4ths majority vote in both the Senate (35-0) and House (118-32) this year, the provisions of SJ 35 will appear on a ballot question this November.

“We do not take lightly a proposed amendment to the state constitution, but we believe it is absolutely necessary to ensure the sale, swap, or give-away of state-owned public lands will only be considered with appropriate public input,” said Eric Hammerling, CFPA's Executive Director. “Maine, Massachusetts, and New York all have protections for state-owned public lands in their constitutions, and it's time for Connecticut to follow suit.”

The resolution had strong bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate as evidenced by some of the statements of its champions in the General Assembly.

“The state of Connecticut has an obligation to protect state-owned forest land, parks, wildlife areas and other open space. Enacting better protections for conservation land and other natural resources has been and will continue to be one of my legislative priorities so that our state’s natural beauty can be preserved for generations to come. I look forward to supporting a resolution to protect preserved land and seeing its approval in 2018,” said Deputy Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Kevin Witkos (R-Canton).

"Connecticut, the land of steady habits, needs to shake up its priorities. Sometimes it takes bold action to lead,” Rep. Joe Gresko (D-Stratford) said. “The old system of swapping property through a conveyance bill bypasses the public. These land swaps often happen under the shroud of darkness.”

If approved by voters in November, this resolution would amend the Connecticut constitution to require that:

1) All state-owned public lands receive a public hearing before the General Assembly can sell, swap, or give them away; and

2) Public lands held by the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (for example, State Parks, Forests, and Wildlife Management Areas) or Department of Agriculture (for example, state-owned agricultural lands or easements) must attain a 2/3rds majority vote in both chambers for the General Assembly before these valuable lands could be sold, swapped, or given away.

Here is a one-pager on the provisions of SJ 35.

If you have any questions or would like additional information on this issue, please contact Eric Hammerling, CFPA's Executive Director via ehammerling@ctwoodlands.org.

One-pager on SJ 3574.21 KB