Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Special Session Ends

Campaign Finance Reform Not Addressed

The special session ended early this morning without any movement on campaign finance reform, the AP is reporting. However, lawmakers did pass a mammoth transportation bill, as well as a bill endorsing Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's No Child Left Behind lawsuit against the federal government, an amendment to a budget implementer that would limit the governor's ability to privatize state services, and several smaller measures.

It's disappointing that campaign finance reform wasn't even brought up, and it's also disappointing that nothing was done about Connecticut's eminent domain laws in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling. Both could be addressed in additional special sessions, should they be called.

However, chances of that are slim at best.

The session's results were mixed for the governor, who saw her transportation plan passed by wide margins and mostly unaltered. However, she also saw Democrats tack what amounts to a limitation on her powers to privatize state services onto a budget implementation bill. She has not taken kindly to legislative attempts to curtail the power of the governor's office--she vetoed two bills that attempted to do that earlier this week. However, it's unlikely that she will veto the bill the amendment is attached to, if only because it was a large bill that took a lot of negotiation.

Still, the governor has now seen a majority of her plans implemented by the legislature, with the glaring exception of campaign finance reform. Not bad for someone being dismissed as a "lightweight" a year ago.

"Lawmakers wrap up special session with transportation plan, education lawsuit." Associated Press 29 June, 2005.


Ebpie said...

I would have been surprised if campaign finance reform came up during the special session. I am sure most lawmakers just wanted to get home and get everything over with. Most probably felt that it was better to take the PR hit than take the $$$ one.

DeanFan84 said...


Genghis you write--
"Still, the governor has now seen a majority of her plans implemented by the legislature, with the glaring exception of campaign finance reform."

Jodi Rell planned and pushed for Campaign Finance reform? Since when? All I remember was a statement that she wouldn't veto it.

What's your angle here? If you are, indeed, a fair commentator, I would expect a substantial correction.

Genghis Conn said...


The governor has been pushing for a broad overhaul of campaign finance reform since February, as you'll see here.

What you're thinking of is public finacing of campaigns, which she very reluctantly indicated she'd stomach if she got the rest of the reforms. So far, neither has happened.

Steve Maher said...

The Governor did not actually want campagin finance reform. If she did, she would not have submitted the bill ten days before the end of the session. As a government official, Jodi Rell is very familiar with CT's legislative process, and obviously realized this is unrealistic. Consider the following:
Republicans in the General Assembly and Gov. Rell have repeatedly and publicly stated opposition to public financing of campaigns. For example, on April 1 she was quoted as calling both the House and Senate versions of the bill "a sham," and both of them contained public financing. Then, two months later, Rell turned completely around (in just 2 months) and claimed to support public financing. On June 6, she suggested 2010 as the date for which public financing would come into effect. The next day, on June 7, when the Senate made it clear that they would ok this plan and put forth a bill that would pass, Rell declared that she would veto the bill. Dan Levine, a reporter, asked her how she felt about the bill, which used 2010 as the date for public financing to begin, she said "Why don't we just make it 2025? The bill is not acceptable. It is not real reform." Therefore, according to Rell, her veto was based on the fact that the Senate used 2010 as the effective date -- the same date she had proposed just one day prior. Her actions sent a clear message to us here at the House that it would be a waste of time for us to take up the bill. Jodi Rell is a very good politician, and uses smoke and mirrors extremely effectively. She makes it look as if she is working hard for reform while others are getting in the way, but in reality it is she, and no one else, who is obstructing the process. If she wanted reform, we had it in process in the Senate, and it would have passed here in the house easily. It was Rell's veto threat that ended it.

MikeCT said...


I don't believe campaign finance reform was ever proposed for the agenda of this special session. The agreement as reported was to form a negotiating committee that would propose a bill for a second special session.


If the House and Senate leadership were serious about passing campaign finance reform, they could have passed the same bill and sent it to the Governor. She could have then vetoed or approved it, and been accountable for the consequences. Instead, the House and Senate deliberately passed conflicting versions and spat at each other, apparently in the hope that nothing would happen and they could continue to feed at the familiar corporate trough. The blame and political fallout then fell predictably on the Democrats, and they effectively gave up ethics as a future campaign issue. Rell's main fault was in being smarter than the Democratic leadership. There are no white hats here, aside from those worn by the relentless advocates.


Genghis Conn said...


You're correct, it was decided not to even put it on the agenda. I had heard a few rumblings that some might try to bring it up anyway, but nothing happened on that front. It's still very disappointing that the legislative leadership would walk away when a bill seemed so close (I'm not sure how much faith I have in a second special session, should one be called).

Steve Maher said...

A second session most likely will not be called. As for the Senate and House "deliberatly" passing different versions of the bill, you obviously lack a strong understanding of the legislative process. The Governor said she would sign the House version, even though it did not meet with her proposed specifications. The Senate, however, passed a bill that met with her original proposal, with the hopes to fix the House bill. As you should know, after a bill passes one house it then must go through the other, or else it is completely pointless and will never leave the capitol building, meaning all of their hard work was in vain. The Governor has been behind this from the begginning, creating confusion and muddying the waters so nothing gets done.