Attorney General: Honorable F. Philip Prelli, Department of Agriculture, Formal Opinion 2008-009, Attorney General State of Connecticut

Honorable F. Philip Prelli, Department of Agriculture, Formal Opinion 2008-009, Attorney General State of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

May 1, 2008

 

Honorable F. Philip Prelli

Department of Agriculture
165 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Dear Commissioner Prelli:

On behalf of the Connecticut Marketing Authority ("the Authority"), of which you are a member and chairman, you ask whether an individual who is an officer or employee of a tenant of the Hartford Regional Market may serve as a "public member" of the Authority's board of directors.  You question whether appointment of such an individual to the board conflicts with Conn. Gen. Stat. 22-63 and 4-9a(b).

 

We conclude that an officer or employee of a tenant of the Hartford Regional Market may not serve as a "public member" of the Authority's board, but may be appointed by the Governor as a tenant member of the board.

 

Conn. Gen. Stat. 22-63 describes the composition of the Authority board of directors as follows:

 

Such authority shall consist of eleven members.  The authority shall be composed of one public member from each congressional district of the state, two at-large public members, the Commissioner of Agriculture or his designee, and the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development or his designee.  The Governor shall appoint three members of the authority and the president pro tempore of the Senate, the Senate minority leader, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and the minority leader of the House of Representatives shall each appoint one member.  In addition, the Governor shall appoint two members of the authority who shall be tenants of the Hartford market facility.

 

According to the statute, the Authority's board shall consist of seven "public members," two state agency commissioners and two tenants of the Hartford market facility (the Hartford Regional Market) appointed by the Governor.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 22-63 does not define the term "public member."  The term "public member" is, however, defined in Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-9a(b), a statute that generally discusses the appointment of members of state boards and commissions.  This definition is a useful guide for interpreting the language of Section 22-63 because there is a presumption that "laws are enacted in view of existing relevant statutes … and that statutes are to be interpreted with regard to other relevant statutes because the legislature is presumed to have created a consistent body of law."  Hatt v. Burlington Coat Factory, 263 Conn. 279, 819 A.2d 260 (2003)(internal quotation marks omitted).

 

Section 4-9a(b) defines the term "public member" of boards and commissions as follows:  "Public member means an elector of the state who has no substantial financial interest in, is not employed in or by and is not professionally affiliated with, any industry, profession, occupation, trade or institution regulated or licensed by the relevant board or commission…."  Thus, according to the definition set forth in Section 4-9a(b), "public members" of a board or commission may not have a financial interest in or be employed by an institution regulated or licensed by the board or commission on which they serve.

 

Applying the definition of "public member" contained in Section 4-9a(b) to the provisions of Section 22-63 leads to the conclusion that officers or employees of tenants of the Hartford Regional Market cannot serve as "public members" of the Authority's board of directors.

 

Conn. Gen. Stat. 22-64 gives the Authority broad and extensive powers over marketing facilities and their tenants.  According to that statute, the Authority has the power to grant or deny leases, determine the cost and length of such leases and the rental rates and charges "for stores, stall, space, buildings, equipment and other appurtenances, privileges and services furnished or performed, in or in connection with the market."  The authority promulgates regulations "relating to the use and operation of the market and its premises, equipment and facilities… all in the interest of the public safety and convenience and to insure the most efficient and economical use of market property."  The Authority may also impose penalties for the violation of its regulations, which penalties are subject to appeal to the superior court.  Tenants of the Hartford market facility are, therefore, subject to regulation by the Authority and officers and employees of such tenants have a "financial interest in" or are "employed …by "an" institution regulated" by the Authority.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-9a(b).  Officers or directors of tenants of the Hartford market facility may not, therefore, be appointed as "public members" of the Authority's board.

 

This conclusion is consistent with the legislative history of Public Act 97-155, which added two tenant members to the board appointed by the governor.  According to that legislative history, tenants of the Hartford market facility may only be appointed by the Governor as "tenant members" of the board:  "What this amendment does is basically delete section one of the file copy and changes the composition of the board from nine members to eleven members.  It basically adds, which is an addition of two new members who will be appointed by the Governor and they have to be tenants of the Hartford market facility.  Basically giving tenant representation to the members on the board."  Remarks of Representative Doyle, 40 H.R. Proc., Pt.9, 1997 Sess., pp. 3373-3374.

 

It is the opinion of this office, therefore, that officers or employees of tenants of the Hartford Regional Market may serve on the Authority's board only if appointed by the Governor as "tenant board members."  Officers or employees of tenants of the Hartford market authority may not serve as "public members" of the Authority's board.

 

We trust this answers your questions.

 

Very truly yours,

 

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL

ATTORNEYGENERAL

 

 


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