It is a privilege to represent you in the legislature. This year’s legislative session has concluded, and for the second year in a row I worked with my fellow legislators to pass a bipartisan budget agreement.
The budget protects our towns, restores cuts to the Medicare Savings Program that helps elderly and disabled individuals, and funds transportation infrastructure – all without raising taxes. The budget increases state aid to Cheshire, Southington and Wallingford over last year, and restores the cuts to education made by the Governor.
I have continued to focus on growing Connecticut manufacturing and connecting students to the well-paying jobs available in this industry. For the second year in a row, I hosted the Student →Manufacturer Connection Fair, an event where high school students come to the Capitol to meet with manufacturers from across the state. Some Cheshire High School students who attended the fair have already received job offers!
I also supported policies to protect your health insurance benefits, keep prescription drug costs down, and support Connecticut’s veterans. We even stopped the twenty year Hartford bailout with a strongly bipartisan vote. I hope you find the enclosed information helpful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if I can ever be of service to you or your family.
2018 Legislative Accomplishments
- Supported a bipartisan agreement that rejects funding cuts to our community
- Advocated for $400,000 to be placed in the Firefighter Cancer fund
- Added $2 million for veterans’ healthcare and restored military honors at veterans funerals
- Worked on legislation to provide PTSD coverage for first responders
- Sponsored legislation that strengthens pay equity law
Investing In Middle Class Families
In response to recent federal tax law changes, we passed legislation to protect the state and local tax deduction. The changes to this deduction on the federal level will likely increase taxes on families in our community. Under our new state law, towns can create non-profit charity-type programs that still qualify for federal deductions, as a way to both preserve local services and reduce your federal tax burden. Unfortunately, the IRS is already pushing back on these efforts, but I will keep fighting to limit the impact of these changes.
Reverse mortgage lending has become a predatory practice. Lenders often prey on the vulnerabilities of those facing tough financial burdens. Connecticut now requires counseling for those considering a reverse mortgage so a homeowner will have all of the information, including the risks, prior to entering this type of arrangement.
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.
Making Our Schools Safer
Schools must be safe places to learn, so we increased funding for school security measures by $15 million - including $517,000 for our district. Our towns can use these resources for entrance upgrades, bullet-proof glass and security cameras. I will also continue to advocate for social-emotional learning programs in our schools as a way to combat school violence at the root of the problem.
A Bipartisan Budget For Connecticut
I proudly worked on and supported a bipartisan state budget that increased state aid to our towns in the fiscal year that begins this July. By supporting this budget, I rejected the Governor’s proposed cuts to state education aid to Cheshire, Southington, and Wallingford public schools (under the Education Cost Sharing formula). This will help ensure the middle class does not have to carry an undue burden. The budget agreement also:
- Has no income, sales, or other state tax increases
- Bolsters the Rainy Day fund to its highest level in state history
- Restores funding to the Medicare Savings Program
- Restores partial funding to the Energy Efficiency Fund and developmental services
Supporting Our Veterans
Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury, or are the victims of military sexual trauma deserve support as they recover and reintegrate into civilian life. However, these conditions pose unique challenges and some veterans receive a less than honorable discharge from the military, which makes them ineligible for services. In my role as Vice Chair of the Veterans Committee, I helped pass legislation this session to allow these veterans access to the state services they need and earned.
Protecting Your Health Care
Current federal law requires health insurance plans to cover ten essential health benefits, including maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, preventative services, mental health and addiction services, and chronic disease management. I coauthored, introduced and passed legislation to safeguard these benefits. This legislation ensures that no matter what happens in Washington, Connecticut insurance policies will still cover these basic services that you currently receive.
Supporting Our Small Businesses
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. In an effort to provide some tax relief and help all small businesses focus their resources on job creation, we exempted some equipment that has been owned by businesses for more than 10 years from property taxes.
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 upon request for a “pre-application” meeting. Hopefully this process will help ensure that businesses receive the necessary permits in a more timely fashion.
Manufacturing - Helping Create, Fill And Keep Jobs In District
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. I am committed to supporting technical education and career training that
leads to family-supporting jobs.
The “pipeline” linking our next generation of innovators with business and industry is working - but there’s still more we can do. To this end, I held the second annual, very successful Student→Manufacturer Connection Fair in April to connect high school and college students with local manufacturing companies.
Fighting The Opioid Epidemic
Many pills sold on the street were obtained through prescriptions, and reigning in over-prescribing and fraudulent prescriptions is a necessary step in fighting the opioid crisis. I proudly submitted legislation with Rep. Mary Mushinsky of Wallingford, in partnership with the Coalition for a Better Wallingford, to strengthen our Prescription Monitoring Program and its ability to stop opioids from making their way to the streets.
Additionally, we continue to train our teachers, administrators and coaches to recognize signs of opioid abuse, intervene, and refer a child to treatment under the A-SBIRT program, which I implemented in partnership with our towns.