UPDATE, Public Hearing: State Rep. Jack Hennessy’s campaign to prohibit city employees from serving on the Bridgeport City Council features a Facebook page in support of his proposed state legislative bill CT HB-5724. Hennessy says city taxpayers suffer from too many conflicts of interests as a result of city employees serving on the legislative body such as voting to approve their wages and benefits. The Bridgeport City Charter bans city employees from serving on the council, but a provision in state statute allows it providing a loophole for political players to serve on the council and maintain a city job. Hennessy is asking his peers in the state legislature to support his bill. The legislature’s Planning and Development Committee has scheduled a public hearing on his bill for February 13, 10 a.m. in Room 2B of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. See Facebook page here.
This is not an easy bill to pass because many state legislators fear it would alienate supporters on local legislative bodies receiving a government check. So if Hennessy’s bill develops any traction it must be applied moving forward, not retroactively. And yes, it must also receive constituent pressure on state legislators. Bridgeport’s State House members in addition to Hennessy are Auden Grogins, Charlie Stallworth, Christina Ayala, Ezequiel Santiago and Don Clemons. You can find their contact info here.
From the Facebook page:
Bill HB-5724 is an act prohibiting municipal employees from serving on certain municipal legislative bodies to prevent conflict of interest specifically regarding budgets and land use.
Passage of Bill HB-5724 – we need you, the voters to like the page and contact your state representatives to vote yes for this bill
This bill is to extend an existing provision that prohibits municipal employees from serving on a municipal board of finance except where permitted by charter or home rule ordinance. The citizens of Bridgeport have asked the City Council to comply with the City Charter that prohibits a city employee from being elected to the City Council. The city attorney has ruled the state law supersedes the City Charter. The passing of Bill HB-5724 will close that loop hole and allow the city of Bridgeport to elect a governing body with no conflict of interests. The state of Connecticut will only benefit from having cities that have sound governance policies in place.
Language from the bill:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
That subsection (e) of section 7-421 of the general statutes be amended to prohibit municipal employees from serving on the legislative body of a municipality if such legislative body has the responsibilities and authority of a board of finance and if such prohibition is set forth in the municipality’s charter.
Statement of Purpose:
To extend an existing provision that prohibits municipal employees from serving on a municipal board of finance except where permitted by charter or home rule ordinance.