Bickering Underway Before Special Session Starts

Join me Tuesday morning for previews of the General Assembly’s special session. NBC-Connecticut (Ch. 30) at (approx.) 6:30 am. Then on FOX-Connecticut (Ch. 61) in the 8 am hour.


Democrats are including their special pet projects. Republicans are bemoaning “one-party rule.” In other words, all is just about right with the Connecticut General Assembly as they get ready for Tuesday’s special session that is ostensibly being held to implement adjustments to the state budget. As a subplot, a key senator says the now well-known “Roll Your Own” tobacco bill was always intended to be taken up in the special session even before it became the center of an FBI investigation. That probe has resulted in the arrest of the finance director of Speaker of the House Chris Donovan’s congressional race. As a result, Donovan will be sitting this one out, trying to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Senate Majority Leader Marty Looney says that as the close of the regular session approached last month, it became clear that taking up the Roll Your Own bill would suck up precious time for other bills. Republicans had marked the bill as a “talker”—a bill that the minority party would discuss at length. As such, Democrats decided to include it in the budget implementer. All of this occurred before the Donovan scandal broke. The Roll Your Own bill reclassifies tobacco shops as manufacturers and subjects them to fees and taxes. Democrats say it’s a matter of fairness. Republicans say it’s a tax increase and could put the shops out of business.

The special session posturing also includes complaints from Republicans that Democrats are making a mockery of the process, abusing their power as the majority party, and any number of other outrages that can be rectified by winning some more elections.

Not in question is the fate of the “Jobs Bill” that expands the definition of “small business” for the purpose of qualifying for the “Step Up Program” that subsidizes the hiring of new employees. Veterans also are included in expansion. The bill passed the Senate 32 to 2 in the regular session but was never taken up by the House.