The 2019 legislative session has ended, and we have accomplished many of the goals set out in our democratic agenda. Our biennial budget was delivered on time, provides fiscal stability with no increases in income tax rates, increases in broad based sales tax rates, or cuts to municipal aid. It includes important advancements like a plan for debt-free community college and exempting social security from income tax. We are protecting our most vulnerable citizens, investing in the middle class, and encouraging economic growth for all of Connecticut.
This year, I had the honor of being appointed vice-chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee by our Speaker. I was proud to be part of championing important legislation like increasing the minimum wage to $15 and creating a Paid Family and Medical Leave program. In this newsletter, you’ll read about other important legislation that was passed this session, too.
It is my honor to represent you in Connecticut’s House of Representatives and fight to give the people of Hartford resources and opportunities to succeed.
More work remains, and I welcome your ideas. Please contact my office with any questions or concerns.
La Sesión Legislativa del 2019 ha finalizado, y hemos logrado muchos de los objetivos establecidos en nuestra Agenda Democrática. Nuestro presupuesto bienal se entregó a tiempo, proporciona estabilidad fiscal sin aumentos en las tasas de impuesto sobre la renta, aumentos en las tasas de impuestos de base amplia o recortes a la ayuda municipal. Incluye avances importantes como un plan para un colegio comunitario sin deudas y eximir a la seguridad social del impuesto sobre la renta. Estamos protegiendo a nuestros ciudadanos más vulnerables, invirtiendo en la clase media y apoyando el crecimiento económico de todo Connecticut.
Este año, tuve el honor de ser nombrado Vice Presidente del Comité de Trabajo y Empleados Públicos por nuestro Presidente. Me sentí orgulloso de ser parte de defender una legislación importante, como aumentar el salario mínimo a $15 y el Permiso Familiar y Medico Pagado (FMLA). En esta hoja informativa, también leerá sobre otras legislaciones importantes que se aprobaron en esta sesión.
Es un honor para mí representarlo en la Cámara de Representantes de Connecticut y luchar para brindarle a la gente de Hartford recursos y oportunidades para tener éxito. Queda más trabajo, y agradezco sus ideas. Comuníquese con mi oficina si tiene alguna pregunta o inquietud.
Keeping People in Their Homes
Foreclosures have affected many Connecticut homeowners from wealthy communities to inner cities. We are helping families stay in their homes by extending the state’s Foreclosure Mediation Program for people facing tough times. The program requires mortgage lenders to use mediation to avoid foreclosures. Since the beginning of the program in 2008, it has helped nearly 30,000 homeowners reach settlements, allowing them to keep their homes.
A new law will protect tenants from absentee and neglectful landlords. The legislation gives cities and towns the ability to fine property owners who fail to disclose their own residential address. So if a rental property falls into disrepair, placing residents at risk, municipalities will be able to contact the landlord and seek a resolution. Landlords must be held accountable for the condition of their properties.
Protecting our Neighbors
We made various changes to strengthen our existing state laws concerning law enforcement’s use of force, body-worn and dashboard camera recording disclosures, and police pursuits to create more transparency between law enforcement and the public.
Civil Immigration Detainers:
Regardless of their legal status, someone should be able to safely report crimes and otherwise cooperate with local police and trust that they will not be turned over to ICE. To achieve this, we expanded and strengthened the Trust Act, originally passed in CT 6 years ago to prohibit the detention of undocumented immigrants in the absence of a threat to public safety, an outstanding arrest warrant, or a final order of deportation. The new language prohibits detention of anyone on a civil detainer lodged by ICE unless it is accompanied by a warrant signed by a state or federal judge, or if the person was convicted of a high level felony or is on the terrorist watch list. It also limits what confidential information law enforcement may disclose to a federal immigration authority, as well as the reasons they can detain an undocumented person.
Making CT a Great Place to Live
Highlights from our biennual budget:
- Maintains the tax exemptions for Social Security income and the phase-in of a tax exemption on pension income to make CT more affordable to seniors
- Avoids a costly and disruptive nursing home strike
- Increases education funding
- Protects the Care4Kids program
- Repeals the Business Entity Tax
- Increases access to health care
- Provides a tax credit to craft beer breweries
- Expands income limits for Husky A from 150% to 155% of the Federal Poverty level
- Protects the Medicare Savings Program, and increases funding for Meals on Wheels
- Establishes a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Health and Human Service Network
Paid Family Leave
In the event of a medical emergency, Paid Family and Medical Leave allows employees to care for themselves or a loved one without having to face the threat of financial ruin. The program will provide replacement wages so that patients and caregivers can take time off and make ends meet. If you or your family has an emergency, there will now be financial peace-of-mind. I was proud to vote in favor of giving working families the support they deserve.
Fight for $15!
No one who works full time should live in poverty. Connecticut’s minimum hourly wage will increase to $11 on October 1, 2019. After that, it will gradually increase to $15 for more than 300,000 Connecticut workers to help fight the dangerous increase in income disparity that has significantly hurt our middle class and working poor.
Debt-Free Community College
We adopted a plan to provide debt-free community college to first-time students from Connecticut. The Board of Regents for Higher Education must develop a program to provide these students with fall and spring semester awards that cover the portion of tuition and fees that are not covered by scholarships, grants, or government aid. Awards under this program apply to the first 72 credit hours earned by a student in the first 36 months of community college enrollment in a program leading to a degree or certificate.
Enriching our Children’s Educational Experience
Minority Teacher Recruitment and Retention
It is important for the minority students in our state to have more teachers who not only look like them, but understand the challenges they face in our society. We passed legislation which creates an annual hiring goal of 250 new minority teachers and administrators across the state.
African-American, Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino Studies
We are expanding social studies to include an important part of our shared culture: African-American, Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino history. Through the teaching of this curricula, we all become more aware of both the suffering and accomplishments of our fellow Americans. It helps all students to have a fuller picture of the challenges and resilience of our African-American and Latino populations. This also gives students of color the opportunity to learn more about their history and the significant contributions their cultures have made to Connecticut and the rest of the country.
We have made the sale of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vape products illegal for those under 21. Nicotine creates addiction in teens, and 95% percent of adults who smoke started young. Nationwide, e-cigarette use, also known as “vaping,” is on the rise among middle and high school students. This law seeks to keep nicotine out of the hands of minors.