Thank you for giving me the privilege of representing you and our communities in the General Assembly. A few short weeks ago, I, along with a substantial majority of both Democrats and Republicans, voted in favor of a budget agreement that provided much needed relief to all our communities. Ending the stalemate was an important step forward for our communities and our state. I have always worked hard with members on both sides of the aisle to ensure that this budget is fair to our district - protecting towns from devastating cuts, maintaining vital social services, and investing in the growth of our economy. Without this agreement, and living under the auspices of the Governor’s Executive Order, cuts to our schools and our towns had the potential to be distressing, requiring our superintendents and chief elected officials to make choices that would have had far-reaching implications, both programmatically and financially.
Connecticut has faced challenges in the past, but none have been as difficult as the one faced at the beginning of the 2017 legislative session. With a state budget deficit looming, schools and towns concerned about their own budgets and thousands of homeowners seeing cracks in their foundations, having honest conversations with all our colleagues became much more paramount. Through hard work, compromise, and a deeply bipartisan effort with my Republican friends and colleagues, we were able to provide a budget outcome that protected as much aid to schools and towns as feasible, and provided homeowners with the relief necessary to shore up their foundations.
There is still much work to be done as we continue to strengthen Connecticut’s foundation and I ask that you remain engaged. I look forward to our continued conversations, emails, and chance encounters throughout the community. Your voices are valued and you may reach out to me at any time at my home, 860-528-8822. My door at the State Capitol is always open!
Very Truly Yours,
Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Reform
In recent years, budgets have distributed education aid to towns through arbitrary block grants, a process that a judge has ruled is irrational and unfair. The Legislature passed a new formula as part of this year’s budget that takes into consideration the number of low-income students and English language learners in a district. Additional reforms are still needed, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in creating a predictable formula for education aid that fairly funds our schools, regardless of your zip code. One resource I have found helpful in learning about this issue is www.ctschoolfinance.org.
Rep. Currey meeting with Veronica Marion, Coordinator of Family & Community Partnerships with East Hartford Public Schools
Protecting LGBTQ Youth
I led the passage of legislation this year to ban the discredited and dangerous practice known as conversion therapy. Conversion therapy refers to a range of practices intended to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity, through shaming and emotionally abusive tactics. LGBTQ youth do not need to be changed or ‘fixed’ – they need our acceptance and support. I am proud that we passed this legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support. For CT resources for LGBTQ young adults, please visit www.ct.gov/shp.
Rep. Currey and Comptroller Lembo following testimony on legislation to ban conversion therapy
Strengthening the Safe Haven Law
Connecticut’s Safe Haven law prevents infant abandonment by allowing anyone to leave a newborn (30 days old or younger) at a hospital emergency room. Safe Haven babies are placed with a foster parent interested in adopting the child through an accelerated process. After a concerning case where a Safe Haven baby was abruptly removed from a foster parent without good cause, I introduced a bill limiting the instances in which the Department of Children and Families can remove a Safe Haven infant from a prospective adoptive parent’s household. This law ensures that children have a permanent home as soon as possible while providing greater certainty to the foster parent.
Rep. Currey with Dennis McConville establishing Manchester Hospital as a Safe Haven
Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
Last year we passed historic legislation to combat the opioid epidemic, and this session we strengthened our opioid overdose and addiction prevention efforts. New legislation reduces the maximum first-time 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 restrictions to facilitate the destruction of unused medications. For substance abuse resources, visit www.portal.ct.gov/Office-of-the-Governor/Substance-Use.
Support for Small Businesses & Manufacturers
The newly passed state budget maintains funding for important programs that provide resources and guidance for growing industries and Connecticut-based entrepreneurs, including the Bioscience Innovation Fund, Angel Investor Tax Credits, Small Business Express Program, and Women’s Business Development Council.
The budget also commits dollars to Connecticut’s Manufacturing Innovation Fund, which supports the growth, innovation and progress of our advanced manufacturing sector by: encouraging collaboration with universities; providing assistance with business development, technical needs, job training, and educational programs; and matching funds to leverage federal grants.
Rep. Currey visiting Peening Technologies (right)
Rep. Currey with Shawn Jacoboccio, owner of John Fitch Distillery (left)
Protecting Your Retirement Savings
We passed legislation strengthening protections for employees enrolled in 403(b) retirement plans, which are often offered to nonprofit employees, hospital workers, teachers and school employees. Companies administering these plans must now disclose the fees they pay to any person who provides investment advice in order to avoid conflicts of interest. Employees should not have to worry about someone enriching themselves through their hard-earned savings, and this legislation provides an added layer of transparency.
Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers
This year we passed a bill that allows municipalities to provide a property tax exemption to a parent or surviving spouse of a service member killed in action while performing active military duty. A municipality may exempt up to $20,000 or 10% of the property’s assessed value.
Pretrial Bail Reform
In our current system of pretrial detention, low risk offenders are routinely held in jail simply because they cannot afford bail. Detention puts them at risk of losing their jobs, forgoing income needed for food and rent, and leaving their children without adequate care - incredibly harsh consequences for being charged with a minor offense. Conversely, more dangerous offenders are released because they can afford to pay. Under legislation passed this year, judges will not be able to require a person accused of committing a minor offense to pay cash-only bail as a condition of release, unless the judge determines that person poses an immediate threat to the public.
Crumbling Concrete Foundations
The budget includes substantial relief to homeowners with crumbling foundations, including: $100 million in bonding for foundation repairs for the next 5 years; the creation of a non-profit captive insurance company, licensed and regulated by the CT Insurance Department, to distribute the grants to approved contractors on behalf of homeowners; waivers of building permit fees for foundation repairs; establishment of a special homeowner advocate at the state Department of Housing; and requiring additional disclosures about concrete foundations to potential buyers from sellers.