In short technical sessions Monday morning, the state legislature declined to take further action on either of the two bills vetoed by Gov. Ned Lamont following the 2022 legislative session.
All told, Lamont signed a total 168 bills passed during this year’s regular session and vetoed two. One of the rejected bills would have prevented Connecticut towns from using government immunity as a legal defense in cases involving negligent motor vehicle crashes. The other would have allowed the city of West Haven to acquire a military vehicle known as an MRAP.
Although both vetoes provoked grumbling from proponents of the bills, there was no discussion of overriding the governor’s rejections among the small group of legislators who gathered at the state Capitol Monday morning to complete perfunctory but constitutionally-required sessions.
The session took about a minute in the Senate. Afterward, Senate President Martin Looney said he expected lawmakers would revisit the issue of municipal immunity in vehicle crashes during a future legislative session.
“I think there’s going to be a search for a compromise that will address some of the objections that municipalities had,” Looney said.
Municipal associations and the governor feared the bill, which would have applied the same liability standard in auto accidents to towns as is applied to state workers, would have exposed municipal governments to increased legal costs for accidents involving local police and firefighters.
In his veto message, Lamont questioned whether the legislature had “fully considered that unlike the state, municipalities face greater exposure by the simple fact that they have more emergency vehicles on the roads every day.”
In a post on Twitter last month, Rep. Steve Stafstrom, a Bridgeport Democrat who co-chairs the Judiciary Committee, said that lawmakers had considered the concerns voiced by towns but found them unpersuasive.
Looney said he had heard no discussion about revisiting the other bill vetoed by Lamont, which would have enabled West Haven to acquire an MRAP from the town of Farmington. The transfer is currently barred by the 2020 police accountability law, which restricts departments from obtaining military equipment.
West Haven and its legislative delegation argued the military truck would help facilitate emergency response during severe weather events. However, Lamont said he agreed with the underlying restriction and saw no reason to make an exception for West Haven.