Connecticut’s General Assembly is considered a part time legislature. The legislature convenes for five months on odd numbered years, and for three months in the even numbered years. The entire General Assembly is up for election on even numbered years, there are 151 House members and 36 members of the Senate.
The General Assembly has 25 bicameral committees, leadership of these committees including Senate Chair and Vice-Chair (members of the majority party), House Chair and Vice-Chair (members of the majority party, Senate Ranking member (member of the minority party), and House Ranking Member (member of minority party). The Committees are divided into A or B committees. A Committees meet Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. B Committees meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Once the session convenes for the odd number year, the General Assembly adopts the rules and the deadlines for the next two years. These rules will include the deadline for legislators to submit individual bill proposals as well as committee deadlines.
Once a bill has been proposed it will go through the screening committee to be referred to a committee of cognizance. The Committee will then decide whether to make the bill a committee proposal, they will also schedule a public hearing. Each Committee can develop their own rules for the public hearings, including how the sign up process will work, and how the bills are heard.
After the Public Hearing the Committee has four options they can vote a bill out of committee (Joint Favorable), they can vote a bill out with new language (Joint Favorable Substitute), they can vote a bill down, or they can refuse to take action on the bill and let the proposal die.
If a bill is voted out of committee it will go to the proper Chamber, either House or Senate based on the bill number. Once on the Chamber floor, a screening committee will determine if the bill needs to be referred to another committee. If the bill does not need to be referred to any additional committees, it must be read on the calendar for three days, which is typically three business days or three days they are in session.
If the bill is a Senate Bill, it will be marked GO, Pass Temporarily, Pass Retain, or Foot. When a bill is marked GO it is expected to be debated that day. If a bill is marked Pass Temporarily it usually means they would like to debate the bill that day but are waiting to finish an amendment. Pass Retains means the bill will retain its place on the calendar but not be called for a vote that day. A bill being put on the FOOT of the calendar typically means the bill needs a significant amount of work, or a sign from leadership they do not support the proposal at that time, it takes a separate vote for a bill to be taken off the FOOT and placed on the regular calendar.
The House Develops a GO List at the start of each session. This a list that represents the bills the House believes are ready for a vote. The GO list is not called in any particular order, and typically contains more bills than what the House will deal with that day.
Once a bill is called in either Chamber, it will be brought out typically by the Chair of the Committee it originated out of. At this time the Chair will also call any amendments they would like to make, any amendment can be adopted with either a voice or a roll call vote. Each chamber will have a debate on the bill, and the amendments offered. Typically if there is a concern over the bill, or frustration between the two parties, during the debate a filibuster can occur lasting for hours, stalling many other proposals. Once there is no more speakers on a bill, the bill will receive a roll call vote. Assuming the bill passes the bill will then move to the other chamber for a vote. The second chamber must adopt all previously adopted amendments, if not the bill must go back to the original chamber for further action.
Once the bill has been approved by both houses it must go through the Legislative Commissioner’s Office to officially include the amendment language, and pass through the Secretary of State’s Office, this process can take up to two weeks. The Secretary of State’s Office presents the bill to the Governor for final approval. The Governor can sign the bill into law or can decide to veto the entire bill, it would require 3/4ths of the legislature to overturn the veto.
If the session ends before all of its business is concluded the Governor may call them in for a special session. The special session is limited a specific purposed identified by the Governor and can happen anytime the legislature is not in regular session.