State Capitol (CTNewsJunkie file photo)

At least two legislative committees canceled hearings on Tuesday due to Internet disruptions experienced by the provider for numerous Connecticut state agencies, including the Connecticut General Assembly. 

Those issues began Tuesday morning and were still impacting operations at the state Capitol by late afternoon, including hearings on health care issues and executive agency budget briefings before the Appropriations Committee. 

The problems also rendered virtually unusable the CGA website and disrupted staff emails. 

Mark Raymond, head of the Bureau of Information Technology, said state teams were working to stabilize the problem by rerouting user traffic to another data center.

“We had an internal power failure at a data center this morning, recovery efforts are underway, however we are experiencing some widespread network impairment,” Raymond said.

The network  issues underscored the degree to which the legislature’s day-to-day operations have come to rely on remote connectivity. The rules adopted this year by legislative leaders call for hybrid committee hearings which accommodate both in-person and remote testimony. 

“We had to make a decision,” said Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, a West Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the Human Services Committee. “Do we want to have advocates and state officials wait around potentially till 3 o’clock — we’re hearing maybe it will be fixed between 12 and 3 — or treat it like a snow day and cancel and reschedule for another day.” 

Gilchrest, whose panel was scheduled to hear testimony of health care and reproductive rights legislation, opted for the snow day approach. When the hearing room had mostly cleared out, she said that 114 people had signed up to speak. She said the rules precluded her from moving forward with only the in-person speakers.

“While I feel awful because people took time to be here today, I’d also feel awful making them wait around for the potential of having a hearing when it might not actually happen,” she said. 

Despite Tuesday’s tech issues, Gilchrest said she felt the hybrid hearings were worth conducting because they enabled many more residents to participate in the process. 

“You get to hear so many unique experiences because of the virtual piece, so I think it is a worthwhile tradeoff,” Gilchrest said. However, she said lawmakers might want to consider rules that allow committees to transition to fully in-person or fully remote hearings when circumstances require it.