The point of this editorial is not to criticize the legislation approved during Tuesday's special General Assembly session that dragged into early Wednesday morning. In fact it will take some time to decipher what the legislature did approve. Therein lies our criticism. Ramming through so much legislation without time for evaluation, discussion or debate is not the way lawmakers should be carrying out the state's business.
The stated purpose of conducting the one-day special session was implementing technical aspects of the $20.5 billion 2012-2013 fiscal year budget that begins July 1. But Democrats, with large majorities in both the House and Senate, quickly voted to expand the agenda - a lot. Two massive bills came before the legislature, one 468 pages, another 190 pages, crammed with new policies and local goodies.
House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero, R-Norwalk, calculated that the legislation approved was the equivalent of 122 bills, after 344 had passed during the entire regular session. While some of the legislation voted on Tuesday had gone through the hearing process during the regular session, much of it apparently had not.
Slipped into one of the omnibus bills was a proposed major change to the Freedom of Information Act, which would have given the administration the ability to deny the public access to information about companies that get tax breaks, grants or other incentives to locate or expand in Connecticut. The Malloy administration agreed to pull the proposal after editorial writers and the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information, a coalition of news organizations, protested. But who knows what else slipped through?
If the problem in Washington is the ability of one party or the other to tie up all legislation, leading to policy paralysis, the opposite is true in Connecticut, where Republicans had seemingly no tools to stop such an avalanche of legislation. The massive bills passed largely on party line votes, though a few Democrats voted no.
One of those Democrats, Rep. Daniel Rovero of Putnam, told The Connecticut Mirror, "it's ridiculous to come back here, give us more than 600 pages to read in one day and expect us to give an intelligent vote."