Another Money Grab in Connecticut

     HARTFORD (CN) – Flailing at its budget crisis, the State of Connecticut is unconstitutionally grabbing money from a recycling fund, distributors argue in Superior Court.

     They say the state is filching money from a recycling fund that was not the state’s to begin with.
     Under the 1980 Bottle Bill, distributors had to offer 5-cent refunds on bottles that consumers returned for recycling, and they also had to pay the recycler, whether a retailer or a recycling business, 2 cents per recycled beer can or bottle and 1½ for each other recycled containers, according to the complaint. But the distributors did not have to put any of that money into special, dedicated funds.
     Faced with a multibillion-dollar budget deficit, the Legislature enacted a bill on Nov. 25, 2008, decreeing that the distributors had to keep separate, dedicated accounts for recycled containers, and they had to do this by Dec. 1, 2008. So far, this was just a bookkeeping change, the plaintiffs say.
     But as the state’s budget situation deteriorated, it passed another law, on Jan. 15, by which, effective April 1, the state said it would seize the money in the distributors’ special accounts, and put it into the General Fund. The money grab will continue, on a quarterly basis, under the latest version of the bill.
     That’s unconstitutional, the distributors say. They want a restraining order and injunction. They are represented by James Robertson Jr. with Carmody & Torrance.
     It’s not the first recent money grab from the Connecticut Legislature. The state Bar sued, and temporarily stopped, the state from seizing Bar funds that the state wants to fill its enormous budget hole.

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