Halfway through the 2021 regular session, many of Connecticut Legislature’s committees have finished their work, or are approaching their joint favorable deadlines—the date by which they must send bills out of committee with a joint-favorable report, which sends them straight to the floor of the state House or state Senate for action.
The Senate Insurance and Real Estate Committee’s joint-favorable deadline was March 25, 2021, and the committee voted out over 30 bills. Some bills were hold-overs from the 2020 session that had stalled as a result of the pandemic, including a couple omnibus bills that the Connecticut Insurance Department proposed. Many bills were new, such as S.B.842, which would have attempted to create a public option for health care in Connecticut, and S.B.1043, which would have allowed the Connecticut Attorney General William Tong to sue the owners of The Hartford Courant Company if it “incur[s] any debt or issue[s] any dividend,” not deemed to be in the public’s interest.
Additionally, legislation that would legalize sports betting and iGaming was passed out of the Public Safety and Security Committee. This legislation would codify Gov. Ned Lamont’s agreement with the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans—the state’s two federally recognized tribal nations. Additionally, major data-privacy legislation passed out of the General Law Committee, and two bills that would authorize euthanasia and would remove religious exemption from certain vaccinations, respectively, passed out of the Public Health Committee.
In the next few weeks, attention will shift to the Appropriations Committee and the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee–the state’s taxing and spending committees. These committees are tasked with developing a state budget for the next biennium. As a result of the federal aid coming into the state from the American Rescue Plan, Connecticut is in a sound position in terms of revenue. That said, progressive Democrats still are expected to push for tax increases to fund the expansion or creation of new programs to strengthen the social safety net.