May 9, 2019
They’re coming into the home stretch. And this is not a reference to the recently completed Kentucky Derby.
Rather, we are referring to the Connecticut General Assembly’s “Long Session” of 2019. Although coincidentally the Belmont Stakes will be held this year on June 8th, just three days after the legislative Session is scheduled to conclude!
With a month to go in the Session, where are we?
As I see it the big bills with potentially big price tags have not yet appeared at the top of the House and Senate calendars. So far there have been few long debates.
Some of the bills that have been passed have done so unanimously, but of course some have not. In any event it seems to me that more should have been accomplished by the legislators at this point in the Session, considering that the Majority Party holds an almost two to one margin in both House and Senate.
Budgets for the upcoming biennium were approved by the Appropriations Committee on Tuesday of last week, and by the Finance, Revenue, & Bonding Committee the following day. They do not reflect the Governor’s original proposal for burdening municipalities with a share of future teacher retirement payments.
Why is that? The Appropriations Co-Chairs. said they had intended to include the Governor’s proposal for phasing in sharing of teacher retirement. But somehow they did not review their “final” document in time to catch the fact that his proposal was nowhere to be found in it!
Perhaps this is also why Finance, Revenue, & Bonding left it out as well. Or perhaps not. And for that matter one action F, R, & B took was to propose that the State Bond Commission no longer be run by the Governor.
Subsequently last week there was a final meeting at Appropriations to render “joint favorable” status to bills that had been subject to their review. The meeting ran somewhat under six hours altogether, with more than three hours of that time being spent in caucus.
What did they do there? For one thing, leadership of the Majority Party caucus apparently snipped off some provisions of various education bills that met significant opposition within the caucus.
Next, twin “Public Option” health care bills underwent lengthy debate. Why would two bills saying the same thing be sent to the floor? One is from the Senate and one is from the House. The two bills are identical. Perhaps pride of ownership is the reason.
Noteworthy also is that a cool million bucks is proposed in these bills for further study of the “Public Option.” The study would apply to both bills equally.
What role will the Legislature have in reviewing and voting upon a “Public Option” health care proposal? What we can say at this point is that the Insurance Committee will eventually review it. But will the Legislature subsequently get to debate and vote on what that Committee recommends? Remarkably, as far as I can tell the answer could very well be “no,” with their recommendations very possibly taking effect as a result of Majority Party maneuvering.
What about funding for “Alliance Districts?” Concerned about perceived cuts perhaps a half-dozen members of the Appropriations Committee cried out in opposition to what may have been “substitute” language.
Someone is going to have to take charge. Or this may be a long hot summer in Hartford, once again!
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