The House of Representatives chamber at the state Capitol in Hartford. (CTNewsJunkie photo)

Connecticut’s state legislature convened for brief technical sessions Monday morning, when lawmakers waived the opportunity to override any of the five vetoes issued this year by Gov. Ned Lamont.

The governor has signed 233 bills that were passed during the 2023 legislative session that began in January and concluded last month. Meanwhile, he vetoed five bills including proposals that passed unanimously through both chambers of the legislature.

Although Monday’s mandatory technical sessions provided lawmakers the opportunity to override those rejections through two-thirds votes of both chambers, legislative leaders said a number of factors complicate the process of reversing a veto including difficulties reassembling the part-time legislature in July. 

“I remind people, just because a bill passed 151 to nothing or 130 to 20 in a regular session – a veto session is very unique,” House Speaker Matt Ritter said Monday. “Number one, you are always missing tons of people. It’s just inevitable. Attendance is always lighter for a veto session.”

Bills vetoed by the governor included HB 6496, An Act Concerning Test Bed Technologies, SB 73, An Act Establishing Local Representation on the Connecticut Siting Council for Local Projects, SB 1213, An Act Concerning the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Fund, HB 6893, An Act Concerning Certain Adjustments to Gross Assessments of Taxable Real Property, and SB 1143, An Act Concerning Solid Waste Management Throughout the State. 

After discussing the vetoes with Senate leaders and legislative Republicans, Ritter said none of the rejections generated a groundswell of feedback that would suggest an appetite among rank-and-file lawmakers to reconvene and overturn the governor’s actions. 

“That just didn’t happen,” he said. “There were individual pockets of disappointment but it never rose to the level of ‘Let’s count this thing out and figure it out.’”

At least one legislator did push unsuccessfully for an override. Last month, Sen. Stephen Harding, R-Brookfield, issued a press release voicing disappointment and urging legislative leaders to call lawmakers into session in order to overturn Lamont’s veto of a proposal that would have added municipal representatives to a state siting council on utility projects.  

“The neighborhoods and local communities most impacted by Siting Council projects deserve a voice,” Harding said. “My colleagues in both the House and Senate supported this bill for that exact reason. It is a shame the Governor doesn’t believe these individuals deserve a voice.”

In his veto message, Lamont argued that towns already had opportunities to participate in the siting process and worried that changing the council would slow the progress of “climate-positive projects like transmission lines and solar facilities.”

Veto overrides are relatively rare in Connecticut. The last time state legislators voted to override a governor was in 2018, during Gov. Dannel Malloy’s second term in office. 

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff said Monday that the reluctance to reverse a veto stemmed in part from the General Assembly’s annual sessions. Proposals that do not earn the governor’s signature can be revisited next year, he said. 

“We work well with the administration,” Duff said. “A lot of times over my legislative career, bills have been vetoed and next year there’s a compromise worked out and things sail through.”

Duff said he expected lawmakers would revisit most of the issues rejected this year by the governor. 

Meanwhile, Ritter suggested legislative leaders may have been more inclined to override vetoes if Lamont hadn’t used them so sparingly. 

“The governor has not vetoed many bills. You have to remember that too,” he said. “If any governor is vetoing tons of bills then I think the legislature is going to respond in kind. When the vetoes are used – in this case, what? One percent of the time? – there’s deference you’ve got to give there.”