House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, the incoming speaker. mark pazniokas /
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and House Majority Matt Ritter.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter. mark pazniokas /

Updated Friday with full list of House Democratic co-chairs.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, shook up committee leadership assignments in his second day as speaker Thursday, including the removal of Rep. Jeffrey Berger of Waterbury, his one-time rival for majority leader, as co-chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.

Rep. Jason Rojas of East Hartford, a deputy majority leader, succeeds Berger at finance, one of the legislature’s two money committees. As Aresimowicz already made clear, the other, Appropriations, will continue to be led by Rep. Toni Walker of New Haven.

Change always comes with a new speaker, but these assignments will be closely analyzed as the Democratic majority copes with dissatisfied constituency groups, including organized labor, and with a Republican minority that’s gained 35 seats in six years.

Aresimowicz promoted two young legislators, Reps. Sean Scanlon of Guilford and Caroline Simmons of Stamford, naming them as committee co-chairs after single terms in the House: Scanlon at Insurance and Real Estate; Simmons at Commerce.

Rep. Robyn Porter of New Haven, a member of the Communication Workers of America, is the new co-chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, succeeding Rep. Peter Tercyak of New Britain.

With labor unions agitating for action on a higher minimum wage and an employee-funded system of paid family leave

“Robyn’ll be great,” said Tercyak, who will be an assistant deputy speaker. “It’s very important for labor to have someone they trust, who knows and hears their concerns.”

Berger, who could not be reached for comment, competed with Aresimowicz in 2012 for majority leader, the post that J. Brendan Sharkey vacated to become speaker. Aresimowicz won in a secret ballot. Sharkey named Berger to Finance two years ago when the House co-chair, Patricia Widlitz, did not run for re-election.

Rep. Gregg Haddad of Mansfield, the home of the University of Connecticut, is the new co-chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee. He succeeds Roberta Willis, who did not seek re-election.

Rep. Joseph Verrengia of West Hartford, a retired police officer, takes over at Public Safety and Security, taking the vacancy created by the resignation of Rep. Stephen D. Dargan, D-West Haven.

Rep. Dan Fox of Stamford is the co-chair of Government Administration and Elections, succeeding Ed Jutila, who did not seek re-election. Rep. James Albis of East Haven moves into leadership, chairing the House Democratic screening committee. Rep. Mike Demicco of Farmington succeeds Albis as co-chair of Environment.

The assignments were described to CT Mirror by multiple legislative sources Thursday. Aresimowicz spent much of Thursday informing legislators of the new assignments.

Committee co-chairs will have tougher jobs in 2017. With an evenly divided Senate and a narrow Democratic majority in the House, the legislature’s joint committees will barely be controlled by the Democrats, with advantages of just one or two members.

Each committee will have a House Democratic co-chair and Senate Democratic co-chair, as in recent years. But, reflecting the split Senate, there also will be a Senate GOP co-chair.

Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, announced his assignments earlier Thursday. His caucus lost four co-chairs to retirement or defeat and a fourth, Sen. Beth Bye of West Hartford, had asked to be removed as Appropriations co-chair for family reasons.

Sen. Cathy Osten of Sprague is the Appropriations co-chair. Sen. Paul Doyle of Wethersfield is the new Judiciary co-chair, succeeding Eric Coleman, who resigned Wednesday to seek a position as a judge. Bye is returning to the Higher Education panel she co-chaired before going to Appropriations.

2017 Committee Co-chairs
With an evenly divided Senate, every committee has a Senate Democrat and Republican sharing the co-chair duties. Internship and Regulations Review are bipartisan committees, where the top House Democrat is considered the ranking member (RM).
Committee Senate Democrat Senate Republican House Democrat
Aging Mae Flexer Kevin Kelly Joseph Serrra
Appropriations Cathy Osten Paul Formica Toni Walker
Banks Gary Winfield Henri Martin Matt Lesser
Children Marilyn Moore Len Suzio Diana Urban
Commerce Joan Hartley L. Scott Frantz Caroline Simmons
Education Gayle Slossberg Toni Boucher Andrew Fleischmann
Energy and Technology Gary Winfield Paul Formica Lonnie Reed
Environment Ted Kennedy Jr. Craig Miner Mike Demicco
Executive and Legislative Nominations Bob Duff Len Fasano Edwin Vargas
Finance, Revenue and Bonding John Fonfara L. Scott Frantz Jason Rojas
General Law Carlo Leone Kevin Witkos David Baram
Government Administration and Elections Gary Winfield Mike McLachlan Daniel Fox
Higher Education and Employment Advancement Beth Bye Art Linares Greg Haddad
Housing Gayle Slossberg Tony Hwang Larry Butler
Human Services Marilyn Moore Joe Markley Catherine Abercrombie
Insurance and Real Estate Tim Larson Kevin Kelly Sean Scanlon
Internship Ted Kennedy Jr. Tony Guglielmo John Hampton RM
Judiciary Paul Doyle John Kissel William Tong
Labor and Public Employees Ed Gomes Craig Miner Robyn Porter
Legislative Management Martin M. Looney Len Fasano Joe Aresimowicz
Planning and Development Steve Cassano George Logan Roland Lemar
Public Health Terry Gerratana Heather Somers Jonathan Steinberg
Public Safety and Security Tim Larson Tony Guglielmo Joe Verrengia
Regulation Review Paul Doyle Kevin Witkos Susan Johnson RM
Transportation Carlo Leone Toni Boucher Tony Guerrera
Veterans’ Affairs Mae Flexer Henri Martin Jack Hennessy

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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