The 2018 Legislative Session was “short” in duration but “long” on substance. Perhaps our biggest accomplishment is reaching a bipartisan budget agreement (for the second consecutive year!) that will strengthen our state’s financial footing. The budget agreement does not raise the sales tax or income tax and restores cuts that had been made for municipal aid and education funding.
Besides the budget, we also passed legislation addressing the pay disparity between men and women who perform the same work, established a fund to assist homeowners with cracked or crumbling concrete foundations, new workforce development programs, keeping drug costs down, health care for women and all citizens, a ban on bump stocks, and joining the National Popular Vote Compact.
Over the last two years I have worked tirelessly with members of the Southeastern Connecticut delegation on both sides of the aisle to ensure Groton and Ledyard are properly represented.
Supporting Veterans & Military Families
Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury, or are the victims of military sexual trauma deserve 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.
When members of the armed forces receive orders to come to Connecticut, and their spouse is a certified teacher in another state, it can be difficult for the spouse to start over as a teacher here in Connecticut. To address this issue, we created a “military spouse teacher permit” that allows the spouses to more easily work as a teacher in our state.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. In an effort to provide some tax relief and help small businesses put resources into job creation, we eliminated the property tax on equipment worth less than $250 and owned by the business for more than 10 years.
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 that request it for a “pre-application” meeting. Hopefully this process will help ensure the businesses are more successful in receiving the necessary permits in a more timely fashion.
Protecting Our Children
“Connor’s Law” is an important piece of legislation that will help protect our children while they are riding bicycles and skateboards. Too often a simple accident on a skateboard can have serious consequences for their health or on the rarest of occasions result in a fatality. This legislation will make it so all children under the age of 15 have to wear a helmet while skateboarding and any business renting to anyone under the age of 16 must rent them a helmet as well. Protecting our children is paramount.
Electric Boat – the largest employer in the region – is growing. To fulfill its Defense Department contracts, EB will have more than 13,000 employees by 2034. The sub-builder has already added 2,000 good-paying, career-long jobs and will add more than 1,800 more. To help with EB’s growth the Department of Economic and Community Development is providing an assortment of grants, loans and incentives – up to about $85 million in total. This will help with keeping the company thriving in southeastern Connecticut.
Protecting Healthcare For All
PA 18-10 codifies the Affordable Care Acts ten essential health benefits including maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, and chronic disease management that all Americans deserve to have covered in their health insurance plans. As Congress and the President attempt to dismantle this program, we passed legislation to safeguard these benefits to ensure that no matter what happens in Washington, every insurance policy in Connecticut has to cover basic health services like hospitalization, rehab, preventative care and mental health. Additionally, we went a step further and made sure twelve-month contraceptive prescriptions are also covered by all insurance policies so that all women can choose if and when they want to start a family, and not worry about the cost of birth control.
Connecticut ranks as having one of the highest rates of breast cancer among all fifty states. PA 18-159 redefines ‘mammogram’ to include tomosynthesis, which is an advanced type of mammogram that takes a three dimensional image of a breast and has proven to be particularly useful for women with dense breast tissues. This legislation also goes on to requires insurance companies to cover all forms of mammograms, which will reduce cost and lead to early detection of breast cancer in more cases.