I hope that this Capitol Update finds you all doing well. There was significant legislation passed during the 2016 session of the General Assembly to help protect and improve the quality of life for Connecticut families.
In my opinion, one of the most important bills passed by the legislature during our recently concluded session was House Bill 5537, An Act Concerning Various Revisions to the Public Health Statutes.
During my almost six years in the legislature I have been a proponent for quality hospice care being available to our community. I led the efforts this past session in making sure that language be included in House Bill 5537 which will assist in a residential community based hospice facility becoming a reality in Stamford.
I’ve worked to be an effective and responsive legislator looking to improve the lives of all those who call the Cove, Glenbrook, and Stamford’s East Side home.
I hope this report is informative. I’m happy to answer any questions about these issues or any others facing our state or your family. Together we can create a better future for our families.
Protecting the Tree Canopy
While town officials and local residents have been concerned over utilities’ tree trimming policies, new legislation seeks to protect the state’s tree canopy from unnecessary pruning and removal. The law requires utilities to provide advance notice to towns and tree wardens of a utilities’ planned tree trimming schedule.
Supporting Our Seniors
Taking care of our older citizens is a priority. 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. Other legislation allows for elderly or disabled tenants of state-assisted housing to pay security deposits in installments.
Individuals with Disabilities
We strengthened existing practices by requiring the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to improve communications with families. The new legislation requires DDS to provide, upon a client’s request, information on an individual’s position on the waiting list for residential services, documentation of an individual’s need for residential services, copies of an individual’s plan or assessment, as well as copies of any requests for funding or services along with any decisions made regarding those requests.
We passed a bill that protects victims of domestic violence. It authorizes police to remove firearms and gun permits from anyone who becomes the subject of a temporary restraining order. The permit and weapons can be returned once the person is exonerated or the temporary restraining order expires.
The 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.
Helping to Create Jobs and Grow Businesses
Connecticut 500 Project – The main goals are to create a net increase of 500,000 private sector jobs over the next 25 years; increase the state’s population by 500,000 new residents; create 500 new startup businesses; increase by 500 the annual number of students graduating from state colleges and universities; and maintain Connecticut’s top five ranking with respect to productivity, higher education and per capita income.
Entrepreneur Learner’s Permit – The House unanimously approved pro-business, pro-job growth legislation that establishes an Entrepreneur Learner’s Permit pilot program to encourage and assist first-time entrepreneurs in certain business sectors by reimbursing them for state fees associated with forming a business.
The City of Stamford, so far this year, is the recipient of more than $53,500,000 in bond funding. Stamford’s schools are getting a combined $8,505,000 for general maintenance and repairs to buildings. The Community Health Center has been granted $5,000,000. Four businesses will share $16,500,000 in loan grants for upgrades, improvements and relocation costs. And more than $23,500,000 will be used to repair and renovate three bridges in the city.
In the wake of the incidents at Stamford High School, we proposed and passed legislation making significant changes in the hiring practices of boards of education at local, regional, charter and magnet schools. The legislation is designed to prevent an employee who has a record of sexual misconduct or abuse from getting a job in another school district if the position requires direct contact with students. Existing law requires education employers to conduct a state and federal criminal history check within 30 days of employment. This law requires a background check during the job application process and will be beneficial
in safeguarding our children.