Butler says he plans to re-introduce his bill to ban such fines for multiple 911 calls when the General Assembly gets back to work next year.
The 2013 version seemed to be sailing along right up until the last few days of the legislative session in May. Two different committees had put their stamps of approval on the bill and everything looked rosy at that point, recalls Butler.
"Then the insurance lobbyists got into the picture," he says.
The tangled problem involved language in the bill that fire departments thought might prevent them from charging municipalities for the emergency calls they answered. But when that got fixed, the insurance companies got all flummoxed over things.
Susan Giacalone, legal counsel for the Insurance Association of Connecticut, says the revised bill seemed to give cities and towns the right to charge property owners for stuff like fires that they don't charge for now.
If that were to happen, the insurance gurus warned, and the fire was covered by a landlord's policy, that could end up costing the insurance companies more money. A corporate no-no if there ever was one.
Butler looks back on the situation with a sense of frustrated resignation. "To try and take on the insurance industry in the last couple of days of the session, it just wasn't going to happen."
The irony in all this is that Giacalone insists the insurance industry has no issue at all with the original intent of the bill to ban municipal fines or evictions for multiple 911 calls. "We have no dog in that fight," she says.
So Butler, who is co-chair of the General Assembly's Housing Committee, says he will make another attempt in 2014 to rewrite the bill so it doesn't piss off the insurance types or the firemen or any other power lobby.
He thinks cities and towns across Connecticut may be watching and waiting to see what happens with that New Britain ordinance. It's no secret all those municipalities could use a little extra money in these hard times.
"What I don't want is for this to become a trend," Butler says.