HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The General Assembly took on the herculean task of debating and voting on 10 bills in one day Wednesday. After weeks of negotiations and political potshots, lawmakers rolled up their sleeves and started to move policy.
Nearly a dozen bills will be voted on by lawmakers during this special session. Some say, with no public hearings this process keeps the people out.
“That’s their right in a democratic society and that’s been taken away in a lot of ways,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Themis Klarides (R).
Republicans and some Democrats have been angry about the lack of COVID-related bills and other priorities not being included in this week’s special legislative session.
Despite the frustration, new laws will be passed. The massive Energy Bill will hold utilities to performance-based rate increases.
House Majority Leader Rep. Matt Ritter (D) said, “To really measure rate-payer increases predicated upon the fact that you’re restoring your power in a certain amount of time. And the second thing – which is more in line with other states – is reimbursement for things like spoiled food and medicine.”
Aside from giving customers credits, the bill could affect executive compensation. Leader Klarides is newly-married to one of those executives. She checked with Ethics to see if she has to recuse herself.
“It’s against his financial interest, so I don’t think anyone can say I have a conflict,” she laughed.
There are no COVID-19-related bills on the agenda. A point of anger among the ranks. Leaders say virus bills will have to wait until the next session.
“Right now we have no ideas what the budget looks like and right now it’s estimated to a $2-billion deficit so to make any budget adjustments right now is not possible until we get a fuller picture,” Rep. Ritter said.
Other bills include the Transfer Act which gets contaminated property sold and cleaned up properly.
One of the more timely – allowing local election officials to count absentee ballots early.
“Narrowed down to the Friday before Election [Day] after 5 p.m.,” said Rep. Klarides.
Allowing these local election officials to log the ballot, open the outer envelope, and prepare them for counting on Election Day will speed up getting final results. On the table still left to debate is several bills including the Energy Bill.