With two resignations in the Senate on opening day, it looks as if all the pieces stopped moving long enough for legislative leadership to name committee chairs and vice chairs.
Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, and Sen. Ed Gomes, D-Bridgeport, have the most committee assignments of all the Senators.
Winfield will chair three committees, including the Banking Committee, the Energy and Technology Committee, and the Government Administration and Elections Committee. He will vice chair the Judiciary Committee, and he will be a member of the Appropriations, Education, and Finance Committees. Gomes will chair the Labor and Public Employees Committee, and vice chair the Aging Committee and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He will also be a member of the Internship, Judiciary, Public Safety and Security Committee and the Regulation Review Committee.
Bringing some clout to eastern Connecticut, Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, will co-chair the Appropriations Committee with Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, and Sen. Paul Formica, R-Niantic. Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, announced in late November that she was stepping aside from the coveted assignment as Appropriations Committee co-chair to take care of her wife, who is undergoing cancer treatment.
But Bye will chair the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, and she will vice chair the Education and Human Services committees. She will also be a member of the Judiciary, Legislative Management, and Planning and Development committees.
Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, will continue to chair the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, and this year he will be joined by Republican Co-Chair Sen. L. Scott Frantz.
The House has yet to announce its committee chairs and leadership posts.
Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, will co-chair the Education Committee, along with Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton. The committee is expected to have to tackle some big questions about Connecticut’s education finance system and how the money is distributed to cities and towns.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Wednesday that he will release a new formula for education funding in February with his budget proposal. He joked that he knows what he introduces next month will be changed by the legislature.
Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, will co-chair the Judiciary Committee in place of Sen. Eric Coleman, D-Bloomfield, who was the first African-American to chair that committee. Coleman resigned Wednesday to go through the Judicial Selection Commission process. Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, who has been the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee for several years, will join Doyle as a co-chairman.
Sen. Tim Larson, D-East Hartford, will co-chair the Public Safety and Security Committee with Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford Springs. That committee is responsible for legislation regarding the construction of a third casino in Connecticut.
Sen. Carlo Leone, D-Stamford, will co-chair the Transportation Committee along with Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Stamford. The committee will be asked to tackle regulating ride-sharing companies and possibly highway tolls.
“Our Senate Democratic committee chairs will play a critical role in producing an agenda that builds a better Connecticut, a stronger Connecticut and a more compassionate Connecticut where no one is left behind,” Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said. “The skills, knowledge, experience and ideas of each chair and vice-chair are tremendous assets as we continue to pursue policies to move our state forward.”
Under an agreement reached with Republicans, the joint House and Senate committees will now have a Republican co-chair. The agreement on sharing power both in the chamber and on committees was drafted after the election which saw the Senate split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.
The House Republicans released their committee assignments on Tuesday and the House Democrats are still working on them. Until all the committee assignments are made, business at the state Capitol can’t move forward because the committees can’t meet.