HARTFORD – State Representative David Labriola (R-Naugatuck) today voted to ‘box’ legislation before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee that would have stripped Roman Catholic Churches of control of their finances. The committee voted to use a rarely used parliamentary procedure to shelve Senate Bill 1098. On Tuesday, March 10, State Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-Naugatuck) joined House and Senate Republican legislators in a press conference outlining their opposition to the bill.
The legislation, introduced by judiciary co-chairmen, Rep. Michael Lawlor (D-East Haven) and Sen. Andrew McDonald (D-Stamford), sparked outrage from Catholics across the state. More than 4,000 Connecticut Catholics rallied at the State Capitol in opposition to the bill on Wednesday, March 11.
The bill was introduced in the wake of a scandal involving misuse of funds at a Darien parish and would have established lay boards of directors to manage financial matters of local churches. Matters of fiscal oversight or complaints lodged with the board would have been subject to investigation by the state Attorney General under the proposal.
After Catholic organizations announced they would testify in opposition to the bill during a public hearing scheduled for March 11 and made arrangements for bus transportation, Rep. Lawlor and Sen. McDonald cancelled the hearing. House and Senate Republican legislators then scheduled an informational hearing that day to allow people to share their thoughts on the proposal. Today’s action by the Judiciary Committee effectively kills the proposal for the remainder of the 2009 Legislative Session.
“This outrageous attack upon religious freedom should have never progressed this far, said Rep. Labriola. “Hopefully, the leaders the Judiciary Committee will never bring up this clearly unconstitutional proposal again.”
“I’ve heard from many Catholics in Naugatuck who are furious this bill moved forward,” said Rep. Rebimbas. “It was an affront to people of all faiths and I’m pleased the Judiciary Committee responded to what was an impressive public outcry by shelving it for the year. I hope we do not see it again.”