If you were among candidates for Connecticut’s General Assembly who came up short on the ballot, thank you for running. The process is exhausting and you all deserve applause for putting your name on the line.
At least you can take solace in knowing someone else now has to deal with the headaches.
Some incumbents noted on the campaign trail that they never worked harder than they have in recent months. Despite the Legislature being on something of a holiday aside from a special session, lawmakers have been embroiled in constituency work, much of it to help navigate constituents in peril through the process of filing unemployment claims.
Simplifying that process should be the issue that draws bipartisan support among lawmakers. It’s a good place to start.
Most others matters won’t be so easy.
Among the many challenges sparked by the pandemic has been compromised public hearings, since they are supposed to be held in person under the state Constitution. Amending the law to permit residents to testify virtually would be in the spirit of protocols, and could be encouraged in the future. How many residents are unable to raise their voice in Hartford due to time, cost or access to transportation? Eliminating such obstacles levels the playing field and erases a shadow of elitism.
Beyond that, lawmakers should prepare to be engaged in formidable obstacles related to COVID-19. For some, it has been easy to criticize Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive orders. But getting on the same page when adherence to such practices flips from town to town will rip open scabs.
Even without the coronavirus, Connecticut is stalled in efforts to recover from economic malaise and substantial image problems. Drawing new residents fleeing cities such as Boston and New York should help, but long-term solutions remain elusive.
Lamont took a surprising step in recent days by declaring tolls would not be on his agenda. Desperate for a new revenue stream, the governor made several proposals to revive tolls after his 2018 election, but even a relatively tepid version failed to budge in traffic.
“Let’s face it, my solution wasn’t very popular with Republicans or Democrats, nor do they have a solution of their own,” Lamont admitted Wednesday.
Just as tolls dominated discourse in Lamont’s first months, expect a push for the legalization of recreational marijuana to be high on the agenda in 2021.
Not only is it already legal in Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine, but New Jersey voters also supported it on Election Day by a 2-1 margin. Connecticut would leave a decision in the hand of legislators, where it lost traction in recent years. The reasoning that “money has to come from somewhere” will leave marijuana as one of the few significant available responses.
The list of challenges is long, with Lamont’s wish list seemingly topped by the need to maintain affordable health care.
We congratulate the Class of 2021. Now put a mask on and get to work.