Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Now that the 2017 legislative session has ended, I wanted to take a moment and reach out with some important highlights from the state capitol. It has been a very difficult session with many hard decisions that had to be made. I have done my best to vote for legislation that puts northeastern Connecticut first. I am proud to have co-authored two bills - one that protects our environment and the other that holds private schools to the same standards as public ones. I am equally happy to have blocked legislation that would have put our region at a disadvantage.

This entire term I have sought bipartisan solutions to our real fiscal problems. This approach has resulted in the legislature taking an important step to change the direction of the State of Connecticut. My votes during the budget forced leadership from both sides to come to the table and work together. The final product is not perfect, but protects many things which are important to our region and does not include broad based tax increases

As always, I want to hear from you. Please feel free to reach out as my decision-making is informed by your thoughts and feedback.

Thank you,

Fiscal Responsibility & Protecting Taxpayers’ Money

This was the most difficult budget year in recent memory. I opposed early state budget proposals that would have increased both the income and sales tax, and added a tax on restaurant or cell phone bills. I did not feel that increasing taxes on the backs of the hardworking people was the answer to balance the budget. I used my vote to change the direction of the budget negotiations and voted for a spending plan that prioritized funding for the towns. After Governor Malloy’s veto of that budget, the dialogue changed again, and the legislature passed a bipartisan budget. We were able to protect local education while enacting a series of reforms that will put Connecticut on a stronger foundation. We protected local funding, implemented a strong spending and bonding cap, instituted structural and municipal mandate relief, and a phase in plan to end state taxes on Social Security. PA 17-02

Combating Opioid Abuse

This year in Connecticut, more people will fall victim to drug overdoses than car accidents and gun violence combined. The legislature took action and passed a law that further combats drug abuse and addiction. The legislation reduces the maximum opioid drug prescription for minors from a 7 day to a 5 day supply, requires health insurers to cover medically necessary detox treatment, requires medical providers to discuss opioid risks with patients, and eases the restrictions on destroying unused medications. PA 17-131

Protecting Our Agriculture Community

The Department of Agriculture and the Community Investment Act (CIA) were on the chopping block in one of the proposed state budgets during this legislative session. The Department of Agriculture and the Community Investment Act are vitally important to the farming community in our region. Our farms produce quality food and dairy and are also major economic developers in the northeast region. Their elimination would most certainly have put our farms at a serious disadvantage. I organized a rally with Rep. Dubitsky (R-47) on the lawn of the State Capitol to shed light on the consequences of eliminating agricultural support in the budget. Many Woodstock farmers joined me as we parked tractors on the lawn in an attempt to draw attention to the issue. As a result, we were able to protect the Department of Agriculture and the Community Investment Act in the bipartisan budget. PA 17-02

Private School Background Checks

This past session, I co-authored legislation that holds private schools to the same background check standards as public schools. The Department of Education will create a standardized questionnaire for private schools to use with current or former employers in order to obtain applicant background information. In addition, we strengthened reporting requirements for when abuse is suspected. PA 17-68, §§ 9 & 10

Prohibition of Coal Tar

I am proud to have introduced and shepherded through the legislative process an important piece of legislation for the environment, An Act Prohibiting the Use of Coal Tar Sealants on State and Local Highways. Studies have shown that coal tar based sealants contain carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that are harmful to human and aquatic life. Dusts generated by coal tar sealants are comprised of these hazardous chemicals and could potentially contaminate local ecosystems. PA 17-113

New Laws to Protect Seniors

This year the legislature passed new laws that address some of the needs of seniors in the state:

  • A new law helps protect senior citizens from dishonest financial planners who falsely advertise special training in senior citizen financial planning. Financial planners are required to disclose if they have a financial interest in their recommendations. PA 17-120
  • The legislature requires a study by the commissioners of Public Health and Social Services to determine whether the nursing home patients’ bill of rights protects patients in matters related to room transfers. SA 17-14
  • A new law allows families the option of having temporary health care structures on residential property to let seniors and people with disabilities to be near loved ones while receiving care. The law outlines the circumstances when property owners may install these structures for their disabled or elderly loved ones. It prohibits local zoning regulations from barring these structures in most circumstances. PA 17-155

Capitol Update 2017 (pdf)