There wasn’t too much disagreement between Democratic and Republican lawmakers regarding six of the seven vetoes they had planned to override Monday during a one-day special session.
The only bill they had planned on debating, but was unable to find enough votes for was an Act Concerning the Selection of Tenant Commissioners.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said his caucus did not support the tenant commissioners bill and most of the “drama” today centered around it.
House Speaker Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said the tenant commissioners bill and the off-track betting bill came down to the wire today, but in the end he just didn’t have the votes to override the tenant commissioners bill.
The House needs 101 votes to override a veto.
“Obviously I am disappointed with the overrides. When I veto a bill it is after careful consideration and because I feel the legislation represents bad public policy, is too expensive or creates more bureaucracy,“ Rell said in an emailed statement. “My vetoes were prudent and just decisions and I stand by them. However, lawmakers have voted their will. While I do not agree with their decisions, I respect their right to make them. It is part of the process and so now we must move on.”
At the end of the day the General Assembly had overridden six of Rell’s 13 vetoes, including her final veto which expanded off-track betting to restaurants in Manchester, New London, and Windham.
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Southport, voted against the off-track betting override.
“People said they didn’t want Keno, but OTB is okay? Shame on us if gambling is the key to our success for economic prosperity in Connecticut,” McKinney said during the debate. But if it means more jobs, Sen. Edith Prague said, then she’s all for it.
“I wish there were other ways that we could create more jobs. I guess I have to choose between my dislike of the expansion of gambling and the creation of jobs,” said Prague, a Democrat from Columbia.
Both Donovan and Cafero said they were surprised with some of Rell’s vetoes.
“I think she was on her way out and maybe people were getting in their last minute requests,” Donovan said. “But I can only speculate.”
Cafero said the first time he had learned Rell was unhappy with some of these bills was in her veto message. He said none of the issues raised in the veto message never came up during the regular legislative session.
Proponents of the tenant commissioners bill said it’s unfair that local-elected officials get to select which individual represents tenants on one of the hundreds of housing authority boards in the state. Opponents said they’re not opposed to allowing tenants to participate in the process, but are concerned with some other language in the bill that could interfere with federal funding.
By the end of the day officials from the Connecticut Chapter of National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials were talking with officials from the Connecticut Housing Coalition trying to come up with a compromise bill that meets both of their needs for next year.
The other bills the General Assembly overrode Monday include, An Concerning the Long Island Sound; An Act Establishing a Sentence Commission; An Act Concerning Licensure of Master and Clinical Social Workers; An Act Concerning a Master Transportation Plan; and An Act Concerning Criminal Background Checks for Prospective State Employees.