The Federation of Connecticut Taxpayer
Organizations, Inc. (FCTO)
Contact: Susan Kniep,
ON NOV 4, 2008
THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS ….
· Eminent Domain Reform
· Lower Property Taxes
· A Three Strikes Law
· Ethics Reform
· Term Limits
· And More!!!
· Much More!
You Decide what changes you would like made in our state government. The above
list contains examples of changes voters have considered in other states. Our goal is to work for your right to
petition our state government for whatever changes you feel
The Plan is to encourage Connecticut voters to VOTE YES on the First question on the
November 4, 2008 Ballot which will read: SHALL THERE BE A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION TO AMEND
OR REVISE THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE?
The Goal, is upon passage of the
question, to encourage the State Legislature to add Initiative and Referendum
Constitution. This will then give you,
the voters of Connecticut, the opportunity to
petition our state government for the changes you feel
are necessary to improve Connecticut.
MESSAGE FROM FCTO:
On Nov 4, 2008, Connecticut
voters will have a unique opportunity to change the course of history in the
State of Connecticut
by voting yes on the question: SHALL
THERE BE A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION TO AMEND OR REVISE THE CONSTITUTION OF THE
STATE? It is to the advantage of both
conservative and liberal groups and individuals to lobby for the passage of
this statewide referendum question. Upon
its passage, we encourage others to join a campaign to enable the citizens of Connecticut to assume
greater control of their government by lobbying for Statewide Initiative and
Referendum. Incorporation of this right
within Connecticut’s Constitution will give
citizens greater control of their state government. In addition, Statewide Initiative and
Referendum will promote civic engagement, and, in turn, rejuvenate the passion
voters of renewed hope for a government of, for and by the people of our
There are many citizens in our State who are unaware that the
question regarding a State Constitutional Convention will be on the ballot in
November of this year. There are
others who are not sure what Initiative and Referendum really means. Hopefully the following will provide some
insight into these two issues.
As it pertains to Initiative, many voters in Connecticut have this right at
the local level. Some local charters
allow local voters to obtain signatures on a petition to place their annual
budget on the ballot if they are concerned for property tax increases or want
more money added to the local budget.
The Statewide Initiative and Referendum process is similar
to that on a local level. Citizens would
develop an issue, get signatures on a petition and put the issue before voters
at a referendum statewide.
The State Initiative process involves proposing or amending
state law, called Statutes or Statutory Law, and/or amending a State Constitution.
The State Referendum process allows for repeal of state
Today, many States have some type
Initiative and Referendum
Six (6) States have a statutory Initiative & Referendum
process. What this means is that Citizens can attempt to pass State laws they write
or suspend a law passed by the State Legislature. Citizens of these states, however, cannot
pass a constitutional amendment by Initiative.
These states include: Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.
Fifteen (15) States have full Initiative & Referendum
rights. The citizens can pass laws they write or suspend a statute passed by
the Legislature. They can also initiate
constitutional amendments by Initiative.
These States include: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Massachusetts,
Nevada, North Dakota,
Oregon, and South Dakota.
Two (2) states, Florida and Mississippi, allow
their citizens to place constitutional
amendments on the ballot for a decision by the voters, but they do not afford
them the right to pass or suspend state laws approved by the legislature.
Illinois has Initiative
rights for citizens to place constitutional amendments on the ballot for a
decision by the voters. The process is
so complex however that only one initiative has qualified for the ballot in the
last 30 years. Citizens lack a process where they can pass statutes or suspend
a statute passed by the Legislature. There is a very difficult process for
advisory statewide measures.
Three (3) states, Kentucky,
Maryland, and New Mexico, allow their citizens referendum
rights, whereby citizens can suspend a statute passed by the Legislature but
voters do not have Initiative rights.
In 2006, the Federation of CT Taxpayer Organizations
believed, as did others, that Connecticut’s
Constitutional Convention should have been held in that year. Due to the New London Eminent Domain issue it was our
hope that the Constitutional Convention question would appear on the ballot in
2006, would pass, and that Statewide Initiative and Referendum would become a
reality. Our goal was to ultimately have
the issue of Eminent Domain placed before the voters of our State through the
Initiative and Referendum process with the belief that the majority of
homeowners and businesses would support a law which would prevent cities and towns from having the authority to
take their property and give it to private developers regardless of price.
voters recently went to the polls to vote on the Eminent
Domain issue of which there were two competing referendums: Proposition 98, as
sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and Proposition 99, as
sponsored by the League of California Cities.
The Institute for Justice which was instrumental in bringing
the Eminent Domain issue to light as it affected the property of Susette Kelo in New London and 90
other New London families speaks out on Eminent Domain in California. The Institute also litigated the New London case before
the Supreme Court in an effort to protect the property rights of all
As we debate the issue in 2008 of whether a Constitutional
Convention would be right for Connecticut,
we need to reflect on the limitations which taxpayers and voters now have to
effectuate change in our State government.
In the absence of Statewide Initiative and Referendum, our
only recourse rests in our ability to garner the interests of our State
Yet, there has been a disconnect
throughout our country between politicians and the public they represent. The breeding ground of the disenfranchised
public has been cultivated with seeds of distrust and perceived indifference by
those elected to serve us. Many believe
that the drive for personal power by politicians
trumps public service, as elections and issues are influenced by special
But we are fortunate in Connecticut
to have some State legislators working for change on behalf of Connecticut citizens. Democrat
State Rep Christopher
Caruso has been tirelessly working for ethics reform both at the local and
state levels. Republican State
Rep Art O’Neill has been working to control local property taxes through a cap
on local spending. These are only two
of the State legislators working for reforms at the State level. But regrettably, again, we witnessed a
lackluster legislative session this year where issues of importance to voters
and taxpayers were left on the table.
So again how does the public influence government and
effectuate change? Some would say at the
polls when candidates run for state election.
However, some seats in Connecticut’s
General Assembly are simply gifts from the opposing parties which fail to offer
viable candidates in opposition. This
year, 59 seats will go unchallenged.
Voter participation is also on the decline. On a national level the U.S.
is 20th out of 21 in voter turnout among established democracies -- only Switzerland has a lower voter turnout than turnout
presidential elections. And on the home
front, towns and states are lucky if they raise the interest of 40% or 50% of registered
voters who are willing to go to the polls to vote.
Of course, this year may be different. The economy, the war, the subprime debacle,
escalating gasoline and oil prices along with rising property taxes are either
driving families from their homes through foreclosure or bankruptcy or at minimum affecting their quality
of life. Families are forced to choose
between the necessities of food, heat, or gasoline to get them to their
jobs. That is, of course, unless they
are already in the unemployment line, with over 2,700 businesses closing in Connecticut in the first
three months of this year.
Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent, or are
so fed up with the system, you are none of the above, you are undoubtedly tuned
in to the Democrat Presidential primary which has become a teacher’s tool in
educating students in how candidates’ names for President ultimately find their
way onto the November ballot. Delegates
and super delegates overshadow the importance of the one-man, one-vote concept
which many believe should be the rule.
What is evident as we follow the primary is the public’s
desperate desire for change as many believe money, power and influence prevail
over the interests of the average American family. Americans today want greater control over
their government and their public officials, and some are working hard to
assume that control, as 24 states now have Statewide Initiative and
The common thread of those who have championed this cause,
and who today continue the crusade for Statewide Initiative and Referendum,
have been the following:
- To Reverse the concentration of
- To neutralize the power of special
- To increase public understanding of
- To stimulate public involvement in the
political process and improve voter turnout,
- To make government more responsive.
And now Connecticut
citizens have an opportunity, for the aforementioned reasons, to incorporate
Statewide Initiative and Referendum in our Constitution through the
Constitutional Convention process. http://www.iandrinstitute.org/New%20IRI%20Website%20Info/I&R%20Research%20and%20History/I&R%20at%20the%20Statewide%20Level/Constitution%20and%20Statutes/Connecticut.pdf
The following provides a brief history of that process in
The State legislature called the first constitutional
convention in 1818. That convention was
closed to the public, resulted in the Constitution of 1818 replacing the
Fundamental Orders of 1639, and provided for a new form of governance. The process for calling for a convention,
however, was not established until the constitutional convention of 1965 which
gives the public the right to vote on this important issue every 20 years. If we fail this year, we will not have another
opportunity to vote for a Constitutional Convention until the year 2028.
If a majority of voters voting on the question approves the
measure, the General Assembly follows the constitutional process for convening
the convention (Conn.
Const. Art. 13, § 2). The General
Assembly is responsible for choosing the membership and dates for a convention.
Proposed amendments or revisions must be submitted to the electors within two
months of the convention's final adjournment.
Although, to date, the public cannot initiate State Statutes
or amendments to our State Constitution, the Connecticut’s State Legislature can. Since, the adoption of the state’s current
constitution in 1965, the State legislature has amended the constitution 30
times. A Constitutional amendment by
the state legislature is a two-step process: the legislature must first pass a
joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment by a ¾ majority in each
chamber and then submit that resolution to Connecticut voters in the next
As we continue to debate the issue of a Constitutional
Convention for Connecticut,
some will argue that the basis of our government is a republic and not a
democracy. Opponents suggest that once
we elect an individual to public office that the general public should not be
involved in setting public policy as through an initiative process.
I invite you to visit the Federation’s website
at ctact.org to view the extensive research on this issue in a paper entitled
- Are Initiatives and Referenda Contrary
to the Constitution’s “Republican Form of Government”? by Robert G. Natelson of the Independence
Institute. Therein Mr. Natelson states the case in support of public participation
through the Initiative and Referendum process.
The INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a nonprofit, nonpartisan Colorado think tank. It
is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy focuses
on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and
In conclusion, the Federation invites all citizens and
groups to join with us to encourage voters to vote Yes
for a Constitutional Convention for Connecticut
and to, in turn, support Statewide Initiative and Referendum. Failure to do so, will require a lapse of
another 20 years before we can again address the question: SHALL THERE BE A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION TO
AMEND OR REVISE THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE?
I will leave you with the words of Lee Iacocca in his
recently published book titled - Where Have All the Leaders Gone? …
not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire.
I'm speaking out because I have hope. I believe in America. You don't get anywhere by
standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether
it's building a better car or
better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That's the challenge
I'm raising in this book. It's a call to action for people who, like me,
believe in America.
It's not too late, but it's getting pretty close. So let's get going …….
The Federation of CT Taxpayer Organizations believes that a
Constitutional Convention is right for Connecticut. We believe that Initiative and Referendum are
right for the citizens of our State, and today the Federation initiates the
call to action.
Let’s us all get going and go to work to give Connecticut
citizens a greater voice in Connecticut’s government!
The Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California
a great resource for Initiative and Referendum Issues.
for by The Federation of CT Taxpayer Organizations