Gearing up for the General Assembly's 2011 Session

January 5, 2011

Connecticut's State CapitolAlthough the Connecticut General Assembly is a part-time legislature, there are important tasks occurring year-round. The period between November 2, 2010 and January 5, 2011 marks a critical transition point for the General Assembly. During this time, the legislature readies for the coming session by writing legislation, welcoming in many new leaders and attending to day-to-day official business.

With the November 2nd election there were many changes to the 187 members of the General Assembly. Not only were new state senators and representatives elected to serve, but Connecticut will also welcome a new governor, Governor-elect Dan Malloy. These new officials have been transitioning into their new roles, and getting acquainted with returning legislators, as well as the rules of the General Assembly and the 2011 session, which convenes Wednesday, January 5th.

The 2011 session, the first of a new two-year legislative term, is considered to be the "long" session. It runs from the first week in January through the first week in June. In the long session the legislature is required to produce a budget for the next two fiscal years. Legislators also have the opportunity to introduce bills on any subject, whereas is the short session legislators can only introduce bill with a direct fiscal impact on the budget. During the long session there are no parameters on what types of bills are raised or who raises them, so often times there will be a host of bills submitted by legislators at the request of constituents. In fact, many of the best ideas for bills come from you and your families, so I welcome your feedback.

In the weeks leading up to session I have spent much of my time researching the important issues, many brought forth by constituents, and then meeting with legislative staff and attorneys to prepare new bills. My priority is to draft good legislation that helps both our district and our state. Once I complete drafting these proposals, they are submitted to the Legislative Commissioner’s Office. The Legislative Commissioner’s Office analyzes the proposals and sends them to the appropriate legislative committees for review and debate during the 2011 session.

This period of transition is also used to appoint members of the General Assembly to legislative committees. Committees are select groups of legislators that analyze bills based on a specific topic. These assignments are determined by the legislative leaders in both the House and Senate caucuses. Recently, I was appointed to serve as Ranking Member of both the Energy and Technology Committee and the General Law Committee, and also to serve as a member of the Public Safety Committee. Going forward it will be my responsibility to play a leading role in crafting legislation concerning areas such as the cost of energy, consumer protection, occupational licensing, police and fire training, and veterans’ affairs.

This year as we work to improve each of those areas, we must do so in the context of the state’s $7.25 billion two-year budget deficit. That means prioritization is more important than ever. As I prepare legislation during this period, I will try to focus on issues that most directly affect our lives, jobs and personal incomes. That means looking for ways to protect our quality of life and make living and working in Connecticut more affordable for generations to come.