Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Thank you for your continued support. It has been an honor to represent you this legislative session. This was a session dominated by the budget. Although there were no easy solutions, we approved a budget that is balanced – without tax or fee increases, without borrowing, and without dipping into the Rainy Day Fund – that cuts $830 million.
We made structural changes that reduce long-term obligations and create a more sustainable budget over time. The legislature passed significant legislation to help protect and improve the quality of life for Connecticut families. Even big-headline projects face cuts. We are delaying some of the Governor’s transportation initiatives in order to protect legislative priorities like funding for hospitals, schools, colleges and universities, and property tax relief.
Improving public health, increasing public safety, and encouraging financial security for everyone were featured elements of some of the major bills approved by the legislature this year.
I hope you find this information to be of use and please know that Norwalk’s working families remain at the heart of each vote I cast in the House Chamber. As always, please do not hesitate to call my office if you have any questions.
Status of the Walk Bridge Project
The Connecticut Department of Transportation is undertaking a project to replace the deteriorating railroad bridge over the Norwalk River, a critical link on the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C. and Boston used by Metro-North, Amtrak, and freight services. The construction of the bridge will be accompanied by the rehabilitation and replacement of the Osborne Ave. and East Ave. bridges as well, causing a necessary but considerable disruption to the East Norwalk community. I have been and will continue working with business owners and homeowners affected by this disruption and eminent domain. For more information on the Walk Bridge project, visit the DOT’s website www.walkbridgect.com.
Although cuts were made across the board to eliminate the budget deficit, we were able to significantly restore funds to our hospitals, which were unfairly targeted by the Governor’s proposed cuts. We were able to restore approximately $70 million in cuts to our hospitals, with a restoration of more than $1.6 million to Norwalk Hospital. I will continue to fight for the restoration of hospital funding, especially for Norwalk Hospital, which continues to be an integral part of our community.
Addressing the Opioid Crisis
In recent years, Connecticut, like other New England states, has seen a heartbreaking increase in fatal opioid overdoses. 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 the prescription of opioid drugs and improve the electronic prescription monitoring program, which prevents patients from “doctor shopping” when they face addiction. Other laws allow for greater access to Narcan, a drug that has proved lifesaving in opioid overdoses, and adding more on-the-ground experts to the Connecticut Alcohol and Drug Policy Council. I will continue the fight to prevent substance abuse in our community and provide care for those who face addiction.
Job Creation & Competitiveness - CT 500
This session, I was a leader in the creation of the CT 500 economic development plan, a bold, forward-thinking plan to increase the number of private sector jobs and the state’s population by 500,000 over the next 25 years. It also aims to increase the number of start-up businesses and students graduating from each Connecticut university by 500 annually while placing and keeping our state in the top five nationally in respect to economic growth, public and higher education, quality of life, and per capita income.
As Chairman of the Commerce Committee, I was a leader in the development and passage of this bill encouraging entrepreneurship in Connecticut. The bill, which became law on May 6th, allows new businesses in the information technology, biotechnology, and bioscience fields to start a new business in the state and be exempt from state filing, permitting, or licensing fees. For more information or to apply, contact Connecticut Innovations, Inc.
Supporting Our Manufacturing Sector
The manufacturing industry is making a comeback and I am committed to working to ensure a strong and educated workforce for the increasingly high-tech jobs of the future. In order to meet the growing demand of manufacturers, I helped establish a committee that will educate 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. This bill also directs the Department of Labor to update their website to provide information on manufacturing apprenticeship opportunities.
Domestic Violence & Human Trafficking
Women in abusive relationships are 5 times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a firearm. Connecticut is taking great strides in protecting women and children from domestic violence and I was proud to co-sponsor this bill requiring a person to surrender firearms after being served with a temporary restraining order. Other new laws strengthen existing statutes against human trafficking and sexual exploitation. They increase training requirements to reduce human trafficking and remove parental rights from rapists.