Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Improving public health, education, and supporting small businesses were some featured elements of major bills approved by the legislature this year.

This session was dominated by the budget. Although there were no easy solutions, we approved a budget that is balanced, without borrowing 
and without tax or fee increases.

In addition, Waterbury residents will soon see a significant drop in their motor vehicle taxes beginning July 1st, 2016.  Under recently passed legislation, Waterbury’s mill rate will be capped at:

37 in the 2015 tax assessment year (July 1, 2016 motor vehicle tax bill)

32 in the 2016 tax assessment year (July 1, 2017 motor vehicle tax bill)

I am pleased with the progress House Democrats made to improve the quality of life for Connecticut residents, and I am proud to serve you in the General Assembly.

Sincerely,


Health and Insurance

Requiring Health Insurance Coverage for Tomosynthesis Screenings
Tomosynthesis is a three-dimensional digital mammogram used to detect breast cancer in women.  While it is not yet considered standard care for breast cancer screening, it has had promising results.  This bill mandates insurance coverage for baseline digital tomosynthesis screenings for women 35 to 39, as well as annual mammograms for women over 40.


Commerce

Supporting Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
In order to help our veterans who own micro businesses, we passed legislation that will give a price preference of up to 15% for certain Department of Administrative Services open market orders or contracts.  A micro business is a business with gross revenue of up to $3 million.  Veterans who start a micro business will be offered some business tax relief for the first tax year after they’re established.  For a business to be considered  veteran-owned, 51% of it must be owned by a veteran.

Entrepreneur Learner’s Permit Program
In an effort to improve Connecticut’s business ranking and better appeal to entrepreneur start-ups, particularly in the area of information services, biotechnology and green technology businesses, the legislature passed a bill that will establish an Entrepreneur Learner’s Permit pilot program.  The permit will allow first-time business owners to receive reimbursement for the initial costs associated with starting up a business including state filing fees, and permitting or licensing fees.


Housing

Replacement of Housing Projects by Housing Authorities
Public housing plays a key role in our communities so it’s important to preserve it.  Beginning October 1st, the State Housing Commissioner must give approval before the sale, lease, transfer, or demolition of a housing project. The following criteria must be met: An adequate supply of low- or moderate-income rental housing will remain within the municipality; the project is in the best interest of the State and municipality; and provisions are established within the project plan to allow participation by residents and representatives of the city or town.  I believe this is a good law that will benefit everyone involved.


Education

Recruiting Minority Teachers
As in most states across the country, teachers of color are underrepresented 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. 

Encouraging Students to Consider Careers in Manufacturing
A recent study conducted by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association identified the manufacturing sector as an area of Connecticut’s economy that continues to grow, particularly in aerospace manufacturing.  The growth in the manufacturing sector has created a new demand for skilled manufacturers.  

Public Act 16-114 takes a comprehensive approach towards addressing Connecticut’s manufacturing workforce needs.  The legislation establishes a committee that will coordinate with the Commissioner of Education and the Board of Regents for Higher Education to inform middle school and high school students about careers in manufacturing.