Connecticut Democrats will maintain solid control of the legislative agenda in the state after they picked up eight more House seats and two more Senate seats to date.
Democrats now hold a 98-53 margin in the state House and 24-12 edge in the state Senate. During the pandemic, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) and his administration worked to waive regulations for the use of absentee ballots to ensure more voters could cast their ballots by mail.
According to NBC Connecticut, the election in the state saw more than 650,000 people vote by “absentee ballot without an excuse.”
Likely incoming state House Speaker Matt Ritter said he plans to focus in on suburban zoning reform, marijuana legalization, early voting, and a public health insurance option, according to an interview Wednesday with CT Mirror.
“The election of President Trump had one good thing for the state of Connecticut,” Ritter said. “It got some people to run for office that, otherwise would not have run. It motivated them to run in 2018 and now in 2020.”
Interviewer John Dankosky questioned whether it was a positive indicator for Democrats in the state to run simply against Donald Trump.
“We are the modern party that, I think, reflects the general social and economic feel of the state of Connecticut,” Ritter said of Democrats.
He said Republicans in Connecticut have grown too conservative since the days of moderate GOP Gov. Jodi Rell, citing issues like a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of mask mandates, and challenges as well to mandatory vaccinations, gun regulations, and abortion on demand.
“As time has gone on, we’ve been able to really point out and highlight those social issues,” he said, admitting Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden – who, he said, he believes will be the next president – may need to work on getting back some of the working class voters who have supported President Donald Trump.
Ritter minimized pushback against the police accountability bill Connecticut Democrats rushed through in a special session during the summer, urged on by Black Lives Matter and the ACLU. Every Senate Republican in the state voted against the bill. The legislation limits circumstances in which police officers may use physical force and also alters the concept of qualified immunity, which could block police officers from experiencing personal financial damages due to civil lawsuits related to their work.
The Democrat referred to the police bill as a “national leader” and “so necessary,” in light of “what has happened in this country … this past summer.”
Ritter denied Democrats will have problems with police due to their bill because he said his party is the one that supports collective bargaining rights, referring to police unions.
Regarding suburban zoning reform, the Democrat leader said his party will be looking at providing incentives to produce changes, admitting it will be a “complicated task” and that he expects a “big fight ahead” on the issue. He said people need to learn how to live with people who are different from themselves and not at the same socio-economic level.
“We are a better society, we will be a better state, we will better understand one another, when we live, work, play, socialize in different groups,” he said.