During a brief special meeting September 25, the Legislative Council authorized the First Selectman's Office to produce explanatory materials for voters ahead of the scheduled, October 5 referendum.
The rare Saturday vote will ask residents to endorse or reject the state's gift of up to $50 million to remediate and demolish the former Sandy Hook School building, and to construct a new school for the community. Polls will be open at the Middle School from 6 am to 8 pm that day, and absentee ballots for that referendum are available now.
Reached following the meeting, Council Chairman Jeff Capeci said the authorization was a formality that is required due to recent changes in state laws regarding the Expenditure of Public Funds Relating to Referenda - CGS 9-369b(a).
According to the state Elections Enforcement Commission, historically, an “explanatory text” has been the exclusive method by which a municipality or regional school district could expend public funds for printing and distribution of an explanation of the subject matter of a referendum.
Connecticut General Statutes § 9-369b(a) sets forth the following conditions for
such explanatory texts:
(a) a vote of the municipality’s legislative body is needed to authorize it;
(b) the municipal clerk must prepare the text and the municipal attorney must approve it;
(c) it must specify the intent and purpose of each referendum; and (d) cannot advocate either the approval or the disapproval of the referendum.
Materials in addition to the explanatory text may now be prepared and printed
with public funds if they (1) do not advocate either the approval or disapproval
of the referendum; (2) are authorized by vote of the local legislative body; and (3)
are approved by the municipal attorney.
It was not clear whether First Selectman Pat Llodra had already prepared materials and was waiting for the council's action Wednesday to begin circulating them, or if that documentation would be forthcoming.
The first selectman and School Superintendent John Reed, however, recently provided a set of video interviews for The Newtown Bee, which address a number of questions and key points tied to the pending state gift or grant.
The Sandy Hook School PTA has also issued a flyer encouraging voters to endorse the grant.