By JEN CARDINES
Plainville’s State Rep Dr. William Petit Jr. tackled the first half of his freshman term with the Connecticut General Assembly and though the session adjourned on June 7, legislators were due to reconvene on June 29 in hopes of passing a biennial budget for the upcoming fiscal years.
“The House Republicans have had a budget for eight weeks,” Petit said. “The governor likes parts of it, but said that if we passed it he would veto it. He has a budget that both sides are unhappy with.”
Representing the 22nd district (Plainville/New Britain), Petit was appointed to the appropriations, commerce, and public health committees for the 2017-18 term. “You cover so many different topics and you bring up a lot of issues,” he said.
Between the days when the CGA was in session and those when his committees met, Petit was at the Capitol nearly every day of the week. He said that if he was practicing medicine, he would not have been able to serve as a legislator.
“It’s a big time commitment, more so than people realize,” said Petit. Next year, however, the elected officials will only meet from the first week in February until the middle of May, as they do for the second half of the term. He did, however, use his medical background while serving on the public health committee.
“Probably the biggest public health issue is the opioid crisis,” said Petit. “We had an opioid working group out of the public health committee…and instead of just passing multiple separate bills to attack certain issues, we wanted to start coming up with a comprehensive approach.” In the end, the CGA passed a combined bill, HB No. 7052, which concerns preventing opioid prescription diversion and abuse. Under this bill, prescribers cannot give out more than a week’s supply of certain medications at one time.
“You could get more if you needed it, with good documentation of medical records,” Petit said.
While Petit said there is a lot to learn when joining the legislature, an orientation session is held in December for new legisla-tors to learn how committees function, how bills go forward, and the basics of navigating the Capitol. He wasn’t alone, either. He was among 20 other Republican freshmen this year, and a number of Democratic freshmen as well, who all had to learn the ropes.
“There’s a lot of good people up at the Capitol,” Petit said, recalling interactions with long-time representatives who helped him along the way. State Sen. Henri Martin (R-Plainville) was someone that Petit spent a lot of time with, as they cover the same district. The two Republicans often held coffee hours and “pizza and politics” gatherings as a way to meet with their constituents and share updates from the capitol. Petit said that stopping into Plainville and New Britain bakeries, pizza shops, and senior centers made it easy for people to contact their legislators in one place rather than having to go to separate events.
“[Martin] was on different committees than me. Between the two of us, we covered six or seven committees,” Petit said.
Petit also keeps in touch with his constituents on social media, frequently posting to his twitter and Facebook pages. Detailed information about the representatives, bills, and committees are all available for public view at www.cga.ct.gov.