HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Ned Lamont emailed legislative leaders Tuesday night and told them he wants to address everything from tolls, a long-running dispute over how hospitals are taxed, the 2020 bond package, and a dispute between restaurant owners and workers over wages for tipped workers, during a special session the week of Dec. 16.
“I respectfully request be raised for consideration and a vote,” Lamont wrote. “1. Transportation Infrastructure. 2. Bonding. 3. Hospitals Settlement. 4. Restaurant Workers.”
Legislative leaders who were meeting with Lamont’s Chief of Staff Ryan Drajewicz while Lamont was at Foxwoods Tuesday speaking to municipal officials were leary about addressing all four outstanding issues during a December special session.
Lamont acknowledged the expedited time frame, “but believe these to be important issues which require resolution before year-end. As such, I have instructed my office to prioritize my time to remain focused and working in collaboration with each of you.”
Legislative leaders are prepared to hold a public hearing on the hospital settlement and they would like to address the 2020 bond package, which includes funding for municipalities. But it’s unlikely a transportation plan would be approved as part of a December special session.
“We have asked members to hold December 17-19 for a possible special session, and the Governor has presented an ambitious agenda with a spectrum of important issues for the legislature to consider and that we all want to accomplish,” House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said. “We are working with all caucuses and the governor to finalize potential legislation that could be acted on in that timeframe.”
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said they were briefed on the hospital settlement and don’t see any problem with moving forward on it.
As far as the restaurant legislation is concerned, Klarides said it should have been passed in September. She said legislation has been ready to go since Labor Day.
Lamont and three of the caucuses agree on a path forward with that legislation, but the Senate Democratic caucus has yet to take a position.
The draft legislation had a public hearing in October. It would require the state Department of Labor to create new regulations and rules regarding how restaurants segregate the hours of service and non-service work, such as rolling silverware and filling salt shakers.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, has told the other legislative leaders he would sign an emergency certification to allow a special session on the legislation to proceed. He bristled at their request for his position on the legislation.
“I had hoped that by offering to sign an emergency certification, we might move toward closure on at least this one special session issue since the others continue pending as they have for months while the General Assembly awaits additional information or plans from the administration,” Looney wrote.
Klarides has also been outspoken about the lack of a 2020 bonding package.
“If the governor continues to hold the bonding package for cities and towns hostage the legislature should just act,” Klarides said Wednesday.
Earlier this year, Lamont tied approval of the bond package to approval of his transportation package.
His plan calls for the use of at least $100 million in general obligation bonds for transportation.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, has been vocal about the lack of participation from Republicans in drafting the bond package. Fasano maintains that Lamont has not been forthcoming about the package and has prevented Republicans from obtaining information about it.
“For months the governor has refused to share the bonding package with Republican lawmakers,” Fasano said Wednesday. “And the public still has not been shown any details about the new House Democrat/Gov. Lamont combined tolling proposal. The governor needs to release his bonding package and new tolling plan in its entirety and he needs to do it today. The governor has spoken ad nauseum about transparency and working together, but actions speak louder than words. Right now, Gov. Lamont’s actions have been less transparent and less bipartisan than even Gov. Malloy.”
Max Reiss, Lamont’s communications director, said in October that there’s nothing the Republicans don’t already know.
He said nothing about the bond package has changed since the end of July, but they are trying to get Republicans the documents they’ve requested.
Fasano said the administration is “lying” and he doesn’t trust they will get what they’ve requested in a timely manner. Republicans have been asking for the information since July.
Reiss fired back about Fasano’s claim about being left out of bond negotiations.
“Regarding Senator Fasano’s aggressive claims that he’s been left out of the budget and bonding discussions – he’s right. He, and every Republican in the General Assembly chose not to participate in them. They submitted no budget and presented no alternatives. As Senator Fasano knows full well, per the governor’s insistence, the bonding bill, which is typically developed in the budget process, was separated out and put on hold until transportation was sorted out. There has been no action on the bonding agenda, because there has been no action on transportation. Now that progress is being made, those discussions will begin anew, which the governor stated yesterday.”