It’s amazing how when you turn on the lights the cockroaches run for cover:
Following the biggest political firestorm of the 2009 legislative session, a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday on the financial and administrative management of the Catholic Church has been canceled. The bill is dead for the rest of the legislative session.
As soon as word spread about the bill, the Legislative Office Building was flooded with telephone calls and e-mails on Monday. The bill, virtually overnight, became the hottest issue at the state Capitol.
The cancellation came less than 24 hours after Senate Republican John McKinney of Fairfield called for the cancellation, saying that his caucus was unanimously against the bill because they believe it is clearly unconstitutional.
The Democratic co-chairs of the legislature’s judiciary committee, Rep. Michael P. Lawlor of East Haven and Sen. Andrew McDonald of Stamford, just released the following statement:
“For reasons that are unclear, Connecticut has had generations-old laws on the books singling out particular religions and treating them differently from other religions in our statutes. That doesn’t seem right. In fact, many of our existing corporate laws dealing with particular religious groups appear to us to be unconstitutional under the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If that is correct, any changes to that law would likely also be unconstitutional.
“With that in mind, it would serve no useful purpose to have a conversation about changing the laws that govern existing Roman Catholic corporations until we know if any of these existing laws are constitutional. At the request of the proponents who are advocating this legislation, we have decided to cancel the public hearing for tomorrow, table any further consideration of this bill for the duration of this session, and ask the Attorney General his opinion regarding the constitutionality of the existing law that sets different rules for five named separate religions.
“We think it would be more appropriate to invite representatives from all religious denominations around the state together with legal scholars on this topic to participate in a forum regarding the current law. Such a conversation would be more appropriate to have when the legislature is not in session and other more important issues, such as the current fiscal crisis, are resolved. We intend to do that once we have the benefit of the Attorney General’s opinion.
“In the meantime, we think it would be most beneficial if the proponents who requested these changes and church officials meet together privately to see if they can come to a resolution on their own. Open and honest communication between these two groups could only help. For our part, we intend to reach out to representatives of the Catholic Conference and continue the discussion that began in 2008 on this issue. We hope they will agree to meet with us.”
I’m not at all surprised the hearings have been canceled given the overwhelming negative reaction from voters… If the Letters to the Editor in our local paper (see here, here and here) this morning are any indication the bill’s sponsors Rep. Michael Lawlor (D-East Haven) and Sen. Andrew McDonald (D-Stamford) were in a politically untenable position.
Ed Morrissey has more at Hot Air.