HARTFORD – Today, the legislature’s Conservative Caucus expressed great concern with the Senate Democrats’ unprecedented violation of the General Assembly’s long-standing Joint Rules about the allocation of committee seats, thereby potentially rendering the violating committees’ recent votes as invalid.
In a letter to legislative leadership last week, Conservative Caucus member Representative Vincent Candelora revealed that the prior week’s Transportation Committee votes on thirty-two separate bills, including three bills to authorize tolls on Connecticut highways, were potentially illegal because ten Senators voted in direct contravention of the legislature’s Joint Rules and established legislative practice. “Given that the Transportation Committee is constituted in violation of our Senate and Joint Rules, I believe any and all actions taken by it are invalid according to Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure,” he wrote.
Pursuant to the Connecticut Constitution and Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 2-1a, the General Assembly is given the authority to adopt its own rules of procedure. Under Senate Rule 18 and Joint Rule 3, not more than nine senators shall serve on any standing committee. Specifically under Joint Rule 3, “each joint standing committee shall consist of not more than nine senators and not more than thirty-five representatives, . . .”
“We call on legislative leadership to take immediate action to investigate how these violations occurred, and to put measures in place to make certain that illegal votes do not happen in the future,” Rep. Kurt Vail said. “Representative Candelora was right to call these votes into question. The validity and sanctity of our entire legislative process is at stake. Rules exist for a reason, and both parties have a responsibility to the people of Connecticut to follow them.”
In addition to questions about the legitimacy of recent votes, the Conservative Caucus is also concerned about an increased level of partisan action by some committee members, including wearing buttons and stickers that advocate a specific position on legislation being discussed and questionable tactics that could be construed as bullying. Some members have reportedly used intimidating tactics toward members of the public that range from threatening them with subpoenas to embarrassing people with unsubstantiated allegations based on intrusive internet searches.
“Democrat leaders must stop this behavior and restore order and decorum to the legislative process,” Rep. John Fusco said. “The fact that these committees have been disproportionately overpopulated with Democrat legislators is also troubling considering Democrats already hold a sizable numerical advantage in the General Assembly. It’s telling that they felt the need to further stack the deck and even violate the rules to get their toll bills passed.”
The Connecticut General Assembly Conservative Caucus is a group of legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, economic freedom, and individual liberty. Its members, Rep. Mike France, Chair (R-42); Rep. Craig Fishbein, Vice Chair (R-90); Rep. Anne Dauphinais, Secretary (R-44); Rep. David T. Wilson, Treasurer (R-66); Senator Rob Sampson (R-16); Rep. Tim Ackert (R-8); Rep. Brian Lanoue (R-45); Rep. Doug Dubitsky (R-47); Rep. Rick Hayes (R‑51); Rep. Kurt Vail (R-52); Rep. John Piscopo (R-76); Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco (R-80); Rep. John Fusco (R-81); and Rep. Vincent Candelora (R-86), foster open debate about the role of government in society, adherence to the Constitution, and the rule of law. They propose and advocate for legislation that promotes the freedoms, individual rights and prosperity of all Americans.