For the first time in six years, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly decided to buck the will of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy — a fellow Democrat — overriding three of his eight vetoes in a special session on Monday.
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said there were some important policy initiatives and “pro-business bills” they felt should become law.
However, the House of Representatives didn’t get everything it wanted Monday. The House sought to override more vetoes than the Senate, but in order to override a veto both chambers needed to repass the bills with a two-thirds majority.
The House was able to find enough support to override six of the eight vetoes and the Senate was able to find enough support to override four. But collectively the two chambers were only able to find enough support to override three vetoes.
They were able to override a bill that requires the administration to rebid its contract for non-medical transportation, another bill that will allow state Treasurer Denise Nappier to decide the salary of the chief investment officer, and finally they overrode a bill that expands the amount of analysis state agencies would have to prepare before adopting regulations that affect small businesses.
Sharkey said they disagreed with the reason the governor vetoed the bills.
But it was also important to the General Assembly, in an election year, to show that they don’t always agree with a governor who has a 24-percent approval rating.
“We maintain an independence from this governor,” Sharkey said.
He said the governor has the right to disagree, but “ultimately we have the right to have the final word on that.”
Sharkey said he was disappointed the Senate didn’t take up all the bills that it sent to them. He said he was especially disappointed that the Senate didn’t take up a bill that would have allowed owners of “pass-through entities” — such as S Corporations — to use a manufacturing apprenticeship tax credit.
Sharkey said the Senate adjourned before they could even have a conversation about it.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said she’s “sick and tired of the Senate Democrats hiding” and “doing the governor’s bidding, saying they’re representing their constituents.”
Klarides said the Senate Democratic caucus is “so transparent” about its relationship with Malloy.
She said most of the bills that he vetoed were passed unanimously, and they were good bills for the state of Connecticut. She said people don’t elect us to support the governor or not to support the governor.
“They elect us to do what’s right,” Klarides said. “The House Democrats did that. They did what they thought was right and the Senate Democrats are too busy in the governor’s office doing his bidding, instead of doing what’s right for the state of Connecticut. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said people found the governor’s veto message to be “compelling” in the bills that they decided not to override.
“I think it was a case-by-case analysis of each bill,” Looney said.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said the state constitution gives the legislature the last say over bills and the ability to override a veto.
“We were judicious in that process,” Duff added.
Duff and Looney declined to get into the specifics about what happened Monday when they decided to abruptly adjourn.
Last week, the Senate declined to take up the governor’s line-item vetoes of the state budget. The House was in favor of overriding some of the $22.5 million in cuts, but because it was a Senate bill, the Senate would have to take up the veto first.
Looney said that overriding the governor’s budget vetoes would have been “largely symbolic,” because the governor has “significant recession authority, lapse authority” and he’s going to continue to use that authority to make cuts up to $170 million.
“While the Governor stands fully behind his vetoes, today was part of the legislative process, and we respect that process,” Devon Puglia, a spokesman for Malloy, said.