Legislative Accomplishments: Definitions Vary

The day after the legislative session is always a time for reflection for lawmakers on where they succeeded and where they failed.

For Republicans, they viewed one measure's failure as a tremendous victory.

“I’m most proud of not getting tolls passed. I’ll tell you that," said Rep. Themis Klarides, (R - Derby), the top Republican in the Connecticut House. "They never thought it through properly this year. They never thought it through properly last year and that should give the people of Connecticut very serious concern about how they are trying to put forward policies in this state.”

In stark contrast, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, (D - Berlin), the Speaker of the House, had a list of bills sitting in front of him during his post-session press conference with a list of bills that passed that he viewed as accomplishments.

The top of the list featured a measure aimed at helping women achieve pay equity in the workplace by banning the question of pay history during job interviews.

“Pay equity for women, something long overdue.," Aresimowicz said. "Putting them on an equal playing field when it comes to negotiations.”

On tolls, lawmakers toward the end of the session were only going to consider a measure that would have studied the topic and then returned that information to lawmakers before the next session when a decision could have been made. A vote never took place.

Klarides argued the issue was never fully examined by Democrats, despite her successful efforts to kill the measure that would have provided more information.

She said during a news conference at the Legislative Office Building, “All we have to work with are these proposals and then they get scared and say, 'well, let’s study it,' well what have we been doing for years and now all of a sudden we’re going to study it? Has it been a non-study before? What somebody just came up with it over coffee one day at Starbucks? What does that leave us to believe? That they haven’t studied it? No, they haven’t.”

Democrats failed to even bring up for a vote a bill that could have raised the minimum wage in Connecticut $15 per hour. The issue was a priority at the beginning of the session, but as the days and weeks passed, the arguments for raising it from $10.10, got weaker, according to the Speaker of the House.

Lawmakers did not pass a bill raising the minimum wage in Connecticut during this year’s legislative session.

“We’ve done a few minimum wage increases," Aresimowivz said, referring to Connecticut raising the wage years ago. "We haven’t seen the results and the boost in the economy that we thought, so that argument became a little more difficult. Seeing the lagging growth in the state of Connecticut when the reports come out, make it a little more difficult.”

On the minimum wage issue, Klarides said the issue needs to be discussed as part of a larger conversation on taxes and the state's business climate.

Klarides said, “When you are putting limitations on businesses in one way but not helping them in another to actually grow because growing businesses and making people want to be here because they can afford to be here is what’s going to help everybody.”

President Trump’s tax cut reduced the amount of property tax deductions many Connecticut residents can take on their federal returns, but lawmakers here passed a bill to try and mitigate that.
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