Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thank you for giving me the privilege of representing you in the Connecticut legislature; it is such an honor to continue to serve you.

I wanted to provide you with some updates on the 2019 legislative session.

First: the legislature came together to pass a balanced budget that included the following:

  • No income tax increases or broad based sales tax increases
  • Increased access to Husky A and the Medicare Savings Program
  • Avoided cuts to town aid and education
  • Added surplus revenues to our Rainy Day Fund to improve fiscal sustainability for the future

Second: It was an honor to serve again as House Chair of the Commerce Committee, and to introduce and pass on the House floor dozens of bipartisan, pro-business, pro-job growth bills.

Third: I worked hard this session on initiatives to make CT more affordable, to strengthen the long-term financial stability of Stamford Hospital, to secure education resources for Stamford schools, to improve public safety, and to protect our environment.

I continue to believe strongly in bipartisanship and the need to attack the problems facing our state rather than attacking each other. That is why I supported more than a dozen bipartisan bills and continued working with the bipartisan young legislators and women’s caucuses.

As your State Representative, I will continue to work tirelessly for the people of Stamford and I welcome your feedback and suggestions. If you ever need anything or have a concern, contact me anytime on my personal cell phone at 203-962-4619 or email me at caroline.simmons@cga.ct.gov.

Sincerely,


Education

More Education Funding for Stamford: Education continues to be a top priority and we must ensure we are doing everything we can to support Stamford’s schools, teachers, and students. I was proud to help fight for an increase of $1.134 million each year in state education funding for Stamford, equaling a 10.1% increase in Fiscal Year (FY) ‘20 and a 20.2% increase in FY ‘21. I also stood up against shifting the cost of teacher pensions to towns, as this would have resulted in a massive property tax increase.

Addressing Mold in Stamford Schools: One of the biggest challenges facing our schools right now is the issue of mold, which has had an enormously disruptive effect on many students, teachers, and administrators. We are doing everything we can as a Stamford delegation to fight for funding for mold remediation and will continue to advocate for more state resources to address this issue.

Computer Science Instruction In The Public School Curriculum: If you can code, you will find a job waiting for you. I co-sponsored SB 957 to ensure teachers and students are well versed in computer science and coding. The bill adds computer science to the public school curriculum and requires teacher preparation programs to add programming and coding to their skills curriculum.

Supporting Classroom Diversity: SB 1022 will facilitate minority teacher recruitment and retention across the state. A more diverse faculty will help to expose children to a broader and richer cultural learning experience. This is a positive step toward making our public schools a place where all students, regardless of cultural background, feel welcomed, valued and can focus on learning.

Debt-Free Community College: HB 7424 requires the Board of Regents to develop a plan to establish a debt free community college program by 2020 for high school graduates enrolling as full-time students. After scholarships and federal/state aid is taken into account, this program would cover the unpaid portion of a student’s tuition and fees allowing all students access to affordable higher education.


Protecting Our Environment

We have only one planet and if climate change continues unchecked, our children and grandchildren will be in danger and our economy will suffer. That is why I was proud to support bills that will create jobs, benefit the environment and help protect our planet for generations to come, including:

  • Banning plastic bags
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030
  • Supporting renewable energy like solar and wind and increasing green jobs
  • Creating a Jobs Career Ladder for jobs in the green technology industry

Public Safety

Gun Safety: I was proud to support three common sense gun safety bills that will make our state safer from gun violence. These include HB 7218 - requiring loaded or unloaded firearms to be securely stored when minors are in the home, HB 7219 - banning ghost guns, and HB 7223 - strengthening storage requirements for handguns in unattended vehicles. I’m grateful to many constituents and advocates like the Stamford MOMS Demand Action group who came up to the Capitol to testify and advocate for these common sense measures to protect our kids from gun violence.

Pedestrian Safety: Stamford has walkable neighborhoods and great shops and restaurants to walk to...but crossing the street, even at a crosswalk, can be dangerous. Pedestrian safety is a critically important issue to Stamford and we must do everything we can to protect pedestrians in our city from any more tragedies. The House approved legislation to expand the circumstances under which drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at crosswalks (HB 7203) but unfortunately the bill stalled in the Senate. I will continue to fight for pedestrian safety measures next session so that all Stamford residents can feel safe in our city.


Protecting Your Right to Vote

This session, the legislature passed a resolution to allow early voting in CT. Early voting is necessary to modernize our election system and will make it easier for working people to participate in the democratic process. 39 states and Washington, DC have already enacted early voting legislation. If this bill passes again next session, then the people of CT will vote on the 2022 ballot to decide whether or not to allow early voting in the state.


Supporting Small Businesses & Job Growth

It was an honor to serve again as House Chair of the Commerce Committee, where we worked hard to pass dozens of pro-business bills, including:

  • Eliminated the Business Entity tax and began a phase out of the Capital Base tax on small businesses to encourage start-ups
  • Extended the Angel Investor tax credit program for 5 years to support start ups and small businesses
  • Established a pilot program for the expansion of advanced manufacturing certificate programs to provide opportunities for high school students and adults to access the training needed to compete for the 12,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs currently open in our state (HB 5833)
  • Developed a public-private partnership marketing and outreach strategy to encourage businesses to move to CT (HB 7008)
  • Revised the Transfer Act to stimulate economic growth, support real estate transactions, and decrease the presence of brownfield properties in the state without compromising environmental concerns (SB 1030)
  • Established a tax credit for employers who make certain education loan payments for employees to encourage college graduate retention (SB 72)
  • Streamlined the Liquor Control Act to help CT breweries grow and thrive (SB 647)
  • Created a plan and various incentives to market CT as a bioscience hub (SB 1026)
  • Reopened CT’s Visitor Welcome Centers

Connecticut Made

I also held the first annual Connecticut Made Day at the Capitol to showcase the variety of businesses that call Connecticut home. I encourage all Stamford businesses that make or produce their products in Connecticut to use the Connecticut Made logo on their products and to take advantage of the many amazing programs and resources available at our newly launched site ct.gov/CTMADE to help your business expand and flourish.


Capitol Update 2019 (pdf)