The Senate gave final passage to a bill that amongst dozens of other things consolidates nine watchdog agencies. The 350-page bill passed 21 to 14 with Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, voting against it.
Slossberg’s vote is significant because as co-chairwoman of the General Administration and Elections her committee has cognizance over at least three of the nine agencies.
Outside the Senate chamber Slossberg said she wasn’t a participant in the discussions regarding the drafting of the legislation and wasn’t debating the bill on the floor because she didn’t support it.
“I think the proposal undermines the integrity of the agencies,“ Slossberg said.
She said she thinks it’s possible to consolidate the agencies without taking away their independence, but was reluctant to identify exactly how she would change the proposal if given an opportunity.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said putting the watchdogs under one political appointee “lends to the appearance that these watchdog agencies are not independent.”
But Democrats like Sen. Toni Harp, D-New Haven, disagreed. She said the watchdog agencies will submit their budget to the new administration who will be responsible for passing along that budget to the legislature and the governor.
The new administrator will oversee the nine agencies by coordinating the back office functions of the agencies. The authority for overseeing the agency will remain with the directors of those commissions.
The agencies merged in the bill include Office of State Ethics, State Elections Enforcement Commission, Freedom of Information Commission, Judicial Review Council, Judicial Selection Commission, Board of Firearms Permit Examiners, Office of the Child Advocate, Office of the Victim Advocate, and the State Contracting Standards Board.
It passed the Senate after close to six hours of debate, which McKinney said wasn’t long at all considering the length of the bill and the number of issues it addressed.
Click here to read our previous report about the passage of the bill in the House.