HARTFORD — The big question at the Capitol Wednesday was are the tolls votes still valid?
House Republican leadership is claiming rules were violated regarding the number of sitting senators on the Transportation Committee. They are referring to joint rules of the General Assembly that are voted on on the first session day of each year.
House Deputy Republican Leader Vincent Candelora sent a letter to Democratic Leadership. But Democrats point out that one vote wouldn’t have changed the outcome of any of the committee votes. Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz said, “It would not have made a difference. If we are going to parse over how many votes were taken, if it was a one vote difference maybe I’d take it a little more seriously.”
Candelora said he’d be pressing the issue regardless of the toll bills. “When the legislators are going to start violating rules, that’s where we start seeing an erosion and anarchy. It’s important for us to follow process. So I would have done this regardless of what committee it was.”
He’s not sure if it was a simple mistake. “It could have been done intentionally. I just don’t know that.” Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, a Democrat, said, “Clearly this is a political move to try to destabilize the votes that were taken on tolls,” he said.
Ten Senators, instead of the maximum nine, also sat on the Committee last year. “If there had been a time to raise an objection we it would have been at the beginning of the session when the committee was constituted,” said Looney.
But Candelora said this is the first time he noticed the problem. He has support from House Republican Leader Themis Klarides. “I stand shoulder to shoulder with Rep. Candelora. The reality is, it’s not just whether it’s harmless error, meaning would the vote have been different? The numbers are wrong,” said Klarides.
But Rep. Candelora does not have the backing of Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, who didn’t want to comment on camera about the issue today, but told us in a statement he’s on the same page as Senator Looney.
32 bills in all were voted out of the committee so far this year.