Senate Dysfunction or Life In An Evenly Split Chamber?
HARTFORD, CT — It’s become sort of a running joke at the state Capitol these days. How many bills will get through the state Senate?
The answer Wednesday was three.
There were four more bills ready to go, but Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, asked for a vote to end debate on SB 1001, An Act Prohibiting Smoking on Beaches in State Parks, after Republicans refused to introduce a bipartisan amendment and adjourned.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said some of the posturing may go back to last Thursday’s debate on a bill regarding bear hunting. Democrats used a strike-all amendment to turn a bill that would have allowed bear hunting into a bill that banned the import of five big African species.
“Things are very much ad hoc,” Looney said. “And the mood, ranging from digging in your heels in opposition to being cooperative, changes from day-to-day and sometimes hour-to-hour.”
But Looney said there’s been no “fundamental breach” and there shouldn’t be a problem moving forward with legislation.
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said he doesn’t understand why the Senate has to shut down when there’s a disagreement.
“I don’t think we should have shut down early over a disagreement on one bill,” Fasano said.
He said “you’ve gotta get over defeats in the chamber.” As a member of the minority party for many years, Fasano said Republicans have more battle scars and are a little more thick skinned when it comes to legislative defeats.
He said Democrats have to realize that sometimes they can’t get their way.
Fasano said he was never given any warning they were going to adjourn early.
He said they had bills both sides agreed to that were ready to go.
“You do not stop business because there’s a dispute,” he added.
He said the Senate can pass hundreds of bills in a few hours if it wants to, so he’s not worried about time running out on them.
The legislative session ends June 7, but it’s likely to continue past that date this year as the state struggles to agree on how to fill a $5.1 billion budget deficit over the next two years.