Here's what you need to know:
- Mr. Kane officially resigned his Senate seat just minutes before the session convened at 10 a.m. He submitted his resignation instead of being sworn in for another term because he is expected to be appointed Republican State Auditor. His resignation was tightly choreographed with the resignation of Sen. Eric Coleman, D-Bloomfield, who resigned so he would be eligible to be appointed as a judge. The Senate remains evenly divided between the two political parties — now officially at 17-17 — and is expected to return to the 18-18 split once special elections are held. Rep. Eric Berthel, R-Watertown, has already announced plans to run for Mr. Kane's vacated seat. There was no word about what Mr. Kane's new job will mean for his plans to seek the Republican nomination for governor.
- In his session-opening speech, Gov. Malloy hit most of the right notes. He called for greater economic predictability and stability for Connecticut residents and businesses. That won't be easy, given the $1.5 billion deficit looming for the coming fiscal year. He also outlined three major areas of focus to achieve a balance budget: cost-savings and efficiencies in state government; changes to make state pension and benefits more affordable, and creating a more fair and equitable system for town aid. With the even split in the Senate and a 78-72 split in the House, the more fiscally conservative GOP will have greater say in determining how the state gets its fiscal house in order.
- The region's 20-member legislative delegation (minus. Sen. Kane) now includes seven new legislators: Sens. Len Suzio and George Logan, and Reps. Stephanie Cummings, Nicole Klarides-Ditria, Craig Fishbein, Liz Linehan and David Wilson. All except Linehan are Republicans.
- Items already on the agenda for the legislature include proposals for a $15 minimum wage and legalizing recreational use of marijuana. Others include a bill to exempt Social Security benefits from the state income tax, expanding property-tax exemptions for business, and raising the state estate tax exemption from $2 million to $5.49 million to match the federal exemption. It will be interesting to see how the latter proposals fare given the state's fiscal crisis.