Dear Neighbor, 

It has certainly been a challenging session. As the House Chair of the Committee on Children I have made it my priority to work to assure that our children get a quality education in a safe and healthy living environment. I am pleased that our Committee was able to use data from our Children's Report Card (www.ctkidsreportcard.org) to inform us on budget cuts. It enabled us to concentrate our efforts on protecting programs that were working to help children in school, in foster care or who are victims of abuse and neglect, and to protect their health and well- being. It also allowed us to make cuts to programs that were not as effective.

As many of you know, I have pushed for this type of results-based format to be used throughout the budget process for a long time. The economic slowdown initially brought on by the great recession has given me another chance to get report cards used in every committee and agency. The example we have been able to set in the Committee on Children bodes well for extending their use to the whole budgetary process.

This report outlines some advances we were able to make. I am pleased to report that we continue to address concussions, reducing the use of restraint and seclusion, animal therapy for victims of trauma, family-centered mental health treatment, and the achievement gap. In addition, I worked hard to protect our school based health centers and continue to push to expand them. They are an incredibly cost effective way to provide health care to our vulnerable children.

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have on the budget, state programs, or for assistance with any issue.

Sincerely , 


Connecticut Jobs

Through Connecticut Innovations, an organization we developed 25 years ago to help boost our tech companies, we are investing millions of dollars where they will do the most good: supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses by providing them with the concrete support they need to take them to the next level, and continuing to invest in education so that Connecticut workers are trained in the 21st century skills our companies need. For more on our many specific initiatives, go to this link:  www.housedems.ct.gov/ctjobs

I am very pleased that together with the Town of Stonington and the Department of Economic and Community Development, I have been working with Davis Standard to expand their primary facility in Pawcatuck. Davis Standard is the leading manufacturer of extrusion machinery in North America. We expect this expansion to create 30 well-paying high tech jobs to add to the over 400 people Davis Standard currently employs. It is so satisfying to have a global leader expand in our area, and the local economic multiplier effect should be significant. Davis Standard has operated in Southeast Connecticut since 1848 and their contribution to our economic web is immense.  


Helping our Seniors

I am a strong supporter of aging in place. I was able to keep my Mom at home throughout her illness and we are continually moving in that direction in Connecticut. Caregivers can become overwhelmed and support of hospice has been central to helping the elderly stay in their homes. For instances when a nursing home or long term care facility becomes essential, we passed legislation to be sure the patient is notified of their rights. We also made sure that upon discharge a resident can pick a designated caregiver to help them with their discharge plan.


Tackling the Opioid Epidemic

In recent years, Connecticut, like other New England states, has seen a heartbreaking increase in fatal opioid overdoses. As Chair of the Committee on Children, I was proud to combine our bill on opioids with the Public Health Committee’s bill and craft 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.


Protecting our Children

We passed legislation that will give a child information on the foster care family where they are being placed. Just knowing the routines in a family can be helpful for the child making an adjustment to a home. We have been very successful in getting children placed with relatives and also what is referred to as fictive kin, a person known to the child and who has a significant relationship with the child. Research has shown that these efforts significantly impact outcomes for the child's future. In the area of mental health, we have successfully brought together agencies and created a statewide plan to assure that services are available and that treatment is family centered. In an ongoing effort to be sure that the plan is instituted, my Co-Chair and I have become an integral part of the process by including it in the Connecticut Kids Report Card and having regular meetings with the agencies involved.

Childhood trauma can have long term lasting effects on a child's future. The Children's Committee has worked to expand the use of therapy animals and introduced legislation to allow them in court when a child has to testify on sexual abuse. The bill was voted unanimously out of Committee and we expect it to get a full vote by the General Assembly in the next legislative session. We have also continued our work to reduce restraint and seclusion in our schools and juvenile facilities.


Honoring our Veterans

In Connecticut we have made it a point to stand by our veterans. We have become the second state in the nation to effectively end veteran homelessness. We approved a resolution asking our nation's leaders to recognize Blue Water Navy Veterans’ exposure to Agent Orange. In addition, we passed laws to enhance areas of job attainment and entrepreneurship for veterans.


Pollinator Health

Hive collapse and the decline of honeybees pose a threat to our environment and our food supply. That’s why we’ve passed legislation to address this threat to local agriculture from collapse of bee colonies. The bill relies on restrictions on use of certain pesticides, but also on building habitat by encouraging the planting of pollinator friendly vegetation. In addition, we learned that proposed budget cuts might remove current staff, and fought to make sure that the Agricultural Experiment Station can protect our hives and food supply.


Desmond’s Law

I have continued to emphasize the link between child abuse, domestic violence and animal cruelty. This year the FBI is tracking animal cruelty nationwide as a separate category, like they do with manslaughter and armed robbery, in recognition of the fact that it is a clear indicator of future violent behavior.

By pushing for data I was able to establish that our conviction rate for animal cruelty in Connecticut is a dismal 18%. That means that 82% of arrests carry either no punishment or result in accelerated rehabilitation, which can involve nothing more than a weekly phone-in, and in which the record of the abuse is erased. Called “Desmond’s Law” after an adopted dog who was beaten, starved and ultimately strangled, this law will allow a UConn law student to assist the court in gathering and compiling evidence in animal cruelty cases. This adds an additional resource to the court at no cost while giving law students courtroom experience. I was so pleased to work with UConn and Professor Jessica Rubin; their input and support was integral to the success of the legislation.


“In a very difficult budget year I was very pleased to be able to get $300,000 in state funds for the North Stonington Emergency Services Building and to restore a significant amount of the over one million dollar cut to Stonington’s education cost sharing (ECS) fund. In fact, Stonington was only one of five towns to get special consideration which resulted in an additional $300,000 being restored. I also made sure the we were able to qualify for the maximum reimbursement for Dean's Mill and West Vine schools.”