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End-Of-Session 'Christmas Tree' Bill No Way To Make Law

Hartford Courant Editorial, December 10, 2015

The General Assembly's huge end-of-session implementer bill is typically festooned with provisions few people know about.

Sneaking "rats" into law is bad: CT unions and businesses agree

An unusual partnership of businesses, the state AFL-CIO labor union and municipalities is decrying the sneaky practice of inserting pet projects and special favors into budget implementation bills without notification, bypassing the legislative vetting process.

May they succeed in stopping lawmakers from cramming these bills with last-minute "rats" (in legislative lingo) that don't get proper scrutiny.

The implementer is a bill that changes statutes to put into effect the provisions of a newly adopted state budget. Lawmakers have very little time to scan the humongous thing before voting on it. June's implementer bill was about 700 pages. It included provisions that didn't go through public hearings and would not have become law but for hitchhiking onto this bill.

For example, buried in the June implementer was a measure for getting paid family and medical leave underway in Connecticut by hiring a consultant to plan it. But the paid family leave bill was never raised for a vote in either chamber. It was thought to be dead until it turned up in the 422nd section of the implementer. CT Needs Serious Union Concessions To Fix Budget CT Needs Serious Union Concessions To Fix Budget

This isn't the way to make law. A Republican lawmaker was right to describe the implementer as "a Christmas tree of sorts." Recently the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and the Connecticut AFL-CIO met and agreed that one of their top concerns was greater transparency on budget implementation and an end to "unvetted state law."

Amen to that. Legislators must stop circumventing the legislative process.

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