fbpx Skip to content

Legislature to Create a Lot of “Big, Big, Big Bills

With only ten days left in the 2023 legislative session, lawmakers are scrambling to push their agendas across the finish line. Instead of addressing policies individually, the plan is to “simply create a lot of big, big, big bills,” according to Katherine Lutz, a consultant for the Capitol Region Council of Government (CRCOG) Transportation Committee — which is a voluntary council of governments that represents 38 metro-Hartford municipalities. 

Lutz, who is also a partner at Rome Smith Lutz & Kowalski, attended CRCOG’s May 22 meeting to provide transportation-related updates on bills currently being debated in the legislature. As a consultant, she serves as an independent consultant on Connecticut State legislation and regulation involving matters impacting the goals of CRCOG.  

In a dialogue with Lutz, General Assembly Transportation Committee co-chair Sen. Christine Cohen (D-12th) responded that “they’re going to start combining issues into germane main bills and she felt pretty strongly that that’s what we would be dealing with for the last week or so of session.”  

Lutz went on to say, “We’re just all waiting for these big aircraft carrier bills to see what will be in them.” 

Aircraft bills, also known as omnibus packages, are pieces of legislation that consolidate multiple unrelated provisions in a single bill, often utilized when time is of the essence. However, these omnibus packages — like on a national level — often raise transparency concerns and criticism for being lengthy, complicated and difficult to fully comprehend by legislators and the public alike. This makes it harder for the public to provide meaningful input with important concerns or objections being overlooked or ignored. 

Additionally, when numerous unrelated provisions are bundled together, it becomes challenging for legislators to be held accountable for their voting decisions. Lawmakers may feel compelled to support or oppose the bill as a whole, even if they disagree with specific provisions, leading to compromised representation and limited oversight. 

Last November, the General Assembly was called in for a special session to vote on an emergency certification bill made up of four separate and unrelated bills. Topics ranged from spending, handouts and a change to the bottle deposit law. 

After an amendment to break the bill up into four separate pieces of legislation failed, Senate GOP leader, Sen. Kevin Kelly said, “The fact that they’re not allowing legislators to vote on each issue and look at each issue from the perspective of the people we represent…it isn’t fair. I don’t think people believe that is the way we legislate.” 

Due to the complex nature of omnibus bills, there may be limited time for thorough analysis and debate. Rushing the process can lead to poorly crafted or flawed legislation, as lawmakers may not have an adequate amount of time to fully consider the consequences of the various provisions. 

To address these problems, some argue for greater transparency, breaking down omnibus bills into separate, more focused pieces of legislation, allowing for more targeted debate, and ensuring adequate public and legislative review time. 

Combining multiple bills into one piece of legislation is nothing more than a tactical political maneuver that avoids addressing issues to their fullest extent, while laying the groundwork for eventual attack ads. Do the citizens of Connecticut need more of that? 

Meghan Portfolio

Meghan worked in the private sector for two decades in various roles in management, sales, and project management. She was an intern on a presidential campaign and field organizer in a governor’s race. Meghan, a Connecticut native, joined Yankee Institute in 2019 as the Development Manager. After two years with Yankee, she has moved into the policy space as Yankee’s Manager of Research and Analysis. When she isn’t keeping up with local and current news, she enjoys running–having completed seven marathons–and reading her way through Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *