A bird’s eye view at the Capitol

Jen Cardines

For nearly two decades I sat in classrooms that taught me about history, politics, and local government from a textbook or a PowerPoint. I wrote essays, I read the books, and I listened to lectures, but it seems that real life experience always prevails over what you’re taught in school.

As a future educator, I fully support the learning environment of the classroom, but I must also appreciate the world of opportunities that I’ve been exposed to in the months following graduation.

Last Wednesday, I spent a day at the State Capitol for the General Assembly’s opening session—more specifically, on the floor of the House chambers thanks to an invitation by the new Speaker of the House.

Every lecture and town meeting that I’ve attended didn’t come close to the experience I had that day.

A lost and confused small-town reporter; I was encircled by 151 state representatives, their loved ones, and a handful of officials standing at the dais. I was in the big leagues. Cameras flashed from every angle. TVs across the building broadcasted the sessions.

Even reciting the Pledge of Allegiance felt different because I spoke each word in unison with scores of people who work to maintain the government that we pledge to.

This was also a room with the smallest party gap the House had seen in many of the legislators’ careers. The November election showed surprising results on all levels of government, directly affecting this General Assembly class.

During the joint session of state senators and representatives, I chose to sit up in the gallery and looked down at the room that had not one open seat. Directly above Gov. Malloy, I peered over the ledge and listened to his State of the State address. I watched a divided room react to his comments. I heard the claps from the left and watched the concern from the right.

I witnessed first-hand what the media tries to convey about the State.

It was mostly a day of pomp and circumstance to introduce the new Assembly class and officially instate the new leadership, with the real work lined up over the next few months, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an exciting experience nonetheless.

Throughout the past election season I was reminded that the state legislature has a larger effect on us that the federal government. We live in the United States of America, where each of the 50 states operates differently, based on rules and regulations made by their legislature.

What those 151 men and women accomplish in session will directly impact me and the rest of Connecticut’s residents, so to be in the room where all of that happens was certainly an honor and a privilege. Sure, people near and far have been in bigger and better situations, but others only wish to be exposed to events like this.

It was a truly priceless experience that I will carry with me forever, a historical opening to an Assembly session that has taken over at a crucial time.

Jen Cardines is a staff writer for the Southington Observer. She can be reached at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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