State Senate finalizes language on budget implementer in special session Tuesday, moves to House Wednesday

Cannabis in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Lawmakers are set to finalize some of the details in the two-year, $46-billion state budget passed last week. Things that were cut or tabled in the regular session could be back on the table this week. 

Governor Ned Lamont said he would like lawmakers to bring back his Transportation Climate Initiative, which would cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But there are what some might consider surprises in the language that has Republicans angry.

The budget implementer is 847 pages. Democrats hold the majority and have been negotiating the bill for the last week. Republicans say they received the bill at three in the morning and policies are being jammed down the throat of residents.

State Senator Craig Miner, the Republican Chief Deputy Senate Leader, was fuming, saying the budget implementer bill is full of policies that never had public input.

“I vote no, and I’m mad. And people in the state of Connecticut are getting mad because this majority is running this like a train,” Senator Miner said.

Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly summed it up this way: “They had four days. We had four hours.”

RELATED: Funding may be restricted for CT high schools with offensive Native American names or mascots

Republicans say a policy to defund towns and not give them slot revenue when they don’t change Native American school names or mascots is one example of policies that came out of the blue sky.

There are currently 12 schools in the state that have Native American mascots or names. Superintendents will be getting a letter from the tribes expressing concern. The tribes will work with the towns to come up with a change.

The towns have a year to make the change or can ask for an extension. If they don’t change their mascot, they face losing money sent to towns from the Pequot Fund which is slot revenues.

For some towns, this could be a loss of $100,000.

Another program requiring residents to pay for throwing out their garbage – referred to as “Pay as you Throw” is causing a stink.

“Look at Section 322. Tell me it doesn’t say ‘shall.’ Tell me it doesn’t say the administration – Katie Dykes [Commissioner of CT Department of Energy and the Environment] is going to get pay as you throw. One of you tell me!” State Senator Craig Miner asked the press.

Democrats say it’s not a mandate, it’s allowing the state agency to start the program for towns that want it. State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) responded by saying, “To the extent that we can get municipality based on board with pay-as-you-throw I’d like to see that happen. There is no mandate in here.”

Despite speculation, the Transportation Climate Initiative the governor championed would be snuck into the implementer – Governor Ned Lamont tells News 8 “it will likely take a bit longer.”

But Republicans say Section 221 in the bill about “agency contracting” reads differently. State Senator Kelly questioned the intent of the language.

“Or is this an end-run on TCI to contract with a consortium of states and back into the gas tax that they lost coming through the front door?”

Also, in the implementer bill language to expand voting rights. Employers would be required to give workers two hours to vote during election season.

RELATED: CT Senate passes recreational marijuana for 2nd time; Gov. says he’ll veto, last-minute language change ‘not equity’

Also Tuesday, the State Senate passed the recreational marijuana bill, but the governor said he will veto it in its current form. It moves to the House Wednesday to see if the language can be worked out to please the governor and lawmakers.

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