Connecticut considers extending public financing to Probate Court races; similar 2008 study proposal failed

Connecticut’s top three courts (Supreme, Appellate, Superior) all use a merit/commission system with House and Senate confirmation. However, the state’s Probate Courts continue to use partisan elections. Several efforts have been made end these elections outright, with no success. Instead, a new plan pending in the Joint Committee on Government Administration and Elections Committee explores the possibly of expanding the state’s existing public financing system to cover these races.

The Citizens’ Elections Program already covers statewide officers and the state legislature. HB 5389 would ask the State Elections Enforcement Commission to study the feasibility of extending the program to cover Probate Court races. It is almost identical to a study proposal introduced in 2008 (SB 448) after concerns Probate Judges were asking for campaign donations from attorneys appearing before the Court. That plan was approved by the Joint Government Administration and Elections Committee but ultimately never adopted.