HARTFORD, CT — Lawmakers will return to Hartford Monday to reconsider legislation that was vetoed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Malloy vetoed seven items this session — five Senate bills and two House bills.
Since the regular session ended on May 9, legislative leaders have been in touch with their membership by phone and email to gauge whether they would consider overriding some of the vetoes. The answer was “yes,” but it’s not clear how many bills fall into that category.
Early indications show that there’s an appetite to overturn at least two vetoes, while there’s heavy lobbying going on for the others.
The Senate needs 24 votes and the House needs 101 votes to override a veto. Most of the bills Malloy vetoed passed with a veto proof majority the first time. However, lawmakers can always change their minds.
Since most of the bills were Senate bills, the Senate will have to vote on a bill first before any are sent to the House.
The bills and the issues are summarized below:
The first bill Malloy vetoed was HB 5171, which would have prohibited the governor from cutting education cost sharing (ECS) aid grants to towns with his rescission authority or through a reduction of any budgeted agency.
The bill passed the Senate 36-0 and the House 117 to 32.
Malloy said he vetoed it because it “would prevent any future governor from making rescissions to certain municipal grants without regard to communities’ relative need or ability to fund their own spending decisions, and without regard to the seriousness of a financial emergency in the state.”
Both Democratic and Republican legislative leadership have expressed a desire to overturn this veto.
The next bill Malloy vetoed was SB 261, which would have extended the manufacturing apprenticeship tax credit to the personal income tax, allowing the owners and partners of qualifying companies organized as partnerships, limited liability companies, and other pass-through entities to claim the credit against that tax.
The bill passed the Senate 36-0 and the House 148-0.
Malloy objected to the bill because it was not accounted for in the state budget.
“This bill, while ostensibly helpful to small businesses, would allow individual business owners and shareholders to reduce their individual personal tax liability, potentially to zero,” Malloy said in his veto message. “That is the same flaw I pointed out when I vetoed a similar bill in 2016. This bill would result in a loss of $650,000 in revenue per year, an impact not accounted for in the amended budget I signed earlier this year.”
Both Democratic and Republican legislative leadership have expressed a desire to overturn this veto, too.
The next bill Malloy vetoed has advocates lobbying heavily on each side.
The bill, SB 453, requires boards of education, as well as the State Department of Education, to address daily classroom safety as an additional part of the law requiring them to address bullying and teen dating violence.
Essentially it would allows teachers to refer their students out of the classroom if they physically threaten the teacher or another student on a daily basis.
The bill passed the Senate 36-0 and the House 124-25 during the last few days of session.
Malloy felt the bill would only emphasize the school-to-prison pipeline.
“As written, this bill creates too great a risk that students of color and those with disabilities will be disproportionately affected by its new removal powers,” Malloy said in his veto message. “In fact, it runs counter to the ongoing efforts of Connecticut’s dedicated educators and my administration to reduce exclusion from the classroom and to cut off the school-to-prison pipeline. It also creates significant risks of litigation and federal penalties that could result in disastrous financial sanctions.”
The Connecticut Education Association has been lobbying in favor of overriding the veto, claiming that the bill reduces discriminatory discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline.
“The governor is not connecting the dots,” CEA President Sheila Cohen said. “If we want fewer young people in our criminal justice system, we need to be proactive in our schools and hold administrators accountable for ensuring students receive the support they need.”
Marisa Halm, an attorney with the Center for Children’s Advocacy and Fran Rabinowitz with the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, are hoping lawmakers let the veto stand.
“While well intended, the act would create situations where school districts, through the actions of individual teachers, would regularly violate federal rights of students with behavioral and emotional disabilities, undermine the development of appropriate classroom management skills, and perhaps most importantly, disproportionately harm students of color,” Halm and Rabinowitz wrote in an open letter to lawmakers.
It’s unclear at the moment whether there’s enough support to override the veto.
The fourth veto involved HB 5426.
The bill requires town clerks to designate a location for completing and processing Election Day registration applications if the registrars of voters fail to agree on one at least 31 days before the election. Previously, the law required registrars of voters to designate a location within each municipality.
The bill passed the Senate 36-0 and the House 147-0.
Malloy objected to the use of the town clerk as the decision maker.
“The bedrock of our electoral system is the election of two registrars of voters, one from each major party, to oversee each other,” Malloy said in his veto message. “This balance provides the public with confidence that our elections are administered freely and fairly and without the undue influence of politics. Allowing a third municipal official, who is also a partisan elected official in the overwhelming number of instances in our state, tilts the scales in favor of that official’s political party and potentially leads to the destruction of public faith in our electoral system.”
It’s unclear whether there is any support for an override.
The fifth bill Malloy vetoed involved oversight of the Department of Children and Families.
The bill, SB 188, would have increased the membership on the State Oversight Council on Children and Families from 19 to 25, and expanded and modified the council’s duties, including requiring it to monitor, track, and evaluate the DCF’s policies and practices related to child and youth safety, permanency, and well-being.
Malloy vetoed the bill because it overreached into the Executive Branch.
“The Oversight Council replaces an existing executive branch advisory council with a body that is legislative and whose responsibilities are to oversee the operations of an executive branch agency. The bill also mandates that the Oversight Council monitor the agency budget track and evaluate all DCF policies and progress, including the requirement to implement the recommendations of the Oversight Council,” Malloy said in his veto message. “Senate Bill 188 represents significant interference with the orderly conduct of the essential functions of the executive branch.”
The bill passed the Senate 33-3 and the House 142-6.
It’s unclear if there is support for an override.
The sixth bill Malloy vetoed would require the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection to create and maintain a publicly available registry of individuals who are convicted, or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, of certain animal abuse crimes.
The bill, SB 523, passed the Senate 36-0 and the House 138-12.
Malloy vetoed the bill because he said it would have the opposite impact on animal abuse.
“Cruelty to animals is a serious issue and individuals found guilty of cruelty to animals should receive appropriate punishment,” Malloy said in his veto message. “I do not believe that an animal abuse registry accomplishes this goal. There is no conclusive evidence that online registries protect the public and in fact, such registries have unfortunately had the opposite effect.”
It’s the same argument the ASPCA has made in lobbying lawmakers to maintain the veto.
The last bill Malloy vetoed this year involved the bailout the state gave to the city of Hartford.
The bill, SB 528, would have allowed lawmakers to reconsider how much municipal aid it gives to Hartford in the sixth year of oversight by the state.
The Senate passed the bill 28-6 and the House passed the bill 105-45.
In his veto message, Malloy said the changes to the Hartford bailout are “a reflection of indignation on the part of some legislators” who were upset that the Municipal Accountability Review Board “exercised its statutory authority in coming to the aid of our capital city.”
The bill modifies previous legislation that created the Municipal Accountability Review Board and gave it the power to manage, to some degree, the city’s finances. The state agreed to pay Hartford’s bondholders $534 million over 20 years to help it avoid bankruptcy, but some lawmakers felt they should be able to lower other municipal aid if Hartford isn’t holding up its end of the bargain and reducing costs.
But that’s a hard ask of a city with little taxable property and a mill rate of 75.
Specifically, the debt service agreement basically means that the state — which has lately been providing about $270 million in aid to Hartford annually — is guaranteeing that the first $35 million or so for the city each year will go directly to Hartford’s bondholders for 20 years. However, the agreement was not a guarantee that the state will appropriate Hartford’s debt service payment in addition to other aid each year. The total amount of aid to Hartford would still be subject to legislative debate.
At a recent press event, Malloy said Connecticut is more reliant on cities for hospitals, colleges, and jobs than its smaller cities even though the tax structure is the same.
“We should not be closing a tool box with respect to those,” Malloy said. “And quite frankly anyone living in an urban area who would sign onto that Republican package should have their heads examined.”
It’s unclear where Democratic lawmakers stand on overriding this veto. Republican legislative leaders have said it’s necessary to override this one.
“The negotiated legislation would limit certain state assistance to Hartford to five years” rather than the 20 years stipulated in the deal, Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said. “It also would prevent future bailout deals from being negotiated without legislative approval.”
Malloy, who is in his last year, has had five vetoes overturned in his eight years as governor.