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Rep Gilcrest: People Can Get Pregnant, ‘Including Women’

The Appropriations Committee’s progressive members were at odds with other state representatives over an amendment that adds the term “expectant mothers” to a mental health services bill.  

Introduced by Rep. Robyn Porter (D-New Haven) on Thursday, April 8th, the amendment’s sole purpose was to preface the term “pregnant persons” with “expectant mothers.” Rep. Porter expressed her acceptance of the term “pregnant person” but clarified her intent to recognize women who “do not identify with the category of pregnant persons.” As a “woman with a womb,” she articulated a desire to include those women in the legislative language. 

Rep. Jillian Gilcrest (D-West Hartford), the amendment’s lead opponent, seized the moment to clarify to Rep. Porter that the term “pregnant person” is indeed inclusive and that it is a “gender-neutral term and would encompass expectant mothers and pregnant women.” 

She then explained to Rep. Porter that “as we talk about DEI [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] this is the direction we are hoping to move in this state and ideally across the country.” Additionally, she appealed to other committee members to oppose the amendment. 

Addressing the inclusivity of a gender-neutral term, Rep. Porter pointed out that pregnant person “means that something is not associated with either women or men,” and that she identifies as a mother and that she does not “answer to pregnant person or birthing person.” 

She went on to say that a “huge part of her identity is wrapped around being a mother and a grandmother” and she finds it “funny that someone would try to tell me that what they’re putting on paper and the purpose of the policy covers me when I’m telling you that it doesn’t.” 

“You don’t get to talk about diversity, equity and inclusion and exclude me and other women like me, who identify as mothers, as women with wombs,” she added. “You don’t get to do that.”  

Rep. Porter explained she has no issue with individuals assigned female at birth, identifying as men and choosing to become pregnant. However, she did question the criticism of advocating for those assigned female at birth who identify as women and wish to be recognized as such. 

Supporting the amendment, Rep. Minnie Gonzalez (D-Hartford) said not all people can “fit into that description” of gender-neutral. 

Meanwhile, Rep. Anthony Nolan (D-New London) also voiced his support, highlighting that the amendment was not taking “anything away from any other wording” in the legislation but “wanted to make sure that people understand that it is the mother that does give birth to the child.” 

Speaking for a second time, Rep. Gilcrest brought up the fact that the bill is about children’s mental health and said, “Individuals in the LGBTQ community experienced significant mental health troubles in large part because of the discrimination that they were facing in this state and across this country.” However, she did not cite studies regarding her claim or provide anecdotal examples of how the term “expectant mothers” would cause distress in the LGBTQ community.  

Furthermore, she insisted that “the term pregnant persons is supposed to acknowledge the fact that people with the capacity to get pregnant including women fall under the umbrella of pregnant persons.” 

Highlighting the importance of inclusivity, Vice Chair of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus (BPRC), Rep. Antonio Felipe (D-Bridgeport) voiced his support of the amendment citing that it prevents restricting individuals to narrow categories and that it offers “a way to make sure that we’re not boxing in folks who may want to go by this particular term.” 

Sen. Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) broke away from the BPRC — of which he is a member — and opposed the amendment pointing to various statutes that used the same language. He said, “It’s a best practice that just corresponds with our understanding of the people we represent.” 

Questioning the amendment’s inclusivity, Sen. Martha Marx (D-New London) — who is against the bill — remarked to proponents, “If we are going to be inclusive, would you also add then pregnant father [and] pregnant surrogate mother? I truly believe that pregnant person covers everybody.” 

After an over hour-long debate, the amendment was adopted with a vote of 32-16, with the opposition being comprised of all Democrats. 

Botched Opportunity to Abolish That Annoying Motor Vehicle Tax 

On Wednesday (April 4th), during its final meeting of the 2024 session, the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee opted not to proceed with a bill aimed at eliminating the motor vehicle tax, a longstanding source of frustration for car owners. 

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. MD Rahman (D-Manchester), suggested a gradual elimination of the tax by incrementally raising the exemption on the assessed value of motor vehicles starting October 1, 2024. Initially, the first $5,000 of a vehicles value would be exempt from taxation, with this exemption increasing each year to $9,000 in 2025, $14,000 in 2026, and $21,000 in 2027. By 2028, the tax would be nothing more than a bad memory in the rearview mirror, completely eliminated. 

Despite the appeal of abolishing the tax within five years, the proposal faced a significant hurdle. Motor vehicle taxes generate approximately $1.047 billion annually from over 3 million registered vehicles across the state. The bill would not decrease the existing financial requirements of municipalities, instead, shifting the fiscal burden to homeowners and businesses. 

To offset the revenue shortfall, the legislation planned to gradually increase the assessment rate on property — over five years — from its current 70% to 90%. There was no requirement in the bill for municipalities to lower their mill rates meaning property owners would most likely see larger tax bills. 

This policy would have put Sen. MD Rahman, who both co-chaired and co-sponsored the establishment of the Motor Vehicle Tax Taskforce, at odds with the recommendations of the very taskforce he played a significant role in forming. 

Charged with finding alternative funding mechanisms to supplant the car tax, the taskforce met seven times and considered a range of proposals, such as the progressive idea of taxing the rich and increasing the gas tax. It ultimately presented two recommendations on Feb. 6 that would be included in a report to the General Assembly. 

The first recommendation proposed granting municipalities the authority to determine their own assessment ratios for real property. The second aimed to abolish the tax exclusively on non-commercial vehicles. 

Satisfied with the report, Sen. Rahman labeled it a “very good option.” But not good enough for him to use in his current bill. 

However, not all members of the taskforce shared his enthusiasm. 

During the Feb. 6 meeting, Mark Boughton of the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) raised concerns about the proposals’ unintended effects, choosing not to support it. He criticized the task force for not thoroughly preparing, saying they “have not done their homework.” He called for more expert involvement to fully grasp the ramifications for each town. 

Wanting the taskforce to be a more productive entity, Matt Hart, Executive Director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG), suggested a different route. He advocated for more time and resources from the General Assembly to craft a solution that would be “More equitable and sustainable solution.”  

Subsequently, when Hart moved to amend the report, Sen. Rahman dismissed the suggestion. Citing the task force’s numerous meetings, the chairman said, “We don’t want to go forward. We have a session starting tomorrow. So, I don’t think we really need to put more time in.” He clarified that the taskforce had fulfilled its mission to offer a policy alternative with the completion of the report. 

With the 2024 legislative session ending on May 8th, the prospect of abolishing the car tax remains unfulfilled.  Instead of asking to reconvene the taskforce, Sen. Rahman introduced legislation that would have raised property taxes in a state already bearing the second-highest average property tax burden in the U.S. at $8,022 in 2023, trailing only behind New Jersey’s $9,488, as reported this month by ATTOM Data, a provider of real estate data solutions. 

So be prepared to get your checkbooks out on July 1 and make a payment to the tax collector, as the car tax is here to stay for the foreseeable future. 

This Week on Yankee’s Podcast Y CT Matters

For 98 episodes, YI President Carol Platt Liebau has discussed Connecticut policy, politics and human-interest stories as part of the organization’s efforts to be your eyes, ears and voice. But now the interviewer becomes the interviewee. Andy Fowler, director of internal affairs, guest hosts, asking Carol about her background, her love for Ronald Reagan, her time at Ivy League Schools, the evolution of Yankee Institute during her tenure, her hope for Connecticut and even her favorite musicals. Carol’s full bio can be found here.

Click here to listen

Get Your Tickets to Yankee’s 2024 Gala

Come celebrate Yankee Institute’s 40th birthday with Seth Dillon, CEO of The Babylon Bee! It will be a memorable evening with like-minded friends from across Connecticut, full of libations, liberty and especially laughter — as you’ll recall, it Twitter’s censorship of The Bee’s hilarious satire of leftist nonsense that prompted Elon Musk to buy Twitter!

 Avoid the swarm — mark your calendars and purchase your tickets today while they last!

Meghan Portfolio

Meghan worked in the private sector for two decades in various roles in management, sales, and project management. She was an intern on a presidential campaign and field organizer in a governor’s race. Meghan, a Connecticut native, joined Yankee Institute in 2019 as the Development Manager. After two years with Yankee, she has moved into the policy space as Yankee’s Manager of Research and Analysis. When she isn’t keeping up with local and current news, she enjoys running–having completed seven marathons–and reading her way through Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

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