Among hundreds of bills hanging on deadline day: Pizza as the state food

Photo of Ken Dixon
Hot pizza getting cut and boxed at Frank Pepe's in New Haven on April 23, 2021.

Hot pizza getting cut and boxed at Frank Pepe's in New Haven on April 23, 2021.

Lisa Nichols

Did legislators declare pizza the state food Wednesday, in the waning hours of the 2021 session?

The state House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on May 12 to confer the designation on the famous flatbread pies, a bow to New Haven and pizzerias statewide. But the Senate hadn’t fired up the oven — so pizza hung in the balance Wednesday, along with hundreds of other bills set to expire at midnight.

Some bills, including a voting reform that would require employers to give time off for voting, and most notably, legalized marijuana, were shoveled off to a special session later this month, yet to be scheduled. Others remained part of the last-minute scramble for scarce floor time.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff said Tuesday afternoon that the pizza bill would likely be voted on with no discussion sometime before the deadline, when all pending legislation dies. The Democratic and Republican caucuses typically confer for hours to agree on bills for unanimous consent, no debate.

Just after 12:30 p.m., Duff got a start on the end of the session by putting 53 bills on the “foot” of the Senate calendar, effectively killing them. The majority of the bills are Senate versions of House bills that succeeded, such as the bill, already passed and awaiting Lamont’s signature, that would allow for automatic alcohol dispensing systems in bars and restaurants.

Other bills awaiting action included legislation promoting fuel cells and better access to broadband internet service.

In the flurry of late-session activity, lawmakers were scurrying between the Senate on the third floor of the Capitol and the House chamber below, in attempt to someone push along the process that began 22 weeks earlier and was likely to kill dozens, if not hundreds of bills.

At about 9:05, after a 45-minute debate, the House voted 112-36 to prohibit dog racing in the state.

While it would seem not to be the most-pressing piece of legislation in a state that last had a working dog track at Bridgeport’s Shoreline Star, which closed in 2006, Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, contended that the animals were not mistreated during the decades that races were held, and that it was hypocritical of a state that allows people to wage on dog races at OTB, but bans them.

Since the bill had to be approved in the Senate in order to get to the governor’s desk, it was up to Senate leadership to decide whether it would go on a consent calendar before midnight.

Another bill, that would enhance penalties for people who injure or kill police or rescue canines, became the subject of criticism from urban lawmakers in the House. After criticism from lawmakers including Rep. Antonio Felipe, D-Bridgeport, the bill was ordered “passed temporarily,” killing it on the last night of the session