Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thank you for giving me the privilege to represent you in the General Assembly. It is an honor to serve as your legislator.

We worked hard this session to keep Connecticut a great place to live, work, and raise a family despite the 2016 legislative session presenting one of the toughest budget challenges in decades.

I am proud that House Democrats led the way in passing significant legislation to help protect and improve the quality of life for Connecticut families.

I hope you find the enclosed information helpful. As always, please let me know if I can ever be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Representative David Baram


Supporting Individuals with Disabilities

Some of our state’s most vulnerable families are those struggling to support individuals with disabilities. This year, we worked to improve communication between families and the Department of Developmental Services while they are on a waiting list for services.

We also looked at Probate Courts and their role in determining guardianship for people with intellectual disabilities in order to ensure they get help with making financial and medical decisions among many other needs. This law clarifies who has access to files regarding guardianship cases.


State Finances

After a lot of hard work we approved a budget that is balanced, without tax or fee increases, without borrowing and without dipping into the Rainy Day Fund. We made structural changes that reduce long-term obligations by freezing wages for non-union state employees, increasing their health insurance co-pays and placing a salary cap on the annual pension benefit for non-union state retirees.

We are also delaying some of the governor’s transportation initiative in order to protect legislative priorities like hospital funding, school funding, property tax relief, and funding for state colleges and universities.


Connecticut Jobs: Our Number 1 Priority

This year we made economic growth and support for small business our number one priority. We accomplished this by providing them with the concrete support they need to take them to the next level, and continuing to invest in education so that Connecticut workers are trained in the 21st century skills our companies need.

We also passed legislation that would allow first-time business owners to receive reimbursement for the initial costs associated with starting up a business, address the teacher shortage issue in the Connecticut Technical High Schools System, and develop programs to introduce students and their parents to careers in manufacturing.


Supporting Our Seniors

We passed legislation to make sure patients are notified of their rights and available services when nursing homes or long-term care facilities close or reduce the number of beds. We also required nursing homes to allow residents being discharged to pick a caregiver to help them with their discharge plan.


Consumer Protection

  • We passed a bill that will allow consumers to receive cash back on gift cards with a remaining balance of less than three dollars. This is a simple and fair measure to help consumers hold on to more of their own money.
  • We also passed legislation that creates a residential stair lift technician’s license, making it easier for homeowners to have stair lifts installed in their homes by allowing more contractors to be licensed to perform these installations.

Education

As in most states across the country, teachers of color are under-represented in Connecticut schools. To recruit more minority teachers, we passed legislation that will improve the size and scope of the Minority Teacher Recruitment Task Force and encourage minority students to pursue a college degree in education by establishing a pilot program in certain towns. The program will allow minority students to earn college credits while in high school and take an introductory course in education.


Affirmative Consent

We passed legislation to ensure that all Connecticut college and university students have the same level of protection against sexual assault. The new legislation will require that all public and private universities adopt policies establishing ‘affirmative consent’ as the standard definition of consent in their investigations of sexual assault. Affirmative consent is defined as an active, clear, and voluntary agreement by a person to engage in sexual activity with another person.


Domestic Violence

Women in abusive relationships are 5 times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a firearm. Connecticut is taking great strides in protecting women and children from domestic violence by requiring a person to surrender firearms after being served with a temporary restraining order. Another new law was created to help prevent sexual exploitation and human trafficking.


Protecting our Animals

This year, we’ve sent a message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in Connecticut. New legislation makes malicious and intentional animal cruelty a class C felony, which carries the potential of jail time or a fine of up to $10,000. The legislature also approved a law that aims to increase animal cruelty conviction rates by allowing judges to appoint volunteer legal advocates to assist prosecutors in animal cruelty cases.


Ensuring Access To Legal Services

Everyone must be treated fairly under the law and ensuring reliable access to legal services is a keystone to that fundamental right. That’s why the legislature ensured funding for legal services for the poor.  Access to reliable counsel for criminal defendants has not been a problem, but the same has not been true in civil court. A newly established task force will examine this issue and report its findings to the General Assembly later this year. 


Benefits For Firefighters

Firefighters risk their lives every day to protect citizens within their community, but the risk does not stop once the fire is out.  Each fire burns toxins into the air that firefighters absorb, even while wearing proper protective gear.  These toxins highly increase risk of certain cancers each time a firefighter is exposed.  Prior to this legislation, firefighters who contracted cancer had to return to work while still recovering because they did not have proper compensation as they already cannot receive short/long term disability or social security. During this session, the Legislature established a self-sustaining relief fund to cover lost wages, without raising taxes.  Now, both volunteer and career firefighters will be able to take necessary time to recover from cancer they’ve contracted while on the job, protecting us. Other legislation allows municipal property tax relief for retired volunteered firefighters, fire police officers and EMTs who volunteer at least 25 years of service. 


Tackling CT’s Opioid Epidemic

In recent years, Connecticut, like other New England states, has seen a heartbreaking increase in fatal opioid overdoses. Earlier this year we passed groundbreaking legislation to combat this crisis. This lifesaving law will allow any licensed healthcare professional to administer drugs that reverse opioid overdoses, require municipalities to equip their first responders with the opioid reversal drug Narcan, and cap first-time opioid prescriptions at a seven-day supply.