Bills Waiting For Action In Last Days Of Session

This year, like every recent year a lot of bills are in limbo, some passed by committee and others “half-passed” by only the House or the Senate.  The session ends on May 5th.  There are several alternative scenarios:  Few, if any, bills will be debated and passed; a moderate number will pass; many will pass on a consent calendar with no debate.  As we said last year:

Naturally, we are relieved when bills with concepts we generally oppose or bills that have unintended consequences are not enacted one way or another.  But we are equally disappointed when important issues and  bills do not receive the attention we believe is appropriate.

Currently there are two election bills we are aware of waiting for passage in one house, both of which deserve passage, in our opinion:

H.B. 5441: AN ACT CONCERNING CERTAIN REVISIONS TO ELECTIONS RELATED STATUTES AND CONCERNING PARTICIPATION BY THE STAFF AND MEMBERS OF THE CITIZEN’S ETHICS ADVISORY BOARD IN POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS.  A bill with many technical changes to the law to account for the change from lever to optical scan voting machines.  There are more changes in the law needed, but it is about time this bill passed.  Similar bills were proposed by the Secretary of the State for the last two years and like many bills were never passed.  The Secretary recently issued a press release urging passage.

H.B. 5442: AN ACT CONCERNING ABSENTEE VOTING BY MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY AND BY CITIZENS LIVING ABROAD. This bill also has the support of Secretary Bysiewicz in a press release.  We wish it had a few more details spelled out, yet support its passage, especially since it requires all votes be by paper ballot, covered by absentee ballot applications.

Here is an additional bill awaiting passage by both houses.  We support the concept, but the bill needs more work, in our opinion:

S.B. 363: AN ACT CONCERNING POLLING PLACES FOR PRIMARIES.  This bill would allow registrars to use less polling places for primary elections.  A real cost saver when few voters are expected.  A laudable goal: Reduce the number of polling places when few voters are expected in a primary election, if agreed to by all registrars.  This would work well in a town like mine, Glastonbury, where practically everyone drives to the polls anyway.

But what about Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and other big cities?  In those cities we have between 22 and 32 polling places in elections- all with very low turn-out anyway, because people don’t have transportation.  A registrar could easily justify a single polling place, but that might gerrymander the election, and why might the other party registrar object or concur?: Because it is appropriate?; to aid the gerrymandering?;  for political gain?; or to just go along?

We expect a lot of our legislators. Lots of bills; too many details receiving too little debate, deliberation, and discussion; too little time in short sessions (and “”long” sessions); with a “part-time” legislature.  Typically election laws, critical to democracy, are not the squeaky wheels.


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