Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In June my first legislative session was completed, and it was a whirlwind experience. I couldn’t be more thankful for all the dedicated colleagues and friends I’ve made on both sides of the aisle.
One “success” of this year’s session was avoiding many new tax proposals. I fought hard against the statewide car tax, which would cost the town of Windsor Locks millions of dollars in money reserved for education, roads, and our parks. The budget we did pass invests in education and infrastructure, while also paying down our debts and providing fiscal stability that businesses and residents alike can rely on.
I also fought for maintaining the tax exemptions for Social Security and the phase-in of a tax exemption on pension income to make Connecticut more affordable to seniors.
We all know about the potential East Windsor casino across the river. I was able to secure almost a million dollars each for 10 years for the Town of Windsor (in addition to Windsor Locks) to mitigate the impact it will have, if and when it does get built.
This year my friend Senator Will Haskell and I co-introduced legislation that is already practiced in the Town of Windsor. The law allows state employees who discover corrupt, unethical, mismanaged or otherwise wasted use of funding to report their findings to their supervisor.
There is still much more as a legislature we need to do to promote businesses in our state and grow the economy through good-paying jobs. I am committed to working diligently through this “off season” to prepare for the next session so we can make Connecticut a better place in which to reside for everyone.
As always, I appreciate hearing from you on issues that matter. I look forward to continuing these conversations. Please do not hesitate to reach out by email, phone, or social media.
Investing in our Future Workforce
This year, my colleagues and I proposed establishing a workforce training authority to partner with the business community to make sure Connecticut has the best trained workers that can better meet the specific hiring needs of employers. This employment pipeline will target industries in need of skilled workers such as construction, healthcare, insurance, bioscience, advanced manufacturing, and digital media.
This year, we developed a program for local high schools to offer Advanced Manufacturing Certificates. As part of the legislation, we encouraged the participation of private institutions and employers to make the program a success.
In addition, we are now requiring that schools make computer programming a required part of computer science classes. Computer Science is a foundational skill for 21st century jobs, so we must make sure our students are prepared to succeed in a digital age.
Mental Health Parity
Diseases of the brain and body need to be treated equally in society and by insurance companies. We unanimously passed the Mental Health Parity Act which gives people with mental health and substance use disorders the same access to care as those with cancer and heart disease. One in four Americans have or will be affected by mental health or a substance use disorder. It should be just as easy to receive treatment for depression or addiction as it is for heart disease or diabetes.
This legislation will:
- Ensure all mental health and substance use issues are covered by insurance
- Make mental health treatment more available, accessible and affordable
Pre-existing Insurance Coverage
This session, we required additional health insurance plans to cover pre-existing conditions. Passed unanimously, this protects Connecticut residents against any changes to federal law. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, if someone had a pre-existing or chronic condition, insurance companies could refuse to insure them – impacting fifty million people. As a result, hospital emergency rooms and Medicaid were forced to absorb these costs, resulting in higher prices for everyone.
This legislation will:
- Assure that patients receive treatment and insurance coverage for
- pre-existing conditions
- Codify federal Affordable Care Act protections
- Save lives and money
- Prohibit some types of short-term health insurance plans from containing a pre-existing condition provision
Solar Energy and Green Jobs
Seeking to use innovative ideas to help us address our environmental and energy challenges, we created a Green Jobs Career Ladder website for jobs in the green technology industry, including a listing of careers and the jobs available in the state.
A bill we passed encourages the construction of high performance green state buildings that have reduced emissions and conservative water resource management. We hope to create new and viable career opportunities, benefit the environment, and help protect our planet for generations to come.
This legislation will:
- Extend renewable energy programs, including traditional net metering and the Green Bank’s renewable solar investment program
- Expand virtual net metering cap which will reduce energy costs for municipalities
- Require DOT to put together a land inventory on which lands are suitable for Class I energy resources. For example, solar energy on lands adjacent to state highways.
Hydraulic Fracking Ban
No fracking waste in Connecticut! This is a policy that ensures the pollutants generated by fracking do not enter our state as well as widen the state-wide fracking ban to apply to all gas and oil extraction activities, to also include the selling, acquiring, handling, applying and processing of fracking, natural gas, and oil waste.
Offshore Wind Energy
We have cleared the path for offshore wind energy generation in order to lead in green energy technology and help achieve Connecticut’s renewable energy goals and looking at a positive economic impact and the creation of good-paying jobs. This will help achieve our energy consumption goal of 40% renewable energy by 2030 and will allow Connecticut to procure up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind power. The measure also includes provisions to protect and minimize impacts on the environment and fisheries.