I am honored and privileged to be your State Representative and your voice at the State Capitol.
The 2016 legislative session adjourned after dramatic deliberations over the state budget.
I remain a strong advocate for fiscal restraint and responsibility, voting in opposition to a budget that lacked long-term structural reforms necessary to cut state spending, reduce long-term indebtedness and lower taxes.
From continuing to focus on revitalizing the economy, job creation and small business growth, I am proud of the accomplishments I have made in the state legislature on your behalf.
As Vice Chairman of the Committee on Children, I championed initiatives that addressed mental health, toxic chemicals of concern, concussion prevention and education.
As a member of the Aging Committee, I have stood up for seniors by fighting for affordable and high-quality services that address their needs.
As Co-Chairman of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) Caucus, we have made huge strides in ensuring that those with disabilities have equal access to lives of dignity and personal fulfillment.
My favorite part of being State Representative is serving my constituents. I encourage openness and transparency in government and welcome hearing from you on all of the issues that matter most to you.
I have included a summary of highlights from this session in this newsletter, which I hope you will find informative. If you would like further information on these topics or have any questions, please contact me at 800-842-8267 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you and have a great summer!
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.
Taking Care of Our Veterans
We stand by our veterans. I am proud to report that we passed new laws that enhance areas of job attainment, entrepreneurship, and quality of life issues for veterans. We also passed a resolution urging the nation’s leaders to provide VA benefits to Blue Water Navy veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. The legislation will:
- Give a price preference of up to 15% for veteran-owned businesses bidding on state contracts.
- Broaden the scope of the law that bars discriminatory practices in our state’s armed forces.
- Require the Labor Commissioner to establish a clearinghouse to help highly-trained veterans and armed forces members find jobs that match their unique skill sets; a database will be created to match them with available jobs.
Safeguarding Our Children
This year the House passed numerous laws to promote the wellbeing of children in Connecticut, which I was happy to champion as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Children. We worked to keep kids safe and healthy by passing legislation to combat childhood obesity and ban toxic chemicals from kid’s products.
We’re also ensuring children receive a high-quality educational experience by safeguarding student data used by schools and making improvements to the Office of Early Childhood, such as improving notification to parents when a childcare facility is unlicensed.
Supporting Individuals with Disabilities
Some of our state’s neediest families are those who struggle to meet the needs of a family member with an intellectual disability. That is one of the reasons why I felt so compelled to start the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) Caucus. While many families are currently on waiting lists for services, this year, the I/DD caucus helped spearhead legislation to improve communication between families and the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).
The new legislation requires DDS to provide, upon a client’s request, information on an individual’s position on the waitlist 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 also looked at Probate Courts and their role in determining guardianship for people with intellectual disabilities to help them make financial and medical decisions among many other needs. This law clarifies who has access to files regarding guardianship cases.
Promoting Clean and Reliable Energy
If you remember the Halloween Blizzard, Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy, then you also recall the widespread power outages. Microgrids can help keep the power on when there’s a loss of electricity from the big utilities. Microgrids supply power to hospitals, police and fire facilities and other vital services when severe weather knocks out electricity. New legislation broadens available credits from the traditional power company and expands the types of renewable energy sources that are eligible. Other energy accomplishments include:
- Boosting virtual net metering with an additional $6 million in credits for municipal customer hosts.
- Additional time for meeting eligibility for credits under virtual net metering.
- Broadening eligibility for agricultural virtual net metering.
- Allowing electric distribution companies to get credit for excess power generated from clean energy sources.
- Tracking the number of electric vehicles registered in Connecticut and making sure the electric distribution system is capable of handling demand.
State Water Plan
By law, based on previous legislation I co-introduced, the Water Planning Council (WPC) must prepare a state water plan by July 1, 2017 and submit it for approval by January 1, 2018. This bill made improvements by:
- Modifying the timeframes in which the legislative committees must hold joint public hearings on initial and revised water plans.
- Requiring the legislature to send back to the WPC an initial water plan if it disapproves or fails to act on it.
- Requiring the Office of Policy and Management to consult with the WPC and Water Planning Advisory Group, and submit legislative recommendations to the legislature if the legislature disapproves a revised water plan.
Tackling the Opioid Epidemic
In recent years, Connecticut, like other New England states, has seen a heartbreaking increase in fatal opioid overdoses. We recently passed groundbreaking legislation to combat this crisis which I was glad to co-sponsor. This lifesaving law will increase access to Narcan, a drug that reverses an opioid overdose; allow any licensed healthcare professional to administer Narcan; require municipalities to equip their first responders with Narcan; and allow pharmacists to prescribe Narcan. The legislation will also limit opioid prescriptions, by capping first-time adult prescriptions and all prescriptions for minors, to a seven-day supply. The bill contains exceptions for certain medical conditions. While there is still more work to be done, this legislation is a historic step forward in both combatting opioid overdoses and preventing new cases of opioid addiction.
Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence
I am honored to have co-sponsored legislation that will go a long way towards protecting victims of domestic violence. Connecticut is taking great strides in protecting women and children from domestic violence by requiring a person to surrender all firearms when a judge grants a temporary restraining order. The most dangerous times in the life of the person that is a victim of domestic violence is when they tell their partner they are leaving. Women in abusive relationships are also five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a firearm. This new added protection will help save lives. Another new law was also created to help prevent sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
Firefighter Cancer Relief Program
Firefighters risk their lives every day to protect citizens within their community, but the risk does not stop once the fire is out. Each fire burns toxins into the air that firefighters absorb, even while wearing proper protective gear. These toxins highly increase risk of certain cancers each time a firefighter is exposed. Prior to this legislation, firefighters who contracted cancer had to return to work while still recovering because they did not have proper compensation as they already cannot receive short- or long-term disability or social security. During this session, the legislature established a self-sustaining relief fund to cover lost wages, without raising taxes. Now, both volunteer and career firefighters will be able to take necessary time to recover from cancer they’ve contracted while on the job, protecting us.
Simsbury Veterans Wartime Service Medal Ceremony
On Wednesday, August 3rd at 10am, I will be hosting a Connecticut Wartime Service Medal Ceremony with Simsbury VFW Metacomet Post 1926 and Simsbury American Legion Tomalonis-Hall Post 84 at Eno Memorial Hall – 754 Hopmeadow Street. I look forward to honoring our veterans to thank them for their service and meet their families. If you know of a veteran who has at least 90 days of wartime service and would like to receive a medal, please contact my office at (860) 240-8568 or e-mail my aide at Jason.Knight@cga.ct.gov.
Simsbury Summer Harvest Food Drive
During the summer months, some of our neighbors continue to struggle to make ends meet and local food banks are not as robust as they are during the holiday season. Please join me for a Simsbury Summer Harvest Food Drive on Sunday, July 31st from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Please stop by Simsbury Town Hall parking lot – 933 Hopmeadow Street – during those hours and drop off food items.
Needed Items include:
- Ground coffee - regular and decaf
- Maple syrup
- Pancake mix
- Spaghetti sauce
- Canned fruit
- Chow Mein
- Corned beef
Other Items needed are:
- Paper towels
- Juice (bottles or cans)
- Chunky soups and stews
- Hamburger or Chicken Helper
- Toilet paper
Financial donations are also welcome. Checks may be made payable to: Keep Simsbury Warm or Simsbury Food Closet. For more information, please contact Simsbury Social Services at (860) 658-3283.