Advocates march to the state Capitol on May 1, 2023 Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

The 2023 Connecticut legislative session wrapped up at midnight on Wednesday, ending a five-month struggle for countless causes, advocates, and public officials all hoping to see their interests moved across the finish line and signed into state law. 

Here are just a few of the people and ideas that found success in 2023 as well as a handful that will have to try again next year. 



The two-year state budget adopted by policymakers this session included the first reduction in income tax rates since the 1990s. The cuts, targeted at single filers earning less than $150,000 and households making less than $300,000, will reduce the current rates of 5% and 3% to 4.5% and 2% respectively and are expected to impact around 1 million taxpayers. 

Other tax breaks in the budget included increases to the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-earning working families and more flexible eligibility for a credit affecting pension and annuity as well as IRA deductions.

Gun Regulation Advocates

Both chambers of the legislature passed a comprehensive update to Connecticut’s gun laws over the objections of Second Amendment advocates. The 148-page bill made a number of changes and updates, including restrictions on the open carry of firearms, an expansion of an existing assault weapons ban, and an increase in the minimum age to buy a semiautomatic rifle to 21 years-old. 

The bill also contained policies requested by a coalition of mayors, which were designed to accelerate prosecution of repeat gun crime offenders as well as make it easier to limit or revoke their bail or probation if they are re-arrested. 

Gov. Ned Lamont signed the bill into law on Tuesday. 

Gov. Ned Lamont Credit: Christine Stuart photo

Ned Lamont

The governor saw many of his top priorities clear the legislative process more or less intact this year. They included the aforementioned gun law as well as the broad-based cuts to the state income tax, which he proposed at the start of the session.

Lamont and legislative Republicans were also successful in holding the line on strict adherence to a set of fiscal guardrails during this year’s budget negotiations, rejecting as “gimmicks” Democratic efforts to skirt spending constraints in an effort to provide more funding for a variety of causes. 

The legislature did hand Lamont some setbacks, however, including an implicit rejection of his state Supreme Court nominee. Federal prosecutor Sandra Slack Glover withdrew her name from consideration after it became apparent she lacked the support in the Judiciary Committee, in part due to her 2017 endorsement of now U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett to serve as an appellate judge. 

Baby Bonds

Starting July 1, the state will set aside $3,200 for each child covered by Medicaid when they are born. Between the ages of 18 and 30, they can use the money for an approved set of expenses that includes attending college, starting a business or buying a home. 

The deposits will be done through the Baby Bonds program, an initiative that lawmakers approved in 2021 and will finally come to life thanks to a deal between Lamont and Treasurer Erick Russell

Lamont did not support bonding to get the program started. Russell found $381 million, freed up from a reserve account for prior borrowing, to fund the program for 12 years. Each child covered by Husky at birth is eligible. 

Russell estimates those people stand to receive between $11,000 and $24,000, depending on how long they wait before withdrawing. 

Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Roadway Safety Advocates

The legislature adopted several policies intended to make Connecticut roads safer following one of the deadliest years on state roadways in recent memory. 

After rejecting the idea for more than a decade, lawmakers approved legislation allowing automated traffic enforcement cameras as part of a wide-ranging bill from a multiagency traffic safety panel. The legislation gives towns the option to pursue state approval to install the cameras and included a number of safeguards which proponents hope will ease longstanding concerns over the cameras’ potential impact on civil liberties, privacy and due process.

Fines issued by participating municipalities will eventually range from from $50 on a first offense to $75 for subsequent offenses.

Lawmakers also passed legislation intended to deter wrong-way driving collisions by expanding the use of alert systems. Although policymakers have previously attempted to address an increasing number of wrong-way accidents, the issue became more personal for legislators this year following the January death of Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams, D-Middletown, in a collision with a driver traveling in the wrong direction on Route 9. 


Connecticut joined 46 other states this session in offering an in-person early voting option beginning next year. The legislature responded to a constitutional amendment to allow the practice, which was approved by more than 60% of voters during the last election. Under the new law, which Lamont signed on Wednesday, voters will have 14 days to cast ballots before general elections as well as four days for a special election or presidential primary.

However, it’s unclear whether the legislature approved enough money for towns to implement the program. On Monday, Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas said the roughly $3 million included in the budget to support the policy amounted to “roughly half of the bare minimum that municipalities will need to successfully implement Early Voting.” Legislative leaders have said more money can be approved next session if necessary. 

The legislature also approved a resolution to put a constitutional amendment before voters next year in an effort to allow no-excuse access to absentee ballots. 

Conard High School voting booths Credit: Christine Stuart photo

Witch Trial Victims

Lawmakers in both chambers voted to absolve the victims of colonial-era witch trials who were convicted and in some cases executed for the crimes of witchcraft and “familiarity with the devil.”

The resolution mirrors efforts in other states like Massachusetts to reconcile with the persecution and execution of colonists, most of them women, on witchcraft-related charges in the 17th century. All told, a dozen people were convicted at witch trials in what is now Connecticut. Eleven of them were executed. 

Descendants of some of those victims asked the legislature to exonerate their ancestors during a public hearing in March. 



The biennium budget includes a 2.5% increase for nonprofit service providers. That’s significantly less than 9% bump the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance wanted next year, followed by 7% the following year. 

The alliance made a big push to get more funding in the budget, including a rally at the Capitol two weeks before the end of the legislative session. Lawmakers, though, said a list of statutory constraints on the budget limited how much they could increase spending.

Ultimately lawmakers allowed $50 million in funding in the form of a bonus to nonprofit workers in the first year of the budget. The spending plans include another $50 million in the second year, giving the workers a 2.5% cost of living adjustment. 

Labor Policies

Although the Labor and Public Employees Committee advanced a long list of pro-labor bills this year, most of them failed to pass before Wednesday’s deadline. An expansion of Connecticut’s paid sick leave program won passage through the Senate, only to meet resistance in the House where members were concerned about extending the requirement to the state’s smallest employers. 

Other bills that died on the calendar this year included the One Fair Wage proposal, that would have eliminated a subminimum wage for tipped workers, new pay and benefit standards for rideshare drivers, as well as a predictable scheduling proposal that would have required large restaurant and retailer chains to pay employees extra if they changed their work schedules on late notice. 

A bill to extend unemployment benefits to striking workers failed to gain traction this year after passing the Senate last year. 

SEIU 1199 workers strike outside the Capitol Credit: Mike Savino photo

Zoning Reform

Housing advocates have been demanding legislative policies that would help increase the access to affordable places to live. Chief among those priorities was zoning reform. 

That effort made little progress this year. Lawmakers did approve a study on affordable housing, with an emphasis on what so-called fair share laws would look like and how that would impact municipalities. 

Advocates say too many towns have strict zoning laws that prevent developers from building more affordable housing. They wanted the state to require towns to change. 

Republicans and moderate Democrats remained strongly opposed to state interference with local control of zoning rules. Even Lamont has said he prefers the current statutes, which allow developers to sue towns over zoning decisions when affordable housing plans are denied. 

That doesn’t mean the legislature failed to act on affordable housing, though. Lawmakers did include $600 million in bonding for affordable housing in the bond package and another $150 million for Lamont’s Time To Own down-payment assistance programs.

Democrats also approved strengthening protections for renters. 

Higher Education

The University of Connecticut and Connecticut State College and University System spent much of the session pleading for more money

The good news: the approved budget includes an extra $150 million combined next year above what Lamont proposed for the two higher education systems. 

The schools say that’s still far from what they need, though. The CSCU system in particular warned in April that it’s facing a $335.1-million deficit over the next two years, and the additional money still won’t completely close the gap. 

CSCU officials have warned they’ll have to make drastic cuts, including layoffs, to get their budget in balance. 

Lamont remains skeptical about the system’s claims about its financial situation, however, questioning as recently as Tuesday how CSCU can be losing money at a time when its funding is rising and its enrollment is dropping. 

UConn students and staff rally over the university’s funding on Feb. 15, 2023 Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Immigrant Medicaid Coverage

A session-long campaign to raise the Medicaid coverage age for otherwise eligible undocumented immigrants fell short of its goal. Under a bill passed last year, immigrant children can qualify for coverage until age 12 and remain enrolled through the age of 18. This year, advocates had sought to raise the eligibility age to 26.

Faced with spending constraints and limited data on the impact of the last expansion, lawmakers declined to raise the age to 26. However, they did increase the age to 15 years old. 

Universal School Lunches

Advocates pushed this session to continue universal school lunches next school year, but lawmakers didn’t come up with the money needed to make it happen. 

Schools have been able to offer free lunches to all students thanks to federal funding that expires at the end of the current year. The budget includes $16 million in unused money from the American Rescue Plan to provide free breakfasts or lunches to students from households earning no more than 200% the federal poverty level. 

Proponents said the money helps, but wonder how effective it will ultimately be. Districts have to apply for the money, and many will have to make changes to their cafeteria point-of-sale system to accept the aid. 

At the same time, supporters of universal meals claim some eligible families don’t apply when free lunches are income-based because of the stigma. Free Meals 4 All CT coordinator Lucy Nolan said many districts may just forgo the funding. 

The group estimated it would cost $70 million to $90 million to provide all students statewide with a free lunch. 


Lawmakers once again declined to adopt pizza as the state food.