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CL&P Aftermath: Punch Lines and Politics

Should the General Assembly hold a special session?

DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT?

Candle, Light & Propane ... Connecticut, Light & Plunder. The wisecracks switched on almost as soon as the lights went out.

While the plays on words are getting laughs in some quarters, many legislators are sick of the joke. And while some are clamoring for a special session to tackle the aftermath of Winter Storm Alfred, others say patience is prudence.

“I always get nervous about special sessions,” said state Sen. Len Fasano, a Republican representing East Haven, West Haven and Wallingford in the 34th Senate District. “We tend to knee jerk reaction to a problem and not give it a lot of thought. Having a special session gives me pause.”

Fasano said it would be more productive to hold public hearings so legislators can learn about issues most of them don’t understand, from the state’s response to how to change the rules regarding who can test wires to determine if they’re live.

“CL&P is an easy target, we all think we pay too much. But my biggest beef is why the National Guard wasn’t called out on Monday,” Fasano said.

No Time Like the Present

But other lawmakers, like state Rep. John Shaban, a Republican representing Easton, Weston and Redding in the 135th House District, think there’s no time like the present for a special session.

“Members of this legislature proved through the recent bipartisan jobs package that they can work together in quick fashion, and given that winter is right around the corner this is an issue we must tackle right away,” Shaban wrote in an email to Patch. 

Those favoring a special session said they believe it's a bipartisan issue. Among their suggestions for legislation:

  • Requiring utilities to train and maintain emergency “stand-by crews’’ comprised of first responder personnel, retired utility workers and local responders such as firefighters.
  • Requiring mutual aid agreements to specify strict timelines with other utilities and states.
  • Increasing the use of fuel cells in Connecticut to provide more electricity that is “off the grid.’’
  • Benchmarks for power restoration and fines on utilities that fail to meet restoration goals.

Yet because the 2012 session officially begins in February, there is no rush to hold a special session, said state Rep. Paul Davis, a Democrat representing Milford, Orange and West Haven in the 117th House District.

“I was terribly disappointed, particularly with CL&P and the lack of communication and leadership. But I don’t think a special session at this time is necessarily the answer,” Davis said.

Davis said CL&P must examine its corporate structure but there also needs to be a thorough vetting of the state’s relationship to its emergency services and public utilities.

“There have been a lot of excuses and people passing the buck,” Davis said.

Special Session, Special Expectations

And while the October session saw the passage of jobs related legislation, legislators say there are risks to holding extra sessions -- because they usually attract more attention and, because having them signals the issue couldn't wait until the regular session, expectations are generally higher.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the Legislature will most likely review the events in its own time, said Juliet Manalan, Malloy’s press secretary.

"I think a special session, when we have something to do, is highly appropriate," Malloy said. "When we have a package to put forward, I will be fully supportive of a special or regular session to address it."

George E. Mulligan November 15, 2011 at 06:20 PM
CL&P CT. LOOT & PLUNDER is appropriate for political special session as CL&P Lobby will have to KICKIN to the PARTIES, like they do in D. C.
Robin Meeblind November 15, 2011 at 07:04 PM
Candle Light & Propane

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