HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Lamont announced Friday that he is calling the state legislature into a special session beginning Tuesday, Sept. 29.
That special session will address several legislative items, including regulation over the state’s energy companies and ensuring absentee ballots in the general election can be administered securely by local officials.
The full list of initiatives to be considered in the special session is as follows:
- Establishing a performance-based regulation to hold the state’s electricity, gas, and water companies accountable for the critical services they provide to customers;
- Ensuring local officials may administer absentee ballots in a secure and orderly manner during the November 2020 general election;
- Authorizing school construction projects;
- Updating the state’s Transfer Act;
- Aligning Connecticut’s hemp program with federal law and providing opportunities for hemp growers and manufacturers in the state;
- Updating the state’s environmental justice law to require public notice and community benefit agreements in certain circumstances;
- Providing greater protection for employees in occupations engaged in construction on certain non-residential building, heavy, or highway works projects in Connecticut;
- Permitting homeowners’ associations to obtain loans through the Supplemental Collapsing Foundation Loan Program;
- Permitting some late property tax exemptions to be filed with towns; and
- Clarifying the ability of state marshals to recover costs for searching records of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Absentee ballots will be an especially important initiative in the time of COVID-19, and the legislation being discussed would give local registrars sufficient time to count those ballots.
“There’s gonna be 10, 20 times more absentee ballots than we’ve ever had before,” said Governor Lamont Friday. “And I want to put everybody’s mind at ease, to give the registrars the flexibility they need to make sure we can count these votes in a timely and accurate basis.”
The state Senate’s Democratic leaders – Senate President Martin Looney (D-New Haven) and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) – issued the following statement about the upcoming special session:
We look forward to meeting next week for this special session and acting on important issues impacting Connecticut residents statewide. The Take Back Our Grid Act promises to begin the overhaul Connecticut utilities and ensure the people of our state receive the services they pay for, ensuring that corporations focus on the people they serve instead of the profits they earn. Additionally, important school construction project funding will be dispersed statewide, keeping our education systems in strong standing and making sure our students’ facilities receive the upkeep they need so they can reach their potential. With November’s election just six weeks away, it’s just as vital to ensure every vote is counted and the outcome cannot be questioned. We will make sure every absentee ballot mailed will be accepted and counted according to state law.Statement by CT Senate Democratic leaders
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) also issued a statement looking ahead to the special session, and he was less enthused:
The special session agenda is a disappointing display of one-party rule and partisan politics. I reviewed the call for special session that was just released this afternoon. Some things I expected to see, some I am surprised are on the agenda. Based upon this agenda, there is no need for a special session right now when nearly all of these bills could wait for the regular session to allow for more thought and public input. There is nothing on the agenda dealing with the pandemic, public health or the immediate needs in the middle of the crisis. I am honestly surprised that Democrats want to bring so many people to the building to vote on bills that are not fully vetted by the public and that can wait for the regular session – at the same time they have objected to much smaller meetings and legislative business taking place in the same building. Putting these items before the legislature with less than 40 days until an election seems to conflict with their past statements.Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano
The special session is also expected to give consideration to four judicial nominations made by the Governor back in July.
The four judicial nominations include Appellate Court Judge Christine E. Keller to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court; and three Superior Court judges – Judge Joan Alexander, Judge Melanie Cradle, and Judge Jose A. Suarez – to fill vacancies on the Appellate Court.