- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 3, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz urged Connecticut lawmakers on Wednesday to pass a bill allowing political candidates to use public campaign financing funds for child care expenses.

The eleventh-hour call for legislation came shortly after the State Elections Enforcement Commission issued an opinion saying the grants to candidates who participate in the Citizens Election Program cannot be used to pay for child care costs. Caitlin Clarkson Pereira, a Fairfield mother who ran for state representative last year, had requested the ruling after initially being denied permission to use her grant to cover her daughter’s care.

“We should be doing more to encourage women to run for office, and that is why I am urging the General Assembly to fix this wrong,” Lamont said in a written statement. “Send me legislation clearly stating that childcare is a permitted campaign expenditure, and I will sign it into law.”

While there currently isn’t legislation before the General Assembly to allow child care expenses to be covered, Lamont’s proposal could be amended to another bill. This year’s legislative session ends June 5 and Wednesday was the Government Administration and Elections Committee’s deadline to advance legislation.

Killingly state Sen. Mae Flexer, a Democrat and the committee’s co-chairman, pledged to work with her colleagues “to ensure that language is put in a bill” which spells out how child care is a permitted, campaign expenditure.

Flexer called the commission’s decision “disappointing,” saying it is a “barrier that discourages - and in some cases prevents - parent from running for public office and disproportionately affects women.” She noted that women make up less than a third of the General Assembly and “decisions like this don’t help to increase that number.”

But State Elections Enforcement Commission member Stephen Penny said the panel doesn’t have the authority to “just automatically change our regulations.”

Connecticut candidates that don’t participate in the state’s public campaign financing system are allowed to use campaign funds to cover child care if the need stems directly from a candidate’s campaign activities.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

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