Lawmakers in final hours of legislative session - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers in final hours of legislative session

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(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)

Lawmakers are in the final hours of the legislative session, as they try to approve a state budget.

They are running out of time to pass bills on the budget, a plan to bring tolls to the state, and recreational marijuana.

In the early morning hours, the House voted in favor of a third casino in East Windsor. The Senate had already approved a similar bill.

When plans for a third casino were first announced almost a couple years ago, it was about saving jobs. That is the main reason why many lawmakers say they've decided to support it.

"It was the workers themselves - there were a lot of workers in the hall in the past couple months talking about providing for their families," said Democratic State Rep. and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz.

While tolls and marijuana have been getting a lot of attention, lawmakers said it's unlikely that they'll be voted on during the regular session.

They said they don't know if they want to support the controversial measures.

They have been debating tolls, but there aren't enough votes for it. The same goes for recreational marijuana. Still, both are expected to be taken up in the final hours.

A bill that recognizes and regulates Uber and Lyft has been passed, so has the governor's bail reform bill and workplace protections for pregnant women.

A bill that would have changed the agreement the state has with Dominion, which owns the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant, has been watered down to a study.

"The bill that passed at 2:30 in the morning gave DEEP the opportunity to appraise the nuclear environment in New England and looks at current economic benefits and deterrents nuclear provides,” said Republican State Rep. Paul Formica.

The legislative session adjourns at midnight on Thursday.

House Democrats said they're counting on money raised for marijuana, casinos and tolls, along with $700 million in union concessions, to help with the state's budget shortfall.

On Wednesday, republicans and democrats seemed to be far apart.

Aresimowicz seemed pretty positive, saying "I would really like this to be a good wrap of what overall has been a pretty good session."

House Minority Leader and Republican State Rep. Themis Klarides had a different take, saying "I think he must be overly tired and stressed out - because I don't know how those words can come out of anybody's mouth."

Republicans are at odds with democrats and the governor over how to fix the deficit. The GOP says their budget is balanced and doesn't include any taxes, and unlike the governor's, it protects municipal aid. The governor wants cities and towns to share in the cost of teacher pensions. 

The GOP budget also includes more education funding and demands more from the unions, nearly $2 billion over two years.

"Clearly we are here at the last day of the session, it’s a complete shock and surprise to us they would run a budget especially when they voted yesterday unanimously to have a call for a special session. We were meeting in a bi-partisan basis,” said Democratic State Senator Bob Duff.

Senate republicans are still planning to put forth their budget Wednesday night, but it's unlikely it will get passed, which is why they have already decided that a special session is needed.

A special session could be in the next week or two.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said Republicans and Democrats have admitted that the state is not going to get a budget by the end of this session. However, the state needs a budget by July 1.

If the measures do get voted on, like the measure to bring a third casino to the state, it could be added into the budget.

If the budget does not get passed before July 1, Malloy said he has a plan in place to keep vital services operating.

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