Op-Ed: How to make your voice heard in a remote session

State Rep. Ben McGorty (R-122) has been appointed Assistant Republican Leader by House Republican Leader-elect Vincent Candelora on Dec. 4.

State Rep. Ben McGorty (R-122) has been appointed Assistant Republican Leader by House Republican Leader-elect Vincent Candelora on Dec. 4.

Contributed photo

When the Connecticut General Assembly meets in January it will be, by all appearances, in a virtual session. This means that committee hearings, floor votes, town halls, and even office hours will be mostly conducted through Zoom, with lawmakers observing social distancing. While the Capitol Complex will remain closed to the public, there are many new opportunities to participate in the process and make sure your voice is heard.

Referred to as a “regular session,” the 2021 legislative session will begin on Jan. 6 and run through June 9. According to the Connecticut state constitution, in an odd-year session any legislator can introduce bills on any subject. This is different from the even-year session where bills can only originate from their corresponding committees and must be related to the making of the two-year state budget. This budget is finalized in even-numbered years during what is known as the “long session.”

The legislature is also expected to conduct redistricting during the 2021 legislative session, which involves the redrawing of state legislative districts based on the results of the 2020 U.S. Census.

Since there is no limit on the bills that can be introduced in the coming session, you might notice that many bills will be introduced by a lawmaker on behalf of a specific individual. In state government, many of the most impactful and useful laws we write don’t come from our ideas, but from those in our communities. That is why it is important that you know how you can make your voice heard and fix an issue in your town or our state.

Here are some ways that you can participate during this year’s virtual session:

Legislation

If you’re interested in testifying for or against a bill or just want to stay up to date on pending legislation, please feel free to contact me. You can reach me at 1-800-842-1423 or by e-mail at Ben.McGorty@housegop.ct.gov.

Citations

Please contact me if you would like to recognize an individual for special events such as an athletic or academic award, an Eagle Scout accomplishment, or a significant birthday.

State agencies

Contact my office if you are having difficulties working with state agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Protection, Veterans Affairs, Consumer Protection or the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Staying informed

You can sign up for my email newsletter at RepMcGorty.com to receive updates on legislative business, community events, and any additional information I think you might want to know about our district and state. I also frequently share information to my Facebook page that might not end up in the newsletter, so please go like my page to stay in the loop.

Touring the Capitol

In a normal year, our legislative offices can arrange tours of the Capitol Complex through the League of Women Voters. However, you can now take a ‘virtual tour’ of the State Capitol Building and the Legislative Office Building by visiting their website.

Events

If there is an event or meeting - in person or virtual - that you would like me to attend, please contact my office with the date, time, location, and nature of the event.

While the pandemic has affected our ability to have indoor, in-person events, that doesn’t mean I will be any less accessible to you. In fact, it allows me to host and take part in virtual events like town halls on Zoom that allow you to participate from the comfort of home. Even if you don’t have a computer or are not tech-savvy, you can call in using a landline or mobile phone to give me your input. I will be giving updates on those events when they do happen through my newsletter and Facebook page, so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

State Rep. Ben McGorty represents Connecticut's 122nd General Assembly District including Shelton, Stratford and Trumbull.