HARTFORD, CT – An attempt by Republicans to flex their muscles by pushing for an amendment to the House rules that would force members to vote on labor contracts for state workers failed Wednesday.
Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, introduced an amendment that, in his words, would have given the House the authority “to vote on contracts put forth by the executive branch and state unions.”
Candelora’s amendment failed on a 76-72 party-line vote.
Candelora said he put the legislation forward because it is clear that “thirty years of spiraling pension obligations” are hindering the state – and the state legislature’s ability to control overall expenditures.
He said legislators deserve to have a “greater say’’ in the contract negotiations.
But the Democrats defeated the amendment, in part, because they hasn’t been given enough time to digest the language, according to Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford.
Ritter said legislators had only seen the amendment “30 minutes” before they were asked to vote on it.
That wasn’t enough time, said Ritter.
Lori Pelletier, president of the AFL-CIO, said the vote on the rule was really “a second vote on the speaker.”
Last week, the Office of State Ethics found there was nothing that would bar House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, who works as an education coordinator for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), from serving as speaker while being employed by the union.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, declined to second Aresimowicz’s election as speaker earlier in the day.
In her speech on the House floor, Klarides said this is the “smallest margin” between the minority and the majority in recent history.
Republicans gained 8 seats in the recent election.
She said in a part-time legislature, where lawmakers hold outside jobs, it’s not always about “what’s right and wrong. It’s about what the perception is because often times perception becomes reality.”
She said there’s nothing wrong with what Aresimowicz is doing and he followed all the rules in asking for an opinion.
She tried to strike a more bipartisan tone toward the end of her remarks.
She called Aresimowicz an ‘honest broker.”