House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin Keith M. Phaneuf /
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, left, and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter (file photo)

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and Majority Leader Matt Ritter unveiled new leadership assignments Thursday for the 2019 General Assembly session, including new co-chairs for 11 of the 27 committees.

And while several of the most prominent committees will have the same House co-chairs, some panels with new leadership include Education, Energy and Technology, Housing, Judiciary, Planning and Development, and Transportation. The new assignments take effect on Jan. 9, when the new legislative session begins.

“This is a great time of opportunity for our state, and the leadership team we have put together is committed to working to develop policies that help improve the quality of life for everyone in our state,” Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said. “House Democrats represent diverse communities from all corners of our state, and with more than a quarter of our members entering their first term in the legislature we have a great combination of fresh faces to go along with the experience necessary to make positive change.”

Democrats gained 12 seats in the House in last November’s elections, increasing their advantage over the GOP in the chamber from 80-71 to 92-59.

Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, will take over as co-chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee, replacing Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford. Tong did not seek re-election this fall, instead winning his first term as state attorney general.

All legislative committees are joint panels, meaning they have both representatives and senators among their members and feature a co-chairman from each chamber. Democrats also will hold a majority in the Senate, where leaders announced their committee assignments last month.

Leadership of the Transportation Committee will pass from Rep. Tony Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, to Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven. Guerrera, who gave up his seat, lost the Democratic primary in the 9th District to Rep. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown.

The transportation panel is expected this year to again debate whether Connecticut should establish electronic tolling on its highways.

Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, D-Fairfield, will succeed Lemar as House chair of the Planning and Development Committee.

New Britain Democrat Bobby Sanchez will replace Andrew Fleischmann of West Hartford as House chair of the Education Committee. Fleischmann was defeated in a primary by West Hartford Democrat Jillian Gilchrest, former director of health professional outreach at the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

And Rep. Brandon McGee, D-Hartford, will succeed Rep. Larry Butler, D-Waterbury, as leader of the Housing Committee.

Other new committee leaders appointed Thursday include:

  • Rep. Ezequiel Santiago, D-Bridgeport, Banking;
  • Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, Children;
  • Rep. Daniel Arconti, D-Danbury, Energy and Technology;
  • Rep. Kim Rose, D-Milford, Internship;
  • Rep. Susan Johnson, D-Windham, Regulation Review;
  • Rep. Dorinda Borer, West Haven, Veterans Affairs.

Several major committees will face no change in House Democratic leadership.

Reps. Toni Walker of New Haven and Jason Rojas of East Hartford again will lead the two major budget-writing panels, the Appropriations Committee and Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee, respectively.

Nonpartisan analysts say state finances, unless adjusted, are on pace to run $1.7 billion, or 10 percent, in deficit in the upcoming fiscal year.

New Haven Democrat Robyn Porter remains House chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, which likely will debate a potential increase in Connecticut’s minimum wage.

Other House co-chair appointments released Thursday by Democratic leadership include:

  • Rep. Joe Serra, D-Middletown, Committee on Aging;
  • Rep. Caroline Simmons, D-Stamford, Commerce;
  • Rep. Mike Demicco, D-Farmington, Environment;
  • Rep. Edwin Vargas, D-Hartford, Executive and Legislative Nominations;
  • Rep. Michael D’Agostino, D-Hamden, General Law;
  • Rep. Daniel Fox, D-Stamford, Government Administration and Elections;
  • Rep. Gregory Haddad, D-Mansfield, Higher Education and Employment Advancement;
  • Rep. Cathy Abercrombie, D-Meriden, Human Services;
  • Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, Insurance and Real Estate;
  • Aresimowicz, Legislative Management;
  • Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, Public Health;
  • Rep. Joe Verrengia, D-West Hartford, Public Safety and Security.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

Leave a comment