Connecticut State Capitol Building
Connecticut State Capitol Building. Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

By the end of last week, most legislative committees had hit key deadlines to advance bills and in the process left many proposals on the cutting room floor. Here’s a list of some bills that, barring any surprises, didn’t make the cut this year. 

Most General Assembly committees had deadlines ranging from mid to late March to move their proposals along to the broader legislature. Only two fiscal panels, the Appropriations and the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committees, won’t hit their deadlines until late April.

The Judiciary Committee was among the last panels to finish passing bills and hit its deadline Friday afternoon while debating legislation. Some proposals the committee did not act on include:

—Legislation that would have changed the review process for involuntarily committed psychiatric patients who serve their terms after being committed by a court as a result of a not-guilty acquittal by reason of insanity. 

During a hearing on the bill, public defenders and patients at Whiting Forensic Hospital argued that the current system needed to be changed because it sometimes allows acquittees to be recommitted for longer than the maximum criminal sentence allowed under the crime with which they had been charged. 

Opponents of the bill argued that its proposal to shift authority of recommitments to a state probate court risked public safety and that lawmakers should hold off on any changes until a task force currently studying the issue weighs in next year. 

On Monday, Sen. Gary Winfield, a New Haven Democrat who co-chairs the Judiciary Committee, said the existence of the task force factored into the decision not to move forward with the bill this session. The committee will revisit the issue next year, he said.

“Next year is the year you might see some movement,” Winfield said. “You no longer have the — I don’t want to use the word ‘excuse’ — but the excuse that we’re waiting on a report from the task force. Everything is in play now and it’s a good time for the legislature to make a decision.”

—A proposal that sought to require companies that repair motorized wheelchairs to be more responsive to customers who depend on the chairs to get around. The bill would have mandated that repair companies respond to customer inquiries within three days. It also would have created a working group to set regulations for timely repairs. 

The initiative was a legislative response to wheelchair users with disabilities who have reported being stranded without their power wheelchairs as a shrinking number of repair operations sometimes take months to fix the often customized equipment. 

The bill was passed out of the Human Services Committee and sent to the Judiciary Committee, which was in the process of tweaking the proposal’s language when it hit its deadline at 5 pm on Friday. 

On Monday, Winfield said the timing of the wheelchair bill’s referral to his committee made its passage unlikely due to the number of bills which Judiciary handles each session.

“Sending a bill to the Judiciary Committee prior to its [Joint Favorable] deadline is not a good way to keep the bill alive,” Winfield said. “We have so much product that it’s very unlikely we’re going to get to any of those bills.”

In a statement on Monday, Jonathan Sigworth, an advocate and wheelchair user, said proponents of the bill would lobby lawmakers to include the bill in another legislative vehicle this year. 

“This is just too important for our health and safety, and basic independence, to let it go yet another year,” he said.

—Another proposal that failed after being referred to the Judiciary Committee was a bill seeking to prevent insurance carriers from classifying entire breeds of dogs as aggressive and therefore more expensive or risky to insure.

The bill, which came out of the Insurance Committee on a unanimous vote, would have prevented insurance companies from denying coverage or setting higher premiums solely based on the breed of a homeowner’s or renter’s dog. 

The Judiciary Committee held the bill over cognizance concerns late in its Friday meeting, effectively stopping it for the year. 

Other panels, like the Government Administration and Elections Committee, also declined to act on high profile bills in recent days. Last week, a leader of the GAE panel said the committee did not have the time or “bandwidth” to advance legislation on ranked choice voting.

—The committee also opted against a controversial proposal to mandate that qualified voters cast ballots in elections

In early March, the committee heard testimony on the bill which would have required eligible Connecticut residents to vote or provide a reason for not voting. Although it received support from a former secretary of the state, the bill also prompted strong opposition from residents who argued it infringed on their rights by forcing them to participate.

At the time, the bill’s proponent, Rep. Josh Elliott, D-Hamden, said he did not expect his bill to pass out of committee.

“I’ve already done what I want, which is just having a conversation and getting this idea into the water so we can start fleshing out what people’s concerns are,” Elliott said.