Democrats Extend Majorities in Both Chambers
With no CT recounts looming on the horizon, the final numbers for the House and Senate are a 98-53 Democratic majority, and 24-12 Democratic supermajority respectively. This is a net increase of 7 legislators in the House and 2 in the Senate for the Democrats. There are 3 new Senate members (including Rick Lopes, a former House member) and 23 new House members. We will compile and send a list of new legislators and their available contact information early next week.
As expected, the House Democratic caucus elected Matt Ritter to be the next Speaker and Jason Rojas to be the next majority leader. House Republicans elected Vin Candelora to be their next Minority Leader and he has yet to select a deputy. We reported earlier this week that Senate Republicans elected Kevin Kelly to be the next Minority Leader in a narrow vote over Kevin Witkos. Kelly has selected Paul Formica to be his top deputy. Senate Democrats again elected Martin Looney and Bob Duff to the positions of Senate President pro tem and Senate Majority Leader, respectively. These positions will be formally voted on at the start of the 2021 regular session on January 6.
Recently, incoming Speaker Matt Ritter and incoming Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly commented on the upcoming session and how it will look. Despite the possibility of not having an in-person session, he assured the session will begin on January 6, 2021. It is becoming more apparent, however, that session will at least begin virtually given the surrounding circumstances with COVID-19. This means that the building will likely not be open to the public, and committee meetings and public hearings will take place virtually and will be available to the public on CT-N. While there will be obvious challenges to virtual committee meetings and public hearings, Ritter stated that the virtual aspect allows the possibility of having the legislature more accessible to the public than ever before, as it will not require people be physically present in order to testify during the hearing process. Decisions on when and if the legislature will open the building to the public will largely depend on the widespread availability of a vaccine.
96% of the State on Red Alert
As we continue to see an increase in COVID cases, 96% of Connecticut are in towns with “red alert” levels of infection. Additionally, it has been reported that there was a 6.6% positivity rate of those tested over the past 7-day period. Lamont warns that a “COVID cloud” is approaching from the west as the state is close to surpassing 100,000 confirmed positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Despite these fears, Governor Lamont assures us that we are in a much better position than we were in the early days of the pandemic. Lamont still has not yet committed to a roll back to Phase 1 restrictions, although historically he has followed the lead of New York and New Jersey. If those states begin to close down, we can likely expect Connecticut to do so shortly after. Additionally the governor announced this week that all club and high school sports - with the notable exception of college athletics - will be canceled through mid-January.
House Speaker Rolls out Picks for Committee Chair
Speaker-Designate Ritter has been rolling out his picks for committee chair one day at a time in order to give each Chair their “day in the sun.” We expect most Chairs will stay the same as last year but will compile the list of announcements and send them out weekly, or as needed if an unexpected pick occurs. So far, Ritter has announced the following Chairs - note the Chairs are the same as this past year with the exception of Rep. Scanlon:
Finance – Sean Scanlon (new)
Appropriations – Toni Walker
Judiciary – Steve Stafstrom
Commerce – Caroline Simmons
Children – Liz Linehan
Education – Bobby Sanchez
Energy & Technology – David Arconti
Labor & Public Employees – Robyn Porter
Government Administration & Elections – Dan Fox
Transportation- Rolland Lemar