Senator: Legislature to Use Emergency Certification to Pass Omnibus Post-Newtown Bill

Connecticut legislative leaders will use a means to bypass the usual committee process to pass a comprehensive bill dealing with school safety, gun control and mental illness by the end of next month according to a leading state senator.

State Senate Majority Leader Marty Looney, who has been in the forefront of the issues involved, tells The Hanging Shad that the comprehensive bill that will come out of the special legislative task force will be passed via an emergency certification (e-cert). It may be controversial because by definition, the bill is supposed to address an emergency. (Many—including The Shad—think the post-Newtown issues do in fact constitute an “emergency.”)

In reality, all it takes for a bill to be e-certed is for the senate president and the speaker of the house to sign two forms. In my years on staff in the legislature, I can’t remember a single time that an e-certed bill wasn’t disputed. Opponents of the bill in question argue there is no “emergency” and the committee process should be followed.

The legislative task force has three working groups that will hold public hearings in an expedited manner. There will be four hearing by three working groups within the task force—the school safety issue (hearing is Friday); the gun control piece co-chaired by Looney (hearing is Monday); and the mental health aspect (Tuesday). Then the entire task force will hold a hearing in Newtown next Wednesday.

As to whether action on the state level really being effective, Looney is hopeful. “We have to do something on the state level because we’re not sure what can pass on the federal level [given that the Republicans control the House].”