State Capitol Update for the Week of April 24th

April 24, 2023

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Dear Friend,

This is my State Capitol update for the week of April 24th.

If you prefer to watch rather than read, click on the video below to hear about the issues contained in this newsletter.

Last week the Finance Committee, which I co-chair, took “final action” on two big bills, one on taxes and the other on bonding, that set the parameters for how the state will raise revenue for the next two years. The Appropriations Committee produced a spending package that lays out where those funds will be spent.
Watching the proceedings from the outside probably looked pretty boring because a lot of the action took place off-camera in “caucus,” private meetings in which the members of the different political parties hammer out their strategies for what they will vote for and against.
This introduction to the newsletter is longer than usual, but I wanted to share with you some of what happened behind the scenes because understanding the process can help understand the results. It was my first time going through this as a Committee Co-chair, so I was particularly impressed by seeing how the process supported us in taking collective action to keep the state in a strong financial position.
Each bill that gets put on the Finance Committee agenda for “final action” (which means the opportunity to vote it out of committee for consideration by the full House or Senate) gets analyzed by both the Office of Legal Research (OLR) and the Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA).  The nonpartisan OLR and OFA work together to produce an annotated agenda, which describes what the bills do and how much they will cost. It is distributed to members before they have to vote.  To produce that agenda, OLR and OFA need two things: 1) a list of bills to be considered at a particular committee meeting; and 2) all changes we’ve made to those bills since they had their public hearing (known as “JFS language” for “joint favorable substitute”).
These being consequential bills that decide how we will fund the government, incentivize economic growth, and work toward sharing that burden equitably, there are lots of opinions.  Because those opinions come from human beings and relate to other committees working at the same time, sometimes those opinions are delivered at the last minute, or beyond, which means sometimes changes are not completed until shortly before the meeting begins (and not always before – more on that later). 
Let’s start with last Tuesday. It was a relatively straightforward day. The JFS language and the annotated agenda were distributed around 9:30am, with the Committee meeting scheduled to begin at 10am.  I’m sure you’re thinking: How on earth can people digest all of that in half an hour before the meeting begins?  The answer is that they can’t, which is why the Committee meeting didn’t really start at 10am.  The rules require that we officially convene a meeting within 15 minutes of the calendared time, so we “gavel in” at that time, and then immediately go into recess.  Both caucuses (the Democrats and the Republicans) then met separately to review the new language and analysis.  Caucus conversations, which take place in nearby hearing rooms (and on member-only Zoom online conferences) are confidential, allowing for free and frank discussion.  I stayed in touch with the House Ranking Member (the senior House Republican on the committee), and by the time we were ready to reconvene, at around noon, we knew where we had agreement, and where we didn’t. 
We had a lot of agreement.  Because support was unanimous for many of the bills on the agenda, we were able to place them on a “consent calendar,” which lets us vote on them as a group.  This made the Committee meeting move pretty quickly. It lasted only about an hour.  It was so short that Keith Phaneuf, a seasoned journalist who covers budgetary issues for the CT Mirror, texted me that afternoon to ask whether we were meeting: “Just checking.  Are you folks not coming in today?” 
Wednesday was a little different, mostly because the agenda that day included the big-ticket items: SB 980: An Act Authorizing and Adjusting Bonds of the State, and SB 981: An Act Concerning Revenue Items to Implement the Governor’s Budget (otherwise known as “the bond bill” and “the revenue package,” respectively).
Those bills began as the Governor’s proposals, released in February as we started our own hearings and committee meetings. During the committee process, legislators propose their own ideas and adjustments to the Governor’s proposals, and committees whittle down which ones we will work on this year. Then we conduct hearings and whittle some more, making changes and adding new things, using “JFS” language to make amendments. 
On Tuesday night, my Senate Co-chair, John Fonfara, and I spent a lot of time conferring with OFA, the leadership of the subcommittee on bonding, leadership in both chambers, committee staff, and others as we made final decisions about what would make it into the revenue package and bond bills.  By around 11pm, we had a solid draft, and handed it over to the Legislative Commissioner’s Office (LCO) to edit the legislative language.  Earlier that evening the Appropriations Committee passed its spending package, which affected some of our proposals. So early Wednesday morning we were back adjusting our bills, with Senate and House leadership weighing in on proposed changes to the revenue side to accommodate spending challenges.  We worked all morning, up to and beyond the calendared start of the meeting (which we dutifully convened at 10am and gaveled immediately into recess). 
All those moving pieces meant that the annotated agenda and JFS language were not available until 1pm, when caucuses finally began in earnest. Just getting through the descriptions (line by line) of both the revenue package and the bond bill took some time. For many committee members, it’s the first time we are asking them to make choices among all the proposals before the committee.  Nearly all of the proposals we were considering were tax cuts – to personal income tax, corporate tax, pass-through entity tax, sales tax, etc. Let’s just take a moment to recognize what good news that is in and of itself: This year we are talking about how to reduce taxes, not whether to do so, and not at all about raising them.
But we couldn’t embrace all the tax cut proposals and still balance the budget. So we had to make choices, and those are hard. There are 51 members of the Finance Committee, 34 of whom are Democrats.  It was a packed room, as nearly all members chose to participate in person.  Legislators choose to serve on the Finance Committee for a reason – they’ve got preferred policies, and they need the opportunity to argue for why their policies should be priorities. That big conversation, where all the ideas and priorities are surfaced, was important for everyone to hear.  It was followed by a lot of smaller conversations. I conferred with smaller groups of legislators while groups that had different priorities tried to hash out their differences with each other.  I checked in with legislative leadership (who had specific priorities), the Governor’s office (who wanted their own budget passed) and the House Ranking Member, Rep. Holly Cheeseman, (who expressed her caucus’s views on what they wanted to see).  During and after those conversations, we agreed to changes to the bond bill (which then had to be drafted and distributed, around 4pm). 
Once everything was aired, we took a vote count, and learned that despite the strong and disparate views, people were willing to work together, and we had the votes to pass both the revenue and bond bills. 
We re-convened the committee at about 6pm and were done around 8pm.  Members got the chance to state their views for the record, and it was clear there were areas of both agreement and disagreement, and that there remained work ahead.  In that sense, there was conflict, but it was constructive and healthy, and the process worked smoothly and respectfully. 
I want to note here that the Appropriations spending package and the Finance revenue package are not currently in balance: This is normal for this stage of the process, and it does not mean we won’t pass a balanced budget.  In Connecticut, we don’t have a “Ways and Means Committee,” so the two committees work on separate tracks.  We keep an eye on each other (and, as noted, some of our last-minute changes were made to accommodate Appropriations) so that we are not wildly out of synch, but the expectation is not that we will be in balance at this stage.  We are required to produce a balanced budget at the end of the process, and we will. 
In the next week we will get a new round of revenue predictions, and the Executive and Legislative branches will agree on “consensus revenues” which are the most up to date projections, and are what we will base that balanced budget on. Negotiations, of a sort, have already begun in the media, where the various parties have shared their opinions about what has been produced so far and where they will press for changes. When we get the new numbers, members of the leadership we will begin negotiations again in earnest as we work toward crafting and passing a balanced budget by the close of Regular Session on June 7, which I am highly confident we will meet.

Here’s a list of today’s topics:
  • COVID-19 weekly update. Click here
  • April is National Second Chance Month. Click here
  • April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Click here
  • Update on Aid-in-Dying bill. Click here
  • Access Health CT is looking for seasoned brokers to serve as mentors . Click here
  • CT ranked in Top Ten Greenest States in America. Click here
  • CT General Assembly Second Annual Kickball Classic on May 1 .  Click here
COVID-19 update
For graphs and tables containing data on COVID-19, including a list of cases in every municipality click the button below.
Connecticut COVID-19 Update
Note that the federal government is making at home test kits available free of charge.  For more information,
April is National Second Chance Month
Thanks to Sue Domanico, Co-chair of the Northwest Reentry Council, who reminded me that April is also National Second Chance Month.  Returning citizens have some unique challenges in the Northwest corner, given its rural nature.  The Northwest Reentry Council last updated its Resource Guide just prior to the pandemic, but most of the listings are still up to date.  That guide can be found here:
For more resources, see
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Distracted drivers often do not see the risk of their behavior until it’s too late. If your attention is anywhere other than the road, you are driving distracted and putting yourself and others at risk of a crash, injury, or death. We are all counting on each other to drive responsibly.
Update on Aid-in-Dying bill
The Aid-in-Dying bill, SB 1076, did not advance out of the Judiciary Committee last week, so will not be taken up by the legislature this year. I heard from a lot of you about this bill and have been moved by the fact that both the support and the opposition were strongly held, and both rooted in love and caring for those experiencing excruciatingly difficult situations. 
Although I do not sit on the Judiciary Committee this year, I keep track of what they’re doing because a lot of the issues there remain important to me, including this one.  Committee members took it seriously and had a long and ardent debate on the bill, after which, as in every other committee, they counted the votes and there were not enough votes to pass this bill.  I know that is a great disappointment to some, but the process was transparent and democratic and the best we can hope for.  I’m certain we will continue to debate this topic in years to come.
Access Health CT is looking for seasoned brokers to serve as mentors
Access Health CT (AHCT) announced a request for proposals from health and life insurance brokers to mentor incoming professionals to the field. This five-month mentorship is part of AHCT’s 2023 Broker Academy Program. For details, click here. The deadline to apply to be a mentor is May 1.
The Broker Academy creates a pathway to license health insurance brokers by recruiting from, and building the skillsets of, those who live and work in historically underserved communities throughout Connecticut. The program, now in its second year, was created as part of AHCT’s mission to increase the rate of the insured and reduce health disparities in the state.
Responses to the request for proposals are due May 1 by 4 p.m.
CT ranked in Top Ten Greenest States in America
Think global, act local! Connecticut has taken historic climate action and passed legislation that codifies our zero-carbon electric grid target into state law. Learn more about how we are taking action for our planet here:
CT General Assembly Second Annual Kickball Classic on May 1
Members of Connecticut's General Assembly - from both sides of the aisle - are coming together outside of their offices and chambers, in the spirit of bipartisanship, for some fun and good causes.

The CT General Assembly will be holding its Second Annual Kickball Classic on Monday, May 1, 4:30 p.m. (gates open at 3:30) at Dunkin' Park in Hartford, home of the Yard Goats. 

The admission price is $10, and proceeds will go to two great causes - the Q Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, in memory of State Rep. Quentin "Q" Williams, who died in a tragic car crash at the start of the 2023 legislative session, and the Sarah Foundation, in memory of former State Rep. Noreen Kokoruda. 

The event is open to the public and we welcome you to come cheer on your favorite team and support two great causes as we honor two great legislators who left us far too soon. Please consider bringing a non-perishable food item to donate to CT Foodshare, too.

To purchase tickets online, click 

HERE (there is a $2.25 fee for online purchases), or purchase at the gate. 

To learn more about the Q Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, click 


To learn more about the Sarah Foundation, click 

It is my honor to represent our district. I look forward to hearing from you about the issues raised in this newsletter, or any other topics you think I should know about. You can email me at or call me at (860)-240-8585. Thanks for reading, and I wish you a safe weekend.

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Maria Horn
State Representative


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