Inaction by the state House of Representatives Wednesday killed a controversial bill to establish an Internet website — at a cost up to $180,000, to be split equally by the state and federal governments — that would “highlight that portion of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail that is located in the state.”
The state Senate had approved the bill 31-4 on Monday, but questions about the cost arose afterward — largely because of a publicity stunt by a Republican candidate for the state House, Greg Bachand, of Wallingford. Bachand made fun of the $180,000 price-tag by spending $59.05 of his own money to set up an Internet website, Rochambeautrail.com; he said that by settiing up the website he was saving the Democrat-controlled General Assembly the trouble — and saving taxpayers the expense — of going through with the expensive plan called for in the Senate-approved bill.
“Bachand Publishes RochambeauTrail.com, saves taxpayers $179,940.95,” went the headline on his press release.
“It’s the least I could do,” Bachand said. “With Connecticut’s portion of the cost ($90,000) coming from a manufacturing grant fund meant to create jobs in the State, I thought it important to keep that money available for what it was intended, rather than have it frittered away Hartford Style in a boondoggle website that few will care about and fewer will visit.”
The Senate-approved bill was on the House’s agenda Wednesday, “but it got caught in the tangle of the last hour” before the midnight adjournment of the 2012 legislative session, and never came up for the House vote required to give it final legislative approval, said Rep. Pam Sawyer, R-Bolton, one of its supporters in the House.
The state Department of Economic and Community Development would have been given the job of creating the historical website. It would provide historical and tourism information concerning the route that the French general, Rochambeau, followed across Connecticut during the American Revolution when he and his troops assisted the colonists, supporters said.
Sen. Steve Cassano, D-Manchester, one of the bill’s leading supporters in the Senate, said early Thursday morning, after adjournment, that proponents would look toward next year’s session, but also would try to “figure a way” to get the project moving sooner.