January 11, 2019
The latest from the folks across the street from the Capitol

From Paddi's Desk
by Paddi LeShane

Exciting week! The newly elected statewide officers and members of the 2019-2020 General Assembly have been sworn-in, are seated and already taking actions this week.
Governor Lamont definitely set a new tone with his swearing in by inviting several former governors to attend. Certainly all expected former Governor Dannel Malloy to attend, but also former Governors Jodi Rell and Lowell Weicker were seated in the front row to welcome the new member of the "Governor's Club". None of them were expected to, nor did they, attend the gala that night, but their presence was a welcome beginning to a session where the message "we all have to get along" was felt throughout the day.
While addressing the joint session of the legislature, Governor Lamont came across as sincere, willing to roll up his sleeves to really dig the state out and fix some lingering structural concerns, but no other word was repeated as often as GROWTH. This indicates that even if we fix things that are troubling the state, Connecticut cannot thrive unless this legislature and this Governor are committed to grow the economy, grow the number of students who stay in the state and grow the number of residents who are able to work and hold paying jobs. Most of all, we need to grow the confidence in everyone that CT is serious about regaining its enviable status as the New England state that can offer a high quality standard of living, high quality workforce and high quality of culture and social opportunities that many have experienced and enjoyed over the decades.
The next official actions expected by this Governor is the completion of his Cabinet. So far, 18 people have been announced, and there remains about 10 to 15 high level appointments that are still in the works. Some are commissioners, while others are heads of a variety of quasi-state agencies like PURA (Public Utility Regulatory Agency), CRDA (Capitol Region Development Authority) and a new president of the University of Connecticut - to point out just a few - who are waiting to see if the incumbent will remain on or if there will be a new face at the helm of the agency.
The Inaugural Gala wrapped up Opening Day and the word the next day was "success." The CT Convention Center shone under the white and blue cocktails lights, the food stations featuring well-known Hartford-area restaurants and the open seating and giant networking atmosphere was different than past years, and once everyone got used to it, the flow was embraced by all.
My favorite part of the evening is always the processional, with the traditional introduction of the statewide elected officials, their families and the legislative leaders and their families. The Foot Guard and the CT National Guard band did not disappoint. With CT's history, it's great to see that tradition continue.
On Thursday, the work began. Governor Lamont and his inner office were busy at work, and the legislative committees held organizational meetings to kick off the two-year session. Next week, it's rock and roll time.
As I was in the Senate watching the "goings on," I have to say the thought of a Senate under one team of leaders makes me - as a lobbyist - hope that some of that working together "forced" behavior from the past two years will continue. There's so much to do, and despite the Democrats having a large majority and a much more progressive membership, CT is still CT. If growth is what the government is looking for, and I know the business community feels the same, then working together to develop a workable vision - and then to manage expectations for a march towards growth and prosperity - will be essential.
In the House, the numbers of Democrats and Republicans really won't be what to watch for. It's the numbers in the Progressive Caucus, the Moderate Caucus, the Rural Caucus, the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, the Animal Welfare Caucus, the Environmental Caucus and the urban delegations that all eyes should be on. That might not even be all of them, but you get the picture. For Speaker Aresimowicz and Majority Leader Ritter, their leadership skills will be tested as they attempt to work around all the pitfalls within the large and vocal Democratic caucus and deliver on the Governor's priorities, while staying focused on actions of the mostly progressive Senate. Not sure anyone envies those two fellas, at least not in this current session.
All eyes are on CT and all hopes and promises are looking to see a turnaround year. Here we go 2019! It's the end of a decade and the kickoff for a new decade ahead.

CT Agency Corner
Lawsuit Casts Dark Cloud Over Non-Emergency Medical Transportation
by Mike Johnson

CT's primary source for rides to medical appointments for Medicaid patients is under large amounts of scrutiny as a lawsuit was filed this week alleging late, and even dropped, pick-ups for appointments.
The company, Veyo, may be preparing to defend the platform's performance, however, the challenge will be how they will keep their contract if the lawsuit turns out not to be frivolous. Despite the lawsuit being with the state and not Veyo, a negative suit against the state will likely make the state re-think keeping Veyo as its provider.
Last year, DSS signed a three-year, $140-million contract with Veyo after Logisticare had similar complaints filed against them. The legislature then voted on a bill to require the state to go out to bid for a new vendor.
As reported by CT News Junkie, Connecticut Legal Services filed the class action on behalf of all of the individuals who have been, "left stranded and in the dark, unable to get to their medical treatment."
All signs point to legislation being filed this year so please let me know if you are interested in hearing more about these developments.

Did You Know?
This Week in History
January 7th, 1789
The First U.S. Presidential Election

On this day in 1789, America's first presidential election is held. Voters cast ballots to choose state electors; only white men who owned property were allowed to vote. As expected,  George Washington won the election and was sworn into office on April 30, 1789.

As it did in 1789, the United States still uses the  Electoral College system, established by the U.S.  Constitution, which today gives all American citizens over the age of 18 the right to vote for electors, who in turn vote for the president. The president and vice president are the only elected federal officials chosen by the Electoral College instead of by direct popular vote.

Today political parties usually nominate their slate of electors at their state conventions or by a vote of the party's central state committee, with party loyalists often being picked for the job. Members of the U.S. Congress, though, can't be electors. Each state is allowed to choose as many electors as it has senators and representatives in Congress. In order to win the presidency, a candidate needs a majority of 270 electoral votes out of a possible 538.

On January 6, as a formality, the electoral votes are counted before Congress and on January 20, the commander in chief is sworn into office.
In This Issue:

by Ryan Bingham

This week, Preston's First Selectman Bob Congdon, who also has served in the CT General Assembly, wrote that the legislature needs to address the pension issue that has been lingering for decades.  

He cited that CT is the 4th worst with regard to unfunded pension liabilities and that pension plans should be funded at 80 percent or greater. In CT, the State Employees' Retirement System (SERS) is funded at just under 37%.  First Selectman Congdon suggested that this will have huge repercussions for us now and into the future.  

He cited a study from Boston College's Center for Retirement Research on suggested solutions. Some of these solutions include lowering the long-term assumed investment return and shifting payments and full-funding dates away from their legacy definitions. Essentially, we haven't reviewed or changed our strategy for investment in years, which is only exasperating the problem.

Either way, it's a very tough problem that doesn't yield initial visible results and takes tough choices in a time where money is not available and residents are on high alert for new spending, which could cost taxpayers even more.

2019 Behind the Scenes
by Chelsea Neelon

Now that we're in the New Year and session has begun, my section is going to take a turn to bring you behind the scenes of those serving in our legislature. But first, we have to show off our new S&L interns for the 2019 session!

Joe Canino - George Washington University, M/W/F
- Joe will be graduating from George Washington University in May of this year and hopes to get involved in politics on the national scale, possibly working for a U.S. Senate office. He will be graduating as a political science major. His goal in the future is to run for Congress. Joe loves to play poker, specifically Texas Hold'em.
Noah Frank - University of Connecticut, Tues/Thurs
- Noah is a student at the University in Connecticut, an eager freshman who will be graduating in May of 2022 and is currently majoring in Political Science. He hopes to work either as a legislative aide once he graduates college, and aspires to eventually become a legislator in the state of Connecticut. His favorite hobby is playing music, as he plays six instruments, but the drums are his favorite and has enjoyed touring around New England for the past few years.
James Cryan - University of Connecticut, Tues/Thurs
- James will be graduating from UConn in May of this year, and is looking to go into defense contracting in either the military or civilian side. He will be graduating as a political science major. James is a talented musician and his favorite hobby is playing bass guitar.
We have some great talent on our team for this year and are excited for you to meet them!

Special Elections

According to the Office of the Governor, special elections will be held for the five open General Assembly seats on February 26th, 2019.

There will be no primaries for these elections, as candidate endorsements are decided by delegates in from each respective town committee for both major party candidates. If candidates are not endorsed, they can petition their way onto the ballot.

Information regarding the special elections is below:

  • 3rd District of the State Senate, consisting of the entirety of East Hartford, East Windsor, and South Windsor, and portions of Ellington;
  • 5th District of the State Senate, consisting of the entirety of Burlington and West Hartford, and portions of Bloomfield and Farmington;
  • 6th District of the State Senate, consisting of the entirety of Berlin and New Britain, and portions of Farmington;
  • 39th District of the State House of Representatives, consisting of portions of New London; and
  • 99th District of the State House of Representatives, consisting of portions of East Haven.