Freshman orientation at the Connecticut Capitol

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) - Orientation for the new class of state reps and state senators started Tuesday with newly-elected state lawmakers learning everything from how to file a bill to how to find the wash rooms at the Capitol Complex. 

The Republicans took a beating in this last election with the Democrats picking up a lot of seats.  Overall; it's the biggest new class of state reps and senators to come to Hartford in over 20 years.

There are about 40 new members of the State House and State Senate that began their orientation Tuesday, learning the terminology and procedures for representing their districts and working on proposed new laws.

Some have experience in local government and a wide variety of professions, like State Representative-elect Travis Simms (D-Norwalk). "I'm a former world champion boxer and you know this
is like gearing up, getting ready for training camp all over against and bringing the fight to the floor," he said. 

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State Representative-elect Leslee Hill (R-Canton) added, "I was a member of the Board of Education in Canton for eight years. I was First Selectman for the last three years, so I've been working with the impact of the state budget on our towns and on our education."

The freshman state reps and senators know that issues like marijuana and highway tolls get all the headlines, but it's the state's chronic budget problems that will occupy most of the time. State Representative-elect David Michel (D-Stamford) joked, "AAAHHH, I have to study, haha. Today will be a good day for that and I'm looking to find out more about what I can do."

There are 11 new state senators, 9 Democrats and 2 Republicans. There are 30 new state reps, 24 Democrats and 6 Republicans. Republicans in the new class will be in greatly diminished numbers with the Democrats now holding huge majorities in both chambers. Will Republican ideas get pushed aside? State Representative-elect Rick Hayes (R-Putnam) said, "I would have liked to come in to this with a majority and I know we don't have that but we're going to put our point across, we're going to let people know how we feel about things and we're going to work together and see if we can get this done."

There will be more orientation sessions later this week. They all seemed very enthusiastic about the job ahead. 

We'll have to check to see how they feel when we get to those late night sessions in May and June.

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