Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2019 regular session came to a close on June 5th. As always, the most important thing we do at the state legislature is adopt the 2-year state budget. Below you will find state aid numbers for Simsbury for Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021 as well as some of the state budget changes to make Connecticut more affordable for residents and businesses and put us on the right fiscal path. In this newsletter you will also find other highlights of key legislation that we passed this year. As always, it is an honor and privilege to serve as your state representative and please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can ever be of assistance.
Good News For Simsbury
Job Creation and Economic Development
Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense has agreed to an expansion of its headquarters in Simsbury. The company plans to add 140 high-paying jobs over the next 3 years and make a $10 million investment over the next 5-10 years to create a “center of excellence”. I was proud to advocate for a tax incentive package offered by the State through the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). The town of Simsbury also incentivized Ensign-Bickford to expand here with tiered abatement on any future growth and a waiver of 50 percent of the permitting fees to expand. Both our town and our state will benefit tremendously from the good paying jobs created and the expansion of this great company in this high-tech manufacturing industry.
School Construction Funds Approved for Henry James
I was proud to support a School Construction Bond package that selected Henry James Memorial School to receive a reimbursement grant of $8.3 million for renovations. The full $23.9 million project will include modernizing science classrooms, transforming the school’s library into modern learning commons, fire protection upgrades and a brand new auditorium. The final phase of the reconstruction is to be completed in six to eight months. Simsbury has long been known for its great schools and this renovation will help modernize HJMS and help continue down that same path of excellence. I am very glad to have been able help Simsbury in securing this state bond funding.
Honoring Our Veterans
Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemptions - Based on similar legislation I introduced with the support of local Simsbury veterans, a new law increases the base property tax exemption for certain disabled service members and veterans by $500. By doing so, it also increases the additional income-based exemption for such service members and veterans by $250 or $1,000, depending on their income. As under existing law, those with higher disability ratings receive higher property tax exemption amounts. These exemptions are still municipal options, however my bill would have made these property tax exemptions a requirement. (Public Act 19-171)
Recognizing Cadet Nurse Corps - This session, I co-introduced a resolution that petitions the United States Congress to amend federal law to recognize members of the Cadet Nurse Corps who served during World War II as veterans. If enacted by Congress, these brave Nurses will finally be recognized as veterans and be eligible for VA benefits for their bravery in answering the call of duty when their country needed them. This includes our very own Simsbury resident Alice Johnson. (Senate Joint Resolution 19-3)
Supporting Our Seniors
Tackling Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease - In order to ensure the proper care for seniors, we modified continuing education requirements for physicians to include diagnosing and treating cognitive conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, delirium, related cognitive impairments and geriatric depression. (Public Act 19-115)
Background Checks for Caregivers - To keep potentially dangerous people away from our loved ones, we made it easier to do background checks on individuals seeking jobs that require contact with our elderly population. We have charged the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors to convene a working group to develop strategies to raise public awareness about the available information on caregivers. (Public Act 19-116)
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. Including these studies in the curriculum broadens awareness of both the suffering and accomplishments of our fellow Americans so all students have a more complete picture of the challenges these groups face and their resilience. (Public Act 19-12)
Help for Students with Dyslexia - We established a task force to make recommendations about whether universities are complying with licensure requirements, especially related to dyslexia instruction. In addition, it will look into whether current in-service training and professional development models are appropriately informing teachers how to meet the needs of those with dyslexia. (Special Act 19-8)
Protecting Victims of Sexual Assault
Time’s Up - This legislation extends the statute of limitations related to the reporting of sexual abuse and assault. It also increases the training required to prevent sexual harassment from taking place. Additionally, the law extends the statute of limitations for the prosecution of sexual assault and risk of injury crimes involving a person 21 years or younger. It also increases penalties for sexually assaulting a mentally incapacitated person. (Public Act 19-16)
Improving Women’s Healthcare
Mammogram Coverage - This legislation will require health insurance coverage for breast ultrasounds for any woman over 40 years old who has a recommendation from her doctor, has a personal history of breast disease through the biopsy of a benign tumor, or has a family or personal history of breast cancer. It also prohibits insurers from charging co-insurance, co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses for breast ultrasounds and mammograms. (Public Act 19-117)
Helping Those With Autism
Transitional Services - An Act Concerning Transitional Services for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder will lower the age at which kids with autism can receive transitional services as a part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) from age 16 to 14. Transitional services help a child achieve his or her post-secondary goals. The IEP and subsequent services encompass courses of study, employment, and daily living skills. (Public Act 19-49)
Adopting The State Water Plan!
I am thrilled to announce that a major accomplishment of the 2019 legislation session was passage of the State Water Plan, which establishes our water supply as a “public trust” and protects our water resources for future generations. The State Water Plan manages the water resources of the state, which includes balancing the needs of the public water supply, economic development, recreation and ecological health. As the legislator who introduced the original bill that called for the drafting of the plan, I was honored to speak in support of the resolution and lead its passage on the floor of the House of Representatives. (House Joint Resolution 19-171)
Defending The Environment
We have cleared the path for offshore wind energy generation so Connecticut can become a leader in green energy technology and help achieve the state’s renewable energy goals. We anticipate a positive economic impact with the creation of good-paying jobs and economic development in our state. Under this bill, Connecticut will procure up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind power. This will help achieve our goal of 40% renewable energy by 2030. It also includes provisions to protect and minimize impacts on the environment and fisheries. (Public Act 19-71)
Addressing Gun Violence
The newly passed Ethan’s Law, requires the safe storage of all firearms in a home with a minor. The law was passed in memory of 15-year-old Ethan Song of Guilford, who was killed by an unsecured gun. Another law requires the safe storage of handguns in motor vehicles. This measure will reduce the numerous guns stolen from vehicles in, which are used in crimes throughout our state each year. We also banned “ghost guns” which are untraceable, unserialized weapons sold over the internet as disassembled kits to circumvent background-check laws, such as the one used in the Dayton, Ohio. This new law is already starting to have an impact in our state. (Public Acts, 19-5 19-7 and 19-6)