HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– The rules of the special legislative session have been adopted. But lawmakers remain upset about items on the agenda…or the lack thereof.
It would seem unlikely in this political arena, but two ranking senators, one Democrat, and one Republican agree that the governor failed to put COVID-19 front and center during this week’s special legislative session.
“I don’t think we did anything, in my opinion, that will change the outcomes if this pandemic comes again,” said State Senator Doug McCrory, a Democrat from Hartford.
Republican State Senator Kevin Kelly from Stratford agrees.
“If he (the governor) fails to act, then we need to act, but yet that is not on the agenda,” said Kelly.
They say the agenda should have focused on funding for more COVID testing, programs for contact tracing and healthcare equity in minority communities, along with more PPE in nursing homes.
“We started special session because of the COVID-19 and issues, in my opinion, we never hit the nail on the head and moved some of the hardcore things we were going to do, not prevent it but be proactive about it,” added McCrory.
Kelly said, “75% of (Connecticut) deaths occurred in nursing homes. That’s third worst in the nation.”
The agenda was set by the governor after weeks of negotiations.
Democratic leaders say items like an energy bill and absentee ballot early counting were vital. But like COVID, there were other priorities that didn’t make it either.
“There were domestic violence bills that we were pushing forward that were pulled off by the governor’s office and the democrats didn’t stop them,” said House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, a Republican from Woodbridge.
She says many of the bills could have waited, or the governor could have used his executive order power to approve them.
“You can’t have it both ways. You either want the governor to make all of the decisions, or you want to come into special session and spend thousands of dollars for us to be here.”
The average estimated cost of a special legislative session is $20,000.
The Judiciary Committee will approve judges Wednesday morning. There is a State Supreme Court nomination and three Appellate Court nominees. Those recommendations will be delivered to the House, where lawmakers will vote on both the judges and the larger agenda.
House Majority Leader Matt Ritter will recuse himself as his mother, Christine Keller, is up for the State Supreme Court seat vacated when a justice retired.