The State Senate was scheduled to convene a special session at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, but did not gavel in until 3:30 p.m. Just hours before, Democrats unveiled the 837-page implementer bill, a piece of legislation executing new programs and services funded in the budget that can also serve as a catch-all for unfinished legislative business.
While the budget itself passed with significant bipartisan support, Republicans expressed their opposition to the implementer bill, arguing that they will not have sufficient time to read the document before voting.
“The fact that they’re not in, speaks volumes to the problems with the implementer bill,” said House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, speaking Tuesday afternoon before the session began. “We came off a bipartisan budget, and had almost a full week out of session, and then the implementer gets thrown at us at the last minute with so many different provisions that weren’t vetted through committee. Everything’s blowing up now.”
Candelora said many members were up in arms about a provision that would prevent towns with team names or mascots referencing Native Americans from accessing slot machine revenue raised by tribes. The proposal “came out of nowhere,” and is just one example of the implementer bill going “far beyond just implementing the budget,” Candelora said.
“I’m mad,” said State Sen. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield in a press conference at the capitol. Miner said he was particularly frustrated with the lack of advance notice on the mascot provision, which would give Litchfield just two weeks to agree to change its mascot.
Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Monroe, said he felt the proposal “would be better as a subject for a separate bill where all the parties could be at the table.”
State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, said that while the proposal did not come up as a bill, it was relevant for the implementer because it was a budget issue.
“This has been something we’ve been talking about for years,” Osten said. “We believe that those towns who get Pequot fund money should not use mascots or imagery or names relative to Native Americans who have said that they would want to see change.”
Candelora said his caucus also had concerns about language related to data privacy and municipal solid waste.