July 17, 2020
The latest from the folks across the street from the Capitol

From Paddi's Desk

The special session will kick off this week and changes to police accountability, updates to absentee voting rules and changes to public health policy are expected to be approved.
Most of the "controversial" topics will be left for another day, as the Senate and House will be testing their social distancing and technology accommodations for chamber debates and voting.

The public is invited to submit comments to legislators and provide input via listening forums that are being conducted over Zoom. Public input kicked off on Friday with the Judiciary Committee's forum on proposed language for police accountability. The Public Health Committee and Government & Elections Committees will follow suit at the beginning of the week.

As the Big Six Legislative Leaders and the Governor sorted through all the requests for issues to be taken up, one thing became clear-despite the many articles and press releases, there has been a collaborative approach on HOW this special session will run. They worked hard to make do with the situation and accommodate the many personal and health needs of 187 legislators.

Unlike past special sessions, where it felt more like "my way or the highway," there's a real sense of "we're in this together and we need to do this right." No one knows what the COVID-19 situation will look like in January when the newly elected General Assembly arrives in Hartford. But if next week's procedures can be successfully pulled off, then we may have a prototype for the 2021 session.

As I've mentioned before, three of the current Big Six Legislative Leaders are not seeking reelection. Once the November election reveals the majority party in the House, a new Speaker and Majority Leader will be elected by the chamber. For the minority party (whoever that will be) it's pretty clear who the leaders will probably be based on seniority and early vote counting.

If you are out and about, I'm sure you're seeing the same thing we're seeing: closed businesses, less traffic on the roads and a huge lack of convenience. Here on Capitol Avenue in Hartford, there's been no word yet on when the Legislative Office Building will reopen. Same goes for state agency offices.

My driver's license expires this month and I called back in June to find out how to renew it. Even though the Governor's executive order provided a 60-day extension, the earliest I could get an appointment at the DMV was late October. I ended up calling AAA, where I'm a member, and they slid me in for an appointment next week.

Many state websites still remain out-of-date, and they often tell folks to call 211-which is the state's free, confidential information and referral service that connects residents to essential health and human services. While the service is great for some things, it's not so great for providing residents vital information they need to take care of routine things. Even residents who are trying to talk to their elected representatives are being referred to 211.

As it has done with everything else, the inconveniences of the "new normal" are starting to infiltrate their way into state government and I expect that by the end of the summer many more residents will be clamoring for action and a place where they can get their needs processed.

With the temperature getting hotter and the elections get closer, I think the public's patience will continue to be tested. And their temperatures will probably rise as well. Stay tuned.

CT Agency Corner
Governor Lamont Won't Invest in Aging Trash Plant in Hartford 
  by Mike Johnson

Gov. Ned Lamont's administration informed the state's quasi-public trash disposal agency that it won't invest more than $300 million to upgrade an aging trash to energy plant in Hartford.

The plant processes about one third (600,000 tons annually) of the state's municipal solid waste, said Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes.The Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority contracts with municipalities and private garbage haulers to process the refuse. Their rates have increased over the past five years and are approaching a level that would make hauling trash to out-of-state landfills financially feasible for municipalities, Dykes said.

That could present issues down the road as nearby state landfills reach capacity and trash has to be hauled even farther to places like the Midwest, Dykes said."That introduces a lot of unpredictability and a lot of volatility for municipalities and for businesses about the cost of disposal," Dykes said

This Week in History
July 16, 1969 - "The Eagle Has Landed"

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 blasted off from Cape Kennedy on the first manned mission to the surface of the moon. 

After being sent to the Moon by the Saturn V's third stage, the astronauts separated the spacecraft from it and traveled for three days until they entered lunar orbit. Armstrong and Aldrin then moved into Eagle and landed in the Sea of Tranquility on July 20. The astronauts used Eagle's ascent stage to lift off from the lunar surface and rejoin Collins in the command module. They jettisoned Eagle before they performed the maneuvers that propelled Columbia out of the last of its 30 lunar orbits onto a trajectory back to Earth.
They returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24 after more than eight days in space.

Armstrong's first step onto the lunar surface was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience. He described the event as "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled a national goal proposed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy: "before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

In This Issue:

Municipal Roundup
by Ryan Bingham

Connecticut is home to the most iconic, historic and bucolic downtowns in the country with rich history, lively shops and fun for the whole family.  With relation to the COVID pandemic, Main Streets are being impacted greatly through retail and restaurant shut downs to people choosing to live in the suburbs again. 

Just as in the global recession of 2008, businesses of many styles, sizes, and services will be lost. This may not be the answer that Main Street groups want to hear, but it is the unfortunate reality. It's not all bad news though, Main Streets have been resilient to economic changes over the years and in the coming months and years Main Streets will once again be forced to think differently. 

Some of the suggestions made recently to a group of Main St proponents were to regroup and plan to capture those local dollars, identifying local needs and enhance the relationship between residents in town and the local shops that exist within it. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, it is critical (now more than ever) that communities understand that the oncoming business turnover or loss is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to implement large-scale changes.
It may be no secret to some of you that here at S&L we have a few golfers on the team.  According to many CT golf courses, golfers have been flocking to the courses during the pandemic in a way to escape the work from home atmosphere, get some fresh air and exercise, all while practicing social distance. 

The Tradition Golf Club of Wallingford has been averaging more than 200 golfers per day. "It's been very busy," Tradition pro Dave Giacondino said. "We're getting regular players, but we are also getting an overspill of players who can't get tee times at other places because there's such a surge of people playing golf because it's one of the few things you can do."

So, when you're thinking about what to do this weekend, make sure you book that tee time in advance, maybe we'll see you out there.

Election HQ
SEIU Makes Four Row A, One Challenger
in State Democratic
by  Mike Johnson 

The State Employees International Union of Connecticut members have voted to endorse five Connecticut General Assembly candidates in the upcoming August 11 Democratic primary: Jorge Cabrera and Marilyn Moore for the Senate, and Kate Farrar, Bobby Gibson, and Brandon McGee for the House of Representatives. 
Overall, SEIU is one of the larger employee unions in CT and four of the five endorsements were very much expected to be made. The one endorsement that stands out to be surprising is the endorsement of Kate Farrar who is running on Row B and was not endorsement by the local Democratic Town Committee. Sherry Haller, who is the Executive Director of the Justice Education Center, received the Democratic committee endorsement but she has taken the position to engage in "retail campaigning" of knocking on doors during the pandemic but Kate (like other state candidates) has been knocking almost daily while wearing face masks and socially distancing.
This is certain to be a race that politicos across the state will use as a case examples for what's appropriate to do in November and will be a very interesting dynamic.