HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut lawmakers will be back at the state Capitol next week to tackle a number of issues just weeks before an election.
“Look it’s a special session, just one or two days, we’re going to have a real session where we can deal with these big issues with public hearings coming up in four months,” Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.
Lamont said changing how electricity rates are set and how ratepayers are compensated following a prolonged power outage is at the top of the list, but they also plan to tackle how properties contaminated with industrial waste are sold and how absentee ballots are prepared.
The last item, he insisted is important for the upcoming election.
“We’re going to have 10 times more people voting absentee than ever before in this state and around the country,” Lamont said.
Lamont said there’s a lot of doubt about the confidence in the vote.
“I wanna make sure that that’s not a question people ever have to ask about Connecticut,” Lamont added.
Lawmakers are looking to make sure town clerks can begin processing the absentee ballots before they are counted on Election Day. It’s a proposal that not all the town clerks and registrars of voters are endorsing.
But it’s still unclear exactly what will be on the agenda.
The “call” for a special session, which will likely be issued by Lamont later today, has not been released.
The agenda is expected to be limited and not everything lawmakers wanted to tackle will be part of it.
Senate President Martin Looney said they were looking to expand the definition of domestic violence to include non-physical intimidation, and a bill making it easier for victims to report sexual assault on college campuses, but were unable to get those bills included.
“But I think the governor’s view is that we’re only three months away from a regular session so an issue like that could be handled in a regular session,” Looney said Tuesday.
A number of other items didn’t make it onto the agenda and will have to wait for a new crop of lawmakers in January.
Republicans don’t believe a special session is necessary. Or if it is necessary, then the legislature should be addressing the $2 billion budget deficit. Lamont’s Budget Director, Melissa McCaw, has to submit a deficit mitigation plan to the legislature by the end of the month.
“I see no reason to go into special session other than to say I am for this, look what I did. Look at me, vote for me, put me back into office,” Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said Tuesday.
Fasano, who is not running for re-election, said he can’t recall going into special session before an election in his 18 years.
However, in 2016 the legislature did hold a special session in September to approve an economic development package for Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky. However, aside from that one special session, a special session in the fall has been rare.
Fasano added that there’s nothing Lamont can’t do under his executive power until January.
“It gets into that silly season, they want to make speeches, they want to make amendments, it gets out of hand,” he said.
Fasano said the changes to the Transfer Act, which will dictate when a property can be sold based on the amount of environmental contamination, can wait until January.
“There’s no immediacy. It’s not COVID-related. There’s no time issue,” Fasano said.
As for changes to absentee ballots, Fasano believes Lamont can use his executive authority to make any changes.
He said if they do go into a special session, they should do something about the budget deficit because every day they can save money now will help to reduce future deficits.