(Updated 11:12 p.m.) “We’ve been here all day waiting for this bill, but it’s a good bill,” Sen. Edith Prague said Friday, shortly before the Senate passed one of the home heating assistance bill’s 33-0 at 9:25 p.m. The House began debating that bill soon after it passed the Senate. And after a few hours of debate the House passed the bill 127-0.
All day the General Assembly has been behind closed doors deciding how to give residents back part of the $75 million budget surplus in home heating assistance.
Late Friday afternoon the bill was split into two.
Sen. Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said the first bill deals “explicitly” with Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s call to the special session and the second “is more implicit.” Majority Leader Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said he would like to see both bills passed, but if only one bill passes then the session will have been a success.
Translation: Senate Democrats wanted something in the bill that didn’t match the call of the special session and House Democrats knew Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, would be upset since his party isn’t being allowed to offer amendments, such as the gas tax cap. So House Democrats asked the Senate Democrats to carve out the portion it felt would be problematic and cause a debate over parliamentary procedure with the Republicans.
Cafero marched up to the press room around 5 p.m. with a hand-drawn map of how an estimated $49 million would work its way through the state’s bureaucracy. He said based on what he was handed “it’s possible somebody might get help in late March.”
The Senate began debating the second bill which will offer rebates for furnace and boiler replacement and upgrades around 9:30 p.m. The debate was still going around 11:10 p.m. and looked like it would continue into Saturday morning.
The second bill includes, $2 million for furnace and boiler upgrades and $3 million for furnace and boiler replacement. That money is in addition to the $5 million in bonding the state Bond Commission approved earlier this month.
Homeowners seeking to find out if they qualify for this assistance should call 211 for more information.