It’s more than 800 pages of language to implement the state budget and there were sections that the House just couldn’t stomach so they amended it Thursday morning and sent it back to the Senate.
The House sent the bill back to the Senate with an 89-50 vote after several hours of debate. Two Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the measure.
The 30 pages of changes made by the House have a “minimal fiscal impact” according to the fiscal note. However, it would limit the number of people the Contracting Standards Board could hire. The Contracting Standards Board is supposed to require that state contracting is carried out appropriately.
Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, said the $400,000 line item for the Contracting Standards Board would lapse and they are hoping to replace that funding when they return to distribute additional federal funds.
Republicans in the Senate objected to the removal of funding from a dozen schools with Native American mascots and in general to the process of passing a large piece of legislation, some of which never received a public hearing.
“You have a year to remove that imagery an or mascots or name, anything associated with that or you will lose dollars relative to the Native American tribal nations gaming funds,” Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, said.
Osten said it was unfair for towns to expect a portion of slot machine revenue raised by tribes if they insist on using names and imagery the tribes find offensive.
“The people it reflects on have said they don’t appreciate this, that they think this is wrong,” Osten said. “Why should the dollars that they raise be used to support something like this? Again, towns, communities can choose to keep [the names or mascots], they just don’t get the dollars associated with the Native American communities.”
But not everyone felt it was necessary.
“I haven’t seen any mascots that are unduly over the top or ridicule another culture so I think some folks are a little overly sensitive to the entire issue,” Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, said.
The House didn’t discuss the mascot controversy at any length Thursday.
Republicans weren’t the only ones upset with the implementer.
Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, said there were supposed to be regulations for data centers that use diesel backup generations. She introduced an amendment that would do that, but it failed.
“I am uncomfortable having them not regulated at all for air pollution,” Mushinsky said.
Mushinsky said they could turn on diesel generator without air pollution controls at the moment. She said the Senate was supposed to add it to the implementer but failed to do so.
“I think we need to do a little bit more,” Walker said. “At this time I can’t support this amendment.”
Republicans objected to the process.
“For me, in this last week, like the wheels have some off,” Rep. Kimberly Fiorella, R-Greenwich, said. “I am at a loss for how to explain what has happened here in the I don’t know the last several days.”
She said a person would have to be a savant in order to understand all of it.
The bill does a number of things, including requiring employers to give employees two hours of unpaid leave to vote on Election Day. There were also modest pay raises for judges and restaurants would be able to retain some of the sales tax money for one week per year either in August, December or May.
The bill would also create an automatic admissions process for in-state high school graduates to attend Connecticut’s four regional universities.
A last minute amendment would also reduce the bonding for the University of Connecticut Health Center. Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, declined to say what prompted the amendment.