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January 29, 2024

CT’s 2024 legislative session begins soon. Here’s what to expect

STEPHEN BUSEMEYER / CT MIRROR The state Senate on the first day of the 2023 legislative session.

On Feb. 7, the Connecticut General Assembly will convene for its 2024 legislative session. Its constitutional adjournment deadline is no later than midnight May 6. The sessions last three months in even-numbered years and five in odd-numbered years.

During the 2023 session, the state legislature passed a budget with a significant income-tax cut, considered policies on housing, passed gun control measures and expanded access to reproductive care in the state.

Here’s what Connecticut residents can expect from this year’s legislative session.

Who is in charge in the legislature this year?

Democrats have overwhelming majorities: 98-53 in the House, and 24-12 in the Senate.

House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, and Senate President Pro Term Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, control the agendas in their respective chambers. Rep. Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford, and Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, are the Democratic majority leaders.

Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, and Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, are the Republican minority leaders.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz serves as the president of the Senate. She can vote to break a tie.

Will Gov. Ned Lamont be presenting a new budget this year?

Technically, no.

Connecticut has a biennial budget system, meaning it passes a two-year budget every odd-numbered year. Lamont can propose adjustments to Connecticut’s current budget. The burg revisions generally are formally proposed on the first day of the session, when Lamont also will deliver a State of the State address.

The state legislature approved a $51.1 billion two-year budget in June 2023, which included a state income tax cut and a boost in spending for local school districts.

First, a state legislator, or a group of them, must submit a bill to either the House or the Senate. From there, the bill is referred to the relevant committee, known in legislative parlance as a committee of cognizance. For example, a bill dealing with prison reform would be referred to the Judiciary Committee. Unlike Congress, the General Assembly has joint committees of House and Senate members, with a House co-chair and Senate co-chair.

The first hurdle for a bill is to get raised for a public hearing, which requires a vote by the relevant legislative committee. Not all bills get a public hearing. After a hearing, a committee can kill a bill by inaction or a negative vote. Bills that win a favorable vote in committee go the House or Senate. They may then be referred to other committees. For example, a bill with a budgetary impact will be reviewed by the Appropriations Committee.

A bill can bypass the committee and hearing process if the House speaker and Senate president pro term declare it as an emergency-certified bill.

Upon successfully passing both chambers, a bill goes to Lamont’s desk for signature or veto. If Lamont chooses to veto, the legislature can vote to override that veto with a two-thirds vote in both chambers.

You can track a bill here.

How do I find my state legislators?

Go to this website and type in your address.

How can I make my voice heard?

You can write or email your state legislators, or you can testify if a bill is raised for a public hearing. Testimony can be offered in writing or delivered in person or by video testimony during the hearing.

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