McGorty, Perillo sworn in in historic outdoor session

State Reps. Ben McGorty (R-122), right, and Jason Perillo (R-113) were sworn in officially as returning members of the Connecticut state legislature on Jan. 6, during a socially-distanced ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol building in Hartford.

State Reps. Ben McGorty (R-122), right, and Jason Perillo (R-113) were sworn in officially as returning members of the Connecticut state legislature on Jan. 6, during a socially-distanced ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol building in Hartford.

Contributed photo / Contributed photo

HARTFORD — State Reps. Ben McGorty (R-122) and Jason Perillo (R-113) were sworn in officially as returning members of the Connecticut state legislature on Wednesday, during a socially-distanced ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol building in Hartford.

McGorty and Perillo were joined by most of their 149 colleagues in the House of Representatives, as well as members of the Senate, in the outdoor swearing-in, before which the legislators voted remotely from their respective offices on the rules for the 2021 legislative session.

Last month, McGorty, who represents Shelton, Stratford and Trumbull, was appointed to serve on the Public Safety and Security Committee, which oversees emergency management issues and those relating to the state police and fire marshals.

"I'm pleased to be working on a committee which directly impacts our fire fighters and first responders, all of whom have been tested and answered the call during the state's public health emergency," McGorty, a career fire serviceman who is a lieutenant/deputy fire marshal for the town of Stratford, a 27-year volunteer firefighter with Huntington Fire Company No. 3 in Shelton and is also on Shelton’s Board of Fire Commissioners, said.

"One-hundred-one years ago, the Huntington Fire Company received its state charter, and it is the firefighters, police, EMS, and all other public safety personnel and volunteers that step-up year after year to serve their communities in all times of crisis,” McGorty said. “COVID-19 was no exception, and they've served this state admirably, and I want to make sure that they have a legislature that is a partner to them and is responsive to them."

In addition, he will serve on the legislature's Banking Committee, which has cognizance of all matters related to banking, credit and securities. McGorty was also named by House Republican Leader-elect Vincent Candelora (R-86) to serve as an Assistant Republican Leader, a position typically given to legislators with a proven record of leadership in the House chamber, coming with added responsibilities during debate on the House Floor.

"I deeply appreciate the confidence Republican Leader-elect Candelora and my fellow caucus members have shown in giving me this role, and I intend to use the opportunity to keep fighting for greater fiscal responsibility and transparency in our state," McGorty said.

Perillo, who has been appointed Deputy House Republican Leader by Candelora, has been eager to return to the Capitol to advocate for the people of Shelton, especially those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic hardships it has created.

"Members of the General Assembly live in their districts and interact with their constituents daily, whether safely in person or virtually,” Perillo said. “Residents of Shelton are out in public out of necessity, shopping for essentials, working to help others, keeping their businesses open, educating our children, and trying to maintain a sense of normalcy during a time that has been anything but normal.”

Perillo said legislators need to be at the Capitol, in the chambers, in the hearing rooms, working on their behalf.

“If they are in the trenches, we should be in the trenches as well,” Perillo said. “While Zoom has been an acceptable tool during this pandemic, we are in session now, and there is some business that needs to be conducted in-person, safely of course, but not in the privacy of our offices or homes. People need access to their government, and they need transparency.

“We have done our best in recent months, but it is insufficient to continue in an exclusively virtual format given the enormous task ahead of us,” Perillo added. “I look forward to returning to work in the peoples' House to help them get their lives back together."

Perillo will serve on the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, the Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee, and the Legislative Management Committee in the new legislative session, which convened today.

Following the swearing in, legislators moved inside to their individual legislative offices to participate in online meetings and votes regarding the formal rules of the session and to handle other duties.

This session, when the General Assembly meets it will be, by most appearances, virtually. This means that committee hearings, floor votes, town halls, and office hours will be mostly conducted through Zoom, with lawmakers observing social distancing.

Today’s ceremony kicked off the start of the legislature’s “long session” which runs from Jan. 6 through June 9. Connecticut’s legislature is part-time, with regular sessions 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. In the even-year “short session” the legislature can only consider bills directly related to state budget, revenue and financial matters, as well as committee bills or resolutions, and those matters certified to be of an emergency nature.