Hello Neighbors:

Now that the 2019 legislative session has closed, I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to serve this district by representing you at the Capitol. We accomplished important, very positive changes for our towns, families, working people, seniors and veterans. There is much more that needs to be done, such as better funding of nonprofits, more support for small businesses and addressing continued inequities in funding in Northeastern Connecticut.

My goal as your legislator is to listen and learn from you regardless of your party affiliation or whether you agree with my perspective. I have held monthly office hours in Tolland, Willington and Ashford and, since January, I have attended more than 60 community events and conversed with many in the district.

I want to continue these efforts so I can better understand the priorities, needs and perspectives of all residents of Tolland, Willington and Ashford. This will help me make decisions when voting on matters most important to our communities. I believe that it is more important than ever to listen to one another to find common ground. A strong democracy demands no less. I will continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to achieve the best outcomes possible for Connecticut families.

If we have not had a chance to talk yet, please come to my monthly office hours. I usually post details on Facebook and through email. If there are events in your community that will keep me informed or where my presence as your representative could enhance the activity, give my office a call. If you would like to speak to me but can’t make an event, please call my cell phone at 860-771-3885.

Let’s find opportunities to interact and exchange ideas. Thank you again for affording me the privilege of serving our communities.

Best,


Crumbling Foundations

My most gratifying accomplishment since being sworn in was during the July special session when the legislature approved additional funding to repair the crumbling foundation of Birch Grove Primary School in Tolland. Prior to the reimbursement increase, Tolland expected a state reimbursement of 52 percent. Now the town will be reimbursed for 89 percent of the project, saving Tolland taxpayers about $17 million. July SS PA 19-1

I am pleased to have worked across the aisle on legislation which makes significant changes to laws, programs and insurance policies affecting residential homes with foundations that are deteriorating due to the presence of pyrrhotite. The General Assembly created a supplemental loan program for impacted homeowners. We passed legislation to include effected condominium buildings in definition of residential buildings, so owners may apply for money from the Crumbling Foundations Assistance Fund to cover rebuilding their foundations. In order to protect new homeowners, the law now requires sellers to disclose defects that impair the property’s value or will affect the future residents’ health and safety. PA 19-192


Budget

The $43 billion two-year budget was approved on time, allowing our towns to finalize their budgets with the most up-to-date state funding projections. The budget increases the Rainy Day Fund balance to more than $2 billion, the largest in CT history. We also preserved funding for education, and fought against school regionalization.

This budget better manages our pension liability to avoid the teachers’ pension cost shift to towns. We came to an agreement with hospitals to improve access to healthcare and we avoided a costly and disruptive nursing home strike. The budget provides additional protections to make Connecticut more affordable for seniors by maintaining tax exemptions on Social Security income and the phase-in of a tax exemption on pension income. It also increases funding for programs like Care4Kids and Meals on Wheels.

We negotiated with the governor to prevent new taxes on groceries, residential repairs and renovation, veterinarian services, campground rental, and other services including horse-boarding. I am pleased that we worked successfully to find common ground. PA 19-117


Insurance Coverage for Pre-existing Conditions

This session the General Assembly unanimously passed legislation to prevent certain health plans from denying coverage for a pre-existing condition. This law will protect Connecticut residents against any changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). PA 19-134


Mental Health Parity

The legislature unanimously passed the Mental Health Parity Act to give people with mental health and substance use disorders the same access to care as those with cancer and heart disease. PA 19-159


Mammogram Coverage

We passed legislation to require health insurance coverage for breast ultrasounds for any woman who is 40 years or older, has a recommendation from her doctor, has a personal history of breast disease through the biopsy of a benign tumor, or has a family or personal history of breast cancer. It also prohibits insurance companies from charging co-insurance, co-payments, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for breast ultrasounds and mammograms. PA 19-117


Expanding Medicaid Coverage of Telehealth

Being a lifelong resident of Ashford, I recognize the need to expand access to medical care in rural communities. This law, which I proudly co-sponsored, expands the Medicaid coverage of telehealth services statewide. This will increase residents’ access to quality care and reduce the need for homebound patients to travel to see their doctor. PA 19-76


Supporting Working Families, First Responders and Military Families

  • We passed legislation which will provide workers’ compensation benefits for police officers, parole officers and firefighters suffering from PTSD due to events in the line of duty. Our first responders see violence and death on a too frequent basis and we must help them cope with the effects of these tragic experiences. PA 19-17
  • The General Assembly voted to raise the minimum wage. This legislation will provide an immediate raise to over 300,000 workers in our state when the wage rises to $11.00 on October 1, 2019, followed by incremental increases until $15.00 is reached on June 1, 2023. PA 19-4
  • In the event of a medical emergency, the Paid Family and Medical Leave program will provide up to 12 weeks of leave per year for workers who must care for themselves or a loved one, equaling up to 95 percent of an employee’s paycheck. The program is funded by employee contributions starting January 1, 2021. PA 19-25
  • In an effort to support military families, Connecticut will grant in-state tuition to spouses and children of service members stationed in the state who may get orders to move elsewhere. PA 19-172
  • This session, the legislature expanded the current advanced manufacturing certificate programs offered by regional community-technical colleges to eight public high schools. We also encouraged the participation of private institutions of higher education in the program. PA 19-103

Respecting the Environment

  • Preventing pollutants generated by fracking from entering our state was a top priority for me this session. This law expands the state-wide fracking ban to apply to all gas and oil extraction activities including the selling, acquiring, handling, applying and processing of fracking, natural gas and oil waste. PA 19-112

Green Jobs and Net Metering is good for the planet and our economy.
We passed new legislation that will:

  • Extend renewable energy programs, including traditional net metering and the Green Bank’s renewable solar investment program.
  • Expand the virtual net metering cap to reduce municipal energy costs.
  • Require the Department of Transportation to develop a land inventory on which lands are suitable for Class I energy resources such as putting solar panels on lands adjacent to state highways. PA 19-35

Capitol Update 2019 (pdf)