By SHERIDAN CYR
HARTFORD—Connecticut’s 2019-21 legislative session opened with swearing-in ceremonies at the Capitol building on Jan. 9. All members of the General Assembly were sworn in by the Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, taking an oath to support the constitution of the U.S. and Connecticut.
Southington has a strong presence at the capitol with four members of the House of Representatives and a Senator, including Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco (R-80), Rep. John Fusco (R-81), Rep. Liz Linehan (D-103), Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-30) and Sen. Rob Sampson (R-16).
“I look forward to addressing the serious economic and social issues that exist in the state,” Mastrofrancesco said in a GOP statement. “I will be the voice of my constituents. The people of the 80th assembly district want less government and fewer state taxes taken from their hard-earned wallets.”
Fusco returns to the House for his second term.
“I’m excited to be back in Hartford to work on the issues that affect the people of Southington and the state,” he said in a statement, “and I’m hopeful that the new governor will value different opinions and work with the legislature to enact much-needed structural reforms to help put Connecticut back on the path to prosperity.”
Linehan also returns for her second term, and reminds constituents she is always available to field questions and concerns. During her campaign, Linehan championed business-friendly policies, growth in the manufacturing industry, and increasing shop programs in high schools to train students for trade job opportunities.
As Sampson leaves behind his past in the House, he looks forward to his future in the Senate.
“I will start my service as a State Senator the same way I did as a House Representative—by making a promise to never forget how I got here or why I’m here,” he said in his welcoming speech, “which is to represent and defend the freedom of my constituents, and I want to thank them for the trust and confidence they have placed in me.”
After a nomination from Democratic caucus chair Matt Ritter (D-1), and a second from Toni Walker (D-93), Aresimowicz was renamed Speaker of the House for the 2019-2021 term. He has said in the past this would be his last term running for office.
“I don’t know a more positive, optimistic person, in our state government than our current Speaker of the House,” said Ritter. “What makes the position of Speaker unique, as the most powerful legislator in the state of Connecticut, is that you’re not only remembered for your political values or what you pushed for, but how you led the chamber. You have to earn the respect of 150 people.”
Aresimowicz reminded representatives of the commitment they took to be there, and advised them to remember the excitement of being sworn in.
“You are here because you had the courage to put your name on the ballot, to accept criticism, to put your ideas out there on how you want to make the state a better place,” he said. “Regardless of how many years you’ve been here or your political party, your ideas are needed, welcomed, and we want you involved. Over the past couple years, we’ve worked very well across party lines. We’ve agreed on issues and disagreed with respect. This year is no different. When we operate in here, we will operate with respect for each other. We can disagree without being disagreeable.”
The ceremony kicked off the start of the legislature’s long session, which runs from Jan. 9 to June 5. Regular sessions of the general assembly are held from January to June in odd-numbered years, and from February to May in even-numbered years. The long session is used to establish a state budget and introduce bills of a general nature.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.