The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has begun to develop the scope for their Comprehensive Energy Strategy. This Strategy will guide department policies for the next three years. DEEP is accepting comments on the scope until June 14th, the department will release a draft plan in the fall and provide another opportunity to comment.
DePino Associates is happy to announce Paul Nuñez and Melissa Biggs have been named Partners. DePino Associates is now DePino, Nuñez, & Biggs. Paul and Melissa have been working together at DePino Associates for several years with great dedication and working as a team have been able to provide our clients with great successes.
We are excited to start this new venture, and provide our clients with the same great service....
We've all heard about the difficult biennial budget, the Governor's big transportation initiative and the fact that we have three new leaders heading up the legislative caucuses. Governor Malloy has made several promises during the course of his campaign that he would not raise taxes, now he is looking at a projected 182.3 million deficit. Governor Malloy will deliver his budget address on February 18th which is expected to contain many budget cuts. We anticipate the budget will be the biggest issue of the session but here are five issues/dynamics that we expect to bubble up during the 2015 legislative session.
- New tech versus old: Even though the market may be ready to accept new technologies, the public policy realm usually lags behind. Look for emerging tech to debate best regulatory approaches and traditional interests to maintain a competitive edge.
- Black and Puerto Rican Caucus: I've worked with this caucus for about a decade now, its numbers and influence have increased over the years. Look for them to weigh-in on major issues such as the biennial budget, transportation initiatives and judicial/executive nominations. With several members in key positions of influence and enough members in the House to carry out hours long filibusters they can and will exert their influence. Already early in the legislative session they may have dashed a judge’s chance of being nominated for another term.
- House Republicans: You wouldn't think that being outnumbered by 27 members is much of an advantage but when you get down to the committee level the additional membership can shift the debate on bills, especially if joined by a few willing Democrats. We anticipate the additional members will shift the dynamics of the House of Representatives.
- Energy and Technology Committee: Three of four the Committee leaders are new to body as well as 12 new members will make one of the most technical and heavily lobbied committees that more challenging. The Committee is expected to address the increase in distribution fees that both utilities received from PURA. It is also unclear whether the committee will address PURA’s request for more independence from DEEP.
- New Senate Leadership: New Senate President Senator Looney will have his own way of running the Senate with the help of the new Majority Leader Senator Duff. Senator Looney has a great relationship with the new Minority Leader Senator Fasano. It is anticipated that there will be a lot more cooperation between the Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.
DePino, Nuñez, & Biggs are here to help you with any questions you may have during the legislative session.
Democrats have held a super majority in the House since the early 2000s, despite a highly popular Republican Governor. Governor Rell's favor ability never fell under 60% but that support never extended to the legislative races. At one point there was only 37 Republicans in the 151 member house. In the past four years the Republicans have been able to pick up 27 seats, and in the 2014 election there were several races that were so close if 1,890 people had changed their votes in close races the Republicans could have achieved a majority in the House. Republicans currently have most seats they have held since 1996.
With more Republicans in the General Assembly then there has been for years, there is an expectation there will be a greater bipartisan effort. Republicans have often relied on filibustering in order to make their voice heard, this year with successfully lobbying 12 or more of their democratic colleagues Republicans will be able to successfully defeat some democratic proposals.
It is traditionally thought most voters will vote among party lines, so when a democratic Governor is successfully, ultimately more democrats will be elected into office. In 2014 Governor Malloy defeated Republican challenger Tom Foley by a greater percentage than their original match in 2010. Even with more Democratic support for the Governor, legislative races were still successful in bringing a high turnout of Republican voters.
In the Spring of 2014, longtime Republican leader, Representative Larry Cafero announced that he will be retiring. Throughout the summer there were several different names debated on who would be the next Republican leader in the House. As minority leader, a representative has the ability to develop the party’s priorities and set the tone for the session.
The House Republican’s have elected a new leader, Representative Themis Klarides, she is smart, aggressive and very experienced. Representative Klarides is also a skilled negotiator and the first woman to ever serve as the House Republican Majority leader.
Given the state of fiscal affairs that continues to plague the CT economy. It seems almost certain that the House and Senate Republicans will be having some very spirited debate this year on Connecticut’s future. Republicans have started reaching out to their Democratic colleagues to work together to address the budget problems facing the state.
Connecticut’s General Assembly is considered a part time legislature. The legislature convenes for five months on odd numbered years, and for three months in the even numbered years. The entire General Assembly is up for election on even numbered years, there are 151 House members and 36 members of the Senate.
The General Assembly has 25 bicameral committees, leadership of these committees including Senate Chair and Vice-Chair (members of the majority party), House Chair and Vice-Chair (members of the majority party, Senate Ranking member (member of the minority party), and House Ranking Member (member of minority party). The Committees are divided into A or B committees. A Committees meet Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. B Committees meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Once the session convenes for the odd number year, the General Assembly adopts the rules and the deadlines for the next two years. These rules will include the deadline for legislators to submit individual bill proposals as well as committee deadlines.
Once a bill has been proposed it will go through the screening committee to be referred to a committee of cognizance. The Committee will then decide whether to make the bill a committee proposal, they will also schedule a public hearing. Each Committee can develop their own rules for the public hearings, including how the sign up process will work, and how the bills are heard.
After the Public Hearing the Committee has four options they can vote a bill out of committee (Joint Favorable), they can vote a bill out with new language (Joint Favorable Substitute), they can vote a bill down, or they can refuse to take action on the bill and let the proposal die.
If a bill is voted out of committee it will go to the proper Chamber, either House or Senate based on the bill number. Once on the Chamber floor, a screening committee will determine if the bill needs to be referred to another committee. If the bill does not need to be referred to any additional committees, it must be read on the calendar for three days, which is typically three business days or three days they are in session.
If the bill is a Senate Bill, it will be marked GO, Pass Temporarily, Pass Retain, or Foot. When a bill is marked GO it is expected to be debated that day. If a bill is marked Pass Temporarily it usually means they would like to debate the bill that day but are waiting to finish an amendment. Pass Retains means the bill will retain its place on the calendar but not be called for a vote that day. A bill being put on the FOOT of the calendar typically means the bill needs a significant amount of work, or a sign from leadership they do not support the proposal at that time, it takes a separate vote for a bill to be taken off the FOOT and placed on the regular calendar.
The House Develops a GO List at the start of each session. This a list that represents the bills the House believes are ready for a vote. The GO list is not called in any particular order, and typically contains more bills than what the House will deal with that day.
Once a bill is called in either Chamber, it will be brought out typically by the Chair of the Committee it originated out of. At this time the Chair will also call any amendments they would like to make, any amendment can be adopted with either a voice or a roll call vote. Each chamber will have a debate on the bill, and the amendments offered. Typically if there is a concern over the bill, or frustration between the two parties, during the debate a filibuster can occur lasting for hours, stalling many other proposals. Once there is no more speakers on a bill, the bill will receive a roll call vote. Assuming the bill passes the bill will then move to the other chamber for a vote. The second chamber must adopt all previously adopted amendments, if not the bill must go back to the original chamber for further action.
Once the bill has been approved by both houses it must go through the Legislative Commissioner’s Office to officially include the amendment language, and pass through the Secretary of State’s Office, this process can take up to two weeks. The Secretary of State’s Office presents the bill to the Governor for final approval. The Governor can sign the bill into law or can decide to veto the entire bill, it would require 3/4ths of the legislature to overturn the veto.
If the session ends before all of its business is concluded the Governor may call them in for a special session. The special session is limited a specific purposed identified by the Governor and can happen anytime the legislature is not in regular session....