Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Thank you for giving me the privilege to represent you in the General Assembly. It is an honor to serve as your legislator in Hartford as I work with many of you to make our state the best it can be. I am proud to play an instrumental role in ensuring Danbury’s future continues to move in the right direction.
This year’s legislative session was dominated by the state budget. There were no easy solutions and sometimes hard decisions had to be made, but in the end we approved a budget that is balanced, without state tax or fee increases, without borrowing, and without dipping into the Rainy Day Fund.
I would like to have reported that our budget process was a bipartisan effort, but unfortunately an agreement was not reached by all party leaders. While
I am not pleased by the reduction of people, programs and program locations statewide, difficult decisions had to be made that will begin the process of rerouting Connecticut onto a path of sustainability.
As a result of the recently passed state budget, Danbury is estimated to receive $41,658,945 for Fiscal Year 2017 – an increase of $2,630,222 compared to FY 2016.
As always, I welcome your input and appreciate all those who have contacted me over the last year. Please continue to reach out at any time.
Connecticut Jobs: Our Number 1 Priority
This year we made economic growth and support for small businesses a priority. Here are some of our 2016 initiatives:
Concentrates nodes of entrepreneurs, tech talent, support organizations and research institutions in walkable, transit-connected, mixed-use neighborhoods.
Entrepreneur Support Programs
Provide $5 million a year to support a range of needs for entrepreneurs, such as residencies, coworking space and mentoring.
Tech Talent Development Fund
10-year goal to at least double Connecticut’s stock of software developers and other tech talent we’re short on. Tactics will include: recruitment from out of state, upskilling or reskilling current workers in other fields, and bolstering education programs in this field.
Added Support for Growing Small Businesses
$1 million a year for 5 years to support firms that have made it past the startup phase, and mature companies that have plateaued but have the potential to grow.
University Innovation Ecosystems
$10 million of seed funding to strengthen the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems at all of Connecticut’s colleges and universities, public and private.
Supporting Connecticut's Growing Manufacturing Sector
We are working to make Connecticut the area leader in high-tech manufacturing jobs with an educated workforce that will meet the growing demand for the advanced, computer-based, and technical positions of the future. Several innovative measures were passed that will ensure we are prepared for the growing manufacturing demand that will:
- Establish an Entrepreneurs Learner’s Permit Program that will allow new businesses, particularly information services, biotechnology and green technology, to be reimbursed for fees associated with state filing, permitting and licenses.
- Form a committee to inform middle and high school students about careers in manufacturing, provide manufacturing training and study workforce needs to introduce students and their parents to careers in manufacturing.
- Direct the Department of Labor to update their website to provide information on manufacturing apprenticeship opportunities.
Supporting Our Seniors
Especially during difficult times when we struggle to balance the state budget, protecting our older citizens remains a high priority. If we don’t look out for them, no one else will.
This year we passed legislation in many areas of concern to seniors:
- Notice of nursing home closings or bed reductions for residents. When nursing homes or long-term care facilities plan to close or cut back on beds, the Department of Aging’s ombudsman must submit a letter to each patient detailing the rights and services available to the patient.
- Utilization of patient-designated caregivers. Nursing homes now will be required to allow a resident being discharged to designate a caregiver who will work with the nursing home on a plan for post-discharge tasks.
- Installers of residential stair lifts. This legislation creates a residential stair lift technician’s license, making it easier for homeowners to have stair lifts installed in their homes by allowing more contractors to be licensed to perform these installations.
- Security deposits for age-restricted public housing. The elderly or disabled who want to live in state-assisted public housing will now be able to pay their security deposits in installments instead of the usual lump sum before being allowed to move in
Standing Up For 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. We also passed a resolution urging the federal government to provide VA benefits to Blue Water Navy Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.
The 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.
Tackling The Opioid Epidemic
In recent years, Connecticut, like other New England states, has seen a heartbreaking increase in fatal opioid overdoses. Earlier this year we passed groundbreaking legislation to combat this crisis.
This lifesaving law will:
Increase access to Narcan, a drug that reverses opioid abuse
- Allow any licensed healthcare professional to administer Narcan
- Require municipalities to equip their first responders with Narcan
- Allow pharmacists to prescribe Narcan
Limit opioid prescriptions, reducing the risk of addiction
- Caps first-time adult prescriptions at 7 days
- Caps all prescriptions for minors at 7 days
- Contains exceptions for certain medical conditions
Add more on-the-ground experts to the Connecticut Alcohol and Drug Policy Council, such as:
- An emergency medical technician
- A licensed drug and alcohol counselor
While there is still more work to be done, this legislation is a historic step forward in both combatting opioid overdose and preventing new cases of opioid addiction.
This year, we sent a message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in Connecticut. We passed legislation that makes malicious and intentional animal cruelty a class C felony, which carries the potential of jail time or a fine of up to $10,000. The legislature also approved a law that aims to increase animal cruelty conviction rates by allowing judges to appoint volunteer legal advocates to assist prosecutors in animal cruelty cases.
State Bond Funds
- Danbury High School Expansion: $31,763,025
- NVCC Danbury: $2,000,000
- Richter House Renovation: $1,000,000
- Danbury Public Schools: $1,710,000
- Midwestern Connecticut Council of Alcoholism, Inc: $189,000.