Rell’s final veto count: 13 bills

Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed 187 bills into law and vetoed 13 by today’s deadline for acting on the 200 pieces of legislation passed during the annual General Assembly that ended last month.

“She’s done. She’s acted on every bill,” said Adam Liegeot, a spokesman for the governor.

The General Assembly is scheduled to convene on June 21 for a veto session, but Democratic leaders have yet to determine which bills they will attempt to override.

Derek Slap, spokesman for the Senate Democrats, said leaders traditionally take up just two or three bills during a veto session, but this year could be an outlier.

One of the most controversial bills Rell vetoed this session was a sweeping energy package that subsidizes solar power, encourages energy efficiency and exerts influence over a deregulated electric industry that has given Connecticut the nation’s second-highest electric rates.

It is unlikely the votes are there to capture the two-thirds needed to override Rell, but the leaders who crafted the bill have said they are attempting to get the needed votes now.

Another controversial bill that was vetoed is one that would tax executive bonuses at the eight state firms that were bailed out by the federal government in the Troubled Asset Relief Program. It is unlikely Democrats will be able to rally enough votes, as the bill barely passed by a majority vote.

Instead, Slap expects Democratic leaders to bring up bills that have bi-partisan support.

Of the 13 vetoes issued by the governor, nine of them were approved by the general assembly either unanimously or with veto-proof margins.

One of those bills include postponing the deadline the municipal insurance purchasing cooperative has to erase its $10 million deficit. There are currently 65 towns and boards of educations that purchase insurance through the Municipal Interlocal Risk Management Agency, which has been plagued by deficits in recent years.

Another bill with a “solid chance” of being brought up, Slap said is one that would limit when hiring managers are allowed to ask someone applying for a state job of their criminal background.

Democratic leadership, which has veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate, are expected to announce next week what they will bring up during the veto session.

They have said they intend to vote on a bill extending the tax on real estate properties being sold. Without a vote, the tax will expire July 1 and towns have said this would be a $25 million loss to their budgets.

The House overwhelmingly passed the bill during the regular session but the Senate forgot to pass the measure as their deadline approached.

Housing advocates are urging the legislature to override Rell’s veto of a bill that would allow public housing tenants to petition for the election of the tenant commissioner on a housing authority board. Those commissioners are now appointed by municipal officials.

“Most tenant commissioners are caring, thoughtful people, but some are just rubber stamps for the housing authority,” said Dorian Kreindler, a member of the Public Housing Resident Network and the Wallingford Tenant Council board. “They were appointed only because they will never, ever rock the boat.”

The bill passed 29 to 5 in the Senate and 104 to 42 in the House.

An override requires 24 votes in the Senate and 101 in the House.

In Rell’s last round of bills signatures this week, she signed a bill that will require the Department of Social Services to launch an outreach program, if their budget allows, to raise awareness for food assistance programs — including the federally-funded SNAP food stamp and school breakfast programs.

Proponents of the bill say the state is not using the full amount of federal money available and this will help increase participation.

Rell also signed this week a bill that not only has the state complying with the U.S. Supreme Court decision opening the door for corporations and organizations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political speech, but also requires that such spending be disclosed.

She also signed a package of mandates relief for towns and cities; including no longer requiring towns pickup the cost of storing evicted tenet’s belongings and exempting them from having to post their minutes of their meetings online.

A summary of the major acts of the 2010 session is available from the legislature’s non-partisan Office of Legislative Research.