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Legislature requires hazardous tree plan

LAKEVILLE — State Rep. Maria Horn (D-64) said Sunday, May 8, that a proposal requiring the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to develop and implement a hazard tree mitigation policy survived the legislative process, ultimately being included in Senate Bill 238.

The requirement came about after DEEP cut trees at Housatonic Meadows State Park last year, sparking considerable backlash.

Horn, a member of the committee, said in a phone interview the agency has until Aug.1 to come up with a plan for removing hazard trees. If the agency does not do so, Horn said the committee will take the matter up again in the next session.

State Sen. Craig Miner (R-30), one of two ranking members on the Environment Committee, said in a phone interview Sunday, May 8, “We got DEEP to take responsibility for their actions at Housatonic Meadows.”

Horn said she was pleased that many of the bills that came out of the Public Safety Committee (which she co-chairs) made it through the Legislature in the short session that ended Wednesday, May 4.

Horn said bills concerning the theft of catalytic converters, the accreditation of police departments, and mental health help for law enforcement officers now await the governor’s signature.

“Everything that was ready for the big time got passed,” she said.

Horn voted for a $24 billion state budget package. She said the bill includes $600 million in tax cuts.

The  gas tax holiday was extended to Dec. 1. (The state’s gas tax is 25 cents per gallon.)

Child tax credits and Earned Income Tax Credits were expanded, and the property tax credit was raised.

Miner voted against the budget package, even though he conceded it includes “significant tax relief.”

He said the budget plan’s price tag is too high and relies too much on one-time infusions of federal pandemic relief cash. And he said that funding new positions at the University of Connecticut and community colleges cannot be expected to be one-year expenditures.

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