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Malloy Vetoes Tree Trimming, Limits on Elderly Tax Credits

by Hugh McQuaid | Jun 9, 2014 4:19pm
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Hugh McQuaid File Photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed two bills Monday, including legislation making property owners liable for removing trees that fall into their neighbor’s property. Malloy said the bill could see healthy trees felled unnecessarily.

The bill passed both legislative chambers with broad support but it was opposed by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association in the Judiciary Committee. The bill would make the tree owner liable if the neighbor had previously notified the owner that the tree seemed likely to fall and the owner made no effort to remove or prune the tree back within 30 days.

In his veto message, Malloy said he was worried the legislation would leave property owners feeling forced to take down trees which neighbors complain about even if they are healthy.

“I am concerned that this bill is weighted too heavily in favor of neighbors who want branches and trees taken down and provides no avenue for a tree owner to contest a neighbor’s assertion that their tree or branch is ‘likely to fall,’” Malloy said. “Without such a provision, there is a strong possibility that tree owners will feel compelled to remove a tree upon merely receiving a letter from a neighbor, even when the tree may in fact be healthy.”

The bill was proposed by Rep. Fred Camillo, R-Old Greenwich, who said constituents have complained about having to pay for fallen trees, which fell even after they had asked their neighbors to address them.

“This issue becomes a matter of fairness and courtesy that often develops into feuds between neighbors that ends up with the wrong party having to pay for removal of a tree that was diseased and threatening to fall for considerable time,” Camillo said in written testimony to the Judiciary Committee.

In his veto message, Malloy said the bill attempted to address a legitimate issue and should be looked at next year.

The governor did sign another bill, which sets forth conditions for utility companies wishing to cut down a tree on private property. That bill was supported by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association and several other organizations.

The governor vetoed another bill that would have allowed towns to pass a “circuit breaker” limiting a property tax credit for certain homeowners, mainly income-eligible seniors or people with disabilities. Malloy said the bill could result in increased property tax bills for elderly and disabled residents who have equity in their homes.

“I have reservations about the policy of this bill, particularly since the state currently reimburses towns at a nearly 90-percent rate for property tax loss associated with this program,” he said.

Meanwhile, the governor signed more than 60 bills on Friday, including legislation opening access to the original birth certificates of people adopted after October 1983.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, an adoptee who has lobbied for the bill, released a statement commending Malloy for signing the legislation.

“It’s a great day for thousands of adoptees in Connecticut. As an adoptee, I know first-hand what it’s like to lack access to your birth records. And, adoptees in Connecticut have been treated like second class citizens for too long, unable to access our birth records that can help us understand medical issues that we might face and giving us a further understanding of our identities,” he said.

Malloy signed another bill designed togive military members trained in certain jobs credit for their training when they apply for similar licenses and qualifications through state agencies. He also signed legislation requiring police departments to report their usage of electronic weapons, like Tasers, to the state.

In addition, Malloy signed a bill that would require physician practices to notify patients about hospital facility fees.

“I applaud Governor Malloy for singing this bill, which represents a bipartisan effort to improve transparency and consumer choice in healthcare,” Attorney General George Jepsen said. “The Connecticut Hospital Association and its members deserve credit for working with my office to address this important issue.”

To date,  Malloy has signed 165 bills and vetoed four.

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