For the first time in decades, the governor’s State of the State speech and the beginning of the legislative session will be postponed a day as a result of expected inclement weather.
According to the National Weather Service, parts of the state could see between 8 and 10 inches of snow Wednesday.
As a result of that expected snowfall, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office announced Tuesday afternoon that the budget address he had been scheduled to deliver to a joint session of the General Assembly Wednesday will instead take place at noon Thursday.
“Given the forecast over the next couple of days, I’ve asked legislative leaders to postpone the start of session until Feb. 6,” Malloy said in a statement. “While I hope the storm is not as bad as the predictions suggest, I also don’t want to put anyone in harm’s way. I want to thank the leaders for accommodating this request.”
Legislative leaders had previously considered delaying the opening day events a few hours until Wednesday evening but both House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and Senate President Donald Williams agreed in a statement to err on the side of safety.
“Safety is first and foremost. It makes sense to exercise caution and move opening day to Thursday given the blizzard-like conditions being predicted for tomorrow,” Williams said.
Even with events delayed a day, a small number of lawmakers in both chambers will convene Wednesday morning to technically start this year’s legislative session on the day required by law.
It is rare to see the legislature’s opening day postponed. House Dean Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, has served in the legislature since 1981. She said Tuesday that she does not recall such a postponement during her tenure.
“It’s a rarity… There was one opening day that there was a snowstorm but I can’t remember a postponement to another day—ever,” she said.
Steve Kotchko, news director of the Connecticut Radio Network and dean of the Capitol press corps, has been covering the state Capitol since the legislature’s 1974 session. Kotchko said he recalled a postponement, which he believed occurred in 1978 as the state was still digging out from the Blizzard of ‘78 that struck days earlier. According to a legislative librarian, the governor’s address in 1978 was delayed from a Wednesday to a Friday in the aftermath of the storm.
This week’s postponement will likely force the cancellations of some of the many legislative committee meetings that had been scheduled for Thursday. Mushinsky co-chairs the Program Review and Investigations Committee which had been scheduled to vote on bills Thursday. She said the new schedule will likely conflict with her committee’s meeting.
“It’s going to wreak havoc with Thursday,” she said. “But it is what it is. We’ll have to make due.”