Friday, April 13, 2012

Raise Your Hand If You Know What The CHRO Is

My guess is that most of you do not know what the CHRO is. It is the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities; it is the agency here in Connecticut that deals with discrimination complaints. They have had a number of rulings in favor of the trans-community; they were the ones who back in 2000 ruled that transgender people were covered under sex discrimination.

They are in the news right now because the governor is considering placing them under the Judicial branch instead of an independent commission.
Two Agencies May Join Judicial Branch
Lawmakers propose new home for CHRO, workers’ comp
CT Law Tribune
April 9, 2012

Early this year, segments of the Connecticut legal community were alarmed to learn of plans by the administration of Gov. Dannel Malloy to consolidate the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities with the Office of Protection and Advocacy, and to place the Workers’ Compensation Commission within the Department of Labor.

To many, it seemed like a consolidation without any resulting efficiencies. In fact, attorneys worried that the operations of the two commissions would be greatly hindered if they were rolled into a larger entity.

The CHRO, charged with investigating and judging claims of discrimination, is a forum where rights are weighed, balanced and enforced, while the Office of Protection and Advocacy consists of loyal advocates for people with disabilities — a much different role. “It makes no more sense than advocating a merger of prosecutors and public defenders, the roles are so different,” said James O’Neill, legislative liaison for the CHRO.

Last week, it became clear that the legislature, too, can play the government reorganization game. The Appropriations Committee has countered by recommending that the CHRO and Workers’ Compensation Commission be placed under the umbrella of the Judicial Branch.
So what will be different? Well for one thing, four commission members are selected by a bi-partisan legislative panel and five are appointed by the governor and that has kept the commission politically neutral. Under the new bill according to the article that will all end, that it will be the governor who will pick the commission members and the legislature can suggest nominees. This can have a big impact on the trans-community. Past governors Rowland and Rell were not friends of the LGBT community nor did they like the CHRO and they underfunded the commission.

Let us hope that if the bill is finalized that it does not change the way that the commissioners selected,

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