HARTFORD, CT — The last bill the House passed Wednesday before midnight was a bill that would have allowed the General Assembly to remove the $600,000 security system they installed at the state Capitol and Legislative Office Building in 2014.
The bill passed the House 106 to 44, but never made it to the Senate for a vote. So it won’t be moving forward, but could be raised again during the special session because it has a budgetary impact.
According to the fiscal note, the state would save $325,243 by eliminating six positions to re-align staffing to the levels before the security measures and metal detectors were installed.
Both House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter voted against the measure. House Minority Leader Themis Klarides and many of her Republican colleagues voted in favor of the measure.
Klarides said there are a lot of people who “don’t like them and don’t feel like they’re helping us.”
Prior to installation of the system at the end of 2014 the public was able to come and go freely through a limited number of entrances at the state Capitol and Legislative Office Building.
She said “it’s the people’s building,” and the security makes it hard for the public to access their building.
The security equipment has been controversial. The vestibules which only allow one person to enter the building at a time were slowing down lawmakers’ and staff trying to get in and out of the building during the final days of the legislative session.
As part of the upgrade, three previously public entrances were converted into locked vestibules which can be unlocked using a government-issued swipe card. The vestibules include a sensory system designed to ensure that only one person is entering the building. The door stays locked if the system detects another person.
“We should look to see what we can do to make this building as safe as possible,” Klarides said.
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said the Senate received it 10 minutes before midnight and they didn’t feel comfortable throwing it on a consent calendar without discussing it with their caucuses.
The security measures were installed without a vote of the Legislative Management Committee, which includes the leaders of all four caucuses. The committee met twice in 2013, but did not meet in 2014.
No vote was ever taken by the committee on the new security measures.