Connecticut’s legislature will kick off its 2022 session Wednesday morning with in-person but downsized opening day ceremonies, in which the governor is expected to address a joint session of lawmakers minus the usual family and guests.
The House and Senate will gavel in separately at 10 a.m. with remarks from Gov. Ned Lamont scheduled in the House chamber at noon. Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw is expected to detail Lamont’s budget proposals at 1 p.m.
The proceedings will be a step towards normalcy after last year’s outdoor swearing-in ceremonies and pre-recorded address from Lamont. But they will be scaled down in comparison to pre-pandemic traditions. Legislators have not been permitted to bring friends or family and some lawmakers are expected to watch remotely. Unlike past years, executive agency commissioners have not been invited.
Meanwhile there will be fewer staff members in the building. The event falls on a Wednesday, when many staffers generally work remotely and most will keep that schedule despite the opening day events.
The first floors of the state Capitol building and Legislative Office Building will be open to the public and the Connecticut State Capitol Police are expecting a fair amount of activity both in and outside the building.
Two groups plan to hold rallies on the grounds as lawmakers convene to begin the session. Members of Stop Solitary CT, an advocacy group seeking to end solitary confinement in prison, will gather at 1 p.m.
Meanwhile, Unmask Our Kids CT, an organization opposed to school masking requirements, will stage a protest beginning at 10 a.m. In a Tuesday YouTube video, the group’s founder Jonathan Johnson urged members to participate despite Lamont’s recent announcement he hoped to shift the policy by the end of the month and leave the decision up to local school districts.
“Bring your children. Pull your kids out of school. Take the day off of work,” Johnson said. “We need hundreds of hundreds of people up here to advocate for mask choice.”
Sergeant Greg Wimble, public information officer for the state Capitol police, said the department had been in contact with organizers planning to demonstrate and expected somewhere around 250 protesters all told. Although the Capitol’s first floor is open to the public, Wimble said officers had communicated the indoor protocols.
“We’re expecting them to come and voice their concerns,” Wimble said. “They may come in and hold up their signs but they know it is against the building rules to chant or sing or disrupt the flow of business. So we’re not expecting that whatsoever.”