HARTFORD, CT — The bipartisanship that existed a few months ago, perhaps because the margins between the two parties was much smaller, seems to have devolved into some name calling and finger pointing.
Republican legislative leaders wrote Democratic legislative leaders earlier this week to ask them to intervene.
In this letter, Republican Senate Leader Len Fasano and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides offered up two examples as reasons leadership should intervene. They pointed to Rep. Michael D’Agostino’s threat to subpoena information from beer and distilled spirit wholesalers before a public hearing on bills that would impact their industry.
“Under the precedent set in this situation, if a member of the public were to testify against a bill, or for that matter even support a bill, a chairperson could require that person, under threat of a subpoena, to produce documents supporting their position,” Fasano and Klarides wrote. “This puts a chilling effect on the entire public hearing process and raises serious questions.”
The second involved a Democratic member Googling personal information about a member of the public “in an attempt to embarrass and curtail certain people from testifying.”
“Lawmakers should not be hastily searching for inflammatory personal information on the internet in an attempt to discredit someone when they come to the Capitol to testify on an issue,” Fasano and Klarides wrote.
“I hope that you agree with us that the state Capitol is meant to be the ‘People’s House’,” they wrote. “It should be a place where all opinions and ideas are welcome. We’ve heard you personally encourage people to testify at the Capitol on multiple occasions. However, the actions of certain members of your caucus will dramatically discourage the very same public discourse you invite.”
Senate Democratic leadership declined to offer a response to the letter.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said lawmakers have difficult jobs that require them to seek as much information as possible to help them make decisions, “but it’s also imperative that people who come to the Capitol feel comfortable expressing their views.”
As far as the exchange between D’Agostino and the beer and distilled spirit wholesalers is concerned, Aresimowicz agreed, “things were probably not handled in the best way at a recent hearing, which led to an unfortunate exchange with a hired industry lobbyist, but I understand the chair’s inquiries were answered later which reflects the overall professionalism and respect that exists here.”
Democrats now hold a 90 to 60 majority in the House and a 22 to 14 majority in the Senate.
Some Democrats have complained that Democratic lawmakers seem to have forgotten they have the majority when it comes to muscling through legislation.