Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It has been my honor to work on your behalf in the Connecticut House of Representatives this year. This legislative session, we passed many important pieces of legislation that will make Connecticut a better place to live, work, raise a family, and retire.
In this newsletter, I would like to share some of the most important laws that passed this year. I am proud of our accomplishments, and I hope you agree.
We passed a bipartisan budget that fully restores funding to the Medicare Savings Program, increases education funding over 2018 levels, funds the Special Transportation Fund so projects can continue as scheduled, does not increase or add any new taxes, and increases our “Rainy Day” fund to the highest levels in a decade.
As always, do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns, or suggestions as to how I can better serve you.
Emil “Buddy” Altobello
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. This continues our work to invest in our community colleges and technical high schools, and our belief that technical education and career training can lead students to family-supporting jobs.
Supporting Our Businesses
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. In an effort to provide some tax relief so small businesses can put more resources into job creation, I supported a bill that exempts equipment worth less than $250 that has been owned by the business 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 are more successful in receiving the necessary permits and in a more timely fashion.
Combatting Data Breaches
In response to multiple recent data breaches at companies like Equifax, I worked with my colleagues to pass legislation to protect the consumer. Companies can no longer charge a fee for placing or removing a security freeze on a credit report and consumers will now get two free years of credit monitoring after a data breach.
Reverse Mortgage Counseling
Reverse mortgage lending can be a predatory practice. Lenders sometimes 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. This landmark legislation creates a mechanism by which drug rebate savings are reflected in your premiums. Additionally, health carriers must submit information about which drugs are most frequently prescribed and which are most expensive. This is part of our overall effort to lower drug costs.
Protecting Services For Our Seniors
Connecticut offers top programs and the highest quality care for seniors. To ensure that continues, we have streamlined some of the duties of the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman to conform with the federal Older Americans Act. This will help Connecticut receive the maximum amount of funding from the federal government to strengthen our already strong programs.
Supporting Our Veterans and Military Families
Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury, or are the victims of sexual trauma while serving, need support as they recover and reintegrate into civilian life. However, because these conditions pose unique challenges, some receive a less than honorable discharge from the military, making them ineligible for services. We successfully passed legislation this session to allow these veterans access to the state services they need and earned.
Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
Over 60,000 of our residents sought treatment for substance abuse in 2016 alone. One of our challenges is providing adequate treatment and recovery services. To help address this, we set up a system where sober homes can register with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services so families will be able to check if a sober home is registered with the state. It also establishes certain marketing and advertising requirements, keeping the consumer’s best interests in mind. Under this legislation, sober homes must have Narcan onsite and residents must be trained in its use.