This year’s legislative session has concluded, and with it the passage of new legislation that will shape our state for years to come.
The bipartisan budget, which passed with an overwhelming majority, was the highlight of the session. Significantly, the budget increased funding to Fairfield, did not raise taxes and funded the Rainy Day account at the highest levels in over a decade. Restoration of the Medicare Savings Program and Husky A provides critical healthcare options for our seniors and low income parents.
There were important policy initiatives as well – many driven by dedicated Fairfield advocates. Food allergies, Veterans’ health and wellness benefits, women’s healthcare and open space conservation are all issues in which Fairfield advocates played an important role. Working together with the people of our community has been an effective way to get things done in Hartford. It is a privilege to partner with all of you to make our town and state a better place to live, work, raise a family and retire.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if I can be of service to you or your family. Enjoy the summer months and the many gifts our community has to offer.
Through my work with Fairfield Cares Community Coalition, I have seen the growing impact of e-cigarette use and increased access for our teenagers. PA 18-109, a bill I championed, requires all electronic nicotine delivery devices to be sold behind the counter. Every step we can take to keep young people from accessing e-cigarettes is an important step in prevention. Though our effort to raise the legal age of tobacco purchase to 21 was not successful, I continue to work with state and local leaders and other stakeholders on this issue.
Assuring Essential Health Benefits
Connecticut residents will now remain eligible for the ten essential health benefits included in the Affordable Care Act. I helped lead efforts to guarantee these benefits, which include maternity and newborn care and chronic disease management. These preventive services will save lives as well as money. The law also guarantees that women are covered for a 12 month supply of contraceptive drugs and devices.
One in thirteen children now experience life threatening food allergies. Working alongside Fairfield parents and fellow Fairfield legislators, I championed a bill that assures impacted children can carry EpiPens on school buses. Bus drivers will now be trained in the use of EpiPens.
Medicare Savings Program Restoration
This year’s budget funds the Medicare Savings Program, assuring low income Fairfield seniors and the disabled can pay for the cost of medicine and health care premiums.
Funding for Fairfield
This year’s bipartisan budget adjustment increased both Education Cost Sharing and PILOT funding for our community. In addition, the Renter’s Rebate program, which helps low income residents stay in their homes, was restored.
The budget required more of the Motor Vehicle Sales and Use Tax to be placed in the Special Transportation Fund. This allowed the Department of Transportation to avoid steep rail fare increases and cuts to local bus service, which would have increased the potential for additional congestion on our roadways.
Thanks to the strong advocacy of Fairfielder Steve Kennedy of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, veterans discharged with an other than honorable discharge who experienced PTSD, traumatic brain injury or sexual trauma related to their service, are now eligible for benefits. A unanimous vote by both chambers affirmed the importance of providing benefits to these veterans who are often at higher risk of suicide and depression.
Reducing Prescription Drug Costs
Recognizing that prescription drug prices are the number one driver of rising healthcare costs, we passed legislation to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable by increasing transparency and requiring them to explain large price increases for drugs that have a substantial cost to the state. Additionally, insurance companies must now submit information about which drugs are most frequently prescribed and which are provided at the greatest cost. By collecting more data and holding drug companies accountable, we can get closer to lowering drug costs for Connecticut residents.
Making Connecticut Safer
The shooting in Las Vegas last year demonstrated the ability of bump stocks to dramatically increase a gun’s destructive power, effectively turning a semi-automatic firearm into one that can shoot as fast as a machine gun. As an advocate and co-sponsor, I attended the signing of the bill, which makes it a crime to own or sell a bump stock and other rate of firearm enhancements unless you are a licensed military contractor.
Capitol Update 2018 (pdf)