With four more session days left, there hasn't been many bills - in fact, only six - that have passed both the House and Senate. The Calendars for both have at least 350 items sitting on them requires one or both chambers to approve before they head to the Governor's office. If you recall, we started this session by saying that getting through the clutter during the last three days takes a lot of strategy, agile maneuvering and, at times, dumb luck. Well, that time is now here!
There's NO movement on a fixer-upper state budget proposal. There's definitely no movement at all on the bring tolls to Connecticut to shore up the special transportation fund, and Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate are beginning to play their game of chicken. "
We'll send the other chamber a bill you do not want but makes our members happy, and you figure out what to do with it!"
Party politics were on display when all Superior Court judges were approved on strict party line votes in the House. The Republicans were all defending the nominees as highly skilled and people of character, but said they don't have the money to pay for them.
On the other hand, the Senate had a more philosophical take - in eight years when these folks come back to for re-appointment, no one has any idea who the Governor will be (two full gubernatorial elections away). The Judiciary Committee looks at the original votes and sees party line in the House and a tied vote in Senate, with the Lt. Governor breaking the tie. They decided that the four Senate Republican leaders would support the nominations while the remaining 14 Republican Senators would take a stand for fiscal responsibility.
Veteran committee chairs figured out at about the same time as experienced lobbyists that if they consolidated their key issues into one big bill - packaging House and Senate Democrats and Republicans and the Governor's items together - they could work around the end of session whirlwind. So, the Energy Committee took five of its top items and turned the Governor's major policy bill (Senate Bill 9) into an aircraft carrier with items for all. The other committees quickly took note, and now the race is on to beat the clock on Wednesday at midnight.
Veteran lobbyists are expected to see the decorum and patience of the legislature get real in the next four days. They will start to see those bills they care about not going anywhere while others are moving. Legislators will also get pressed on parliamentary procedures to detour proposals they are not fond of, while the old tried and true filibuster technique - if used effectively - will destroy a proposal for the session or leverage a deal.
So, as I opened with, GAME ON!