Rep. Wood reviews issues from Hartford in Darien town hall meeting
State Rep. Terrie Wood gave residents a taste of Hartford legislation at a town hall meeting at Darien Library Wednesday, June 20, where she discussed various issues considered during Connecticut's 2012 legislative session.
She spoke at length on the first act she brought up, education reform, which addresses issues like the state's academic achievement gap, financial support and improving teacher evaluation systems.
"I thought this was a good bill, and there was a lot of controversy on this," Wood said.
The act implements evaluation programs regarding effectiveness of tenured teachers.
"I think most of us felt it was time to look at the teachers' tenure, but none of us felt any of the teachers were to blame for it," she said, noting Norwalk will pilot a program for teacher reassessment.
Wood briefly discussed Public Act 12-56 which allows eligible people to register to vote and cast a ballot on Election Day.
"I didn't like this at all," she said.
The act also does not require photo identification for same-day voter registration. Wood named several situations where she would need a photo ID, such as boarding an airplane, to illustrate why she disagrees with this act. She said she has received many emails from residents who were also upset by this act.
Wood also received emails regarding the abolishment of the Connecticut death penalty, which made Connecticut the 17th state in the nation to abandon capital punishment.
"It was one of the more heartfelt debates in Hartford," she said. "A lot of the debates are pretty cut and dry, but this one, people talked from the heart."
Wood said it was probably the hardest vote she had to cast. She said she ultimately voted to uphold the law because she was still torn on the issue.
Among the other topics Wood touched on were alcohol reform, medicinal marijuana and issues she said received less media attention, but deserve discussion, like domestic violence, special education and laws regarding telemarketing calls.
Several people in the audience seemed excited to hear of a public act prohibiting telephone solicitors from displaying inaccurate or misleading identification information when calling homes.
One man in the audience, however, expressed his concern that the southwestern region of Connecticut is ignored by lawmakers in Hartford.
"Is there any sensitivity that there is actually a southwestern corner of the state?" he asked, causing laughs in the audience.
Wood said, "In general, the needs of the state are so great and, for the most part, we don't have the needs that some of the other communities have. I mean, (in) some of the inner cities, it's pretty sobering when you spend time caring for victims of domestic violence. We have some, certainly, in our area, but not really like they do in the rest of the state. It's a traditional problem."
Wood told the man although she wishes her tax dollars were more efficiently used, she doesn't mind paying them. In regard to this issue, she mentioned the launch of a project to widen Interstate 95 by one lane on each side of the highway between exits 14 and 15 in Norwalk Wednesday morning.
"That's one where we saw a return of our tax dollars, even though a lot of that was federal funding," Wood said. "But it was something that was taken off the `possible' list to put on the `to-do' list."
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