Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Connecticut has a state budget. It took long hours of negotiations but legislative leaders reached a compromise on a true bipartisan budget that I voted for and Governor Malloy has signed into law. I believe the budget moves Farmington and our state in the right direction. It offers stability to our residents, cities, towns, schools and businesses.
Here are some of the key provisions:
- Protection of Farmington’s overall grant allocation from the state, with only a 6% reduction.
- Restores much of the proposed funding cuts to higher education, especially UConn and the Connecticut State University System.
- Implements a new Education Cost Sharing program that considers poverty, language barriers, and the highest-need communities for distribution of education funding.
- Fully funds the teachers’ and state employees pension systems – without pushing the costs onto towns and cities.
- Includes structural changes such as a constitutional spending cap, bonding cap, municipal mandate relief, and required votes by the legislature on all collective bargaining agreements.
- The budget retains funds for the Care4Kids program which helps thousands of families with their primary child care support.
- Preserved funding for the Department of Developmental Services so the state’s most vulnerable citizens continue receiving services.
- In 2019, we will expand the state income tax exemption on Social Security benefits.
I am pleased we finally have a budget in place and look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner going forward.
Pregnant Women in the Workplace
For too long, women have been missing opportunities to advance in the workplace due in part to unfair treatment with respect to pregnancy. This bill strengthens current protections for pregnant and nursing women under the state’s anti-discrimination law.
It also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations such as allowing them to sit while working, modified work schedules, and time off to recover from childbirth. It goes further by setting up protections that prevent an employer from discriminating against pregnant women. PA 17-118
Gold Star Tax Exemption
Municipalities may grant a new property tax exemption to the parents or spouse of a service member who was killed while performing active military duty, also known as a Gold Star recipient. The tax exemption, may go up to $20,000 or 10% of the property’s assessed value. PA 17-65
Financial Planners Disclosure
In an attempt to protect consumers from the gaps in federal laws, we passed legislation establishing advertising and disclosure requirements for financial planners. We required that financial planners must meet certain educational benchmarks in order to claim special training or experience related to seniors and that they disclose fiduciary duty with regard to investment recommendations. The Banking and Consumer Protection Departments will also post links to financial planning information and consumers’ rights on their websites. PA 17-120
Conversion Therapy Ban
“Conversion Therapy” is a discredited practice that uses psychological and emotional tactics in an attempt to change the sexual orientation of gay children. During this session, I took a stand and voted to ban this misguided method in Connecticut. PA 17-5
Preventing Domestic Violence
We strengthened Connecticut’s anti-domestic violence policies. The legislation expands existing laws on strangulation and stalking; acknowledges the use of social media as a potential tool for stalking; increases the penalty for committing family violence while on probation; and requires a pre-sentence investigation to take into account the circumstances of the offense and victim’s attitude. PA 17-31
Solar and Farmlands
Under legislation we passed this year, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection must now consider the environmental impact of siting energy generation facilities on farmland, forests, brownfields and landfills. It balances the need to protect farms and forests, farm and forestland owners, their neighbors and the state’s interest in promoting renewables. PA 17-218
More Opioid Regulation
Opioid abuse and addiction has become widespread in Connecticut and across the U.S. I supported legislation that reduces the maximum supply of opioid drug prescriptions for minors from 7 days to 5 days, requires health insurers to cover medically necessary detox treatment, requires medical providers to discuss opioid risks with patients, and eases restrictions on destroying unused medications.
The Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) has a toll-free number connecting residents seeking treatment and services for an opioid addiction to local walk-in assessment centers. Residents will now be able to call 1-800-563-4086, 24 hours a day, to connect them or a loved one to a walk-in assessment center. PA 17-131
Angel Investor Program Expanded
We expanded eligibility for the Angel Investor Tax Credit to small business owners. Under this program, accredited investors are able to consult and fund businesses in growing Connecticut industries.