Friends and Neighbors,
The 2016 Legislative Session recently came to a close. Aiding Connecticut businesses and jobseekers, improving our response to the opioid public health crisis, and supporting our veterans and first responders were featured elements of some of the major bills approved by the legislature this year.
I hope that you find the information in this newsletter helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if I can ever be of assistance.
Assisting Connecticut Businesses
Legislators have always understood the importance of promoting job growth in Connecticut. To improve the state’s business climate, we passed several laws this session that:
Establish an Entrepreneur Learner’s Permit Pilot Program
- Covers the initial costs associated with starting up a business for first-time business owners.
- Encourages entrepreneurial start-ups in the area of information services, biotechnology and green technology. [SA 16-1 Effective Date: Various]
Encourage Careers in Manufacturing
- The state will form a committee to inform middle and high school students about careers in manufacturing, provide manufacturing training and study workforce needs to introduce students and their parents to careers in manufacturing.
- The Department of Labor will update their website to provide information on apprenticeship opportunities.
- An evening pilot program will be established for incumbent workers to train existing employees so they can move up the career ladder. [PA 16-114 Effective Date: Various]
Address Teacher Shortages in Technical High Schools
- The Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS) superintendent will have the ability to clearly state the staffing needs of the Technical High School System and request new hires without the approval of the Commissioner of Education.
- The CTHSS superintendent will be given the same latitude with respect to hiring recommendations that superintendents throughout Connecticut have.
- The CTHSS superintendent will be allowed to submit their estimated expenditures directly to the state’s budget office, thus allowing the school to make a direct case for funding. [PA 16-42 Effective Date: 7/1/2016]
Adopt the Connecticut Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (ULLCA)
- Connecticut will join the growing number of states who have adopted the a set of rules by which to regulate the formation and dissolution of limited liability companies (LLC’s).
- The ULLCA will be more modern and business-friendly for entrepreneurs. [PA 16-97 Effective Date: 7/1/2017]
Benefits For Our First Responders
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/long term disability or social security. I proudly supported the establishment of 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.
We also enacted legislation that expands municipal property tax relief to include retired volunteer firefighters, fire police officers, and EMTs who volunteered at least twenty-five years of service.
[PA 16-10 Effective Date: 2/1/2017; PA 16-99 Effective Date: 7/1/2016]
Standing Up For 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.
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.
We also passed a resolution urging the federal government to provide VA benefits to Blue Water Navy Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. [PA 16-184 Effective Date: 10/1/2016; PA 16-68 Effective Date 10/1/2016]
Supporting Individuals With Disabilities
Some of our state’s most vulnerable families are those struggling to support individuals with disabilities – it is one of the reasons why I voted “no” on the state budget. The budget cuts funding from programs that these families depend on, programs that have been historically underfunded. I stand with the IDD Community and will work with them to right this wrong. [PA 16-60 Effective Date: Upon Passage]
Tackling Connecticut's Opioid Epidemic
In recent years, Connecticut has seen a heartbreaking increase in fatal opioid overdoses. I was proud to co-sponsor groundbreaking legislation to combat this crisis. This lifesaving law will allow any licensed healthcare professional to administer drugs that reverse opioid overdoses, require municipalities to equip their first responders with the opioid reversal drug Narcan, and cap first-time opioid prescriptions at a seven-day supply.
[PA 16-43 Effective Date: Various]
Protecting Our Animals
This year, we sent a message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in Connecticut. We passed legislation that makes malicious and intentional animal cruelty a class C felony, which carries the potential of jail time or a fine of up to $10,000. I also supported legislation that aims to increase animal cruelty conviction rates by allowing judges to appoint volunteer legal advocates to assist prosecutors in animal cruelty cases. [PA 16-30; Effective Date: 10/1/2016]