House Gets Busy Passing Wide-Range of Legislation

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The House met Wednesday to take up 10 pieces of legislation and four judicial nominations that Democratic lawmakers felt were necessary to approve before the start of the next regular session in January.

Connecticut has a part-time legislature and due to COVID-19 only one chamber can be in the building at a time. 

"School construction is specific to projects that need to be started now, the absentee ballot fix the election is 30 some days away so those are the ones the other ones are best business practices,” House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said.

The energy bill which changes how utilities are regulated is one of the 10 bills that didn't necessarily have a deadline attached to it.

Lawmakers are working on legislation in response to skyrocketing electric bills and some people losing power for up to a week following Tropical Storm Isaias.

 "We have a session coming up in few months. We wanted to address this now because we're still in hurricane season and we have bad winters here in Connecticut,” Aresimowicz said.

Minority Leader Themis Klarides argued that the governor has emergency powers and could have handled most of these changes without the legislature's help.

"You can't stand here and say and argue with us about wanting to extend the governor's absolute powers for five months then at the same time demand we come into special session to do bills that you can then for the pure purpose of going into an election in November,” Klarides said.

Klarides said they were able to make the energy bill better during discussions.

"It's at least a workable bill going forward that I would support,” Klarides said. 

Republicans will be supporting some of the bills Wednesday even if they don't believe they should have to vote on any of them. 

"We don't believe there's anything right now on this agenda that couldn't wait until January when regular session begins,” Klarides said. 

House Speaker Aresimowicz argued that it's necessary to do the bills, including the one that would allow election officials to open the outer envelope of the absentee ballot starting on Oct. 30 - allowing them to get a head start on processing the ballots. Another piece of legislation would change how polluted property is able to be sold. 

"If we waited for session it wouldn't take effect until the following year,” Aresimowicz said.

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