The General Assembly’s Work Continues: Veto Session Scheduled For June 21st

June 15, 2010

This year’s regular session ended in early May, but the General Assembly’s work for the year can never be considered complete until legislators reconvene to respond to any vetoes issued by the Governor. This year, the General Assembly will hold its veto session on June 21st. At that time, legislators will have the opportunity to decide which, if any, of Governor M. Jodi Rell’s 13 vetoes they will attempt to override. A two-thirds vote of both the Senate and the House of Representatives is required to override a gubernatorial veto.

One veto I do not want the General Assembly to override is Governor Rell’s rejection of Senate Bill 493, a far-reaching energy reform bill that was passed in the final hours of the legislative session. While supporters hope this new initiative would lower electric bills in Connecticut, there is reason to fear that it would end up hurting the people it is meant to help: households and businesses that are already paying some of the highest electric bills in the nation. Certain provisions of this legislation seem promising, but are overshadowed by others that I fear could have the unfortunate effect of derailing benefits we are just now starting to see as a result of the General Assembly’s 1998 vote to deregulate the electricity market. Among other things, this new initiative creates the framework for a new, potentially expensive, state bureaucracy. Most importantly, while this legislation calls for lowering electric rates by 15% in July 2012 (an arbitrary and unachievable goal) in fact, it could cost ratepayers millions.

In her veto message, Governor Rell noted that while legislators, industry experts and the public may have had a chance to review and comment on various provisions of the bill, the rush to pass it before the session ended left no time for a public hearing of the entire, extremely complicated, initiative. I agree with Governor Rell who wrote in her veto message that “I believe the best way to make the necessary improvements to our systems for energy generation, supply, and regulation is to prepare legislation within the parameters of the normal legislative process, with its requisite transparency, public and legislative input, stakeholder participation and deliberation. I encourage all members of the General Assembly to begin meeting now, in an open and transparent process, to thoroughly examine how the goals of this bill can be achieved without jeopardizing the progress that we have made and increasing rates.”

Governor Rell vetoed 12 additional bills this year, including initiatives calling for alternative tax on the larger individual bonuses granted by companies that received funding directly from the federal Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP); requiring municipalities of 40,000 or fewer people to create regional public safety emergency telecommunications centers by July 1, 2016 in order to continue receiving enhanced 9-1-1 funding from the state; and a bill prohibiting criminal background checks on prospective state employees until it has otherwise been determined that they are qualified for the jobs. I voted against the TARP bonus tax bill, but voted in favor of the other two pieces of legislation.

As always, I urge constituents to contact me with their questions and concerns, or to discuss issues that are important to Connecticut. I can be reached at my legislative office in Hartford at 1-800-842-1421 or via e-mail to [email protected].