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Kiner's Korner: An Interview With Rep. David Kiner

59th District Rep. David Kiner sat down with his father to discuss the recently-concluded legislative session and its impact on Enfield.

Good afternoon David. Congratulations on finishing your first term as state Representative from the 59th District in Enfield. I guess we might say that you are no longer a freshman legislator and that you have "earned your wings" over these last two years. How do you feel about this last session of the General Assembly?

DK: Well, I have had almost a week to unwind from a rigorous session. I believe that the legislature had many historic accomplishments during the 2012 session.

While tackling a number of significant issues in a shortened time frame, the legislature also passed a budget-adjustment measure that reduces expenses, avoids raising taxes and provides more education funding for Enfield – an increase of $430,348.

Education reform, storm response by utilities, domestic violence, sexual violence on campuses, repealing the death penalty – all of these policy initiatives were indeed historic and were passed by the General Assembly.

Q: Can you tell Patch what you believe to be some of the Legislature's major accomplishments?

DK: Absolutely. Balancing the state budget is always a lot of work. A year ago, the legislature dealt with a shortfall in excess of $3.5 billion – 15 percent of the total budget. This year, the House passed a $20.5 billion fiscal year 2013 budget adjustment bill. The budget keeps appropriations under the state’s constitutionally-mandated spending cap and continues our investments in education and job growth. Despite cuts in many areas, funding for cities and towns as well as for vital services has been saved. And education funding for towns has been increased.

Q: And this was done without a tax increase this year?

DK: Yes. We had some other major accomplishments as well.

School Reform: The final version of legislation brought together the efforts of many different stakeholders, bringing about meaningful reform while respecting the rights of our teachers. It looked at many different aspects of our schools and how we could improve the quality of the classroom experience, by having both better prepared students and instructors.  A hallmark of the legislature’s commitment to education is more funding for school-based health centers and family resource centers. Acknowledging the critical importance of early childhood education, 1,000 school readiness slots for preschoolers and funding several initiatives to improve early reading success were underwritten. The historic reform package also establishes the Commissioner’s Network, which provides the intensive supports and interventions needed to turn around twenty-five of the most chronically low-performing schools in Connecticut.

Storm Standards:  In August and October of 2011, Connecticut experienced two devastating storms that left the majority of the state without power for an extended period of time. This bill is extensive in that it addresses concerns of public health and safety, security, and basic service responsibilities of utility, gas and telecommunications companies.

Another bill that passed that I am pleased about is the abolition of the death penalty:  This bill will replace Connecticut’s death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole. An amendment, added by the Senate, provided that future felons convicted of life sentences without parole, would be subject to the same harsh conditions as those inmates currently on Death Row.

Repealing the death penalty is "prospective," meaning that it will only apply to future sentences. The eleven men currently on Connecticut's Death Row would still face execution.

The death penalty is very expensive. Capital punishment cases cost our Division of Public Defender Services $3 million last year. That is 7.2% of the public defenders’ budget on what amounts to 0.06% of their caseload.

Since 1977, 88% of those put to death were convicted in cases involving white victims. Murder victims as a whole mirror the nation demographically. One hundred and thirty individuals on Death Row in this country have been exonerated and released in the US since the 1970s due to DNA testing and the Innocence Project.

Connecticut's death penalty has only been used once in the last 40 years, at the request of the condemned Michael Ross. Actual executions in Connecticut are rare, and only occur after expensive and extensive appeals. In effect, Connecticut really has no death penalty.

Medical marijuana is another bill that I supported. This proposal will allow an eligible patient to use medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms of a debilitating medical condition. As written, this legislation requires the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) to establish strict regulations for licensing pharmacists, and specific circumstances and regulation of the use, acquirement, possession, cultivation and distribution of marijuana.

In addition, doctors must certify that patients have a medical need for such treatment — for instance, debilitating diseases like cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy. Both patients and caregivers will need to register with the Department of Consumer Protection in order to possess medical marijuana.

Domestic Violence is a major problem, both in this state and nationwide.  The legislation that we passed this year is based on the recommendations of a task force that I sit on; the Speaker’s Task Force on Domestic Violence and builds on a multi-year bipartisan effort to improve the state’s response to domestic violence. Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior between partners where one person uses physical, sexual, psychological, financial or verbal abuse to try to make the other feel powerless, intimidated and dependent on the abuser, making it hard to leave the relationship. When a victim has worked up the courage to call police, to request a restraining order or to leave her home, we want to make sure that services are in place to support a victim’s efforts to protect herself. That’s why this bill includes a number of measures to support victims, police officers, advocates and other front-line service providers.

Q: I know that there were other pieces of legislation that were important but failed to win passage. Perhaps we can talk about those bills in another interview. I would like to ask you one more question. How did Enfield make out this year?

DK: Some of the legislation that impacted our town were: the budget, Sunday liquor sales, a ten acre land conveyance to the Shaker Pines Fire Department, and an act that will assist our constables. Let me summarize each.

Budget: While many states have cut aide to municipalities and passed the burden on to the property tax payer, Connecticut has lived up to their word and passed a budget that kept town aide whole.  Enfield will be receiving more than $32,000,000, which is over $400,000 more than last year’s budget.

Sunday Sales:  The sale of alcohol in the state is uniquely regulated to provide a transparent and accountable system that allows small business package store owners to compete for sales with larger box stores. In order to become more consumer friendly, surrounding states have modified their laws, which have resulted in Connecticut residents crossing the border to make their purchases. To allow Connecticut businesses to compete, increase competition to lower prices, and recapture lost tax revenue to surrounding states the General Assembly passed legislation that makes various changes to the liquor control act.

The major components of the bill are: 

1. Allows package stores and grocery stores to sell alcohol on: Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, on  Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Also Mondays following any Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day that fall on a Sunday.

2. Allows package stores and grocery stores to sell one beer or liquor item below cost each month (but not less than 90% of the cost.)

3. Establishes the 15-member Competitive Alcoholic Liquor Pricing task force to study Connecticut's laws concerning liquor taxes, quantity and volume discounts, minimum pricing, price postings and permit restrictions and compare them with surrounding states.

4. Allows package stores to sell additional “complementary goods” which includes: fresh fruits used in the preparation of mixed alcoholic beverages, cheese, crackers, and olives.

Land Conveyance: The Shaker Pines Fire Department will be receiving ten acres of land from the Department of Corrections. This land will be used for fire fighting educational and training purposes. Each fire district in town will utilize the new facility/land.

Enfield Fish and Game: The Enfield Fish and Game Constables who have been defunct for over a year due to an Attorney General Opinion of a state statute will now be able to return their job. The Constables will have to successfully complete a basic training course that is tailored to the duties to be performed. The course will be taught by a police officer who is certified by the states police academy.

Editor's Note: The author is the father of State Rep. David Kiner.

Spiff May 16, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Come on Bill and Dave, give us a break, and be honest with your readers. The only reason why CT’s budget is “balanced” (and I use that term loosely) is because CT uses Dan Malloy Smoke and Mirrors Accounting Principles! This state does not use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), AND THAT IS A FACT! Under GAAP guidelines, this budget wouldn’t be close to balanced, AND THAT IS A FACT AS WELL! For those readers who do not believe me, please refer to attached Courant article from last week. http://articles.courant.com/2012-05-11/news/hc-op-mcenroe-connecticuts-budget-defies-balance-0-20120511_1_state-budget-legislative-session-dan-malloy
Spiff May 16, 2012 at 08:28 PM
In addition, Bill, you sound surprised that “this was done without a tax increase this year?” You’re kidding me, right? Governor Malloy signed CT’s largest tax increase in state history last summer. You both sound surprised that taxes didn’t go up in 2012 (not yet anyway). CT residents, on average, pay more in taxes than residents of every other state in the country, ANOTHER FACT! For those readers who, again, may not believe me, please refer to attached Patch article below. http://weston-ct.patch.com/articles/connecticut-has-the-nation-s-highest-tax-burden
Spiff May 16, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Finally, Bill and Dave, Sunday alcohol sales will actually hurt Mom and Pop package stores and put many out of business. Customers will simply spread six days of sales over seven, resulting in no additional revenue. In order to compete with the big box stores and supermarkets, Mom and Pop stores will be required to open on Sundays or risk losing business. This will, of course, require them to pay for an additional day of overhead (electricity, heat, employees, etc.). Increased expenses with no additional revenue will, of course, be a money losing proposition for these businesses. The only package stores that could see an increase in business are those immediately on the border with, Mass, for example. The only reason Malloy pushed this legislation was the chance for increased tax revenue, NOT because he was looking out for the citizens of CT. NOT because he was trying to create jobs.
Marty Salvatore May 17, 2012 at 12:29 AM
It's good to see the younger generation actually get involved in the political process. With leaders like David, I have no doubt that our future will be a bright. Too often, people with "big ideas" who claim to speak "the truth" do absolutely NOTHING to improve the political system that they claim to know so well. It's easy to make anonymous posts about how terrible things are. It takes guts to actually stick your neck out and make the tough decisions. If the people who post here on the Patch actually spent their time doing something constructive rather than simply criticizing public leaders over the internet, maybe the system wouldn't be so screwed up.
Travis Edwards May 17, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Spiff is a Troll in every sense of the word. Can't hate him for it, at least he is consistent. He'll set the trap and wait for people to pay him the attention he craves..living the dream, baby!!! Like a boss.
Spiff May 17, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Oh, Marty, I am doing something constructive, I am helping to inform readers about the truth! Are you aware that the state of CT does not use GAAP? If not, well then I guess you are now! Feel free to do your own research. Most of the people I talk with don't know this fact. You know, if I was the Chief Financial Officer of a publicly traded company, and I submitted financial records to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) that were not based on GAAP, I would be fired and most likely brought up on charges. Do you remember a company called Enron that collapsed in 2001? Do you recall names such as Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling and Andrew Fastow? These people were the company's leaders and were all convicted of deceiving investors and the public. Well, Marty, their accounting practices were not based on GAAP. If they had been, the company would not have grown so fast and had so many investors, because the truth would have been uncovered about the company's finances. So, Marty, are you suggesting that it is alright for the state of CT to not use GAAP? Are you suggesting that I am not telling the truth and that they really do use GAAP? Come-on Marty, you seem like a pretty smart guy, I know you can understand this stuff. I think it is important for people to know that when David Kiner says that the budget was balanced, it was not balanced using GAAP. In fact, CT's 'Cumulative GAAP Deficit' is about $1.7 billion. Again, feel free to do your own research.
Bluephantom Inc. May 17, 2012 at 02:54 PM
......ummm....Spiff, well…I am kind of new to Enfield Patch, so I make the following statement in pure assumption from prior post only. I am thinking that you are part of the Grand Old Party, or Gallant Old Party, or whatever GOP stands for today. With that being said, I am confused at you being upset that Government has taken the chains off of “Big Government” and is allowing private cooperation’s and businesses to make their own decisions. So the question is, which bothers you more, the fact that an up and coming Dem voted for this to pass, or that Government is loosening their reins on small business?
Spiff May 17, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Well, Mr. Phantom, or may I call you Blue? Oh, yes, I absolutely agree that business owners should be allowed to run their business the way they want to. I am absolutely for smaller government, lower taxes, more personal freedoms, etc. I was simply pointing out that Sunday alcohol sales will actually hurt small business owners, not help them. Regardless of how David Kiner voted, Dan Malloy pushed this legislation with one purpose in mind, the potential for increased tax revenue, not because he was concerned about helping small (or any sized) businesses.
Spiff May 17, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Oh, one additional note, Blue, David Kiner will always vote the way Dan Malloy tells him to.
Ronald Rae May 17, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Spiff, well said. Kiner is certainly Malloy's puppet. I think he's a great kid but am concerned with who he is modeling himself after. Also, the following paragraph "When a victim has worked up the courage to call police, to request a restraining order or to leave her home, we want to make sure that services are in place to support a victim’s efforts to protect herself. That’s why this bill includes a number of measures to support victims, police officers, advocates and other front-line service providers." Are we assuming the victim cannot be male? Just asking....
Sam May 17, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I have only one question for you David just how many bills were past this session, that there wasnt even any time for you to actually review them never mind read them before the vote was taken? I read some wheres there were a few and I just wonder if you think that is smart legislating?
Bluephantom Inc. May 17, 2012 at 06:01 PM
85% of domestic violence victims are women; Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003. Although DV can affect anyone, at anytime, the majority "statistically" are female. DV isn’t a political issue, it’s a human concern.
Ronald Rae May 17, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Not arguing if it's a political issue or not and it's certainly a human concern. My point is that the assumption of all the victims be women is greatly over generalized.
Spiff May 17, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Hey Ronald, thanks for your comment. Glad to see that there are other rational thinkers on the patch!
Bill W May 18, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Deep breath. It's true, CT doesn't use GAAP guidelines - and it's ridiculous we don't. I think the towns all do. Anyway, for what it's worth, Malloy has pushed to have the state comply with GAAP standards. From your own link, "People will blame Gov. Dan Malloy for this, but that is not really fair because he at least has pushed for a rejection of magic and superstition, even if he is not capable of pulling it off." Having read several comments from Mr. Spiff and his ilk here, I expect the reply will by, "he's just posturing and knows his party won't allow it." Fair enough. Believe what you want to believe. But since he's into facts, here are some interesting ones: Further complicating matters for Malloy, the budget he inherited was more than $3 billion in deficit under the old accounting rules. ... And while the budget bill Malloy signed last May ordered GAAP reporting and set up a 15-year plan to pay off the GAAP differential -- it pushed the start of these chores off until the fiscal year that begins July 2013 from here: http://ctmirror.org/story/16110/malloy-struggling-keep-some-portion-gaap-pledge But let's look elsewhere shall we? Like under what administration did we get away from GAAP compliance? John Rowland? Who didn't undo the misdeed? Jodi Rell? Good job. btw, Teabagger hero/liar Scott Walker in WI didn't use GAAP recently with his state budget.
Spiff May 19, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Hi Bill, Yes, I am aware that Dan Malloy has pushed for GAAP. In fact, that was part of his platform as a candidate. So, what does that mean, just another broken campaign promise from a candidate who wins the election. Kinda like saying you support lower taxes and then vote to increase taxes after being elected. Now, who do we know that did that? I am also aware that both Repubs and Dems in this state have played hocus pocus with the budget numbers as you've pointed out. That doesn't mean that it shouldn't be fixed, however. Now, what's the saying about two wrongs and a right? Glad to see that you think it's ridiculous as well. Hopefully we can get the word out and continue to educate others.

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