Shortly before midnight House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero visited House Speaker Chris Donovan and asked if they could postpone a debate on increasing the minimum wage. Donovan, the main proponent of the legislation, agreed.
“The minority leader came in and said they rather do it tomorrow,” Donovan said Wednesday night as he stepped off the dais.
Donovan, whose staff was counting how many lawmakers will support a revised bill Wednesday, said he’s confident he had and will have the votes.
“People were tired tonight,” Donovan said.
Instead of debating a controversial bill at the end of a long day, the House will return Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. for what is expected to be a hearty debate.
“I also have the responsibility to look out for my caucus’ health and well-being,” Cafero said. “It was getting late. We’ve been here awhile. We’ve got a lot more stuff to do.”
He said the Republican caucus generally makes the assumption that if they’re going to bring the bill out they have the votes and at that point it’s important for “us to make our points and do the amendments in a reasonable amount of time.”
Cafero said the amount of time they estimate for bills has gotten a lot more scientific over the past year and involves a computer system used to track how long each member of the caucus speaks. He said the two caucuses have set up rules for what counts against the clock.
But no one doubts the House has the votes to pass the minimum wage increase. It’s the Senate where support among Democrats has come into question.
“We’re having positive discussions with the Senate,” said Donovan, who visited the third-floor Senate offices Wednesday evening. “We had a nice chat.
“There was support up there already as well as people seeing the polls came in so well,” Donovan said, referring to the 70 percent support the concept received in Wednesday’s Quinnipiac University poll. “And we made significant changes in the bill to hear people’s concerns.”
The bill is expected to be modified again on the House floor with an amendment reducing the increase to 25 cents in each of the next two years, and removing plans to tie future increases to the Consumer Price Index.
The Senate Democratic caucus hasn’t discussed the revised bill.
“There was not enough support for the bill in its original form,” Senate President Donald Williams said Wednesday.
“We’ll have a discussion and see if these changes have moved any of our members,” he added.
That discussion will take place Thursday morning in private.
As they exited the caucus room Wednesday evening, Democratic Senators, who have previously been outspoken about the bill said they “didn’t have an opinion on it.”
“It’s better than it was,” Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said.
“I’m still thinking about it,” said Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield.
Sen. Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, said she hadn’t seen the latest version and they didn’t discuss the bill in caucus.
Sen. Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said his discussions about where the caucus stands have been inconclusive. He said that when they caucused the original bill some were upset with the increase, while others wanted to get rid of the indexing, and still others wants to get rid of the increase and keep the indexing.
But where exactly does the Senate stand?
“We won’t know until we caucus it,” he said.