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What happens to bills once they're passed? A CT legislative commissioner explains

People walk by the Connecticut State Capitol on Wednesday, May 8, 2024 in Hartford on the final day of the 2024 legislative session. (Joe Buglewicz/Connecticut Public)
Joe Buglewicz
/
Connecticut Public
People walk by the Connecticut State Capitol on the final day of the 2024 legislative session.

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With Connecticut’s legislative session now over, bills that were approved by the House and Senate are en route to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk for further action.

But after a bill’s approval, the road to becoming state law is not as simple as just getting the governor’s signature.

The state’s Legislative Commissioner’s Office carefully pores over every measure that passes. Over 170 bills got both chambers’ approval this year, according to Ed Maley, one of Connecticut’s legislative commissioners. His office makes sure that each bill correctly states what the legislature intends it to do and is accurate, especially if amendments were added along the way.

This part is known as engrossing – and it’s a process that can take anywhere from hours to days based on a measure’s length, and complexity.

“There are bills that can be as simple as a single word change from existing law,” Maley said. “We have literally had bills over the years that have been up to 1,000 pages long, some of them are completely new material, others are amending statutes that already exist.”

After the bill is engrossed and certified, House and Senate clerks will sign and transmit it to the Secretary of the State, who presents it to the governor to approve — or veto.

Lamont has indicated only one bill so far this year that he would veto: a measure that would benefit striking workers. Lamont said he doesn’t support the effort, which passed in the Senate during the session’s final hour.

Since taking office in 2019, Lamont has vetoed a handful of bills every year, which have been sustained by the General Assembly.

In general, the Legislative Commissioner’s Office engrosses bills in chronological order of when they’ve passed. After a session’s end, there’s not only several dozens of steps for the technical engrossing, but a large volume to get through, according to Maley.

“All of the bills are required to be done in a timeframe of a few weeks and sent to the governor who then has a couple of weeks to sign or not sign the bills,” Maley said. “So the entire process is done within roughly a month and a half after the legislature ends."

Several 2024 session bills have already been signed into law — from preventing medical debt from being reported to credit agencies, to making new guidelines for when police can pause body cameras.

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. She has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.

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