General Assembly Goes Sine Die Having Passed Only One Bill
CT News Junkie, May 7, 2020
By Christine Stuart
Legislative leadership in the Senate and the House convened a brief legislative session Wednesday to adjourn the 2020 session.
In the Senate, Senate President Martin Looney thanked Republican Leader Len Fasano for his 18 years of service, calling him a “model statesman.”
Fasano is not running for re-election and traditionally would have been remembered by his colleagues for hours on the last day of the session. His tribute Wednesday lasted only five minutes.
“I know we do have a large consent calendar today,” Fasano joked.
He said he never expected it to be in an empty building on the last day of session and he never expected to participate in a session where only one piece of legislation was passed.
The bond package the legislature approved March 11 was the only piece of legislation that passed and was signed by Gov. Ned Lamont.
There were two bills on the House calendar Wednesday, including an “An Act Concerning Immunizations,” which was the controversial bill that contemplated grandfathering in children with religious exemptions to vaccines and eliminating the exemptions for newborns and children who didn’t have them. The bill passed the Public Health Committee in February.
In the House, Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides are not seeking re-election.
Klarides, who spoke first, said the past two months have been a “jarring experience” that made her appreciate the frantic and hectic pace the end of a legislative session typically brings.
“This is bittersweet in so many ways,” she said.
Aresimowicz agreed that it was a bittersweet day.
Bi-artisan praise back to top
House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said Klarides had the respect of the chamber and was prepared every single day, which made it tough on his members sometimes.
“You set a tone with your skill set and with your drive and it trickles down in this chamber,” Ritter said. “You’re formidable. So we’re not going to miss you and that formidableness that you bring.”
Ritter also complimented Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration for what it’s done over the last 60 days without the help of the legislature. He wondered whether the administration missed the legislature to take on some of the burden of governing and the criticism that comes with that.
“Our responsibility is not punted, it’s just delayed,” Ritter said of the legislature.
The legislature is expected to convene a special session, but they were unable to say what that would look like and what legislation they need to pass when they reconvene.
Aresimowicz said they have been working and have been on the phone evaluating the executive orders, raising issues with the Department of Labor and nursing homes.
He said some of the members are delivering meals and others are delivering masks.
“This has been a tough time for all of us,” he added.
Ritter apologized to Aresimowicz for having this be his last day.
“I’m going to miss you, I’m sorry this is your last day,” Ritter said.
The legislature was only in session 20 times this year because of public health concerns that limited gathering within the constitutionally-mandated timeframe.