The leadership of the state legislature’s joint committees for next year’s session began to fall into place this week as House Speaker Matt Ritter announced new chairmanship assignments for committees like Finance, Public Health, and Energy and Technology.
In a string of press releases, Ritter and House Majority Leader Jason Rojas confirmed the return of some committee chairs and new assignments for other legislators who will fill leadership vacancies created by retirements or reshuffling of responsibilities.
Rep. Maria Horn, D-Salisbury, will take over House leadership of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, one of the legislature’s two powerful budget-writing panels.
Horn, an attorney who has worked on finance issues at JP Morgan & Co, will replace Rep. Sean Scanlon, a Guilford Democrat who was recently elected as state comptroller. In a press release, Scanlon praised Horn as a capable legislator, able to work through complicated issues.
“I’m proud to pass the baton to her and I know she will work every day to help continue Connecticut’s fiscal comeback as the next chair of Finance, Revenue and Bonding,” Scanlon said.
Horn’s move to the finance panel creates a vacancy on the Public Safety Committee, where she previously served as co-chair. It was unclear Friday who would fill that position.
On the other side of the budget-writing process, Ritter re-appointed Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, to her longtime position as co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, calling her a “steady hand” in turning around the state’s finances.
Other changes announced this week will see Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, move from co-chair of the Public Health Committee to co-chair of the Energy and Technology Committee.
Steinberg will take over the post from outgoing Rep. David Arconti, a Danbury Democrat who did not seek another term in office, during a session in which the price of energy in Connecticut is expected to receive increased scrutiny due to rate hikes at Eversource and United Illuminating.
“As we have seen over the past couple of weeks, and for years now, the Energy & Technology Committee has a significant work and opportunities ahead in addressing a number of challenges from tackling the impacts of climate change to the cost burden of utilities for Connecticut’s residents,” Rojas said in a press release. “Rep. Steinberg is up to the task of leading us through this work.”
Rep. Cristin McCarthy-Vahey, D-Fairfield, will replace Steinberg as House chair of the Public Health Committee. McCarthy-Vahey previously served as co-chair of the Planning and Development Committee.
On Friday, Ritter and Rojas announced their assignment of Rep. Anthony Nolan as co-chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee. Nolan previously served in the Navy and is currently a police officer in New London.
“As a veteran and a police officer, Anthony knows what it means to serve,” Ritter said. “I know he will lean on his experience and lead this committee to do great things for Connecticut veterans.”
The move bumps Rep. Pat Boyd, D-Pomfret, from the leadership post on the Veterans Committee. A spokesman for House Democrats said Boyd would assume the co-chairmanship of another legislative committee, likely to be announced next week.
In addition to the announced changes, Ritter and Rojas also confirmed that a handful of representatives would retain their committee leadership assignments from last session.
Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, will remain co-chair of the Children’s Committee. Rep. Steve Stafstrom,D-Bridgeport, will continue to serve as House chair of the Judiciary Committee. Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, will again be co-chair of the Transportation Committee. Meanwhile, Rep. Julio Concepcion, D-Hartford, will remain co-chair of the Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee.
Senate Democrats had not yet begun announcing their committee chair assignments as of Friday. However, there are bound to be changes in the ranks due to several retirements. Committees with vacant Senate chair posts include Public Health, Transportation, and Planning and Development. Those spots will need to be filled as a result of the departures of Sens. Mary Daugherty Abrams, D-Meriden, Will Haskell, D-Westport, and Steve Cassano, D-Manchester.