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Lawmakers receive stern warning to stop excessive drinking during session

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    HARTFORD, Connecticut (WFSB) — Time is running out at the state Capitol as several bills still need to be voted on and there’s no agreement yet on a state budget.

Lawmaker’s behavior is getting a lot of attention as some have been drinking on the job.

Connecticut Speaker of the House Matt Ritter and House Majority Leader Jason Rojas said they’ve had to talk to lawmakers about drinking in the legislative complex while the House is in session.

“There is no question we expect people to be adults and understand the consequences of their decisions. I’ve been very clear with people that if it happens again there will be significant consequences associated with that,” Ritter said.

“I think it’s important to clarify these are the exceptions, not any kind of norm. Just because they are exceptions doesn’t make it more acceptable, but I don’t want the public to think this is what is happening on a regular basis at the Capitol. There are people doing serious work,” Rojas said.

Amid the pandemic, some lawmakers have been watching debates and voting remotely form their offices at the Capitol.

While legislative leaders did not single out specific lawmakers, on Wednesday, Rep. Robin Comey from Branford apologized for an incident on the House floor last Thursday night.

After several pauses and an inability to put her words together, Comey sat down and fellow lawmakers went over to see if she was ok.

She released a statement saying, “I suddenly and unexpectedly began to feel unwell. This was due to several factors, including anxiety, exhaustion, and regrettably, the wine I had with dinner. This type of behavior is not typical for me. I take full responsibility for my error in judgement.”

Comey went on to write that she did not drive home and stayed in Hartford until the morning, but the episode shined light on a problem that Ritter admitted was not new.

“I’m not going to downplay this. I’ve, on multiple occasions, had to talk to the caucus or individuals in my office,” Ritter said.

Photos from show what appears to be legislators having tailgates, day and night, in the LOB garage.

“There are lines you cannot cross. If somebody ever left this building and injured somebody or themselves, I can’t even begin to think about what those consequences would be and I don’t want that to happen on our watches,” Ritter said.

“Drinking while on duty isn’t tolerated in the military and shouldn’t be tolerated in the public eye either, safety being paramount,” said Paul Bodner.

Ritter said he is very serious about holding lawmakers accountable. He says if it happens again, people could lose their committee assignment or even worse.

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