Time running out for hundreds of bills at state Capitol

Connecticut lawmakers began to vote on remaining bills of the 2024 legislative season with only a few weeks left.

John Craven

Apr 17, 2024, 9:47 PM

Updated 38 days ago

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Connecticut lawmakers just started voting on bills on Wednesday, with less than three weeks remaining in the 2024 legislative session.
Hundreds of bills are in still in limbo, including more money for public colleges and critical nonprofits.
STATE BUDGET LIMBO
At Connecticut State Community College’s Norwalk campus, students are facing yet another tuition hike. If state lawmakers don't step in, they will pay 5% more this fall.
“Working and all those tuitions and fees are extremely high for me to pay out of pocket,” said freshman Natalie Valentin.
On Wednesday, top Democrats said they are close to finding at least $300 million more for higher education and nonprofits – without busting the state’s spending cap.
“We’ve always said $300 - $400 million,” said Connecticut House Speaker Matt Ritter (D-Hartford). “Said it 1,000 times, and I’ll say it 1,000 times more. I believe we’ll get to that number, in that range.”
Republicans are skeptical.
“I’m hoping that it’s not involving a black hat, a cape and a magic wand, because it seems that's where they’re going with budgeting,” said House Minority Leader Vin Candelora (R-North Branford).
CLOCK IS TICKING
Time is running out for nearly 600 bills, including two that address absentee ballot abuse in Bridgeport. The proposals would require the State Elections Enforcement Commission to refer cases to prosecutors within 90 days, require security cameras outside every ballot drop box and even allow for a state takeover of local elections.
Also in limbo? A controversial proposal to lower Connecticut's legal blood alcohol content to .05. Drunk driving victims came to the Capitol Wednesday morning, urging lawmakers to pass the bills.
A drunk driver killed Angela Loprete’s daughter.
“Instead of the wedding dress, we had to pick out the dress that she had to be buried in,” she said.
Alcohol-related deaths are rising in Connecticut. For state lawmakers, the issue is personal. State Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams was killed in a crash last year. Although state police faulted the other driver for driving the wrong way, an accident report revealed that both she and Williams were intoxicated.
“Our crashes and crash-related fatalities are going in the wrong direction,” said state Sen. Christine Cohen (D-Guilford).
But the proposal is unlikely to get a vote this year.
“I think the federal government has set a standard,” Ritter told reporters. “And if you’re going to do something, it's best to do it regionally, perhaps – if not nationwide.”
Other bills still on the table include added protections for home health care workers and paid sick days for all workers.
STREET TAKEOVERS, JONATHAN THE HUSKY
The House did approve a crackdown on dangerous “street takeovers” on Wednesday. It comes after several violent incidents, including one in West Haven.
“It was just a massive police effort that resulted in two shootings, elderly people being beaten up on the beach,” said state Rep. Charles Ferraro (R-West Haven).
Just moments after lawmakers honored the two-time national championship UConn Huskies men’s basketball team, the House approved a bill making the Siberian Husky the official state dog.
Jonathan IV’s handler read his testimony for the legislation last month.
"Fourteen Huskies like me presided over the exciting history of the University of Connecticut,” handler Laura Centanni told lawmakers. “And while it’s a great responsibility, I am excited to be the next iteration of a symbol that unifies and energizes Nutmeggers nationwide."
The state Senate also passed a bill preventing Connecticut from submitting fake presidential electors to Congress. The legislation specifies that the Secretary of the State is the sole official responsible for submitting electors.
"There is perhaps nothing more important than modernizing and validating our presidential elections processes, especially in light of the threats that our democracy faced in the 2020 election and its aftermath, " said state Senate President Martin Looney (D-New Haven). "By making this change today, we are taking part in the larger, national discussion of what it means to value and protect our elections and forestall ambiguity that could lead to bad-faith actions."


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