Conn. Democrats’ Fundraiser Complicates Special Session

The special session of the Connecticut General Assembly has more business to take up than in the past but the Democrats’ biggest fundraiser of the year is set for the same date as the first day of the special session. Just how that will complicate things is unclear but it’s likely to squeeze the legislature’s time for some important bills including the state budget.

The annual Jefferson, Jackson, Bailey dinner—this year starring progressive star Massachusetts US Sen. Elizabeth Warren—is set for June 29th. The special session is set for June 29th and 30th (although the “call,” which outlines the date and business for the session has not yet been issued). The JJB is the single biggest fundraiser of the year for the party and usually turns out a big crowd that includes elected officials from all levels including state senators and representatives.

As it is, there is already a lot of business for the General Assembly to consider including some criminal justice reforms and the onerous state budget. Bills such as mandatory police body cameras and Gov. Malloy’s “Second Chance Society” program that reforms sentencing for drug possession arrests are likely to be on the agenda. The latter is likely to be “a talker” or a measure that will generate significant debate.

running out of time clock

Also to be considered is the state budget. The version that passed both the Senate and the House but yet to be signed by the governor is very much still up in the air. Malloy wants changes made to it including rolling back some $200 million in taxes on businesses. And he wants it done in a bill that puts the budget into law or, an “implementer” bill.

As the Shad has written before, it’s not unusual for the majority party to insert seemingly dead bills into law by sticking them into an implementer. But this is the state budget for the next two years and Malloy wants significant changes to it. It would seem logical (and fair) that he veto the approved budget bill and have the legislature start over with his changes.

Both the JJB dinner and the fact that it’s very much up in the air as to whether Democrats will even accept the governor’s changes to the spending plan greatly complicate things as far as time allowed for debate. Some Democrats are unhappy that the cuts that would be needed to make up for the business tax rollback fall heavily on education, aid to cities and town as well as social services all of which were protected in the approved budget.

It’s curious as to why the majority chose to open the special session for the same day as their JJB fundraiser. Perhaps it was intentional so debate on the bills at hand is limited. Both parties are commonly respectful to each other when it comes to their time. One usually doesn’t object to the other’s wishes when it comes to special events. But this year is different on some many different levels.

Stay tuned.