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House To Meet This Week -- June 2 -- in Special Session for Bond Package

House To Meet This Week -- June 2 --  in Special Session for Bond Package

Hartford Courant, May 31, 2016

Christopher Keating

HARTFORD — The state House of Representatives will meet in a special session Thursday, but it is still unclear whether lawmakers will vote on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's controversial criminal justice reforms.

The House needs to return to vote on the annual bond package of construction projects that has already passed in the Senate. But legislators said Friday they are unsure if they will also vote on Malloy's Second Chance Society proposals.

That decision will not be made until lawmakers discuss the issue in a closed-door caucus. Malloy's legislation calls for changes in the way young criminals are treated by the courts, and the changes would go further than any other state in the nation has gone, administration officials said.

The proposal envisions a new legal category of "young adult" criminals within the juvenile justice system. The group would include 18-year-olds, beginning July 1, 2017; 19-year-olds, beginning July 1, 2018; and 20-year-olds, beginning July 1, 2019.

The measure also would alter the way bail is handled, including eliminating cash bail for most misdemeanor charges while still giving judges the authority to impose non-financial conditions on a defendant, such as GPS monitoring so that those arrested would not be kept in jail.

Legislators Coming For Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner back to top

Many Democratic legislators from around the state will be in Hartford Thursday because it is the same day as the year's biggest Democratic fundraiser, previously known for decades as the Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner.

The dinner will be held at the Connecticut Convention Center with former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as the guest speaker.

When the House adjourned two weeks ago, lawmakers had not yet tackled the annual bond package, which includes both additions and subtractions from the list of construction projects that state lawmakers want to build.

The measure passed 34-2 in the Senate, but the House members knew they needed to return at a future date for a special session to vote on the package. The bond bill cancels nearly $900 million in general obligation bonds, along with deferring and canceling another $106 million in various categories.

At the same time, senators voted for nearly $360 million in new projects, including $181 million to upgrade the aging State Office Building on Capitol Avenue, across the street from the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford.

Other projects were postponed, and the money was reallocated to the office building because it was deemed a high priority, lawmakers said. In addition, they voted for $60 million in improvements at York Correctional Institution in East Lyme.

The bill cancels the following projects, among others: $10 million for improvements at nursing homes, $10 million for the removal of hazardous waste at contaminated sites, $6.5 million for road and infrastructure repairs related to Rentschler Field in East Hartford, and $5 million for developing a new courthouse in Bridgeport.