Dear Friends and Neighbors,
House Democrats led the way in passing significant legislation during the 2016 session of the General Assembly to help protect and improve the quality of life for Connecticut families.
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.
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.
Protecting School Children
Children are our most important resource. They are our future. That’s why it’s so important to nurture and protect them. We passed a bill that prevents sexual predators from being employed in our school districts. Known as “Stop Passing the Trash,” the legislation requires boards of education to share information about employees who are accused or have been convicted of sexual misconduct or abuse. It’s aimed at preventing such school employees from finding a job in another district. I know this bill will go a long way in protecting children from harm.
Helping Businesses Create Jobs
Connecticut is becoming more business-friendly. Here are some of the highlights of what we did this year:
- Reimburse initial start-up costs to first-time business owners.
- Develop programs that introduce students and parents to manufacturing careers.
- Address a teacher shortage in the CT Technical High School System.
- Adoption of Connecticut Uniform Limited Liability.
As our population becomes older it's important to ensure quality of life for our senior citizens. We passed legislation requiring nursing homes to notify their residents when a facility is closing, changing hands or cutting back on the number of beds. Residents being discharged must also be provided with an ongoing plan for their care. And residents of state-assisted elderly or disabled housing can now pay security deposits in installments.
Although there were no easy solutions this year, it took hard work to pass a budget that is balanced and does not include tax or fee increases, borrowing, or dipping into the Rainy Day Fund. Cutting $830 million is painful, but these long-term structural changes will help put Connecticut’s budget on a sustainable path – not just this year, but into the future
I am pleased to have sponsored a bill regarding police training. The legislation forms a task force to conduct an independent review of police training. Policing in Connecticut is about to become more transparent than ever before with the advent of police body cameras. We owe it to the residents of this state and to the courageous men and women in law enforcement to ensure that Connecticut is adopting nationally recognized standards and best practices. In light of the many high profile police-related shootings across the country, this legislation could go a long way in unifying law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Laws Affecting Firefighters
It is important that we recognize and take care of firefighters who put their lives on the line for us. This legislation establishes a relief fund for firefighters who are battling work-related cancer. Other legislation allows municipal property tax relief for retired volunteer firefighters, fire police officers and EMTs who volunteered at least 25 years of service.
We stand by our veterans. I am proud to report that we passed new laws that enhance areas of job attainment, entrepreneurship, and quality of life issues for veterans, and approved a resolution that urges the nation’s leaders to provide VA benefits for Blue Water Navy Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.
New legislation will:
- Give a price preference of up to 15% for veteran-owned businesses bidding on state contracts.
- Broaden the scope of the law that bars discriminatory practices in our state’s armed forces.
- Require the Labor Commissioner to establish a clearinghouse to help highly-trained veterans and armed forces members find jobs that match their unique skill sets; a database will be created to match them with available jobs.