I am pleased to share with you this update on the 2017 legislative session. Since elected, my goal has been to forge a path for a stronger Hartford, and stronger Connecticut. I worked to pass bipartisan legislation that improves the lives of working families, encourages economic growth, and makes critical investments in the future of our children, as well as our state.
The policies we passed support our small businesses, spur workforce development and ensure that we are making Connecticut more affordable for our young people and our seniors. I am committed to fighting for you and building a solid Connecticut for future generations. Although the regular session has concluded, I will continue to work to keep Connecticut a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
Our future is stronger when we work together, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if I can ever be of help to you or your family. I hope you find the enclosed information helpful. It is my pleasure and honor to serve as your state representative.
Preventing Opioid Abuse
The maximum opioid drug prescription for minors has been decreased from a 7-day to a 5-day supply. Also, health insurers are now required to cover medically necessary detox treatment, and medical providers are required to discuss opioid risks with patients. This year in Connecticut, more people will fall victim to drug overdoses than from car accidents and gun violence combined. We hope this legislation will help combat drug abuse and addiction. (PA 17-131)
Improving Workforce Development
We have created a one-stop office for any business that is moving to or expanding in Connecticut. Businesses will now be able to work with professionals from across state government and private agencies to develop a custom recruitment and training program. An additional working group was established to coordinate existing business support services. All this helps create a talent pipeline to ensure Connecticut residents are properly trained and prepared to work careers in their region, such as manufacturing, insurance, and bioscience. (PA 17-207)
Reforming the Bail System
Under our current system of pretrial detention, low risk offenders are routinely held in jail simply because they cannot afford bail. Under new legislation, judges are barred from requiring cash-only bail and can no longer require bail for minor crimes unless that person poses an immediate threat or is being held for a family violence crime. (PA 17-145)
Revising High School Graduation Requirements
In 2010, the number of credits a student must earn to graduate high school increased from 20 to 25. This new law helps ease the struggle to implement this change by allowing towns more flexibility in determining which high school courses are appropriate to reach that increased number of credits required for graduation, so long as those courses align with state standards. This law also allows more mastery-based courses to satisfy state requirements; and eliminates end-of-year requirements for certain courses. (PA 17-42)
No longer will a business be able to deny women employment opportunities because of pregnancy, or retaliate when reasonable accommodations are requested. PA 17-118 strengthens current protections for pregnant and nursing women, requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for these employees, and sets up protections that prevent an employer from discriminating against pregnant women. These protections are critical to women’s financial security and are good for families and the economy.
This law strengthens CT’s human trafficking laws by broadening the crime of trafficking in persons to include sex trafficking, enhances the penalty to a class A felony, and creates the felony crime of commercial sexual abuse of a minor for those who patronize or solicit minors who are trafficked for sex. The law also requires the posting of services for trafficking victims in additional businesses. (PA 17-32)
Other Important Legislation
Helping Small Businesses: The Small Business Hotline provides entrepreneurs and existing small business owners with customized advice, education, and network resources in one place. Running a small business is hard work, and we must give entrepreneurs the tools and resources they need to succeed. (PA 17-158)
Working to Recruit Businesses to Connecticut: In order to make Connecticut a more attractive and business friendly state we established a working group to look at public-private marketing partnerships to recruit businesses to the state and issue a report on its findings and recommendations to the Commerce Committee. (SA 17-18)
Developing a “Connecticut-Made” logo: From Pez to Whiffle Ball to Munson’s Chocolates, CT manufactures many well-known products. The Department of Economic and Community Development will develop a Connecticut-Made or CT-Made Logo that Connecticut businesses can use to promote products that they manufacture or produce in the state. (PA 17-132)
Consumer Advocate for Metropolitan District of Hartford County Consumers: An independent consumer advocate will now have a place at the table with the Metropolitan District Commission to represent consumers when the MDC addresses rates, water quality, water supply and wastewater service quality to ensure any decision is in the best interest of the consumers. (PA 17-1)
Social Security Tax Exemption for Seniors: As a part of the budget, we passed a provision phasing in an exemption of social security and pensions from the state income tax starting in 2019. This will help provide much needed tax relief to those who most need it and allow them to keep more of their own money. Another new law requires landlords to return any security deposit that exceeds one month’s rent if the tenant turned age 62 after paying the deposit, upon request of the tenant. (PA 17-236)
Renters’ Rebate: An unfortunate change that came with the state budget was transferring the administration of the Renters’ Rebate program to the towns, which had resulted in a delay of renter’s rebate checks going out this year to the many seniors and those eligible who rely upon it. The good news is that after we spoke to our legislative leadership we were able to pass legislation to fix and restore the program. Renters should see no difference and those who have already applied can expect to see checks in December.
Child Care for Working Families: With the State budget that passed we were able to restore funding to the Care 4 Kids child care subsidy program. This funding will allow for the program to reopen enrollment and begin to address the 5,769 families who have been on the waiting list. This is a program that helps low-income families afford safe, quality child care and allows parents to remain in the workforce.