As you recall, last year we passed the State of Connecticut’s biennial budget through bipartisan efforts, and this year we followed suit by making agreed upon edits to the existing budget through bipartisan efforts as well. This budget funds transportation infrastructure, restores cuts to education, and restores funding for the Medicare Savings Plan, HUSKY A, and Renters Rebate program – all with no income, sales or other state tax increases. It also maintains the “Rainy Day” Fund reserves at the highest level in over a decade.
We worked on policies that support small businesses, workforce development and making our state a place where we can proudly raise our families. I am committed to fighting for you to build a bright future for Connecticut and our Norwich community.
I hope you find the enclosed information helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if I can be of service to you or your family. It is my pleasure and honor to serve as your state representative.
Supporting Small Businesses
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. In an effort to provide some tax relief and help small businesses to put resources into job creation, we exempted from property taxes equipment that is worth less than $250 and has been owned by the business for more than 10 years.
In response to concerns that the state Department of Environmental and Energy Protection is taking too long to approve commercial permit applications, we passed legislation that requires DEEP to meet with businesses that request it for a “pre-application” meeting. Hopefully this process will help ensure the businesses are more successful in receiving the necessary permits in a more timely fashion.
Continuing our efforts to encourage students to consider careers in manufacturing, we are working to develop mobile manufacturing training labs that will visit middle and high schools to educate students about advanced manufacturing. This continues our work to invest in our community colleges and technical high schools, and our belief that technical education and career training can lead students to family-supporting jobs.
Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
In the ongoing fight against opioid abuse, the legislature approved a number of initiatives aimed at curbing use and improving our state and local responses and interventions. The new law prohibits prescribers from writing prescriptions for immediate family members and promotes increased use of overdose-reversing treatments like Narcan.
Over 60,000 of our residents sought treatment for substance abuse in 2016 alone. One of our challenges is providing adequate treatment and recovery services. To help address this, we set up a system where sober homes can register with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services so families will be able to check if a sober home is registered with the state. It also establishes certain marketing and advertising requirements, keeping the consumer’s best interests in mind. Under this legislation, sober homes must have Narcan onsite and residents must be trained in its use.
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.
Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury, or are the victims of military sexual trauma, deserve support as they recover and reintegrate into civilian life. However, because these conditions pose unique challenges, some receive a less than honorable discharge from the military, making them ineligible for services. We successfully passed legislation this session to allow these veterans access to the state services they need and earned.
When members of the armed forces receive orders to come to Connecticut, and their spouse is a certified teacher in another state, it can be difficult for the spouse to start over as a teacher here in Connecticut. To address this issue, we created a “military spouse teacher permit” that allows the spouses to more easily work as a teacher in our state.
Medicare Savings Plan (MSP)
We eliminated a decrease in MSP eligibility that was scheduled to take effect this year impacting more than 90,000 elderly and disabled participants in this critical program. In doing so, it maintains the program’s current income eligibility limits and many who were at risk of losing support can remain. More than 113,000 seniors and disabled individuals depend on the state program to purchase their Medicare Part B benefits. Without legislative action, the income thresholds would have been at risk of dropping. This measure reflects the state’s commitment to some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Health Carrier and Hospital Contract Disputes
In response to the several disputes between insurers and large healthcare providers, we passed legislation ensuring consumers are properly notified and can remain “in network” while these disputes are resolved. If health carriers and hospitals terminate their contracts, they must abide by that contract’s terms for 60 days after the contract ends. Often times, patients develop relationships with specific doctors and practitioners and this grants them a grace period to figure out what to do should their provider contract change or be terminated, assuring continuity of care.