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Klarides’ Statement On October’s Regressive Grocery Tax

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Sep 192019
 

As a new tax on some food items was revealed, State Rep. Themis Klarides expressed her concerns with the plan and its eventual impact on many Connecticut households.

Here’s what she said:

On October 1st shoppers will be paying a 7.35% tax on some groceries, but not others. In the latest budget, the tax exemption for groceries was quietly altered. When some Democrats proposed raising the tax by one percent on meals at restaurants, they justified the increase as a luxury tax.

Eating out is a choice, and if people can afford to go to a restaurant, they should not feel the impact of a one percent tax on meals. When the language was drafted, however, they included “grocery stores” as one of the entities that sell meals subject to additional taxation.

Meals, unfortunately, is defined as all “food products which are furnished . . . in a form and in such portions that they are ready for immediate consumption.” Every food product, therefore, in a grocery
store is now subject to tax scrutiny.

So what foods at a grocery store are in a form that is immediately consumable? The Department of Revenue Service has issued a non-binding, advisory opinion which lists some examples, such as five or fewer muffins, donuts and bagels, salads in packaging 8 ounces or less, cans of soup, nutrition bars, cooked rack of ribs or rotisserie chickens, sandwiches, and popsicles.

Because this opinion is advisory only, grocery stores are left to determine what items will be subject to tax. With a possible tax audit over their shoulder, grocery stores are going to air on the side of caution and put a 7.35% sales tax on any items that might fall under this definition.

To add more confusion, if a shopper purchases any of these items along with sodas, bottled water or other beverages, those beverage items will now become taxable at 7.35% whereas if purchased alone, they’d be subject to no taxation.

Why? Because the new law taxes all “meals” sold by a “grocery store” “and spiritous, . . . soft drinks, sodas or beverages . . . in connection therewith.” So now the new taxation may impact other items in your cart because of something else in your cart.

Because this 7.35% tax on groceries targets small portioned food items, I am concerned for what this means for the people and families of Connecticut. What will be the impact on our senior citizens, empty-nesters and young men and women living alone? Over the last decade, Connecticut’s tax
policy has crept in to every moment of our daily lives and driven long time residents to move out of state. I share the public’s frustration with these regressive taxes and the government’s continued need for more of your hard earned tax dollars.

Please call your legislators and tell them exactly how these taxes will impact the lives of you and your family.

Orange Legislators Upcoming Office Hours With Constituents

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Jun 112019
 

State Reps. Themis Klarides (R-114), Charles Ferraro (R-117) and Kathy Kennedy (R-119) will host post-session office hours in Orange for constituents this Friday and next Monday.

The first event will take place at Chip’s Restaurant, 321 Boston Post Road, on Friday, June 14, from 8-9 a.m.

The second session will take place at the High Plains Community Center Cafeteria, 525 Orange Center Road on Monday, June 17 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

With the session ending June 5 at midnight, the legislators will go over the major issues debated in the 2019 legislative session, like the two-year state budget, tolls, the minimum wage increase, and any other issues constituents choose to discuss.

For anyone who is unable to attend but would like to talk to their state representatives, you can contact them at 1.800.842.1423 or send an e-mail to Themis.Klarides@housegop.ct.govCharles.Ferraro@housegop.ct.govKathy.Kennedy@housegop.ct.gov.

Klarides’ Statement Regarding The Removal Of The State Capitol Police Donated Flag

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Feb 212019
 

On behalf of the House Republican Caucus, we would like to make it clear that we stand with our State Capitol Police and support their donation of the handmade American Flag, created by one of their own officers. This flag is a source of pride and unity for not only our police unit here at the Capitol, but their families, and the families of those in law enforcement around the State of Connecticut.

This flag intended to honor the work, dedication, sacrifice, and lives of our past and present officers. To suggest that this American flag that was donated by the State Capitol Police is anything other than honorable is categorically false. The House Republican Caucus would like to publicly request that the American flag honoring our law enforcement officers here at the Capitol and throughout Connecticut be put back in its rightful and approved location, the Police Memorial Hall here at the Capitol.

This flag was approved by the Chief of Staff of each caucus, House, and Senate, Democrat and Republican. The flag hung in the memorial hall for two months before being removed yesterday. The placement of the flag was rightfully assigned to hang in the Police Memorial Hall as the 2019 contribution from State Capitol Police and we would like to see the flag promptly reinstated.                                                                                                                                                                                         

House Republican Caucus

Klarides Urges Consumers to Shop Around for the Cheapest Energy Rates

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Jan 032019
 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today reminded consumers and business owners they can combat rising energy rates by shopping around for alternatives to the Standard Service generation rates that rose with the beginning of the new year.

The alternatives can be found by accessing energizect.com and entering data that will lead customers to potentially cheaper sources.

“Connecticut residents and business, already burdened with the highest electrical rates in the country, are again facing another hike in their monthly bills,’’ Klarides said. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority approved the rate hikes in response to the higher generation costs and purchase agreements the utilities were exposed to.

The estimated average monthly rate hike for Eversource customers is $12 and $16 for Avangrid (United Illuminating) customers.

The high consumer costs are the result of failed deregulation of the industry dating to the 1990s, a lack of natural resources in Connecticut and subsequent regulations that require higher cost energy to be available to consumers.

Klarides said the reality is that Connecticut’s location at the end of the natural gas pipeline puts it at a disadvantage to virtually every other state. “We must pursue strategies that do not penalize the very people who can least afford these increases in their monthly bills,’’ she said. “But people should know there are alternatives to the Standard Service rates offered by Eversource and Avangrid right now.’’

The state Consumer Counsel’s office urges customers who shop for alternative rates to carefully review all offers, and the terms and length of contracts, before signing them.

Nov 142018
 

 

Today, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides called the recent reports of anti-Semitic acts at Amity Regional High School unacceptable.

“These reported acts of hatred are unacceptable in any place and at any time,” Klarides said.

Klarides has reached out to school officials, including Principal Anna Mahon and acting Superintendent James A. Connelly, and has pledged her full support to local officials. “I am available to them in any capacity they deem appropriate,’’ she said.

“These young people need to be assured that they will be safe and protected,” Klarides said. “As leaders in our communities, our first priority must be protecting their rights and safeguarding their daily lives. This behavior cannot be tolerated.”

Klarides: Audit Raises Questions Over Corrections Union Stewards’ Issues

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Sep 062018
 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today pointed to an auditors’ report that highlights failures to account for the time some Corrections Department union stewards spent attending to union business and undocumented overtime and compensation time within the system.

The report raises questions over the magnitude of the unaccounted for time because the auditors typically sample only small portions of payroll data within any state agency, Klarides said.

“This audit puts a spotlight on policies that permit the union stewards to conduct union activities
such as grievance hearings on the taxpayers’ dime,” she said. “The state employees are entitled to union
representation to deal with workplace issues but the stewards should be paid by the unions for
that work.’’

The lack of documentation, “increases the risk of unauthorized union leave,’’ the auditors wrote.

Republicans have put forth budget proposals in the past to require that the stewards be paid by
union dues for the activities outside of the workplace.

The auditors sampled 40 instances of Union Release Time/Union Business Leave forms and all
40 were not filled out correctly or did not provide enough detail to determine what activities had
taken place. The auditors also noted that overall 201 union stewards within corrections amassed
28,449 hours representing fellow workers at a cost of $894,000 to taxpayers.

When it comes to overtime and compensation time, the auditors also noted overtime was not
properly documented in some instances. In three out of 10 instances the auditors said,
“Compensatory time was not earned and approved in accordance with established policies.’’

Corrections overtime costs increased in one year from $62 million to $72 million, according to
the office of fiscal analysis.

Klarides Calls For Stiffer Drug Offense Penalties Citing Mass Overdoses In New Haven

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Aug 162018
 

Citing the mass overdoses in downtown New Haven by scores of people who used synthetic marijuana likely laced with an opioid, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today said the legislature should have strengthened penalties for those who sell opioids such as fentanyl when it had the chance.

Klarides said the House Republican caucus will again propose legislation to double the penalties for the dealing and manufacturing of opioids such as fentanyl as it has in the past few years. Each time it has failed to gain final approval after support gaining support in committee.

“What has happened in New Haven this week should be a lesson for us all. These mass overdoses tell us that the sale and use of opioids and dangerous substances such as fentanyl are out of control. We need tougher penalties on the sale and manufacture of these substances if we are going to get a handle on this epidemic,’’ Klarides said. “It is not the only answer but it needs to be part of the
solution.’’

A Yale-New Haven Hospital physician told media outlets that the Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed that the drugs contained synthetic marijuana mixed with fentanyl, synthetic opioid about 50 times stronger than heroin. More than 70 people overdosed on the
synthetic marijuana known as K2 on Wednesday. Additional overdoses have continued. The incidents have kept law enforcement and emergency responders busy in downtown New Haven.

“Tougher laws on the sale of fentanyl, in particular, will enhance the public’s awareness on just how dangerous and prevalent this substance is,’’ Klarides said.

The most recent legislation introduced HB 5551 AAC Increasing Penalties for Dealing Synthetic Drugs, hiked penalties for dealing and manufacturing fentanyl substances. In 2016 a similar bill passed unanimously in the Judiciary Committee and cleared the House only to die in the Senate.

Last year the bill passed Judiciary but was never called in the House.

The legislation would have reclassified fentanyl as a narcotic from its current status as a controlled substance. The change in classification would double the penalties to up to 15 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Klarides called the legislation a straightforward approach to a problem that should enjoy broad support.

Klarides Endorses Staneski For State Senate In The 14th District

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Jul 202018
 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-114) today gave her full support to Pam Staneski in her race for the Republican nomination in the 14th State Senate race.

“Serving with Pam Staneski, I quickly learned Pam is a natural leader and someone I could rely on. Pam’s commitment to serving her constituents is second to none, and I have every confidence that Pam will represent the entire 14th District with the same integrity and dedication that has guided her to this point,” said Rep. Themis Klarides.

 Pam Staneski (R-119) currently serves with Rep. Themis Klarides who has lead the House Republican Caucus for the last four years, fighting the destructive economic policies pushed by Gov. Malloy.

Representatives Klarides and Davis Address Malloy’s Proposed Toll Study

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Jul 192018
 

Following is a letter sent to Gov. Malloy after he announced plans to pay for a study to bring tolls back to CT. (As you may know Malloy is NOT seeking re-election and the toll decision will be made after he is gone for good.)

Dear Governor Malloy,

We write to urge you to reconsider your proposed use of taxpayer dollars to fund a study of tolls.

Advocates for tolls in the current General Assembly have been unable to garner enough votes to allow tolls back into Connecticut. As you well know, the composition of the General Assembly and the governor’s office will be different in a few short months. The planning and preparation for tolls as described in your recent Executive Order, including environmental analysis, implies that the return of tolls is inevitable. The reality is that the coming election casts even greater doubt on the likelihood of tolls gaining sufficient support.

Your proposal to spend $10 million of taxpayer money on a study of tolls without approval from the legislature is a blatant circumvention of our Democratic process. It is also a complete waste of money that could be used to actually improve roads, fix bridges, and, generally, to address our transportation infrastructure needs – an undertaking that is supported by the legislature as a whole.

While we may not know the granular details of a plan for tolls, the preamble of your Executive Order identifies the financial challenge of the Special Transportation Fund and the state’s transportation infrastructure. We know that tolls cannot legally be implemented solely at our state borders to catch non-resident travelers. Tolls will be spread throughout the state, impacting every commuter and costing residents hundreds of millions of dollars.

For us, as Republicans, that is enough to know that we need to find another way to pay for the necessary improvements in our transportation infrastructure. Fortunately, as you are well aware, we have developed an alternative to tolls. We have shared all of the details of our plan with you and your fellow Democrats. The concept is fairly simple: Under your administration, General Obligation borrowing has increased dramatically. Our plan would take the recent increased funding for general purposes and, instead, dedicate the funding to cover the cost of transportation borrowing.

Therefore, we are urging you to reconsider your proposal to seek a $10 million bond allocation for a study of tolls at the next State Bond Commission meeting. Please do not include this as an item on the agenda. Again, there will be a new legislature and a new Governor six months from tomorrow. Let them determine whether or not the state should bring back tolls.

Republicans have begun the process of obtaining signatures for a petition to bring the legislature in for a special session in the event that the Bond Commission approves this item. We hope that enough Democrats will join us in supporting a special session to pass a bill that will prevent your administration from spending any additional money evaluating a plan for tolls.

Sincerely,

Representative Themis Klarides, House Republican Leader Ranking Member

Representative Christopher Davis, Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee

House Passes Bill to Examine Habeas Corpus Filings, Heads to Senate

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Apr 262018
 

State Reps. Themis Klarides and Nicole Klarides-Ditria testify with Marianne Heffernan, the sister of Joyce Stochmal, in support of House Bill 5465 on March 28th in the Judiciary Committee.

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides and State Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria applauded the bipartisan passage of House Bill 5407, An Act Establishing a Task Force to Promote Efficiencies in the Filing of Habeas Corpus Matters, on Tuesday.

The Klarides sisters introduced H.B. 5407, after seeing the problem first hand. The family of Joyce Stochmal, a young woman from Seymour who was murdered in 1984, did not receive notice from the Department of Criminal Justice that the defendant in their case had a viable habeas claim until very late in the process. In fact, the defendant in the case was released from prison last March through a sentence modification.

“It’s time for a major overhaul of the habeas corpus application system in Connecticut,” said Rep. Klarides. “Inmates are filing seemingly endless habeas corpus applications at the cost of taxpayers and victims. The Stochmal family and other families are not being well served by Connecticut’s criminal justice system. We need to improve the habeas corpus system and passing this bill will be the first step in that direction.”

Rep. Klarides-Ditria added, “I want to thank the Stochmal family for continuing to advocate for victims and their families. Victims’ families should come first and not notifying them of habeas corpus claims is unacceptable. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this legislation.”

H.B. 5407 now awaits a vote by the Senate. The legislative session ends at midnight on Wednesday, May 9th.