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The Hidden Price of Locally-Grown Food

Education reform bill is pared down; problems arise in a bill to promote Connecticut-grown food

Labeling, promoting and selling Connecticut-grown produce is a peachy idea, but some said it’s too pricey.

Henry N. Talmage, executive director of Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, said there is a significant interest in local foods and farm products.

However, passage of the bill to label products and promote home grown products would place an “unreasonable burden on grocery stores to comply,” Talmage told the General Law Committee.

According to a 2010 University of Connecticut study, agriculture is a $3.5 billion industry comprising over 20,000 jobs in the state.

During public hearings State Rep. Craig Miner, a Republican representing towns in the 66th House District, including Litchfield, said the bill supports current public policy to try and keep business in state.

“I think what it does is it helps the consumer connect that last dot, which creates a stronger market for locally grown, and I don't think has a negative impact in terms of any other business that might go on in the state of Connecticut,” Miner said.

Education Reform?

A lot of ink was spilled last week about the vote on the education bill. But there is another issue aside from the debate about whether the bill is a ghost of its former self, or whether it represents a work in progress. And that is how the closed-door meetings leading up to the vote speaks to a lack of transparency, said 

Lavielle said she was dismayed that only the two Education Committee chairs, two union heads and the Education Commissioner discussed the bill’s language.

“Is it abuse of one party rule? Absolutely. Is it bullying? Yes,” she said. But more than that, Lavielle said the process is disrespectful to the people she represents. “I don’t understand what’s wrong with talking about differing views.”

And while Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had talked about tying teacher tenure to performance among other things, the governor caved on several of the reforms—or, to be more precise the Committee chairs did the caving for him, according to Lavielle.

Malloy’s Senior Advisor Roy Occhiogrosso played down division in his recent remarks. He said the Education Committee’s vote “represents just one step in the legislative process. Governor Malloy has made it clear that he’s determined to begin fixing what’s broken in our public schools, no matter how long it takes.”

Lavielle doesn’t see it that way.

“I think he [the governor] wants the reputation of being a draconian reformer but he doesn’t really want to disturb the teacher’s unions,” Lavielle said.

Age Aware  

Don’t trust, do verify.

That’s the aim of proposed legislation that targets commercial sexual exploitation of a minor.

The Judiciary Committee heard testimony regarding HB 5504, which would make it a crime for publications to disseminate or display advertisements without verifying the actual age of a person in an advertisement.

In testimony before the committee, Chris VanDeHoef, Executive Director of Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association said CDNA supports the proposal’s intent but opposes the draft language.

“Some ads, namely published in some weekly papers across Connecticut, provide advertising for adults seeking services that are currently legal, often providing pictures with their ads,” VanDeHoef said. 

VanDeHoef told the committee that process for running these types of ads, protected under the First Amendment, doesn’t allow publishers the chance to verify the age of a person in a picture. He said CDNA would consider the possibility of requiring a copy of the ID of a person in an ad to keep on file with a copy of the ad prior to running. 

Jim Amann, former state Rep. from Milford and former Speaker of the state House of Representatives would have none of that. 

“The bill is necessary because, more and more, traffickers – who otherwise operate in the shadows – are boldly promoting their wares through print and online “Escort” advertising,” Amann said. “We believe that publishers hold some responsibility for the content that appears on their pages, especially if these 'Escort' ads are proven to be a front for illicit sex trading.”

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