Connecticut's 2023 Legislative Session Underway: The Big Picture
State lawmakers were sworn in Wednesday (January 4) as the 2023 legislative session commenced. They are expected to tackle issues ranging from passing a two-year state operating budget to crafting an early in-person voting policy.
The session will last five months and one of the most important tasks state policymakers have is to craft a two-year budget. According to an estimate from the state comptroller provided on January 3rd, the state has a surplus of about $1 billion and a rainy-day fund of around $2.87 billion. The tax and spending plan eventually adopted will result from competing priorities.
Governor Ned Lamont, who will be sworn in for a second term during a noon ceremony at the state armory, will provide his own budgetary recommendations in February. We will be monitoring the development of the state budget and how we may be able to impact priorities to help advance our efforts to build a healthier state.
Lawmakers are also expected to weigh in on election policies this year. For the first time, they will be able to consider permitting a period of early in-person voting as a result of a ballot question approved by voters during the November election. Currently, Connecticut is one of just four states where voters have no option to cast ballots in person ahead of election day. Policymakers will be tasked with crafting the details of that policy and so far, early discussions have ranged from suggestions to permit a narrow early voting period of just a few days to a two-week window proposed by the state’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Legislators may also weigh a proposal to implement, or study ranked choice voting in Connecticut this session. Ranked choice — also known as instant-runoff voting — is an electoral process designed to help third-party candidates compete without becoming “spoilers” by allowing voters to rank their preferred candidates. If a voter’s first choice fails to capture a majority, then their ballot will instead be cast for their second favorite candidate.
Lawmakers will likely be considering proposals on the cost and reliability of energy in Connecticut this year as they take office days after a hike in the electricity rates of Connecticut consumers. On Tuesday, state energy regulators and their regional counterparts heard testimony from Eversource Energy executives on the market conditions which led to the rise in rates. This week Sen. Norm Needleman, an Essex Democrat who co-chairs the Energy Committee, said his panel’s work this year would seek to balance energy affordability with grid reliability and strategies to mitigate climate change.
This year we will be working with lawmakers on a number of issues that will help build a healthier state. In this edition, we are highlighting our work to increase water access in schools.
In 2021, we were successful in helping to pass legislation that requires newly constructed schools, or schools undergoing major renovations, to include water bottle filling stations in their construction plans. In this session, we look to impact water access in schools more broadly by-passing legislation that will further increase access to drinking water in all public schools to encourage water consumption throughout the school day and during school-based activities. We will be meeting with the Co-Chairs of the Education committee shortly to ensure that we get a bill, which would likely be followed by a public hearing.
There will be much more on this issue to come, and we will be looking for advocates to support this issue with short written testimony once we have a bill and a hearing date! For more information, please feel free to email Jim Williams at [email protected]
Legislator Spotlight- Representative Jeff Currey (Democrat-111th District)
Representative Jeff Currey is the House Chair of the Education Committee and will have our water access bill before him shortly. Aside from being a legislator, he is also the Chair of the East Hartford Board of Education, and a Board member of the CT Association of Boards of Education (CABE). His district includes the towns of East Hartford and Manchester. Jeff was born, raised, and lives in East Hartford.
CT Advocacy Committee: Passionate Volunteers Always Needed!
The CT Advocacy Committee is an action-oriented group responsible for providing leadership in developing, supporting, promoting, and implementing state and local policy priorities, within the framework of the American Heart Association’s State and Local Public Policy Priorities guidance. Volunteers who are passionate about improving the overall health of our communities are needed! To learn more about the Committee email Jim Williams at [email protected] .