Hartford—New Haven State Rep. Pat Dillon said she received some criticism from colleagues when she introduced a bill that would reinforce cities’ authority to regulate the brightness of digital billboards. Weren’t there more important things for her to draft legislation about?
Then a new sign at Whalley Avenue and Emerson Street was powered on.
“Now, they understand and are telling me how horrible it is,” she said Monday after a meeting of the state General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee. Her bill made it out of committee with an overwhelming 37 to 2 vote.
The continually changing electronic sign, which is near the intersection of Whalley Avenue and Emerson Street, has especially upset parents of nearby Chapel Haven residents. They say they fear that the sign will not only distract drivers but make crossing the intersection difficult for adults with disabilities. City officials said they are powerless under state law to stop such signs from going up. Dillon then moved to change that law to give them the power. (Even if Dillon’s law passes, it would not retroactively affect the new sign on Whalley.)
One of the bill’s two no votes Monday came from State Rep. Doug Dubitsky, a Republican who represents the towns of Canterbury, Chaplin, Franklin, Hampton, Lebanon, Lisbon, Norwich, Scotland, and Sprague. The other came from Republican State Rep. Ben McGorty, who represents Shelton, Stratford, Trumbull.
Dubitsky said he couldn’t support the bill because he believes it was a matter for the legislature’s Planning and Development Committee, not Judiciary. Dillon didn’t disagree. She said that the version of the bill that the committee was voting on was different from the initial bill that she introduced. The original bill would have given cities and towns like New Haven the power to penalize offenders. Now it ensures they have the power to regulate the signs, including their height, brightness and location.
Dubitsky still was unmoved. He asked that the bill be sent to the planning committee. However, that committee has already passed its deadline for hearing and considering bills this short session. The majority of the 23 joint committees have hit their deadlines for considering bills. The Judiciary, Appropriations, and the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding committees will be among the last to wrap up their business on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, respectively.
“I can’t support this bill because I don’t believe we are the committee of cognizance,” Dubitsky said of the billboard bill Monday. “We know nothing of zoning.”
After the successful vote, Dillon said she had met with her committee colleagues on both sides of the aisle beforehand so that people would understand the bill’s goal. She noted that the zoning regulations of many towns and cities in the state had not contemplated such signs and likely need new language that reflects how technology has changed advertising. The outdoor advertising proponents oppose the legislation.
Dillon brought the bill when Westville alders and outraged neighbors asked her to draft legislation after the owner of the BD Food Market and Deli at 1057 Whalley Ave. had erected the double-sided, 230-square-foot sign seemingly overnight.
Westville Alder Richard Furlow said neighbors have been further outraged now that “the sign is on full blast at night.” He said he plans to introduce local legislation comparable to Dillon’s that would limit the hours of operation and brightness of the sign. (Read more on that from the New Haven Register’s Mary O’Leary here.)
The 2018 Agenda
|HB 5001||In Committee||To impose a fee on transactions involving virtual currency.||Pat Dillon|
|HB 5031||In Committee|
|To allow students to have equal access to institutional financial aid.||Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee|
|HB 5082||In Committee|
|To provide state funds to assist hurricane victims from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who are living in Connecticut.||Juan Candelaria|
|HB 5126||In Committee||To increase funding to boards of education and family resource centers that provide assistance to students and families from Puerto Rico.||Juan Candelaria|
|HB 5112||In Committee||To permit the retail sale of marijuana and tax such sale to raise revenue for the General Fund and to fund substance abuse treatment, prevention, education and awareness programs.||Juan R. Candelaria, Angel Arce, Josh Elliott, Steven J. Stafstrom, Jeff Currey, Susan M. Johnson, Chris Soto, Patricia A. Dillon, Roland J. Lemar, James M. Albis, Christopher Rosario, Kim Rose, Robyn A. Porter, Edwin Vargas, Matthew Lesser, Gregory Haddad, Joshua Malik Hall, Ezequiel Santiago, Diana S. Urban, Toni E. Walker, Robert Sanchez, Alphonse Paolillo|
|SB 1||In Committee||To expand the sick leave program to provide earned family and medical leave to certain individuals employed in this state.||Martin M. Looney, Bob Duff, Timothy D. Larson, Steve Cassano, Beth Bye, Terry B. Gerratana, Gary A. Winfield, Ted Kennedy, Catherine A. Osten, Marilyn V. Moore, Edwin A. Gomes, Mae Flexer|
|SB 62||In Committee||To provide tuition-free community college for Connecticut residents.||Martin M. Looney|
|HB 5182||In Committee|
|To require building officials in certain municipalities to establish and assess a fee for the commencement of certain work without a necessary permit.||Planning and Development Committee|
|HB 5210||In Committee|
|To (1) mandate insurance coverage of essential health benefits, (2) expand mandated health benefits for women, children and adolescents, and (3) expand mandated contraception benefits.||Insurance and Real Estate Committee|
|HB 5084||In Committee||To encourage the recycling of nip bottles that otherwise frequently litter urban areas.||Roland J. Lemar and Juan R. Candelaria|
|HB 5350||In Committee|
|To create a pilot program for shared solar facilities at municipal airports. The bill also would delete the provision that dictates the length of Tweed Airport’s runway.||Energy and Technology Committee|
|HB 5475||In Committee|
|To amend statutory provisions concerning a police officer’s viewing of a recording from body-worn recording equipment under certain circumstances.||Judiciary Committee|
|HB 5515||In Committee|
|To permit a zoning commission to regulate the brightness and illumination of advertising signs and billboards.||Judiciary Committee|
|HB 5540||In Committee|
|To ban guns without serial numbers and regulate those which are sold in a form requiring the purchaser to finish assembly or that are homemade and to permit local authorities to interview immediate family members as part of a determination of an applicant's suitability.||Judiciary Committee|
|HB 5542||In Committee|
|To ban the sale or transfer, possession, manufacturing or use of bump stocks or other accessories to increase the rate of fire of a firearm.||Judiciary Committee|