Attorney General's Opinion
Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal
June 12, 2002
The Honorable John G. Rowland
Hartford, CT 06106
Dear Governor Rowland:
You have asked for an opinion on whether your interim appointment of the new chairman of the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority ("CRRA"), Michael Pace, made pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-191, is valid in light of the fact that the appointment was made after the legislature had convened a special session limited to considering legislation related to the state budget. For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that the interim appointment is valid and that Mr. Pace's appointment does not need to be submitted to the legislature for its advice and consent until the next regular legislative session.
As we understand it, the Governor appointed Mr. Pace as the chairman pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-19 on May 28, 2002, after the General Assembly had concluded its regular session. At the time of the appointment, the General Assembly had convened a special session which it expressly limited to considering and enacting legislation relating to the biennial state budget, state bond authorizations, state revenue and state agency deficiencies. House Joint Resolution No. 221. Nowhere in the joint resolution has the legislature authorized itself to give its advice or consent as to any gubernatorial appointments during the special session. See Conn. Const., Article Third.
We conclude that § 4-19 must be read, in this context, to permit the governor to make this interim appointment until the legislature convenes a regular session in which it has the authority to give its advice and consent as to gubernatorial appointments. Any other interpretation would lead to the bizarre and irrational result that the Governor is powerless to fill important positions because a special session has been called during which the appointment cannot be considered. The very purpose of § 4-19 is to ensure that the Governor can fill vacant offices during periods when the general assembly cannot offer its advice and consent.
On April 30, 2002, the legislature enacted Public Act 02-46, which reorganized the board of the CRRA effective June 1, 2002. The legislature knew at that time that it would not be in regular session2 to give its advice and consent to the Governor's appointment of a new chairman pursuant to the Act. Nevertheless, when the legislature authorized the special session less than a week later, it did not include within its authority consideration of this appointment, which it had itself had mandated in P.A. 02-46. Therefore, it must be concluded that the legislature intended that the appointment be made as an interim appointment pursuant to § 4-19.3
I trust this answers your inquiry.
Very truly yours,
1Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-19 provides in relevant part: "When the General Assembly is not in session and when no other provision has been made for filling any vacancy in an office, . . . appointment to which is made by the Governor with the advice and consent of the General Assembly or either branch thereof, the Governor may fill the same until the sixth Wednesday of the next regular session of the General Assembly, and until a successor is elected or appointed and has qualified. . . ."
2The regular session adjourned at midnight on May 6, 2002.
3State ex rel Rundbaken v. Watrous, 135 Conn. 638 (1949), is not to the contrary. In Watrous, the Connecticut Supreme Court considered the validity of interim appointments of municipal judges, under a predecessor statute to § 4-19. The court concluded that the interim appointments were valid because the legislature could not offer its advice and consent with respect to the appointments since the Senate had adjourned from a special session that was limited to considering legislation related to budgetary issues. The Court did not reach the question whether the General Assembly in such a special session could have given its advice and consent to the appointments.