With the 2019 legislative session completed, I want to give you an overview of changes that benefit our district. But first and foremost, I want to thank you for the incredible privilege of being a voice at the table to speak on behalf of our 2nd District families and residents. I was proud to fight for a balanced budget that does not increase most sales and income tax rates, saves for a Rainy Day, and plans for the future. Since being elected, my priority has been to ensure that the towns I represent – Bethel, Danbury, Redding, and Newtown – get their fair share of the resources they contribute to the state.
The approved budget includes additional funding for Bethel, Danbury, Redding, and Newtown schools and an expenditure increase for the Teacher Retirement Fund, an expense that was previously slated to be absorbed by our towns.
I fought to include a $33,000 budget line item for both the Bethel Youth Booster Club, an organization created to support after school programs for Bethel youth, and Danbury Youth Services.
I’m pleased that we were able to secure a $104K grant for the Danbury Police Activities League (PAL) so they can continue to offer youth programs for the next two years. I am grateful for all the work PAL does in keeping our youth safe. Danbury is fortunate to have an organization like PAL that is committed to our youth’s well-being.
It has been an honor to stand up for our communities at the Capitol and I look forward to continuing to work hard on the issues that matter to you. I value your input, welcome your opinion and encourage you to contact me if I can be of assistance to you or your family at any time.
I heard from voters across the 2nd district about the importance of Connecticut taking a leadership role on issues of environment and sustainable energy.
As vice chair of the Energy and Technology Committee and co-chair of the Bipartisan Clean Energy Caucus, I was proud to play a crucial role in passage of a bipartisan bill which authorizes the procurement of energy derived from offshore wind. This will strengthen our state’s economy and help us confront climate change.
I am especially pleased that my efforts to support Connecticut’s solar industry are reflected in one of the top priority house bills passed this session. Specifically, the legislation ensures that Connecticut residents will continue to have solar options in their energy choices and protects more than 2200 solar energy jobs.
These energy policies will help build Connecticut’s green and renewable energy future, create good-paying jobs, lower costs for ratepayers, and promote economic development.
Addressing Mental Health
Diseases of the brain and body need to be treated equally in society and by insurance companies. We unanimously passed the Mental Health Parity Act which gives people with mental health and substance abuse disorders the same access to care as those with cancer and heart disease. One in four Americans have or will be affected by mental health or a substance related disorder. It should be just as easy to receive treatment for depression or addiction as it is for heart disease or diabetes.
This legislation will:
- Ensure all mental health and substance use issues are covered by insurance
- Make mental health treatment more available, accessible and affordable
Banning the Sale of Inhumanely Bred Animals
As states around Connecticut make moves to ban the sale of inhumanely bred animals, we sadly lag behind. If we do not act, Connecticut will become one of the last places these disreputable sellers can do business. This session, I introduced legislation to end the puppy-mill-to-pet-store pipeline. Unfortunately, this legislation was not called for a vote on the floor. However, I plan to continue to advocate for this bill in the next session.
Advocating for Seniors
I worked hard to secure funding and updates for programs in the budget this year which are beneficial to our seniors. They include:
Medicare Savings Program: This program helps many with prescription purchases, paying for doctors’ visits and other health care costs. We rejected Governor Lamont’s proposed cuts so that the program will continue at current levels.
Renters Rebate: The budget continues to fund the “renters rebate” program which provides financial support for housing to low-income seniors.
Tax Exemption for Social Security, Pensions and Annuity Income: I heard from many senior residents in our towns that the rising cost of living was pushing them out of the homes and neighborhoods they love. I am happy to say that we will increase the income thresholds for the deduction of Social Security income and phase out the pension and annuity tax.
Supporting Small Businesses
My proposed legislation to eliminate the $250 Business Entity Tax was included as a provision in the approved state budget.
I co-sponsored legislation that makes changes to existing laws and expands what local breweries and distilleries can sell. Connecticut’s independent, craft beer industry is booming, resulting in a nearly $750 million economic impact annually and more than 4,600 part-time and full-time jobs statewide. Local businesses such as Broken Symmetry in Bethel, Reverie Brewing Company in Newtown, Charter Oak Brewing Company in Danbury and the Redding Beer Company, not only provide jobs but also add flavor and character to our local communities. We must continue to do everything we can to support their success and this legislation is an important step forward.