Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I am pleased to share with you this update on the 2017 legislative session. Each year, my goal is to forge a path for a stronger Connecticut, and the 2017 session was no different. I worked to pass bipartisan legislation that improves the lives of working families, encourages economic growth, and makes critical investments in the future of our children, as well as our state.
This was a session dominated by the budget. There were no easy solutions and hard decisions had to be made. The long-term structural changes we made will help put Connecticut’s budget on a sustainable path – not just this year, but in future years to come.
I hope you find the enclosed information helpful. Our future is stronger when we work together, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if I can ever be of help to you or your family. It is my pleasure and honor to serve as your state representative.
No longer will a business be able to deny women employment opportunities because of pregnancy, or retaliate when reasonable accommodations are requested. PA 17-118 strengthens current protections for pregnant and nursing women, requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for these employees, and sets up protections that prevent an employer from discriminating against pregnant women. These protections are critical to women’s financial security and are good for families and the economy.
Revising High School Graduation Requirements
In 2010, the number of credits a student must earn to graduate high school increased from 20 to 25. This new law helps ease the struggle to implement this change by allowing towns more flexibility in determining which high school courses are appropriate to reach that increased number of credits required for graduation, so long as those courses align with state standards. This law also allows more mastery-based courses to satisfy state requirements; and eliminates end-of-year requirements for certain courses. (PA 17-42)
Preventing Opioid Abuse
The maximum opioid drug prescription for minors has been decreased from a 7-day to a 5-day supply. Also, health insurers are now required to cover medically necessary detox treatment, and medical providers are required to discuss opioid risks with patients. This year in Connecticut, more people will fall victim to drug overdoses than from car accidents and gun violence combined, and we hope this legislation will help combat drug abuse and addiction. (PA 17-131)
Reforming the Bail System
Under our current system of pretrial detention, low risk offenders are routinely held in jail simply because they cannot afford bail. Under new legislation, judges are barred from requiring cash-only bail and can no longer require bail for minor crimes unless that person poses an immediate threat or is being held for a family violence crime.
Removing Healthcare Barriers
The cost of prescription drugs places a large burden on many of us, especially those living on a fixed income. PA 17-241 removes barriers at pharmacies that have prevented some patients from being able to receive a cheaper generic medication, and also increases transparency in prescription drug pricing for the benefit of the patient.
Other Important Legislation
- Supporting Barbers and Hairdressers: Individuals will now be able to acquire a barber, hairdresser or cosmetician license without having to submit to a state or national criminal background check, and the Department of Public Health is now prohibited from denying a license to an individual with a felony. Individuals will now have a second chance to obtain a job without having to be penalized for their past. (PA 17-112)
- Social Security Tax Exemption for Seniors: As a part of the budget, we passed a provision phasing in an exemption of social security and pensions from the state income tax starting in 2019. This will help provide much needed tax relief to those who most need it and allow them to keep more of their own money. Another law requires landlords to return any security deposit that exceeds one month’s rent if the tenant turned age 62 after paying the deposit, upon request of the tenant. (PA 17-236)
- Renters’ Rebate: An unfortunate change that came with the state budget was transferring the administration of the Renters’ Rebate program to the towns, which had resulted in a delay of renters’ rebate checks going out this year to the many seniors and those eligible who rely upon it. The good news is that after we spoke to our legislative leadership we were able to pass legislation to fix and restore the program. Renters should see no difference and those who have already applied can expect to see checks in December.
- Child Care for Working Families: With the State budget that passed we were able to restore funding to the Care 4 Kids child care subsidy program. This funding will allow for the program to reopen enrollment and begin to address the 5,769 families who have been on the waiting list. This is a program that helps low-income families afford safe, quality child care and allows parents to remain in the workforce.
- Affordable Higher Education: Making college more affordable is one of our top priorities. With the state budget we restored over $50 million to the University of Connecticut from a Republican budget that would have led to dramatic tuition rate increases and cuts to our flagship university. In addition we took two important steps aimed at lowering the cost of attending our state’s public colleges and universities by cutting red tape - making it easier for schools to secure goods and services while still requiring strong oversight policies. Also, we required state schools to establish guidelines to minimize student costs and cut down on textbook costs. (PA 17-130)
- Transportation Lockbox: We passed a resolution that, if approved by voters in the next election, will ensure money deposited into the Special Transportation Fund can only be spent on transportation. (HJ 100)