Issues Up For Discussion During The 2010 Legislative Session

February 2, 2010

Just before the start of each legislative session, the General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research (OLR) releases a report outlining issues that nonpartisan staff believe might come up for consideration.

Not surprisingly, the annual OLR Major Issues report is always interesting as it represents the “best guess” of nonpartisan staff members who routinely communicate with legislators of both political parties and, therefore, have reason to know what is on the minds of lawmakers as they prepare for the session. In putting together its report, OLR takes into account the professional insight of nonpartisan staff, interim legislative studies, research requests, and non-confidential discussions with legislators and others involved in the legislative process. However, it is important to note that this report does not include suggestions or recommendations from the General Assembly’s nonpartisan staff.

Many legislators and members of their staff will be familiar with the issues report by the time the 2010 session opens on February 3rd and Governor M. Jodi Rell presents her budget proposal to the General Assembly. Not surprisingly, the state budget, along with projected deficits for this and future fiscal years, is included in the OLR report. It is no secret that we are already facing a deficit in excess of $500 million along with falling revenues.

As a member of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, I will continue advocating for solutions to our fiscal problems, which should include restructuring state government so that it is smaller and more cost efficient. However, while eliminating the deficit and restoring economic prosperity will be the most important issues confronted by the General Assembly this year, they will not be the only ones. According to the OLR report, the General Assembly may address a great many more issues during this three-month legislative session, including those dealing with banking, adoption, redeveloping brownfields, gasoline pricing, alcohol sales, criminal justice, education, the environment, campaign finance, voter registration, workforce development, housing, nursing home funding and oversight, health insurance, labor and employment issues, job growth, municipal finance, regionalization, public health, public safety and transportation.

Among the more interesting issues the General Assembly will likely consider this year is the credit crisis. The OLR report notes that the legislature’s Banks Committee, of which I am the Senate’s ranking member, will probably look at initiatives to increase commercial credit availability in an effort to help small businesses. I also serve as a ranking member of the Human Services Committee which, according to the OLR report, may look at ways to better control the cost of social service programs and services for which there has been increased demand due to the recession.

I expect this legislative session to be exciting, and for the legislative process to progress at near lightning speed. When you consider all that must be accomplished between opening day this week and the end of session of on May 5th, it is easy to see why legislators are already moving quickly to schedule committee meetings and public hearings. I will keep you informed as the legislative process progresses.

Meanwhile, I will count on you to share your concerns and ideas about the issues under consideration by the General Assembly. As always, your input is invaluable to me as I continue my work as your voice in the State Senate. I can be reached at my legislative office in Hartford at 1-800-842-1421, or send me an e-mail at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.