Dear Neighbor, 

House Democrats led the way in passing legislation during the 2016 session of the General Assembly to help protect and improve the quality of life for Connecticut families. 

This was a session dominated by the budget. Although there were no easy solutions, we made significant cuts and managed to balance the state budget without tax or fee increases, without borrowing or dipping into the Rainy Day Fund.  

We were able to secure $35 million for Stamford which most of the funding will go towards the reconstruction of the Atlantic Street railroad overpass, and for three local businesses to help them expand and create new jobs. I also fought for $10 million in capital funding to improve Stamford school buildings. 

I also championed legislation that increases the penalty for anyone who does not yield or give the right of way to a cyclist or pedestrian in a crosswalk.  

Improving public health, increasing public safety and encouraging financial security for everyone were featured elements of some of the major bills approved by the legislature this year. 

Keeping Connecticut a great place to live, work and raise a family will always be my ongoing commitment to the residents of Stamford.


FIGHTING FOR STAMFORD

Last year, I fought to secure substantial state aid for Stamford. This includes $3.9 million towards property tax relief, $1.5 million in new funding for our public schools, $61.8 million for an expansion to Rogers International magnet school which is in the 146th District, my district, $75,000 for pre-school improvements and substantial funds to reduce traffic on I-95, and improve Metro-North.


IMPROVED SAFETY FOR PEDESTRIANS, CYCLISTS

This new legislation toughens the penalties for failure to yield to a cyclist or pedestrian in a crosswalk. Starting in October, anyone who fails to give the right of way or avoid hitting a pedestrian or cyclist will be subject to a fine of up to $500. Five pedestrians were killed in Stamford alone in 2014, prompting me to introduce this bill. According to a report by the Uniform Crime Reporting Program from the CT Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, there were 59 pedestrian related accidents in 2014 and of those, 47 people were killed with five pedestrian fatalities occurring in Stamford in that year. I want to thank Rep. William Tong, the House Judiciary chairman, for supporting the legislation.


PREVENTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING

This year we made great strides to protect women and families from violence and exploitation. The new legislation addresses the following:

  • An abuser who receives notice that he or she is the subject of a temporary restraining order (TRO) must temporarily surrender all firearms. The hearing process was reduced and provides a method for the return of firearms when the TRO expires.
  • We increased membership to the Trafficking in Persons Council. Agency trainings will be created to enforce human trafficking laws. The new law also improves annual reporting and record-keeping, shifts some criminal responsibility away from minors charged with prostitution and onto those that solicit prostitution from minors. 
  • It is now easier for rape victims to terminate the parental rights of their assailant.

BAN THE BOX

I also co-sponsored legislation, An Act Concerning Fair Chance Employment, to prevent employers from requiring people to disclose a criminal record when first applying for a job. On job applications, people are frequently asked to “check the box” for any arrests or convictions. Under this law, the box is banned and employers are prohibited from inquiring about a criminal record during the initial application process – but would still have the ability to inquire about criminal history during the interview process. Some employers, such as law enforcement and school districts, which are required to verify an applicant’s criminal history, would be exempt.


REPLACEMENT OF HOUSING PROJECTS BY HOUSING AUTHORITIES

This year, I championed legislation that protects low-income earners and senior citizens from facing steep rent increases from housing projects that receive state funding. Under the new law, Commissioner of Housing must approve the sale, lease, transfer or destruction of a housing project that receives state funding. Renters in new housing that replaces old housing will pay rent that is comparable to what they paid before.


WORKING FOR CONNECTICUT’S CONSUMERS

I cosponsored legislation that helps students, homeowners and businesses. 

The legislation: 

  • Changes the state’s foreclosure mediation program and foreclosure statutes, making the process more consumer-friendly. 
  • Allows divorced couples to undergo separate foreclosure mediation sessions.
  • Allows individuals to obtain their possessions from repossessed vehicles.
  • Changes state law regarding auto loans by requiring greater transparency during that process.
  • Enhances minority communities’ access to small business loans to help promote economic development.
  • Designates three development zones known as “Martin Luther King Jr. Corridors.”
  • Ensures that all Connecticut residents have access to auto loans by requiring that auto sales be documented, including the amounts of loan     percentages offered, the names of the applicants, their credit score, race, ethnicity and gender.
  • Sets new standards for student loan servicing companies.
  • Seeks a more transparent debt collection practice along with the requirement that collectors must be licensed.

ACTIVE PROJECTS IN THE CITY OF STAMFORD

  • Phase 1 & 2 of the Atlantic St. Railroad Bridge Overpass Replacement: Spring 2017 – $137,989,860
  • Improve the intersection of Atlantic and Henry Street: Spring 2017 - $1,500,000
  • Repairs to bridge over the Metro-North Railroad: Spring 2016 – $1,450,000
  • Stamford Transportation Center improvements: Just completed – $16,792,170
  • Stamford Station Pedestrian Bridge (Ramp Up): TBD – $19,000,000

Additional funding for Stamford’s bridges and road repair: $93,224,336

Estimated Total of Transportation Funding for Stamford: $269,956,366