As we begin summer and the legislature goes into recess, thank you once again for the privilege of serving as your representative in Hartford. It is an honor to work with so many of you to address the needs of our community and state to make it the best it can be.
While the state budget has dominated the news from Hartford, we continue to address the fiscal realities we face and the myriad of issues in Connecticut.
Supporting education through proper funding and investment has been a consistent priority for our town and in my work as an elected leader. I continue to support policies that advance learning and innovation, which are critical to our state’s success. This year I could not support the state budget because of its impact on Fairfield’s funding for education and the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program and the impact on mental health services and programs that aid our most vulnerable residents.
Home to two top-ranked universities, Fairfield is poised to take advantage of the legislation we passed to create innovation hubs for our students and businesses. The ability to more efficiently approve higher education degree programs designed to address industry needs will help Connecticut remain competitive. I was proud to be able to champion both of these efforts.
Community partnerships with local businesses and non-profit leaders are something I continue to foster, as government is most effective when we maximize these critical relationships. I have met with leaders from Kleban Properties, Bigelow Tea, and all of our area colleges. I will continue to partner with these groups and others to support them as they prepare our workforce, create jobs and increase innovation.
There remain many difficult challenges ahead. I will continue to partner with business and educational leaders, fellow elected officials, advocates, residents and all those who share a focus on sustainable solutions. Fairfield is a strong and resilient community, and I will continue to fight for the people of our community and for our amazing state.
Protecting Student Data
Working with stakeholders and fellow legislators, I led efforts resulting in the unanimous passage of the Student Data Privacy bill. The bill restricts how students’ personal information can be used by educational software contractors, websites, and other online and mobile services. It protects children’s information while also allowing companies to continue to develop innovative products for our students. PA 16-189
Connecticut continues to address the growing problem of undertreated dyslexia by establishing new requirements for reading consultants and teachers who obtain endorsements in remedial reading and language arts. Teachers seeking such endorsements will take a reading and language diagnosis and remediation program to prepare them to instruct students with dyslexia. PA 16-92
Higher Education Programs
Our colleges and universities need the ability to develop academic programs responsive to the marketplace. I co-sponsored the Program Approval bill which will expedite approval of academic programs that meet industry needs. This will ensure that CT schools can quickly react to job demand in developing industries, keeping our students at the forefront of emerging fields. PA 16-36
As a member of the Commission on Economic Competitiveness, I will help lead the implementation of the CT 500 economic development plan. This bold plan aims to create a net increase of 500,000 private sector jobs over the next 25 years, create 500 new startup businesses, and maintain CT’s top five ranking with respect to economic growth, productivity, higher education and per capita income. Special Session PA 16-3
Updating LLC Laws
This bill provides a comprehensive update to the state’s existing limited liability company act. This measure will update the LLC statute to provide greater clarity and security for business owners and those doing business with an LLC, making Connecticut more competitive with area states. Thanks to my constituent, Attorney David Levine, for all of his hard work in the development and passage of this legislation. PA 16-97.
Fairfield’s two universities are now better poised to harness the innovative potential of faculty, students and area businesses. Through the CTNext program, we invested $10 million to strengthen the innovation and entrepreneurial capacity at all of Connecticut’s colleges and universities. These grants will provide counseling and technical assistance for entrepreneurial business planning and management, business workshops, seminars and conferences with local partners, and facilitation of stronger relationships between Connecticut businesses and institutions of higher education.
Special Session PA 16-3
As the Co-Chair of Fairfield Cares Community Coalition, our local prevention council, I have worked for years to prevent substance abuse and promote wellness among young people and their families. This year, the legislature took another important step in the battle against prescription drug and heroin abuse. This bill, which I co-sponsored, will limit first-time painkiller prescriptions to a 7-day supply and improve the electronic prescription monitoring program, which prevents patients struggling with addiction from “doctor shopping.” Working with experts and leaders in our schools and community, I will continue the fight to prevent substance abuse and provide care for those who face addiction. PA 16-43
Bike and Pedestrian Safety
As a longtime advocate for pedestrians and bicyclists, I co-sponsored an important law that will increase fines from $181 to $500 for motorists who strike or do not exercise due care to avoid a pedestrian or bicyclist. Greater enforcement, along with education and infrastructure, will increase safety while encouraging walking and cycling. PA 16-54
Supporting Our Seniors
Taking care of our older citizens is a priority. I supported legislation to ensure 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 now require nursing homes to allow residents being discharged to designate a caregiver to help them with their discharge plan. PA 16-8, PA 16-5