Connecticut to adjourn largely bipartisan session in contrast to rancor in other states

Jun 7, 2023, 5:40 PM

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s Democratic-controlled General Assembly passed protections for abortion providers and gave more power to libraries facing book challenges — and they did it with Republican support.

All but 13 Republicans voted for the major gun control bill that’s already being challenged in court.

Bucking the partisan rancor seen in other legislatures this year, Connecticut lawmakers were poised Wednesday night to wrap up what’s been one of the most bipartisan legislative sessions in recent memory. And they’re crediting old fashioned relationship-building, a willingness for compromise, a healthy budget surplus and a strict adjournment deadline.

“ Oregon hasn’t met in a month because the senators have just left the building. Think about that,” Democratic House Speaker Matthew Ritter said hours before Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont was scheduled to address lawmakers in a traditional midnight speech.

“We’ve talked about it. We’ve tried to create a culture in the House whereby people have to learn to compromise, not only with Republicans, but with each other in their caucus,” Ritter said. “We have insisted on people sitting down, working it out.”

Ritter said the strict session deadline in the state constitution also forces the part-time Legislature to compromise.

Besides Oregon, where hundreds of bills are languishing amid a partisan stalemate, there have been examples of discord this year across the country. Lawmakers have expelled colleagues in Montana House floor.

In contrast, Connecticut Democrats and Republicans on Wednesday were still celebrating the strong bipartisan support for the budget finalized Tuesday, though there were some disagreements about spending levels for social nonprofit service agencies and how much to cut taxes.

“This was probably the most amenable session,” said nine-term Republican Eric Berthel, who represents the most conservative Senate district. The top Senate Republican on the budget-writing and education committees, Berthel said he feels comfortable defending his vote to his constituents, even though they might criticize him for voting for a budget Democrats supported too.

However, Berthel acknowledges if Connecticut didn’t have a robust surplus things might be different.

Republican Rep. David Rutigliano, who helped craft a bipartisan bill this year that fixes Connecticut’s recreational marijuana law, something he and other GOP lawmakers opposed in 2021, said he’s learned from the top Republican and Democratic House leaders, who are on friendly terms, that relationship-building is key, especially for a minority Republican.

“They tell us if you want to get anything done, you have to have a relationship. You can’t do a lot of gotcha stuff. You can’t be kind of a jerk and you have to talk,” he said. “Listen, (Democrats) are in charge, we get it. But it’s better when we’re in the room. Our ideas aren’t all bad.”

Despite talk of bipartisanship this session, there have been mostly partisan votes, including on election-related matters and guns.

And not every advocate is thrilled with this year’s political compromises, especially when it comes to the state budget. Groups working on behalf of low-income workers contend the plan, which was limited by a spending cap, shortchanges residents still financially struggling from the pandemic.

“Nonpartisanship has its merits, but when it comes at the expense of real hardworking people, from our perspective, it becomes problematic,” said Pastor Rodney Wade, a member of Recovery for All, a coalition of unions, religious groups and other community organizations. He points out how striking group home workers, many of them racial minorities working multiple jobs, picketed outside the state Capitol during the final days of the legislative session seeking a “living wage” but he believes the issue did not get the attention it deserved.

“If the goal is simply to have a budget, then I believe the state of Connecticut missed the mark,” he said.

The desire for bipartisanship has watered down some initiatives, said Sarah Ganong, state director of the left-leaning Connecticut Working Families Party. For example, a proposal to raise the age limit for Medicaid health insurance for immigrant children lacking legal status from 12 to 26 was reduced to 15.

“On the surface, maybe that seems like a sort of a bipartisan compromise,” she said. “But to a 17-year-old that doesn’t have health care right now, that’s not actually a middle ground. That’s clearly picking a side.”

United States News

Associated Press

Virginia police investigate explosion at house where officers were trying to serve a search warrant

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Police in a Virginia suburb of the nation’s capital are investigating an explosion at a residence where officers were trying to serve a search warrant Monday. The Arlington County Police Department said in a statement that the suspect fired several shots inside the home and that an explosion happened. Firefighters were […]

13 minutes ago

FILE - A hiring sign is displayed at a grocery store, Oct. 5, 2023, in Deerfield, Ill. Most busines...

Associated Press

Economists predict US inflation will keep cooling and the economy can avoid a recession

Most business economists think the U.S. economy could avoid a recession next year, even if the job market ends up weakening under the weight of high interest rates, according to a survey released Monday.

33 minutes ago

Associated Press

Photographs capture humpback whale’s Seattle visit, breaching in waters in front of Space Needle

Seattle (AP) — Pictures released by a conservation group show a young humpback whale breaching in front of the Space Needle as it visited the waters off Seattle last week, capturing a rare display of wildlife next to a major city. The photos were also used to gauge the general health of the whale and […]

51 minutes ago

FILE - President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, leaves after a court appearance, July 26, 2023, in ...

Associated Press

Prosecutors push back against Hunter Biden’s move to subpoena Trump documents in gun case

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prosecutors pushed back Monday against Hunter Biden’s move to subpoena documents from Donald Trump and former Justice Department officials in the firearms case filed against the president’s son. They argued that Hunter Biden doesn’t have enough evidence to support his claims of potential political interference in the criminal investigation against him and […]

1 hour ago

(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)...

Associated Press

Treasury creates new strike force as US and China pursue crackdown on illicit fentanyl trafficking

The Treasury Department on Monday announced a new strike force to help combat illicit fentanyl trafficking as the U.S. and China step up stop efforts.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Arkansas rules online news personality Cenk Uygur won’t qualify for Democratic presidential primary

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas election officials on Monday said online news personality Cenk Uygur, who was born in Turkey, can’t appear on the state’s Democratic presidential primary ballot next year. The determination comes weeks after Uygur proclaimed that he had become the first naturalized citizen on a presidential ballot after filing paperwork with […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Follow @KTAR923...

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

Connecticut to adjourn largely bipartisan session in contrast to rancor in other states