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State Bill Would Give Tuition to Veterans, Children

A look at the issues being discussed in the Connecticut legislature. This week features tuition waivers, alcohol sales and social security number protection.

That many Connecticut service members can’t pay for their children’s higher education bothers state Rep. John Hetherington, a Republican representing New Canaan and Wilton in the 125th House District.

As such, Hetherington wants tuition waivers at state colleges and universities for the children, ages 16 to 23, of those service members who died or became disabled as a direct result of hostile action. It’s an expansion of HB 5296, proposed legislation, which now would only give tuition waivers for veterans and National Guard members to attend Charter Oak College.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Hetherington said. “These service members have given up their futures for us. There is no reason for their children to give up their future.”

Hetherington testified before the Select Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Since 2002 60 Connecticut service members have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The total number of wounded in Iraq is 235. However, many of those killed or totally disabled had no children, he said. Hetherington used the grim statistics to stress that these benefits wouldn’t pose an undue financial burden to the state or its higher education system.

“Connecticut on the whole has been pretty responsive to its veterans, and who knows we may be ahead of the curve here on this,” he said.

PACKAGE DEAL  

As the Nutmeg State prepares to overhaul its , theConnecticut Package Store Association . 

Because wrapped in proposed legislation to allow for Sunday liquor sales is a proposal to end a decades-long practice of what some legislators are calling price-fixing. Connecticut uses a price posting system to enforce uniform pricing. Distributors must offer the same price to all retailers and publically post those prices. Distributors can’t offer quantity discounts to retailers. 

“I have to say that except for about five in 200, people are in favor of Sunday sales, but I don’t think people understood this was a package deal,” said state Rep. Kim Rose, a Democrat representing Milford in the 118th House District

The CPSA represents more than 1,000 of the state’s package stores. It said ending price floors would mean thousands of lost jobs.  The group initially opposed Sunday sales, but overwhelming support caused them to retreat. Instead they worry ending price floors will give chain stores and supermarkets an unfair advantage when purchasing alcohol because they can buy in bulk and sell at steep discounts. Smaller stores won’t be able to compete, they testified in a recent public hearing.

However, rather than legislate a price floor, Rose said it’s up to people whether they will shop at local mom and pop stores or big chain stores.

“There is no other industry where we set prices. We don’t tell people how to price milk,” Rose said.

On another matter, Rose will testify at a public hearing on March 6 regarding legislation she introduced to ban the sale of tobacco related products to minors.

The proposed legislation will make it illegal for stores to sell rolling paper and other related products to minors.

SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER PROTECTION

Lawmakers will consider legislation to help safeguard privacy and protect against identify theft.

Next week the General Law Committee, of which state Rep. Joseph Taborsak, a Democrat representing Danbury in the 109th House District is a member, will consider SB 315, proposed legislation that will prohibit the unnecessary collection of social security numbers.

The proposed legislation wouldn’t apply to consumer credit reporting agencies, identity verification measures, medical treatment, law enforcement and job related reasons including employment benefits. However, the language of the bill has yet to define what 'unncessary collection' means. That will be discussed during a public hearing on March 7.

However, under the proposed legislation anyone violating the provisions could be fined up to $500 for a first offense and up to $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

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