DID RELL PRESSURE KISSEL TO CHANGE HIS VOTE ON SENTENCING COMMISSION?

As The Hanging Shad pointed out earlier this week, state Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield), the ranking member on the Judiciary committee, inexplicably changed his position on an important bill during the recent veto session. The bill, which would have established a commission to review prison sentencing policies on an on-going basis, was vetoed by Gov. Rell but the veto was overridden by the legislature—no thanks to Sen. Kissel.

The strange part is that Kissel spoke out strongly in favor of the bill when it first passed the state Senate. He said, in part, “[This commission is] something that we worked on very diligently over a year ago…It’s not something that is considered a liberal idea or a conservative idea, but it’s the notion of having a sentencing commission that we can bounce ideas off…[W]e tried to create a sentencing commission that…would have the best minds on it familiar with all aspects of our criminal justice system…So, for that reason, Mr. President, I stand in strong support of this proposal.”

But when it came time to support the bill by voting to override the governor’s veto as Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) did, Kissel sided with the governor. Why the change of heart? Word around the Capitol is that Gov. Rell personally called Kissel, asking him to sustain her veto despite his past, strong support for the bill. Kissel acquiesced.

It seems Kissel really wanted the governor to appear with him this week at an announcement of some bond money for the town of Somers. It would have made for an awkward moment (if it happened at all) if Kissel went against the governor and then wanted her to stand with him.

So much for the courage of one’s convictions.