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Legislature starts special session with several initiatives on the agenda

Politics

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Legislators headed back to the capitol Tuesday for a special session after Governor Lamont called them in on Friday. But not everyone’s on the same page about the agenda.

House leaders gaveled in to accept the rules of the special legislative session at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Bond Commission

The 10 member bond commission voted on $64-million in bonding Tuesday morning for the following:

  • $30-million in ventilation systems for schools around the state, including $2-million for New Haven to make sure the air is safe in classrooms
  • A new storage facility to keep all personal protection equipment (PPE) purchased by the state safe
  • Millions of dollars in technology upgrades, including those at the Dept. of Labor to handle unemployment claims

Judiciary Committee

The Judiciary Committee plans to take up the nominations of judges. They are meeting either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning.

These are the judges set to be confirmed: The Honorable Christine E. Keller to the Supreme Court, the Honorable Joan Alexander, Melanie Cradle, and Jose Suarez to the Appellate Court.

The nominees took their oaths of office and began serving in their newly confirmed positions over the Summer.

During the Special Session, the General Assembly would need to sign off on the confirmations of these lawmakers after they debate them.

Upon taking her oath, Judge Cradle will become the first African-American woman to serve on Connecticut’s Appellate Court. And Majority house leader Matt Ritter will recuse himself from the vote. His mother, Judge Keller, is up for the open seat on the state Supreme Court.

General Assembly

One of the key items the governor wants to tackle has to do with the November election and ballot boxes. And one is the bills lawmakers will be taking up has to do with counting absentee ballots ahead of November 3. 

Tensions are high at the State Capitol. Republican Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) told News 8 this week’s Special Legislative session – which began Tuesday morning – is a sham, “God forbid the Republicans have a voice in this session. It’s about power and politics and not people.”

Fasano believes the majority party (Democrats) are taking advantage of the COVID-19 virus in this situation.

“COVID cases are down because we are not allowing more than ten people to get together. But we can have 300 people in the [Capitol] building? I don’t understand that argument.”

RELATED: Gov. Lamont calls state legislature into special session beginning Tuesday

Full agenda list:

  • Processing Absentee Ballots Early
  • Utility rates & performance
  • School Construction Funding
  • Hemp Law
  • State Marshal fees
  • Transfer Act Update
  • Prevailing Wage on Construction projects
  • Environmental Justice
  • Condo Assoc. Crumbling Foundation aid
  • Property Tax Exemptions
  • Nominations of Judges

Democratic Senate President Marty Looney (D-New Haven) says, “Five weeks before an election everything that Fasano is saying has to be taken in the context of an election campaign.”

RELATED: CT lawmakers dig into second day of special session: Energy Bill, Transfer Act, absentee ballot counting still to debate

Democratic leaders say the Energy Bill – which they have called ‘Take Back the Grid’ – is timely. They also point to the November presidential election and voting. Adding the timely processing of what’s expected to be an avalanche of absentee ballots is vital to ensuring every vote is counted and that the outcome cannot be questioned.

House Majority Leader Representative Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) says despite cries of partisan games, “I can guarantee you there will be bipartisan votes on those bills.”

Representative Ritter will be recusing himself from the vote to approve new judges when the House convenes on Wednesday. His mother is being considered for an open seat on the State Supreme Court.

Any bills that include a high price tag are off the agenda. The governor said those items will have to wait until the next session in January.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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