Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, answers a question about the budget at the State Capitol on Monday, June 5, 2023. Yehyun Kim / CT Mirror

On pages 339 and 340 of the 882-page budget bill passed early Tuesday in the House of Representatives is a provision that could affect who can and cannot run for attorney general in 2026.

One of the non-fiscal provisions in the budget redefines the qualifications to run for attorney general, striking language unique to Connecticut that disqualified Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz as a candidate for A.G. in 2010.

The standard included being “an attorney at law of at least ten years’ active practice at the bar of this state.” The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that “active practice at the bar” meant trial experience, which Bysiewicz did not have.

The new standard says a candidate, aside from being a member in good standing of the Connecticut bar, simply must have “engaged in the practice of law in this state for at least ten years, either consecutively or nonconsecutively.”

The language is taken from House Bill 6869, a measure favored by House Minority Leader Vincent J. Candelora, R-North Branford, and House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford.

In March, the Government Administration and Elections Committee approved a different bill, which also would have eliminated the “active practice” language and made another change — lowering the 10-year standard to six years.

One of the possible beneficiaries was Rep. Matt Blumenthal, D-Stamford, the committee’s co-chair. 

Blumenthal was admitted to the Connecticut bar six years ago and will be one year short of the currently required decade in 2026, the next scheduled election for attorney general.

His co-chair, Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Windham, said at the time that the six-year standard would expand the pool of candidates.

Early Tuesday, as the House debated the budget bill, Blumenthal declined to comment on the provision in the budget or whom it might help. The issue did not come up in the House debate.

Ritter, who also is a lawyer, said the provision was not drafted with his career ambitions in mind.

“I would qualify without the change,” Ritter said. “But at this point, I have no interest in attorney general.”

Candelora said the provision kept the current 10-year standard, while striking the language that is subject to interpretation — how much trial experience is necessary to qualify.

Other states set simple and clear-cut qualifications: typically a minimum age (as low as 18 in many states), a requirement of citizenship or residency, and, in some cases, admission to the state’s bar.

None, according to a review of qualifications by the Office of Legislative Research, specify courtroom experience.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.